Visiting Bohol may just be the right way to start your sojourn of this beautiful country with warm friendly people. It is the tenth largest island in the Philippines comprised of 72 more small islands around the main.
Bohol has gained popularity as a good tourist destination with its tropical forest, the unpolluted beaches and the spectacular lush landscape. One only needs to see a tourist spread with the tarsier hugging a tree, looking so innocently snug to its natural habitat, to get convinced about what this small province can offer.
Three main attractions tourists just cannot say no to – the verdant rainforest with the world’s smallest monkey, Chocolate Hills and the unexploited beaches. What comes along with these three attractions are beyond what tourists can expect – trekking, snorkelling and diving or just a lazy relaxing day at the beach, all rolled into one small island.
The Chocolate Hills
The Chocolate Hills is nothing one has laid eyes on anywhere in the world. The sloping mounds changed colors with the season. During the rainy season, the hills are luxuriant green and during the dry season, the landscape changed into brown shades, thus its name. One cannot keep the camera shutters from clicking once you see these amazing hills.
The last of the not-to-be-missed attractions in Bohol is its diving site expanse. A visit to Panglao Island can be a refreshing shift from the close encounters with Mother Nature. This place prides itself to having some of the nicest beaches in the island. Panglao Island is a limestone and coralline island and no diver would trade a week stay in this place for anything. Panglao has preserved a picturesque traditional rural town layout. So, if one has not been to a real rural town, Panglao can give you a clear picture of what it looks like.
Diving enthusiasts would rave about the white-sand Alona Beach which could be a good starting point of their beach-hopping galore.
The house reef of Alona Beach known as Kalipayan or “Happy Wall” teems with attractively colourful corals, sea fans, some juvenile barracudas and small groupers. This takes a good six-minute boat ride from Alona Beach, or for those Olympic swimmers, it’s an easy reach by swimming from the beach.
Another 12-minute ride by ‘banca’ (boat) from Alona Beach would bring you to Arco Point or more poignantly called “Hole in the Wall” where one can see rare fish species swimming along the wall.
What can be better than hopping from one island to another? And you need only a pump-boat to do that. You can start with the fascinating whale and dolphin watching tour at Panglao Island, followed by hopping from Pamilacan Island to Balicasag to Cabilao Island. Each of these islands managed to keep its pristine natural condition.
The Smallest Monkey – Tarsier
Bohol is one of the few islands in the Philippines with the virgin forests still intact and conserved. Locals organize day-trips into the jungle where you can smell and breathe the forest air and maybe get the chance to meet some rare species in the jungle. The tarsier is one great sight to behold especially if you catch them undisturbed. Like the sloping Chocolate Hills, the tarsiers are not to be missed by visiting tourists.
Bohol’s people are friendly, warm and hospitable, typical of every Philippine rural townsfolk nature. People have a ready smile for just about anyone. Everyone can offer a place to stay in their home, if you are not picky. That’s hospitality – Philippine style.
Fruits abound in the island given that agriculture is the other major source of income of this island second to tourism.
Heard about ‘mangga’ (mango), saging (banana) and guayabano (soursop), durian (durian)? These are the local fruits you can get to taste when you visit the island. Look at the pictures and these mouth watering fruits will get your tummies grumbling.