Remember my last post about the Philippines? After many emails asking for tips about my favorite destination in this beautiful country, I decided to write about things to do in Bohol. Never heard about Bohol Island in the Philippines? Don’t worry, my friend. Just remember that if a place is secret, the chances of being amazing are higher.
Bohol was my top favorite island. Winning by 1000 points from every other place in the Philippines. Why? Because nature is admirable, the people are fantastic, the water is blue, the sand is almost white, and the food is excellent. Another great thing about this island is that loads of tourists usually go straight to Boracay, so Bohol is a more local experience. Not a lot of people exploring the sites with you, you know? In Bohol, you can feel the authentic Filipino vibe.
About Bohol and the Philippines
First, let me tell you a bit about Bohol. Bohol is the 10th biggest island in the whole Philippines. It is located almost in the middle of the archipelago, a bit south Cebu. Bohol is around 4 or 5sq kilometers, and around Bohol, you can find over 70 smaller islands. Most people think that the Philippines is mainly beautiful and unflawed beaches and that’s it. But they couldn’t be more wrong. The Philippines is much, much more and Bohol is a great example. That is why you need this post with suggestions of things to do in Bohol.
In Bohol, you will see incredible underwater life, large forests, dazzling white sand beaches, untouched nature and unique wildlife.
But… what to do there? Let me know all the things to do in Bohol
Motorbike your way around
My first tip is about how you’ll move there. You need to rent a motorbike and explore the island at your own pace. Trust me; there’s no better way to see the entire beauty of this paradise on earth.
Since it is relatively unknown and the island has only one city, the traffic is good. Just ask someone where you can find a rental place and remember to bargain a lot. I mean, keep in mind that it is their job and all but don’t trust the first price you see. And since English is one of the official languages in the country, you’ll be fine. Besides, Filipinos are well known for being one of the most friendly and helpful people. If you get lost, you’ll end up making friends. My friend rented his bike in one of the many rentals around Alona beach. I think he paid something around 250 pesos per day for 30 days with the scooter. But I believe this was a special price for one month; I think you can bargain the price to something around 350 or 400 pesos per day for ten days. But you must see for yourself.
Remember that to rent a motorbike you MUST have a driving license and some experience, ok? I don’t want to see anybody getting hurt. My friend rented the scooter because I know nothing about driving one.
The second thing you must pay attention when you’re renting a motorbike is the conditions of the bike. Check all the safety features strictly and if everything is working fine. But if you’re like me and never check things and gets lost in the process, here’s a checklist:
– Check the bike for damages, scratches and all. Take a picture of both sides and show to the owner. That can save you a lot of stress in the end.
– Try the helmet and see if you’re comfortable with it. Please make sure that you are since you must wear one at all times.
– Ask for an emergency number in case something happens to the bike.
– Check the breaks (Duh)
– Check the lights
– And the tires too!
– Ask for insurance. Better safe than sorry. (And please, always travel with travel insurance!)
– Pay attention to the gas tank. Check if opens and closes properly.
– Test the bike in front of the shop before closing the deal
– Ask the owner for a complete demonstration if you’re not familiar with the model you’re getting.
– Write down where are the gas stations in the area. Put them on your phone. Google maps can work offline if you need.
Enjoy the beautiful Alona Beach
Alona beach in Panglao Island is the most famous place in Bohol. My hotel was 15 minutes walking from the beach, and the location couldn’t be more perfect! For those who haven’t check the map yet, Panglao is connected to Bohol by a bridge. Going from one island to the other is super easy!
Back to Alona now. Alona is crystal water, the white sand outstanding beach that can make you entertained day and night. With out-of-this-world sunsets and sunrises, bars that serve drinks and beer all night long and various restaurants, Alona Beach is definitely where you want to stay. In this beach, you can find all kinds of accommodations, from rental apartments all the way to 5-star hotels. Make sure you choose one from this link here.
Nice to say that from Alona you can take a boat to Balicasag and the Virgin Islands. This hoping island trip is a must! Again, bargain your way around the first price you hear. I will add a map at the end of this post with the location in the main island of all my recommendations, ok? In the best order possible. For the Island hopping and Alona beach, save the map below.
If it is for you, go to a ladyboy show and have loads of fun!
Nothing will be better than showing you this amazingness with a video, huh? That was one of my favorite things, and from all the options in this list of things to do in Bohol, maybe it will be on your top 3.
This video we filmed inside a, what I can only describe as, a horrible zoo-like place. I don’t recommend going there, and this is why I will not even say where in Bohol this is. My tip is for trying to find a real show there. It is as easy as ordering a beer.
Later, I would love to hear from your experiences in the comments below.
Thank me later!
Island Hopping: Balicasag & Virgin Island
Like I said before, negotiate the price of the trip with the fishermen on the beach. Do not go for the first seller that approaches you and don’t believe the first price you hear. The cost for everything in Bohol can drop more than a half if you’re good in negotiations. Use your bargain skills everywhere! Just keep in mind that this is how most people make the day and the islands are far away. Don’t push it too hard. Reach a fair price for both parts.
The island of Balicasag is one of the best places to see the sea life! If you’re lucky enough, you can even spot some dolphins!
Balicasag has an underwater cliff, so if you know how to dive, make sure you get to see this place.
Chocolate Hills and the cute overload of Bohol, the Tarsier
Close your eyes and imagine 1.700 symmetric hills all them side by side with same shape and size. Now picture them as if they were just a bunch of chocolate powder – yes, the same kind you mix with your milk. Incredible isn’t it? And it´s true! Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch them in the right color since I went after/during the rain season, in October and November. But the view is quite something, regardless of when you see it. No list of things to do in Bohol would be complete without those two items here.
In the heart of Bohol Island, you go and check the Chocolate Hills.
The Chocolate Hills are an area of around 50 square km and like I said, during the dry season the vegetation turns brown giving the chocolate effect. Please eat something before going there otherwise you’ll be craving for sweets the whole day. And by the “whole day” I mean it, ok? If you want a cool view, go to the Chocolate Hills Adventure Park.
The Chocolate Hills are a site you have to go with your rental scooter. If you don’t want or can’t rent a motorcycle, daily bus tours are going there, but you will just get a small taste of it. Another alternative is to make some friends in the hotel or hostel you’re at and share the costs of a private van.
Here are some cool and cheap options for hotels that for sure will have some people willing to go there with you in Panglao, Loboc, Tagbilaran, and Anda. Those are the major spots, but you can search for something in this inspiration box right here to see what fits best for you. I guarantee a great price if you follow this link.
Another cool thing to do by scooter – or by shared van, is to check out the tarsier. Tarsiers are cute and tiny animals that spend all day sleeping on trees in this such unique nature that Bohol has. It is not easy to spot them in the wild so you gotta go to the Loboc Tarsier Conservation Center. It is one of the only places where you can see the tarsier in nature, without a cage. You can’t experience Bohol without seeing those cuties but please, make sure you go to the right places and not those who promote animal cruelty.
And when you look at the cute overload, your first impulse will to scream, hug, squeeze and play with them. But please don’t do it, ok? Never do that. Or use flash photography. The tarsier is so delicate that even the stress of a flash can kill it of heart attack or make it commit suicide by hitting its head against objects. Don’t know how accurate this info is but it was everywhere in Bohol.
The Tarsier is one of the smallest primates in the world. They are smaller than your hand probably. Maybe it is something between 85 to 160 millimeters. And please, NEVER visit the Tarsiers kept in cages along Loboc river. Responsible tourism is a must! Those poor animals are held illegally, and most of the time they don’t survive for long.
Butterflies in your stomach
That goes for everybody crazy about colors and new experiences. The Simply Butterflies Conservation Center is a butterfly sanctuary with over 300 different species. You can even let them land in your hand if you’re lucky enough! It is magical!
The Loboc River and its cruises
The Loboc River is a giant and beautiful river crossing Bohol. It is born in the middle of the island, but when it gets closer to the village of Loboc, is where the action starts. There are floating restaurants that can take you along the river showing you everything. Some even have locals dancing traditional music.
If you think this is a bit boring, you can try to do the river by SUP (stand up paddling). I didn’t do that since I only found out about it after I left Bohol. I know, sad. Loboc River’s nature is fantastic. It is a must do while you’re in Bohol.
The Man-Made Forest in Bilar
Yes, you read it right. Bohol has a man-made forest! Like, WTF, right? In Bilar, a small town on the island, you can find this incredible and outstanding site. The Man-Made Forest is for me one of the most powerful attractions on Bohol Island in the Philippines. For me symbolizes that we, humans, can work together with nature to build something great!
I recommend scheduling this on the same day as the Chocolate Hills since it is on the way. And while you’re driving through the forest, please stop and enjoy the vibe.
This dense forest stretches up to 2 kilometers between the Loboc and Bilar. History goes that in 1947, after the WWII, the Filipino government decided to start a reforestation project. And together with the people, a bunch of white and red mahogany was planted in almost 20.000 hectares of land. That meant the end of the deforestation process that was happening in the area.
The incredible Mag-Aso Falls and Antequera
Hop on your scooter again and drive to Antequera. Just the road from Tagbilaran to this place is something else. It is pretty! And only about 20 kilometers from the town you’ll see a cute village in the mountains and a fantastic waterfall.
The Mag-Aso Falls was an 8 meters twin waterfall with crystal clear water once. It was one of the top attractions in Bohol. But after a devastating earthquake in 2013 and the consecutive typhoons, everything changed. The waterfall might not be the same but is still super beautiful and deserves your time. Trust me!
All the endless natural disasters affect Bohol and the whole Philippines a lot. It is really sad. A lot of other attractions like churches, bridges and many homes were destroyed. You can see the scars when you drive around the island. In urban areas and nature.
But Bohol and the Philippines stand strong! They rebuilt most of the things. My true respect goes to all Filipinos for such persistence! Coming from a country with no natural disasters like Brazil, I can only imagine the amount of pain those people feel. If you have a chance talk to them about their history, they will be happy to tell you. And you’ll be amazed!
The whole country is such an example of resiliency and can inspire you so much. It is worth a more significant trip around these islands! Nina has a great post with a complete itinerary for your next trip to the Philippines, take a look.
Have you ever been to Bohol Island? And the Philippines? Did you like our list of things to do in Bohol?
Are you think about going there? Share your plans or your past experiences with us here in the comments! I would love to hear more from you all!