Welcome to laid back and no worries Bohol. If you're coming by plane you will land in Tagbilaran City where you can immediately feel island life take over; palm trees line either side of the runway and a no frills airport set the scene for what will be a fantastic stay. You may choose to overnight in Tagbilaran or head straight to the beaches of Panglao...
Things to do
- Enjoy a quiet night in Tagbilaran city: get local style and eat BBQ chicken from Hearty's Grill then head to Martins Resto for a few drinks. Jump in a tricycle and get anywhere within the 'city' in 5 minutes. If you need to stock up on supplies then try ICM or BQ quality mall. Beware though, BQ closes at 8pm, ICM at 9pm and most of the city is quiet by 10pm! Tagbilaran is a small yet very pleasant place to visit and can provide a welcoming starting point for your Bohol adventures. Try Douglas Pension House for clean rooms with a nice vibe (800P/night).
- Chocolate Hills: Over one thousand mound like hills around 50m high have become known as the chocolate hills and have become one of the biggest tourist sites in Bohol especially for domestic tourists. Some tell the tale of Arogo, a young and very strong giant who fell in love with an ordinary mortal girl called Aloya. After she died, the giant Arogo cried bitterly. His tears then turned into hills as a lasting proof of his grief... Filipinos enjoy coming up with stories like this for how their islands are formed!
- Anda: If you want primitive and you like diving then head to the north eastern coastal area of Anda.
- Tarsiers: these furry little critters look like they've seen one too many scary movies. A small monkey like creature with extremely wide eyes they could probably give a gremlin a run for its money! Catch them near the Loboc river, but be nice to them because they're endangered!
- Panglao Island: There are two bridges that separate Panglao Island from Tagbilaran City. The bridge closest to town will take you to the slightly less developed side of the island, with an underground swimming cave and more low key resorts. The second bridge will take you to Alona beach where most of the Panglao resorts are located. Drop into the Bee farm on your way (see below). Tanawin Beach has equally white sand but is a bit more low key than Alona. The live music and quaint dining on the edge of the sea at Alona however, is hard to beat.
- Bohol Bee Farm: An amazing place to dine where locals will take delight in offering you a flower salad. Tasteful and organic this spot is not to be missed. You can stay overnight here, each room bee themed with its own unique character! Most of the food is grown on site. Big thumbs up for the little details that make staying and dining here a dream. While there is no beach, there is a wooden covered jetty type structure with tables and places to lounge. You can also take a tour of the bee farm or simply grab a mask and explore the sea.
- Diving and snorkelling at Balicasag and Virgin Islands: From Alona it is easy to organise a day trip out to Balicasag Island where there is some more great underwater life. The Virgin Island is a white sand, uninhabitated paradise where you can stop, take a picnic and feel like castaway.
- Dolphin and Whale watching: The Baclayon area in Bohol is a place where Philippines heritage meets adventure. If you want a real local feel then make the extra 15 minute journey along the coast and out of Tagbilaran City. This is a platform for dolphin and whale watching on Pamalican Island, sea kayaking, checking out the historic church or an Eco-buggy riding extravaganza. Once you've finished with your day activities dine at the Baclayon Wharf and soak in a very local Filipino vibe! Stop into the municipal tourism office and they can direct you on any of the above activities.
- Visit Danao adventure park: featuring ziplining, camping, caving, climbing, trekking and lots more...
- Go firefly Kayaking: Try both with traditional paddles and Philippine-style ladles.
Ok so we're sure you get the picture, there’s a lot to do!
By Boat: Jump on a ferry from Cebu and you'll be in Tagbilaran city in 2-hours for just 500P. Ferries are an easy and economical way to get around the Visayan Islands. Timetables do change but as of April 2011 the following shows the ferry schedule from Tagbilaran to Cebu and back:
Cebu-Tagbilaran Ferry Schedule
600AM (Ocean Jet), 830AM (Supercat), 900AM (Weesam), 930AM (Ocean Jet), 1250PM (Supercat), 150AM (Ocean Jet), 200PM (Weesam), 335PM (Ocean Jet), 510PM (Supercat), 600PM (Ocean Jet), 630PM(Weesam)
Tagbilaran-Cebu Ferry Schedule
700AM (Weesam, Ocean Jet), 930AM (Ocean Jet), 1040am (Supercat), 1120AM (Weesam), 1135AM (Ocean Jet), 300pm (Supercat), 410PM (OceanJet), 430AM(Weesam), 530AM (OceanJet), 720pm (Supercat)
Fly: If you're coming by air CebuPacific, AirPhils, Zest and PAL all service Tagbilaran from Manila. If you're coming from other parts of the Philippines then just head to Cebu and catch a ferry. There is also an overnight ferry service going from Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao to Tagbilaran and vice versa.
Where to next
- Siquijor Island: Catch a 2-hour ferry to Siquijor Island, the land of beautiful deserted beaches and witchcraft!
- Surigao: For the surfer dudes, hop on an overnight ferry to Cagayan de Oro then a 6-hour bus to Surigao/Siargao for some surfing.
- Apo Island: Catch a short ferry to Dumagette and check out Apo Island, one of the best dive spots in the Philippines!
Written by Anna Cleal