A Bohol Travel Guide for the adventure traveler. While Cebu, Boracay and Palawan are the Philippines’ more popular beach destinations, chilled out Bohol sits in a comfortable place in between commercial tourism and remote backwater. That means nature in all its green and blue-hued glory, but not without the necessary luxuries and plenty of quality accommodation to choose from. The latter ranges from the most luxurious of resorts to the humblest of nipa huts – you decide
Getting to Bohol
Bohol – the Philippines’ 10th biggest island – is not as easily accessed via Cebu or Boracay. This has probably served it well, as the lack of international flights has allowed the island to develop more gradually (and naturally), saving it from the breakneck construction that has nigh destroyed Boracay.
At the moment, one can fly into Bohol via Tagbilaran airport, a 40-minute drive from Panglao Island, where most international resorts can be found. However, soon enough visitors will be able to fly into Panglao Island International Airport (also known as New Bohol International Airport) – currently under construction but targeted to begin operation later this year. (Visit now, before hordes of tourists come streaming in!)
Bohol can also be reached from Cebu via ferry.
Here are 10 irresistible reasons to visit the tropical paradise that is Bohol
1. Firefly Kayaking
Firefly Kayaking in Bohol should be top on your list, as the mangrove rivers of Bohol are some of the last places in the country to see these magical but fast-disappearing creatures. You can quietly paddle your way through six kilometers worth of river route to enjoy the evening basking in their light. Some tour operators will offer the tour via canoe, while others via traditional bandong boat or even stand-up paddleboard.
2. Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
Why restrict yourself to salt water-sports when there’s a wealth of river systems to explore in Bohol? If you just want to test the waters, SUP Tours Philippines has a 1 hour package. However, if weather is great and you know you’re gonna love it, why not go for the half to full day tours? You can choose between several kilometres of river between Loboc and Abatan, or between waterfalls and river mouths. You might want to wear a hat for this one.
3. Dolphin Watching and Island Hopping
Get up bright and early for some Dolphin Watching, so that you’re sure to catch the delightful sea mammals at their most active. We don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love to see dolphins – do you?! Island Hopping tours usually include Virgin Island beach and the Balicasag Island Sanctuary, with its healthy coral reef full of fish and sea turtles.
4. Walking the Chocolate Hills
It would be remiss of us not to include exploring the Chocolate Hills in our list of things to do in Bohol. You can sign up for a whole day trip including visits to the Tarsier and Butterfly Sanctuaries, or check into the Chocolate Hills Adventure Park full of outdoor activities (although more recommended for kids). PS. Tarsiers are the smallest monkeys in the world, on the brink of extinction and native to this Philippine island. Do not take flash photography around them, or disturb them in any way!
5. Scuba Diving
The Philippines is one of the world’s best for marine biodiversity, and if you’re all about that open water life, then Bohol should be your idea of paradise. Depending on your license, you can explore sites from the Habagat wreck and Cervera Shoal to the Garden Eels and Pamilacan Island. Travel tech startup Trip Guru has five and 10 dive packages for those who want to binge beneath sea level.
See also: Penang Travel Guide
6. Mountain Biking
Work up a sweat on two wheels as you breeze through Bohol’s countryside atop a mountain bike. Anda Adventures on the southeastern end of Bohol has developed programmes for adrenaline junkies covering hiking, caving, waterfall-trekking and much more.
Go hiking and let your feet guide you to Bohol’s famous attractions like the Bilar Man-Made Forest (two kilometres) and the Can-umantad Falls. If you’re up for longer walks, then embark on the 15-kilometer Cambia route, a more demanding extension of the Can-umantad waterfall trail, or the equally long Bohol Tarsier Trail.
See also: Bali Travel Guide
8. River Cruising
There’s always going to be that cheezy touristy thing you’re going to do when visiting a place, and in Bohol it’s the river cruise. The more famous one is on Loboc River, while the more tranquil one is Loay. Or – you could pack several things in one day from river cruise to Chocolate hills to beach snorkeling in a tour like this one.
9. Zip Lining and Canyon Swinging
Zipline and ride in the cable car above the forest cover at Loboc Eco-Tourism Adventure Park, easily paired with the eponymous river cruise. This might sound yawn-worthy from your computer screen, but it’s actually thrilling to fly above the treetops. If your body is screaming “MORE!!!”, you should definitely book Danao Adventure Park further north, an Extreme/Eco/Educational Adventure zone. The latter features action-packed thrills such as “The Plunge” (the world’s highest canyon swing), “Xsanity” (Asia’s longest zipline at 1.5 meters), paramotor, river trekking, off roading, root climbing…my heart is pumping just thinking about it. Fun fact: Danao was formerly the base camp of the revered Filipino hero Francisco Dagohoy who led the Philippine’s longest revolutionary movement.
10. Beach Bumming
What the heck is so active about beach bumming, you ask? Well, one of the reasons Bohol is such a star attraction is because it’s got pristine white sand. And where best to enjoy that than on the beach itself?! If Alona Beach is too busy for you, try the strip that connects Dumaluan Beach, White Beach and Libaong Beach. That’s around three kilometers of powder sand and crystal clear blue waters. The best way to enjoy this is to check into one of the beachfront hotels whose grounds are dotted with seafront hammocks, swings, sunbeds, a tucked-away massage station…there are a few of them, but your best bet is Bohol Beach Club.
Where to Stay
Now that we’ve established that you could be a week in Bohol without getting bored for one second, let’s talk about your home base. Two out of the three times I went to Bohol, I stayed in Bohol Beach Club. Without a doubt this sprawling resort has the best beachfront on the island. It’s been around for quite a while, so it was built at a time when architects weren’t pressured to pack in as many people as possible into all the available space – hence the spread out feel of the garden and beachfront grounds. The hotel has been recently renovated to feature the most modern of amenities even while keeping the native aesthetic. You’ll get an authentic sense of place here as well, as it’s a 100% refined Filipino experience from architecture to cuisine. (Tip: Try the biko and suman at breakfast – delicious local rice delicacies!)