The island of Bohol in the Visayas region of the Philippines is known for diving, diverse wildlife and, of course, the Chocolate Hills. Jules and I chose to explore this area because we felt it had a lot to offer rather than just another island with beautiful beaches (I know, we’re spoiled). Little did we know, however, that Bohol would end up as one of our all-time favorite spots in the Philippines.
Besides its many attractions, Bohol is just a downright gorgeous province. Driving through the interior of the island on our motorcycle was absolute heaven. The curving roads ascending into the mountains cut through lush jungle so wherever you turn your head you’ll see a million different shades of green. The air is refreshingly cool, a welcome respite from the humid coastal towns. And the best part? The people. Apparently Boholians are known for their friendliness and they did not disappoint. As we cruised through tiny barangays (neighborhoods) on to each location, we were greeted by dozens of waving hands from tiny kids to the village grandparents. We couldn’t believe how hospital everyone was and it really made our time in Bohol just that much better.
For this reason, we really encourage travelers to rent a motorbike for a couple days or a week and explore the area on your own. The roads are mostly well maintained and driving was pretty easy. If you’re too nervous or unable to drive one, tour companies do van trips around the island and there is a bus that loops through the interior and along the coast. Here’s our Bohol travel guide to find out what you should definitely not miss on this beautiful island:
This series of over 1,500 nearly symmetrical hills get its name from the chocolate brown color that the hills turn in the dry season. You may be thinking, seriously? What’s so great about a bunch of hills? But we can vouch for their beauty. In both the dry and wet seasons, looking out over the viewpoint is a truly breathtaking moment. You can read all about our tips for the best way to check them out on our Chocolate Hills Guide.
If you’re headed to Bohol, you gotta see the Tarsiers. These funny little primates are known for their huge eyes, which do not rotate. Instead they can turn their head a full 360 degrees! They are nocturnal and super sensitive animals. If agitated these little guys have been known to commit suicide by banging their head against a tree or wall. That’s why its super important to stay quiet when visiting the sanctuary. We had a clueless tourist bust through the door with a big “HELLO!” After we shushed him, he continued through the tour slurping his soda, texting and taking loud photos. Grrrr.
Responsible tourism tip: There’s a few different spots in Bohol where you can visit the Tarsiers, but we recommend going to the official Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella. This one felt the most respectful of the animal’s space and sensitivity. Remember to whisper while you’re in the sanctuary, no flash photography and no touching the animals!
Loboc is another area that travelers base themselves out of to visit Bohol’s many attractions. It’s close to the Chocolate Hills, Tarsiers and the coast. But Loboc is a destination in itself. The town is quite small, but it runs alongside a beautiful river. There are several activities you can do including stand-up paddle boarding and the Loboc River cruise. We stayed at Nipa Hut Village, which is right on the water. We borrowed the bamboo raft that was tied to a tree and took ourselves on a little cruise of our own using palm fronds as oars. You can also rent a boat to take yourself down the river. Whichever activity you choose, definitely block out some time for a lazy river day.
Man Made Forest
This attraction took us totally by surprise. We had heard of the Man Made Forest, but didn’t know exactly where or what it was. Turns out, if you’re driving through the interior, it will most likely find you! The towering trees line either side of the highway and bow overhead, enveloping you in a tunnel of green. It’s really spectacular. Just be careful while you’re driving, as some idiot tourists seem to think this is a stunt road and end up lying down in the middle for a photo!