Bohol. I’ve been here many times before but I never really took the time to explore this beautiful province. The last few times I was here I just stayed in my resort / hotel and never really ventured out to see its many attractions. And after going to its different popular and not-so-known spots, I have to say, I feel a little silly that it took me this long to explore this incredible place. Bohol has so much to offer–from its incredible beaches and islands, to its unique attractions like the Chocolate Hills and the Tarsier Sanctuary, and many more. This trip has been one of the most memorable ones to date, and my little family and I had the best time.
So, okay, for those of you who haven’t been to Bohol, it is a province in the country’s Central Visayas region and comprises of Bohol Island and many other smaller surrounding islands. Bohol is known for its coral reefs, pristine beaches, unusual geological formations, and it is the home of one of the smallest primates in the world. There are so many interestingly beautiful things to see here that allow you to be close to nature–so many places to explore, beaches to enjoy, and restaurants to try (they have the freshest seafood available here). If you’re out to discover the islands of the Philippines, well, this should definitely be on your list. It offers a unique experience that is incomparable to our other islands, as you get to taste the island life, explore its rivers and jungles, and get acquainted with its friendly locals as well as its exotic animals. Here are my top six best things to do in Bohol.
1.) Take a stroll along Alona Beach.
For Bohol first-timers, this is a great place to start your vacation. Alona Beach not only offers a long stretch of stunning white sand beach, but it also has a great selection of restaurants ranging from Italian, Swiss, Mexican, Thai and Filipino. Most of these transform into cool beach bars from sunset onwards, which makes it a great place to hangout and meet new people. Plus, the beach is a known jump off point for amazing diving (really, one of the best in the world). That’s why you’ll be able to find dozens of dive shops and boats that offer to take you out for an incredible underwater adventure (both for diving and snorkeling). Just 100 meters out is the house reef, which is great place to see bountiful marine life. If that isn’t for you, you can just chill and relax by the beach and go swimming, sunbathing or people watching.
2.) Drive up to see the Chocolate Hills.
It was my first time to see the Chocolate Hills and it just took my breath away. It is one of the most famous attractions in Bohol, and it’s easy to understand why. From a nice vantage point you just see these perfectly shaped mounds of land (our tour guide says they’re made of limestone) that resembles chocolate. Well, maybe matcha covered chocolate for me because when we went the hills were nice and lush. But apparently during dry, summer season these turn brown (hence the name). They are truly a natural wonder, and a must-see–I am so glad I got to tick that off my bucket list. These are just beautiful.
3.) Have a sumptuous lunch while on a river cruise.
Going on the Loboc River Cruise was such a nice and pleasant ride. I honestly didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, but the great food (we had a gorgeous buffet spread on the barge we were on), nice live traditional music, and the peaceful view of the jungle was just what I needed. It was calming and relaxing, even though I was working, thanks to the rustic vibe of these barges and the calm flow of the river. A must-do for the whole family! Tip: Don’t attempt to fly your drone here (if you’re planning to). Ours got stuck because of poor signal–the trees or the river itself may have prevented us to making too much noise.
4.) Hire a boat (ask your hotel to arrange it for you) to take you on an island hopping adventure.
Going on island hopping tours isn’t something new, however this particular tour (called the Panglao Island Hopping Tour) was different because it included dolphin watching. I don’t think I’ve ever seen dolphins in the wild, so this was especially exciting for me. Plus, I am not a very good swimmer, so potentially seeing them from a boat somehow appealed to me (I know, I’m corny). Anyway, we had to get up really early to be able to catch them (apparently they swim by an area at a certain time during the day) and that meant getting up at 430am for me on a cold and rainy morning. It was worth it though, because we were able to see a group of dolphins! They went right past our boat, and even circled back to say hello. They were this majestic black color that almost blended with the water–what an experience to see them up close!
Then, we went to Balicasag Island to have breakfast (our hotel, Be Grand Resort provided this for us) and to shoot for my show (this explains why I am wearing three different outfits in just one day). So I had to walk along the beach and enjoy the nice waves and scenery, while Carlos went free-diving and snorkeling to see the aquatic life Bohol is known for. In case your didn’t know, this area is a marine sanctuary so there are plenty of fish to see here, including turtles!
After, we went to Virgin Island for a different experience. What we saw was a small but peaceful island that was really more like a sandbar. It was a sight to see though because you feel like it is your own private little island, until a group of tourists arrive haha. It might be a good idea to bring a beach umbrella or a floppy hat with you because there is no place to hide from the sun. Watch out for sea urchins for sale–fishermen sell them fresh for only P20 a piece! The freshest uni you can find for a steal! Then you can go back to Alona to explore or to your resort / hotel, which we chose to do instead.
5.) Learn the fundamentals of horseback riding at Tarsier Botanika.
There are actually plenty of things you can do at Tarsier Botanika, but I only had time to learn how to ride a horse. This resort is home to thoroughbred horses that you can ride around the property. But I didn’t want to do that before learning how to ride, so I chose the latter and I have to say, it was such a great experience. First of all, I had no idea how important is it to establish a connection with your horse. You kind of have to listen and feel each other out, which I found so interesting. My teacher, Patricia Moussempes was an extraordinary instructor, as it took her only an hour to teach me how to ride a horse properly. There is so much to it, but it is really all about intuition and feeling. I really wanted to learn more, but we had such limited time I had to leave right away. Next time I am in Bohol, I will make sure to come back to Tarsier Botanika, hopefully to stay in one of their villas and eat in their restaurant. For more information, visit www.donatelahotel.com.
6.) See the Philippine Tarsier in a protected sanctuary.
I’ve never seen a tarsier up close, so this was a first for me. I never imagined them to be so small and fragile, their features so unique, and their behavior so shy and solitary. They were fascinating to look at but at the same time I didn’t want to disturb them as they are nocturnal creatures. It was great to see them properly protected in a wide and heavily wooded area where they can thrive, and it was up to the guide (and us) to spot them. These tiny tarsiers need plenty of living space (they don’t socialize very well), and when in captivity they have been known to commit suicide. This protected sanctuary is a wonderful place for them–kudos to the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary for doing a great job.
To watch the episode of #TrendingWithKelly in Bohol, click PLAY on these videos. xo