Of all the places we went in the Philippines, Bohol was the one that surprised me the most. It was never up on my travel wishlist and before leaving I definitely didn’t lust over it like I did with Boracay and El Nido. We only really added it in since it’s cheap and (fairly) easy to get to from Boracay. Yet, it ended up being possibly my favourite part of the trip.
What to do in Bohol
Bohol is an extremely diverse island and the best way to see it would definitely be by motorbike or scooter. There’s plenty to see for nature lovers including the Chocolate Hills, Loboc River and, of course, the tarsier sanctuary! These attractions are all fairly spread out and, unfortunately, Bohol doesn’t have a great public transport system. The island is full of tour operators offering tours to all the main attractions. But what is the fun in spending 2000 pesos to sit on a bus with hoards of tourists for hours on end? Instead, we hired a scooter for 400 pesos a day and had the freedom to see what we wanted at our own pace. This is definitely the most fun and budget friendly way to see Bohol!
We spent one day checking out Panglao Island- if you decide to stay there, there is much more to see than just Alona Beach. Perhaps because we had just experienced the perfect white sands of Boracay, we were extremely underwhelmed by this mediocre stretch of beach. To be honest, I would avoid it completely if beaching is your game. The Philippines has much more beautiful places to offer than this- don’t let it’s nickname “Mini Boracay” fool you. The only thing it has in common with the real Boracay is the cramped cluster of restaurants filled to the brim with tourists- it definitely has none of it’s charm or beauty. Instead of wasting your time here, explore the perimiter of the island. We visited Hingangdanan Cave which has a lagoon for swimming in, loads of churches and Bohol Bee Farm which I’ll mention later in more detail!
The next day, we drove to mainland Bohol to see the Chocolate Hills, the Manmade Forrest, Tarsiers and the Loboc River. Blog post with a full outline of our 2 days DIY Bohol tour coming soon!
Bohol Bee Farm
This is a place that deserves an honourable mention! Bohol Bee Farm is an organic farm on Panglao Island in the ideal seaside location, yet away from the crowds of Alona Beach. This was definitely the gem of Panglao Island for us. The farm is divided up into sections; a shop, spa, hotel, restaurant, dive centre and chill out area with ice cream outlets dotted around in between! You can take a tour of the farm and learn more about their sustainable practices then afterwards you can explore and see what they are making for yourself. The Buzz Shop contains items all made from ingredients grown on the farm- you can buy bread, toiletries, honey, jams… even pesto! You can then taste what they are making by heading to the Buzz Cafe. The food here was so good that we had to come twice- definitely my favourite 2 meals in the Philippines. After you’ve finished your meal you should head to one of the Buzz Ice Cream stands. They have a wide range of both usual and unusual flavours. I liked the salted honey with honey chilli sauce the best! And for sunsets, the deck area is the best place to be- chill on the loungers or bean bags with an ice cold San Miguel and wait for the sun to sink into the sea.
Where to Stay
We stayed on Panglao Island which is home to the famous, but seriously underwhelming, Alona Beach. Aside from this, Panglao Island isn’t a bad base for your stay in Bohol. It’s conveniently located for bars and restaurants and still within a commutable distance of the main tourist attractions. However, if I were to go back again, I’d definitely stay on the main island and have the full jungle experience. A place that travellers rave about is Nuts Huts– a backpackers resort right beside the Loboc River and in the heart of the Bohol jungle. This place isn’t on Booking or Agoda, so you need to contact them directly to make a booking. Off the beaten path and definitely a one off experience!
To get to Bohol by air, there are 2 options.
The first option (and most expensive) would be to fly directly to Tagbilaran Airport which is located on the island.
The second option (which I took and would recommend) would be to fly to Cebu City. As this is a major airport there is no shortage of discount fares from all over Philippines and even international destinations.
From the airport take a taxi to the ferry terminal. You might need to walk a bit out of the airport to find a taxi who’ll do a metred trip for you, rather than take you at a set (and overpriced) rate. We went during rush hour and our taxi cost 280 pesos. Don’t let taxi touts rip you off!
You can then take a ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran which takes 2 hours. There is the option for tourist class with AC (500 pesos) or you can chill with the locals on the top deck (400 pesos.) We went for the local class and I’m glad we did as we were able to actually see an amazing sunset over Cebu City, rather than just see it through a window. Plus, the breeze from the ocean was definitely much more pleasant than having AC blasting in your face. You can book ferry tickets through tour operators or at the ferry terminal.
Bohol was definitely a pleasant surprise for me. There were so many interesting places to see away from Alona Beach and I enjoyed observing the nature and local life from the back of a scooter. If you are looking for adventure and a change of scenery, I’d definitely recommend you to add it to your Philippine’s itinerary! It’s easy to get to with a lot to do to keep you entertained for a few days. Stay away from the beach and immerse yourself into the jungle experience to properly discover Bohol at it’s best.
Have you got any plans to visit the Philippines? What would be your ideal itinerary? Leave me a comment and let me know 🙂