Bohol is one of the provinces in the central Visaya’s region. It comprises Bohol island and many smaller surrounding islands.
So why should you go there?
Party in Alona
If you want to relax on the beach during the day and party at night, then Alona Beach is the right place for you. It is located on Panglao island and easily accessible from the main city, Tagbilaran. It is famous for its white sandy beach and the most “touristy” place I have seen in the province. The beach is lined by many bars and restaurants, you can get massages on the beach and you can choose between numerous dive centres. There are a few fancy resorts along the beach and even if you don’t stay there, I strongly recommend yo
u try a Pina Colada at the Henann Resort bar during happy hour (from 5pm to 7pm). 😉 With a few good hostels, Alona is also a very popular destination for backpackers. I personally recommend the Backpackers’ Barn. They have clean rooms, friendly staff and good breakfast.
There are many dive centers to choose from. I can recommend Tropical Divers Dive Center on Alona Beach (situated at the Alona Tropical Beach resort. They have a very helpful team, great instructors and good prices. The dives around Alona are colourful but I especially recommend you book a trip to Balicasag island. The boat ride to get there takes approximately 45min. Around this tiny island you can find a Marine Sanctuary and a very colourful underwater life with many turtles. In order to preserve the reef, the dives have been restricted to 300 a day. With most of the centers bringing divers for 2 or 3 dives in the same day, this means that there are probably about 100 to 150 divers in the waters each day (a frightening thought, really).
Probably the best known tourist attraction in Bohol. It is not quite clear how these hills came to be but there are over 1200 of them on the island (the exact number is still unknown). To me, they looked like giant molehills spread over the countryside. 🙂 You can get a good view of the Chocolate hills on viewdecks. The best known is near the town of Carmen, in the middle of the island and is a government owned viewdeck with a restaurant. The entrance fee is 20 PHP. My personal favourite however was the viewing deck on Sagbayan Peak, which is near Tubigon. It is less crowded and gives a good view of the neighbouring hills with the sea in the background.
We are talking about tiny, fluffy, cute animals with huge eyes, hands and ears whose main occupation is sleeping and hanging around in “their” tree (yup, they pick one and then live on it). It is one of the smalles primates in the world, eats insects and is active at night. You can visit them at the Philippine Tarsier Foundation (entrance is 60 PHP).
I have already mentioned Alona Beach but there are many beautiful beaches to be explored.
I recommend you take a stroll on Dumaluan Beach, located about 2 km from Alona beach. It is less developed and thus less crowded, but you can find a few of the most exclusive resorts here, such as the Dumaluan Beach Resort and the Bohol Beach Club.
Another beach that is definitely worth to be mentioned is Quinale beach in Anda. This is a small town on the south-east of the island and still pretty quiet, especially considering that it is boasting a beautiful white sand beach. There are a few upscale resorts such as the Anda White Beach Resort and many guesthouses or hostels such as the 1Peace Beach Resort. This was probably my favourite beach and I recommend you go there before commercialization will turn it into a tourist place.
How to get around
There are buses, vans and guided tours that will bring you around the island. But if you have the time, I recommend you rent a scooter and explore the island on your own. The roads are pretty good and navigating the island is quite easy.
Tagbilaran – Alona beach
If you arrive by ferry, taxi drivers will greet you at the port and try to convince you to go to Alona for 500PHP. This is probably a good option if you are a group. If you travel alone, I suggest you pass by the taxis and grab a tricycle. The ride is longer but will cost you considerably less.
Tagbilaran – Anda
You can choose between a bus (100PHP) and a minivan (120PHP) to get to Anda departing from Dao terminal. The minivans are quicker and the ride is about 2h. However, they might charge you an extra seat for your backpack.
For more information about Anda, check out this great post.
So much more…
There is much more to do in Bohol:
- a cruise and dinner on the Loboc River
- exploring the Hinagdanan and Cabagnow Cave
- visiting Baclayon Church
- driving through the Man Made Forest
I spent 9 days in Bohol, much more than I initially planned on (I quickly realized that trying to travel the Philippines on a 30 day tourist entry is totally inadequate). A very popular travel route for many backpackers looking for fun and party in the Philippines seems to be Boracay – Alona beach – El Nido, but I really recommend you take the time to explore this island on your next stay. It’s worth it. 🙂