Bohol Island Attractions - The Best Places In Bohol
Bohol Island is becoming a favourite Philippine destination for many tourists and travellers. Currently more popular with locals, Bohol is the main island of Bohol province which includes 75 other smaller islands. Bohol Island is the tenth largest Philippine island of all 7600 of them and easily reached by ferry from the city of Cebu. With its fair size, there are plenty of Bohol attractions to see and do. We enjoyed 6 days on the island so can share some of our best places in Bohol to visit.
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We got around the island using public transport (jeepneys) and a private day tour with WOW Bohol Tours. Our private tour allowed us to travel Bohol Island in comfort with a private car and driver/English speaking guide. The other options would be to squeeze in a van with 10 other tourists or hire your own motorbike and tour the best places in Bohol yourself.
We enjoyed some of the Bohol attractions our guide took us to but there are a few Bohol sites that are simply not worth visiting.
Bohol Island Tip – Don’t Bother With the Panglao Island Tour
One of the tours offered by all tour companies is the Panglao Island tour. Panglao Island is the location of the main beach resort of Alona Beach and is linked to Bohol Island by a small bridge. Alona Beach aside, there isn’t much of interest in terms of Bohol attractions, so they’ve created their own museum-type sites which aren’t our cup of tea. We wouldn’t recommend this tour if you’re looking to see the best places in Bohol.
The Panglao Island your includes uninteresting Bohol attractions like a shell museum, bee farm/shop, a small cave and Alona Beach, which most people are staying at anyway. We preferred the Bohol Countryside Tour which WOW Bohol Tours also offer.
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THE BEST PLACES IN BOHOL ISLAND TO VISIT
Off Panglao, on Bohol Island, there are plenty of awesome Bohol attractions to visit. Here’s our pick of the best places in Bohol to see.
Bohol Attractions – Chocolate Hills
The main attraction on Bohol Island is the Chocolate Hills. There are over 1200 of the molehill looking mounds that spread over around 50 square kilometres. They range from 30m to 50m in height and in the winter months, turn brown in colour to look like chocolate. When we visited, it was summer, so the grass that covers the hills was green. But they’re still an unusual landscape at any time of year.
At the top of one of the tallest hills is a viewpoint that offers 360-degree vistas of a large Chocolate Hills section. To get to the top, there are some stairs to climb but the exercise is well worth it. On a clear day, you can see for miles. Make sure to allow some extra time at the viewpoint to fight your way through the crowds of selfie taking Koreans!
Bohol Attractions – The Tarsier Sanctuary
The next most popular site of the Bohol attractions is the Tarsier Sanctuary. For just 50 pesos, we were amazed by these little creature’s cuteness. Arguably the world’s smallest primate, the Philippine Tarsier apparently inspired Stephen Speilberg when creating E.T! It took just 30 minutes to walk the pathway through the sanctuary. We spotted around 8 Tarsiers and they looked so cosy under their little leaf roofs.
Tarsiers are nocturnal, but most of them were wide awake at the time of our visit. There was a loud chainsaw nearby in full wood chopping mode which probably wasn’t helping their sleeping situation! Or it could have been the many tourists not following the sanctuary’s request to be quiet.
While on Bohol Island, it’s so important to respect these little Tarsiers. Our guide told us how they stress very easily. If overly stressed, they have been known to commit suicide by holding their breath or repeatedly banging their heads against a tree. So tragic! 🙁
Bohol Attractions – Alona Beach
Alona Beach is a Panglao Island resort becoming increasingly busy. We wouldn’t recommend Alona Beach if you’re looking for pristine empty beaches, but it’s a pleasant enough beach town to base yourself for a few days while on Bohol Island. We imagine a few years ago, before the over development, Alona Beach would have been a beautiful place. It’s now a little overcrowded and only the far end of the beach is appealing enough for your Instagram shots.
However, we do recommend Alona Beach for evening dining and drinking which is why it’s on our best places in Bohol list. There’s a great choice of restaurants and bars for all budgets. Most of these line the beach with candle-lit tables in the sand. It feels less occupied at night after all the day trippers have gone back to Cebu, so we were able to enjoy some nice quiet beach walks under the moonlight.
Bohol Attractions – Loboc Town and River
For us, one of the best places in Bohol Island to visit is Loboc town and it’s stunning river. Most tourists visit for just a few hours as they eat lunch on one of the many overcrowded river cruises, but we choose to stay in Loboc town for 2 nights. Loboc town is tiny, and there’s not a huge amount to do, but the locals are as friendly as Filipino’s can be and it’s a different experience to stay at one of the few riverside guesthouses/hotels.
Loboc town is tiny, and there’s not a huge amount to do, but the locals are as friendly as Filipino’s can be and it’s a different experience to stay at one of the few riverside guesthouses/hotels.
During our stay, we really enjoyed paddle boarding on Loboc River with Loboc River Watersports at Loboc River Resort. The river is a gorgeous turquoise colour in the summer and its banks are filled with lush jungle and waving local village communities. The two hours spent paddling while standing on a remote section of the river was a blissful experience.
While in Loboc, we trekked to the big cross that overlooks the town. It takes 2 hours to walk from the town plaza and once at the cross, you can see across to the Chocolate Hills in one direction and the blue Philippine sea in the other. Ask any local at Loboc Plaza and they’ll point you in the right direction for the big cross path.
Loboc River is also a fantastic place to watch fireflies. Kayaking firefly tours are available on Bohol Island but find a dark enough spot near to your accommodation, as we did next to Stefanie Grace Paradise Inn, and you’ll see plenty for free. We’ll never get bored of watching the mesmerising orange glows. Such a pretty sight and another reason why Loboc is one of the best places in Bohol.
Bohol Attractions – Island Hopping & Dolphin Watching
This isn’t something we had the chance to experience, but WOW Bohol also offer Island Hopping and Dolphin Watching Tours. Similar to those in Coron and El Nido. The highlight of the trip, hopping around several uninhabited islands, is Virgin Island. Virgin Island would make the top of a lot of people’s best places in Bohol list. The bright white sand bar is the perfect place to get away from the Panglao crowds. We also heard the snorkelling to see the plentiful marine life, is impressive.
Bohol Island is a beautiful part of the Philippines but to really appreciate it we recommend to visit areas outside of touristy Panglao and it’s Alona Beach. Take a countryside or island hopping tour to see the best places in Bohol. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, hire a motorbike and create your own DIY itinerary. There are other beaches to discover and hidden waterfalls to find all over Bohol Island, so have fun exploring!