BOHOL TRAVEL GUIDE - THE ISLAND AND THE PROVINCE
The Province of Bohol is located in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines. When most people visit Bohol, they base themselves on Panglao Island, the largest of the 75 minor islands surrounding the main island of Bohol itself. Panglao Island is connected to Bohol Island by two bridges and is easily reached from Bohol’s capital city and main port of Tagbilaran. The popular Alona Beach on Panglao is less than 20km from Tagbilaran and all major attractions of Bohol can easily be reached from Panglao. We chose to stay in the small town of Anda on the eastern peninsular of Bohol Island itself, as well as in the Alona Beach area of Panglao Island. The two areas are very different and it was great to experience both. Here are just some of the fun things to see and do in Bohol:
EXPLORING PANGLAO ISLAND, BOHOL
HOW TO GET TO BOHOL
Take a Tricycle for PHP50 from the Tagbilaran Ferry Terminal to the DOA Bus Terminal from there.
Another easy entry point to Bohol is Tubigon. The port city in the North East has over 20 daily ferry connections to Cebu and the ride only takes about an hour. Also, it is the cheaper option than taking the ferry directly to Tagbilaran with a ride costing about half the price in comparison. Tubigon is well connected to all the major tourist attractions on Bohol and you can easily reach Tagbilaran, Panglao and Carmen by bus or shared van (V-hire) from here.
From DOA Bus Terminal you can get a bus to almost anywhere on Bohol. To get to Pangloa / Alona Beach use the Panglao airport bus (hourly) for PHP20-40 depending on your destination.
To get to Anda you can either make use of the 3 daily busses that go there directly from DOA Terminal (Non-air-conditioned PHP100) or one of the hourly busses heading for Ubay - get off at Guindulman and take a Tricycle the rest of the way to Anda (PHP150). There are also shared mini-vans plying the route to Anda for PHP130 per person but no fixed schedules are available.
Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific, and Air Aisa all service the Panglao International Airport (opened Nov 2018) and there are daily flights to the new airport from Manila. An airport bus travels to the DOA Bus Terminal / Island City Mall for PHP50 ($1). You can use the same bus to get to Alona Beach for PHP20. To get from Alona beach to the DAO Bus Terminal you can also hail the same bus again anywhere along the main road (PHP40) or take a Tricycle for around PHP300. From the DOA Bus Terminal to the Tagbilaran Ferry Terminal you can take a Tricycle for PHP50.
HOW TO GET AROUND BOHOL
The best way to get around Bohol is by renting a scooter. The roads are pretty good and it's fairly easy riding. Prices range from PHP300-500 for 24 hours. Take note that wearing a helmet is required by law and you should have a valid International Driving Permit (IDP). Do NOT rent scooters from random people on the street as they might not be registered with the local authorities to legally rent vehicles and you also run the risk of falling prey to a scam. It's rare to find rentals that include any insurance cover in the Philippines and you will be liable for any loss or damage to the vehicle. At the very least ensure that the rental includes 3rd party cover and DO NOT leave your passport with anyone as surety.
If you’re travelling during peak season or holidays, it is best to book your accommodations in advance. We recommend checking sites like Booking.com or Agoda. We've also had great success using Airbnb - especially for longer stays as it was really convenient to have a bit more space. In Anda, we had a great stay at the budget-friendly R&S Seaside Accommodation which was a compact, but comfortable studio apartment with a balcony. In Alona Beach, we were very impressed by the staff and modern amenities at Hotel Renate. Not only did we have the best shower (!) on our trip, the staff went the extra mile to ensure we were happy - which was a refreshing change for the Philippines.
THE PHILIPPINE TARSIER (BOHOL ISLAND)
This was one of the main reasons we were excited to visit Bohol, to get to see these incredible little creatures in their natural environment. We chose to visit the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella, which was built to protect the Philippine Tarsiers and provide an ethical way of allowing the public to view the endangered species while they continue to live in the wild. Tarsiers are very territorial and thus often return to the exact same locations.
Each morning the staff of the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary set out in search of tarsiers within the viewing area and will then guide visitors throughout the day to enable you to see the tarsiers in their chosen spots within the viewing area. As a visitor, you will receive a briefing requesting you to be quiet and respectful of these delicate little animals. We were able to observe 4 different tarsiers, of which we were able to get a pretty good close up view of 2. They had located 5 tarsiers that morning, but one had moved away in search of food just before we arrived. We really enjoyed the experience, found the staff to be very considerate of both the visitors and the tarsiers and we were very pleasantly surprised at how closely we were able to observe the tiny little creatures without disturbing them! Definitely a highlight of our time in Bohol!
You can also view the tarsiers at the Tarsier Conservation Area in Loboc. Here are some facts about the tarsiers:
These tiny primates only grow to about 16 cm tall, making them one of the smallest primates in the world.
Tarsiers have the largest eyes of all mammals relative to their respective body size.
Their eyes are about the same size as their brains.
The tarsier can turn its head around up to 180 degrees in either direction so that it can see behind it without moving its body.
A single tarsier needs at least a hectare of space per individual to find sufficient food.
The Philippine tarsier’s pregnancy lasts about 6 months, which means they will only have about one baby per year.
CHOCOLATE HILLS (BOHOL ISLAND)
The Chocolate Hills of Carmen is an amazing landscape unique to Bohol, consisting of over 1 200 cone-shaped hills that turn brown in the summer. You can ride around between the hills, but to really get a good perspective and view of the hills, it is well worthwhile paying the PHP50 per person entrance fee to The Chocolate Hills Observation Area and climbing up the 214 steps to the observation deck for a clear view of the hills and the beautiful surrounding countryside. You can catch a local bus, go on an organised group tour or rent a motorbike to get here.
LOBOC / BILAR MAN-MADE FOREST (BOHOL ISLAND)
Located en route to the Chocolate Hills, the Bohol Man-Made Forest is a 2km stretch of densely planted Mahogany trees located between the towns of Loboc and Bilar. It’s an interesting change of scenery and you can really feel the coolness of the forest if you are riding on a bike!
CABOGNAW CAVE (BOHOL ISLAND)
You will find plenty of photos of this cave on Instagram, but when we visited in 2019, the ladder had been removed and swimming was no longer allowed. There are a few other cave pools nearby such as Tibaw Cave and Combento Cave, each with their own small entrance fee, so just check the latest Google Maps reviews beforehand to find out if they are currently open.
WHITE HEAVEN HILLTOP VIEWPOINT (BOHOL ISLAND)
This relatively new attraction near Anda is a spot you really shouldn’t miss. We were lucky enough to be alone at the top of the hill and were completely blown away by the stunning panoramic views out over Anda. The pin on Google Maps is not accurate and the actual entrance is a lot closer to the town of Anda. The entrance is also not marked in any way, so be sure to ask the locals and don’t give up until you find it and make the steep climb up the 450+ stairs, it will be worth it!
LOBOC RIVER CRUISE (BOHOL ISLAND)
Enjoy a riverboat tour together with a delicious buffet meal as you float along the Loboc River.
CADAPDAPAN RICE TERRACES (BOHOL ISLAND)
The Cadapdapan Rice Terraces are one of the most picturesque rice terraces in Bohol and definitely worth the visit if you are in the area. The road leading here is rather loose and hazardous though, so don’t attempt this if you are not entirely comfortable on your two wheels! You will find tiered rice terraces throughout the Candijay region. While you are here, combine it with a visit to the nearby Canumantad Waterfall and Canawa Cold Springs.
CAN-UMANTAD FALLS (BOHOL ISLAND)
The road leading to these falls is rather loose and hazardous, so don’t attempt this if you are not entirely comfortable on your two wheels! There are a number of different pools along the way that you can swim in. The water is a very vibrant blue and nice and refreshing, just be sure to check the depth of the pools before you just in. The Can-Umantad Falls are the tallest waterfall in Bohol. There are plenty of great spots at the bottom of the falls to hang out, relax or even just read a book.
CANAWA COLD SPRINGS (BOHOL ISLAND)
This is very much more a local weekend hangout place than a tourist attraction. None the less, it is a great place to take a swim in the refreshing natural cold springs water to escape the heat of the day. The road leading here is rather loose and hazardous though, so don’t attempt this if you are not entirely comfortable on your two wheels!
BINANAJE HILLS SUNRISE TREK IN ALICIA (BOHOL ISLAND)
Binabaje Hills is an awesome but steep trek in Alicia that is probably the best hike in Bohol, but which should not be underestimated. The hike begins with only a small incline before becoming very steep. There is little to no shade along the way, so the heat and sun exposure can really get to you. Without stopping at with reasonable hiking fitness, it will likely take at least an hour and a half to reach the summit from the start. The return is along a different route which is about a two-hour trek back. Just remember that for this hike, you will need to book a guide at the municipal office of Alicia.
QUINALE BEACH, ANDA (BOHOL ISLAND)
If you have time and want to get away from the tourist mayhem of Panglao, be sure to make your way to the coastal town of Anda. You will find a beautiful palm tree-lined beach with shallow waters and fantastic sunsets every night. If you look out over the ocean you can even and catch a glimpse of Camiguin Island far in the distance. We were almost the only tourists around and in our opinion that in itself makes it a wonderful treasure of a beach!
MAG-ASO FALLS (BOHOL ISLAND)
About a 20 minutes’ bike ride away from Tagbilaran, you will find the easily accessible Mag-Aso Falls. There is a small entrance fee (PHP20) and parking fee (PHP15) which also gives you access to toilets and a change room. From the entrance, you can enjoy a lovely walk down the concrete stairs through the beautiful dense forest of trees. This waterfall does not seem to be one of the most popular Bohol tourist spots, which in our opinion is a good thing!
INGKUMHAN FALLS (BOHOL ISLAND)
Here you will find a large pool of remarkably still, turquoise water. Stalactites hanging dramatically in the background and water blissfully dripping into the pool below. The pool is deep enough to make it one of the best cliff jumping spots on Bohol. And of course, there is also a rope swing hanging from the tallest branch. If you are adventurous enough, even the waterfall can be climbed.
PAHANGOG FALLS (BOHOL ISLAND)
Also known as Dimiao Twin Falls, this is a very popular tourist spot and can get busy. Two streams flow down from about 20m into a shallow pool. Only some parts of the pool are deep enough to cliff jump into. The walk back up is pretty gruelling with lots of stairs.
KINAHUGAN FALLS (BOHOL ISLAND)
A little further off the main tourist trail, you will find Kinahugan Falls. The entrance is in a small little village amongst the rice fields. It is not the most spectacular waterfall in Bohol, but entry is free and you are likely to be able to have the place to yourself if you are looking for a quiet place in nature to relax.