Never heard about Bohol Island in Philippines? No worries, amazing places are generally kept secret. And lucky you that we discovered this enchanting island and we are delighted to share some unforgettable experiences. Bohol Island in Philippines is a precious destination, if you don’t believe me, just have a look in the video! ?
You don’t need to tell me, I know you loved it! And your next holiday will definitely be Bohol Island in the Philippines. I don’t blame you, after two weeks there I’m already dreaming of going back.
And you know why?
Because while many tourists are flocking to Boracay (we visited there too and enjoyed a lot), not that many people go to explore this beautiful island. On the island of Bohol, you can feel the truly Filipino atmosphere!
About Bohol Island Phillipines
The tenth biggest island in the Philippines, Bohol island, is located in the middle of the archipelago (the country has more than 7 000 islands). It is just over 4 000 square kilometers in size and is surrounded by 75 other small islands.
Most people think that the Philippines’ Islands are just about paradisiac beaches, but in actuality, the country has a whole lot more to offer. Bohol Island is the perfect example. There, you can find stunning white sand beaches, lush green forests, symmetric hills, and incredible underwater life. There are also so many amazing things to do in Bohol.
Bottom line: Bohol Island in the Philippines will enchant you!
Are you prepared to follow us around Bohol? I promise I will try to avoid writing as huge a post as I did about Boracay, but it’s hard to keep it small and simple because we loved the Philippines!
» Our first recommendation: rent a motorbike in Bohol and explore the island at your own pace. There is no better way to see the amazing nature, meet locals, and have fun. Don´t be afraid, Filipino traffic is fine, people drive very slowly and there are signs all over the island.
If you get lost, no worries, everybody speaks English. And being lost is the perfect opportunity to make friends and feel how warm and helpful the people of Bohol are.
We rented our scooter with Island Rentals, and we received great safety tips and advice on what we need to pay attention to when renting a motorbike. We learned so much that I decided to write a small guide: How to Rent Motorbike in Bohol & Everywhere in the World.
Now that you know the best way to get around Bohol Island in the Philippines, time to show why this wonderland enchanted us!
Bohol Philippines » Panglao Island
Each of the 75 islands around Bohol is unique and stunning. Panglao, one of the most beautiful and well known of the Bohol Islands, is connected to Bohol main island by a bridge. The bridge makes commuting between the two islands super easy. Here is what you can’t miss while in Panglao Island:
» Alona Beach
Alona beach in Panglao Island is the most famous Bohol Island Destinations. The majority of tourists stay there, and I believe that it’s the most beautiful of the Bohol tourist spots. White sand, crystal clear water, giant starfish, and a breathtaking sunset. Do you need any more reasons to stay there?
In Alona Beach you can find restaurants, bars, and hotels literally on the sand. Sunbathing and eating at the same time! Perfect for beach bums like us! ?
From Alona, you can take a boat to Balicasag and Virgin Island. The island-hopping trip is a must. If you go to Bohol and don’t do it, you’re a fool! (Sorry, no offense!)
» Island Hopping Trip to Balicasag & Virgin Island
Negotiate the price of the trip with the fishermen on the beach, and don’t buy from the first seller that approaches you. The price can drop by more than a half, so use your bargaining skills. However, keep in mind that this is their job and the islands are far away. Reach a fair price. ?
Balicasag was one of the best snorkeling spots that we have ever visited! Before we reached our destination, the sunrise and the dolphins welcomed us to the sea, what a spectacle! On the island, we swam with big colorful fishes and preserved corals while diving in the deep blue sea.
Balicasag has an underwater cliff, which is what makes the island one of the most perfect spots for diving in Bohol Island and in the Philippines.
After some hours snorkeling, we were hit by a big storm. No problem, even freezing on the boat our captain took us to the Virgin Island and we sailed safe and sound back to Alona’s shore. The only downside is that our pictures are not stunning, but they are quite fun! ?
Panglao Island also has other interesting places to visit like caves, untouched beaches, and fishermen villages. For us, the three days we spent there were enough to see and enjoy the island, but if you can stay for longer, do it! ?
Bohol Philippines » Bohol Island Mainland
The mainland of Bohol Island was a great surprise for us! With our scooter, we had the opportunity to go to small villages, where we couldn’t find any tourists. There is nothing more rewarding them visit a place that makes you feel comfortable, happy, and a part of it. That´s how I felt in Loay, our second address in Bohol Island.
I´m sure the people of Bohol are the biggest reason why I want to go back there. One afternoon we went for a jog. After my 5km, I stopped on the beach to do some stretching while Rob was finishing his run. In less than 2 minutes I was surrounded by 6 or 7 kids, all of them doing the same exercises as me.
We stayed there playing for almost half an hour, counting in English and Boholano (they tried to teach me their dialect – I love trying to learn new languages while traveling) until the beautiful sunset put an end to our fun.
I don’t have pictures of the awesome moment with the kids. I never expected that could happen. However, that day will stay forever in my memories and in my heart. Because it doesn´t matter where you came from, or which language you speak, friendship and smiles are universal and the Filipino kids know this!
After making friends, it was time to explore a bit more of Bohol Island in the Philippines, and you will be amazed by the beautiful nature we found there.
» Try out SUP on the Loboc River
Loboc river berth is in the middle of the island, but it´s near the Loboc Village that all the action starts. Many people choose to go on the restaurant boat to see the river, but we found it too boring for us!
That´s why we decided to meet Frederic from SUP Tour Philippines. If you read our post about Boracay you already know that stand up paddle is my new affair, so practicing SUP on the Loboc river sounded like a perfect plan to me!
Nature and the river are fantastic. The water is so clean and all the green around is a real tropical paradise. We did just the SUP tour on Loboc river, but the company also offers mountain bike tours and yoga activities. It’s worth checking the schedule and joining the groups.
» View the Chocolate Hills
Can you imagine 1 700 symmetrical hills, all of them side by side with the same shape and size?
Incredible isn’t it? And it´s true!
In the heart of Bohol Island, you can find the Chocolate Hills. They are spread across an area of 50 square km and during the dry season the green grass of the hills changes to brown, which is why they are called Chocolate Hills.
No doubt this is the most delicious attraction in Bohol!
The Chocolate Hills are definitely a place you have to go to by motorbike. There are daily bus tours going to the viewpoint, but you will just get a small taste of it. The best part is to explore the area around the Chocolate Hills, drive between them in tiny muddy streets and be enchanted by the perfection of nature.
» Explore the Man-Made Forest
The Bilar Man-Made Forest is, for me, one of the most powerful attractions on Bohol Island in the Philippines. The beautiful forest is proof that men and nature can work together. While driving in the forest we stop several times just to contemplate the beauty.
The dense forest stretches up to 2 kilometers between the Loboc and Bilar towns. In 1947 the government started a project of reforestation. Together with the community, red and white mahogany trees were planted in 19,410 hectares of land, putting an end to the deforestation process that was happening in the Loboc watershed.
» Find a Tarsier
In the middle of such unique nature, a tiny cute animal spends all day sleeping on the trees. It’s easy to find a Tarsier, but when you see one, the first impulse is to scream, hug, squeeze, and play with them. But please don’t do that. Never, ever…
The Tarsier is one of the smallest primates in the world, measuring less than a human hand (85 to 160 millimeters). They are really shy animals with nocturnal habits, spending most of the day sleeping in hidden places.
Because the Tarsier is shy and nervous, touching, hugging, and camera flashes can really stress the animal. The stress leads to the Tarsier committing suicide by hitting its head against objects. ?
To see a Tarsier in nature we went to the Philippine Tarsier Foundation, where we could find all the information about this strange and cute animal. And please, NEVER visit the Tarsiers kept in cages along Loboc river, they are kept illegally and most of the time they don’t survive for long ?
Remember: We have to be responsible tourists!
Bohol Island Philipines » Tagbilaran
Tagbilaran or simply Tag is the capital of Bohol Island in the Philippines. The port and the airport are located there, along with the shopping centers, big restaurants chains, and street food markets. From Tag, you can reach all the small villages in Bohol and Panglao island.
» Bohol Festivals
Walking around Tag you can visit many churches and witness how strong the Catholic Religion is in the Philippines. During the year there are many festivities and parades happening there. We were super lucky – while exploring the island we found a nice party going on. Kids were all dressed up in costumes and big performances were happening beside the church.
Again, we were the only foreigners there, but that wasn´t a problem. In 2 minutes, we were already talking with people, dancing and taking pictures together.
» Antequera and Mag-Aso Falls
Get your motorbike and drive from Tag to Antequera. The road is really scenic and only 20 kilometers from the town, you will find a cute village in the mountains and a beautiful waterfall.
Mag-Aso Falls was an 8 meters twin waterfall with crystal clear water, and one of the top attractions in Bohol. After the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013 and the subsequent typhoons, the waterfall has changed a lot but is still beautiful.
The natural disasters affected Bohol Island in the Philippines a lot. Not only were the waterfalls damaged, but other attractions like bridges, churches, and many houses were destroyed. Driving around the island you can see the scars on nature and on the urban areas.
Although, even after so many problems (earthquake and typhoons) the island is still strong. Everything has been rebuilt and people there are so proud of their homeland.
My respect to all the Boholanos for such persistence, and I really admire how they talk with passion about their island and country. If you have a chance, talk to them about their history. You will be amazed. ?
Where to Stay in Bohol Island?
As I’ve said, Bohol has so many things to do and see that we decided to split our stay into two different areas of the island. That way we could enjoy different vibes and reach all the Bohol attractions in a small driving distance. If you want to explore the whole Bohol Island [which we strongly recommend] just follow our tips to book the best hotel for you.
To enjoy the white sand beach, book your accommodation in Panglao Island. The busiest beach is Alona, where you can find luxury resorts to middle range hotel. Just be aware that most of the cheapest hotels in Bohol offer only a fan and cold shower.
» Loboc River
Loboc River is the perfect spot to relax and be in contact with nature. From there, you can easily reach the Chocolate Hills, Man-Made Forest, and Tarsier Foundation. My recommendation is to book your accommodation at the beautiful Fox & Firefly Cottages.
The place is carefully designed. You can stay in a traditional Filipino hut, in the middle of the greenery with all the comfort and amenities you need.
The best part: Loboc River is your neighbor!
» Tag, Loay & Anda
These three areas are great spots to find a hotel in Bohol Island. They have different types of accommodation from hostels to luxury resorts. Tagbilaran is the center of Bohol, we stayed there just one night, the day before our flight. As we were leaving the island early in the morning we thought would be smart and stay near to the airport in order to avoid traffic.
Loay was the village we stayed in during the time we explored the mainland of Bohol. The tiny fisherman beaches are super interesting and you can form a real connection with the local people. Loay is one of the best places to eat fresh fish and from there you can reach all the other parts of the island.
Another great Bohol tourist attraction is Anda Beach. A little bit far from Tagbilaran, this beach is famous amongst divers. Hotels and resorts are laying on the beach waiting for travelers and sea lovers.
How to get to Bohol Island in The Philippines?
Bohol Island is located in the middle of the Philippines archipelago, just beside Cebu Island. To get to Bohol by flight, first you have to fly to Cebu City or Manila and from there, take another flight to Tagbilaran Airport. Most of the Asian budget airlines fly to Tag. (Thank God!)
Alternatively, you can get to Bohol Island by boat. Ferries depart every day from Cebu Port. There are some other lines operating from small islands around Bohol, but they are not frequent. From Cebu to Bohol we chose the SuperCat ferry and they offered a reasonable price and good service.
You can check the timetables here.
If you have some extra days in Cebu you must visit Oslob and get close to the giant and majestic whale sharks. Check here how to get to Oslob and add this adventure to your travel itinerary.
Local Bohol Food » The Travellers` Big Issue
Food is a tricky subject when we talk about traveling to the Philippines. I have heard so many different opinions:
“I liked it, they have great fried chicken!”
“Ohh, I hate it. Everything is deep fried!!”
It´s impossible to please everybody, and also we can´t generalize that a country’s cuisine is bad or good. However, as a food lover and also an enthusiast of the Philippines, I think I have the right to express my opinion and say that my stomach was really happy while we were traveling through Bohol Island in the Philippines.
True: They have lots of fried chicken, fried pork, fried sausages, and most of the drinks come really sweet.
False: The local dishes aren’t delicious.
First, you have to leave your prejudice outside of the restaurant and then you will be amazed by the different and unique flavors. In Bohol, we tried a delicious savory soup made of coconut milk, jackfruit, and ginger. Sounds like a strange combination, but it was yummy!! Rob elected it as one of his favorite Asian dishes.
I loved the Malunggay and young coconut meat soup, the ginger ice-cream, the fresh salad with flowers… OMG!! Better stop now, I’m getting hungry!
My point is: be open and try new things. Most of the time we ate in small eateries, sharing the table with students and workers, learning about local veggies and tasting delicious recipes. Different from Boracay (which is busy and more touristically developed), Bohol Island is the perfect place to forget the big restaurants, avoid fast food, and just immerse yourself in the local culture.
I guess I wrote too much again… But if you kept reading till this point it means that Bohol Island in the Philippines enchanted you too! Welcome to the club!
Our trip through the Philippines ended in Bohol and I have to say that I regret not having more time to explore this magnificent country. The list of cities and islands in the Philippines that we want to visit keeps growing, and every time I talk to a Filipino they point me toward a new unmissable destination.
Now it´s time for you to organize your trip to Bohol Island in the Philippines, and we’ll be here dreaming and planning our return. Because the Philippines is still on the top of your bucket list!
Did you know Bohol Island in the Philippines? Have you thought about traveling there? Your comments and thoughts are more than welcome!