Bohol Island Travel Guide

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Bohol is unique, both above and below its waters. If it is Bohol’s underwater biodiversity that attracts divers, it is its above-water attractions that are luring non-divers to the place. Big-eyed Philippine tarsiers, fascinating Chocolate Hills, man-made mahogany forests, crystal springs, majestic mangroves, and silvery beaches are some of the allures of Bohol. They complement the scenic beauty of this picturesque island.

Location of Bohol

Bohol is a province in the island nation of the Philippines. It is a part of Central Visayas, which is Region VII of the country. On Bohol’s northern side lies the well-known island province of Cebu, which is separated from Bohol by a small strait. To its south is the island of Mindanao and to its northeast is the province of Leyte. Bohol is 10th in size among the islands that comprise the Philippines. The province of Bohol consists of Bohol itself and a collection of 75 smaller islands around it.

Bohol’s popularity as a tourist destination has steadily increased ever since its tourism potential was unlocked a few years ago.

What you can do in Bohol

Bohol’s fame as a tourist centre rests mainly on its magnificent dive sites which attract divers from all over the world. However, with its beaches, churches, forests, hills, and historically important sites, Bohol has a lot more to offer to tourists than mere diving.

Island Hopping: In Bohol there are many uninhabited islands for tourists to explore. Island hopping tours generally start from Panglao Island, which is adjacent to Bohol and is itself a tourist attraction because of its beaches, hills, mountains, and peculiar limestone composition.

Pamilacan Island: The place is famed for its Whale Watching and Dolphin Watching tours. Both locals and tourists enjoy these shows. Even though dolphins are always around Bohol, from March till June is the best time for watching these big, intelligent animals.

Philippine Tarsier: Known locally as mawmag and mamag, this species of tarsier is endemic to the Philippines, seen mainly in Bohol and neighbouring islands of Mindanao, Leyte, and Samar. This tree-climbing mammal is very small and cannot be spotted easily because of its size. At the Tarsier Research and Development Centre, tourists can see them in their natural environment, engaged in their feeding, fighting, or mating activities.

Firefly Watching: Even a few fireflies create quaint light patterns. So you can imagine how wonderful it will look when thousands of them together flash their lights illuminating several trees. In Bohol you can go kayaking at night to watch the grand light show of these tiny, luminescent creatures.

Chocolate Hills: As the name implies, these are objects that look like mounds of chocolate. They are not big in size, most of them being between 30 m and 50 m in height, even though the highest one rises up to about 120 m. There are a minimum of 1268 such hills, spreading out across the towns of Carmen, Sagbayan, and Batuan. There are many local myths about the origin of these curious hills, one of which is that they are the tears of a giant. However, geologists suggest that they could be formations of marine limestone.

Danao Adventure Park: This is a nature park that conducts Adventure Tours consisting of activities like river tubing, trekking, sky-riding, root climbing, wall climbing, cliff rappelling, zip-lining, river trekking, and caving. Anyone can participate in them according to their age and inclination.

Spa Services: You can pamper yourself with a good body massage or scrub treatment or other holistic therapies that spas offer.

Best time to visit Bohol

From the month of May till July, Bohol is hot, with the average temperature around 32°C. Humidity is also high during these months.

Southwest monsoon arrives by August and continues till October. You will get good sunshine during these days but it will be interspersed with rains.

Northeast monsoon starts from November and continues till April. But showers are usually of short duration and the remainder of the day is clear and bright. This is the coolest season with temperature dipping down to about 28°C.

From March till June is the best season for watching whales and dolphins. The waters around Bohol are home to many species of whales and dolphins which include gigantic sperm whale, pygmy killer whale, pilot whale, melon-headed whale, bottlenose dolphin, spotted dolphin, and spinner dolphin.

Accommodation options in Bohol

Luxury resorts, star hotels, budget hotels, one-room villas, bed-and-breakfast accommodations, and service apartments (also called extended-stay hotels) are some of the accommodation choices you have in Bohol. In other words, Bohol has something to suit everyone’s budget.

The island gets quite crowded and rooms become expensive during holiday seasons like Christmas, New Year, and Holy Week. If you prefer to visit during these periods, it is safer to book a room early enough.

Dive centres in Bohol

Strewn along the beach of Alona, island of Panglao, and town of Anda, are dive resorts and dive centres that cater to the needs of all types of tourists.

1. Alona Beach

Alona Beach, which is a part of Panglao Island, is a popular tourist destination. Panglao Island lies on the eastern side of the province of Cebu and on the south-western side of Bohol. It consists of two municipalities, namely Panglao and Dauis. Panglao is a picturesque island with sunny beaches, splendid coral reefs, and great dive spots.

The beach in Alona is a stretch of 1½ km wide shining sand fringed by rocky cliffs, coconut palms, and clear blue water. The sight of it is every nature-lover’s delight, and diving in its waters is every diver’s pleasure. Alona Beach is ideal for snorkelling and swimming as well.

Capping the natural beauty of Alona Beach, there are many dive resorts catering to the increasing tourists’ requirements. Some of them are listed below:

Bohol Divers Resort

Bohol Divers Resort is in Danao, which is a city in the province of Cebu. The resort has two-occupancy units like Cella Room and Villa Suite, and a larger four-occupancy unit called La Residencia. It has a restaurant, bar, Wi-Fi, swimming pools, and provision for outdoor games, besides everything that is necessary for good diving. A range of dive courses are offered at the resort.

Lost Horizon Beach Dive Resort (3 star)

Another gem on the pretty Alona Beach, Lost Horizon has seven types of rooms known as Suites, Executive Sun View, Modern Deluxe, Deluxe, Modern Standard, Standard, and Family respectively. It has all amenities like restaurant, bar, swimming pool, balcony, phone, safe, and Wi-Fi.

The dive centre of Lost Horizon Beach Dive Resort is Philippine Fun Divers. It is a PADI 5-star dive resort with veteran diving instructors, and arranges scuba diving trips and island hopping tours for visitors.

Baywatch Diving and Fun Centre (2 star)

This is an ideal base from where visitors can explore and enjoy everything that is worth experiencing in Bohol. The fun centre is so located that many of Bohol’s major attractions like Philippine Tarsier Foundation and beach of Momo are easily accessible from there. It has an outdoor pool, room service, Wi-Fi, package tours, and provision for non-motorised water sports.

Henann Resort Alona Beach (5 star)

This 400-bedroom hotel nestles in a 16-acre property in the picturesque Alona Beach. Henann Resort is the largest accommodation in the island of Panglao. Most of the tourist attractions of the area are easily accessible from the hotel. The rooms are well-furnished and visitors are offered all amenities like car park, room service, Wi-Fi, and private pool. The hotel’s reception desk functions day and night.

2. Panglao Island

There are many good resorts in Panglao Island too.

Panglao Island Nature Resort and Spa (5 star)

A luxury resort located in Dauis, one of the two municipalities of Panglao Island, Panglao Island Nature Resort and Spa spreads across the sandy beaches of barangays (barangay is an administrative unit like a village) Dauis and Bingag, and is surrounded by palm trees and other lush tropical vegetation. The recreational facilities offered by the resort include billiards, fishing, non-motorised water sports, karaoke, tennis, and table tennis, and there is a steam room, fitness centre, sauna, spa, and massage parlour.

Sherwood Bay Resort & Aqua Sports Inc. (3 star)

This is a highly-rated scuba diving centre in the Philippines, and caters to the diving needs of both champion divers and beginners. The other amenities include jacuzzi, infinity swimming pool, spa services, BBQ facility, restaurant, mini-bar, hot tub, coffee-making facility, and provision for water sports that include water skiing and jet skiing.

Almira Diving Resort (2 star)

This tastefully-done resort, which is situated in Napaling Point in Tangnan in Panglao, shows up the lush beauty of its surrounding to the maximum effect. The driving time from Alona Beach to Almira is 15 minutes. Tourist attractions like Hinagdanan Cave and Qi Retreats are within easy access of this resort. The waters near it are so rich in marine fauna that the place is a treasure trove for divers.

Hidden Coral Divers Club

Hidden Coral Divers Club is tucked away in a tiny village named Songculan in Panglao. It is located at a distance of just 10-minute drive from the airport in Tagbilaran. A restaurant, large pool, smaller children’s pool, meeting centre facility, water slide, jacuzzi, and pickup and drop-off services are some of the attractive features of Hidden Coral Divers Club.

Eskaya Beach Resort and Spa (5 star)

Eskaya is not a resort that gives too much importance to diving but there is plenty here to entertain visitors. Besides diving, the resort offers facilities for water sports, horse riding, snorkelling, and tennis, and has a private beach, garden, spa, steam room, and sauna to help visitors relax.  You can enjoy al fresco dining here beside a bonfire or can dine at the resort’s Lantawan Restaurant and enjoy local and international cuisine.

DeepBlue Dive Resort (2 star)

This one is a three-storey building with 18 well-equipped rooms. It is situated in the Danao Daorong part of Panglao, on the side opposite to Alona Beach, and offers excellent views of the ocean.

Bohol Sea Resort (3 star)

Bohol Sea Resort is in Danao, standing on its pristine white sandy beach. It has got bungalows as well as cheaper rooms, thus catering to the needs of all types of tourists. The place is every diver’s delight because there are excellent dive sites just across the resort.

South Palms Resort (4 star)

South Palms Resort is located at a distance of just 10 km from Hinagdanan Cave, one of the prime attractions in Bohol. The rooms are either sea-facing or garden-facing or pool-facing so that whichever room you choose, you are ensured of a breathtakingly beautiful view. The resort has a restaurant, bar, gym, tennis court, spa services, and outdoor pool.

The Bellevue Resort (5 star)

The Bellevue Resort is a combination of hotel rooms and cottages and has a total of 159 rooms. The size of the rooms varies a lot, ranging from 41 sq m deluxe rooms to 222 sq m presidential suite. The resort, situated on the scenic Doljo Beach, offers enchanting views from the rooms, and has a 250 m long private beach.

Amorita Resort (4 star)

Nestling on a cliff of limestone and gazing at an azure sea, Amorita crowns the natural beauty of the lovely Alona Beach. It has a PADI-certified dive centre, and provision for a range of recreational activities like diving, kayaking, paddle-boarding, and playing volleyball. Amorita is reachable at the end of a three-quarters-of-an-hour drive from Tagbilaran Airport. It has spacious ocean-view villas, suites, deluxe rooms, and a popular restaurant called ‘Saffron’ all of which ooze the charm of Bohalano (Filipino culture) hospitality.

Be Grand Resort Bohol (5 star)

Private beach, indoor pool, poolside bar, special pool for kids, round-the-clock room service, round-the-clock-functional reception desk, wheelchair access, and facilities for diving, snorkelling, non-motorised water sports, currency exchange, and holding meetings are some of the conveniences that make Be Grand Resort Bohol quite attractive. Located at a convenient distance from the major attractions of the city, the resort has 205 well-furnished bedrooms.

Bluewater Panglao Beach Resort (4 star)

The eco-friendly Bluewater Resort is just 11 km away from the airport in Tagbilaran, the gateway to Bohol. Private beach, outdoor pools that look like lagoons, conference facility, on-site parking, poolside bar, and a restaurant that serves a range of Asian dishes, local dishes, and a fusion of both, are some of the plus sides of Bluewater Panglao Resort.

Bohol Shores (4 star)
In Bohol Shores, which is located in the barangay of Dao in Panglao Island, you will see nature’s rustic charm and modern-day requirements segueing into each other seamlessly. The resort villas are mainly of two types, Pool Villas which have a private pool and Pool Access Villas, from which the beach pool can be accessed. There are 24 of the former and 16 of the latter respectively.

3. Anda

Nestling in the eastern end of Bohol, Anda is a lovely little town with a mystic allure.  Its northern side has attractive mountain ranges which gradually decrease in height as they near the coast. The enchanting beach is long and level, covered with glittering white sand. Some of the resorts in Anda are listed below:

Amun Ini (5 star)

Amun Ini Beach Resort & Spa, situated in the village of Bas Dako, in the barangay Candabong, in Anda, is on the shores of a long, 15 km coral reef that attracts an endless stream of divers. It nestles in a property extending across 30,000 sq m, and has a sophisticated bucolic charm that customers find highly appealing. It has all amenities like infinity pool, air-conditioning, spa service, restaurant, and provision for diving.

Blue Star Dive & Resort (4 star)

With its front desk operating round the clock, Blue Star is ever ready to welcome visitors. Its position at a height of 40 m gives the visitors excellent ocean views. Most of the resort’s units are double-occupancy ocean-view bungalows. The resort offers many extra facilities like babysitting, luggage storage, smoking area, private beach, massage, hot tub, and games room, and above all, allows visitors to bring their pets with them.

Flower Beach Resort (3 star)

Beauty and tranquillity are the cornerstones of Flower Beach Resort. Flower Beach Divers, its PADI dive centre, offers a range of diving and snorkelling courses. A restaurant which serves western delights and local delicacies, a large bar and a smaller bar, massage parlour, garden, and tennis court are the other features of this family-owned resort.

Bohol Lahoy Dive Resort (3 star)

If you want to temporarily shut out the crowded, noisy, outside world, and become one with nature at least for a while, then Bohol Lahoy Dive Resort is the best option. The rooms are reasonably priced and the resort organizes a lot of activities like fishing, snorkelling, and sightseeing tours besides diving. It is situated in the municipality of Guindulman, at a distance of a 60-minute drive from the city of Tagbilaran.

How to reach Bohol

The airport nearest to Bohol is Tagbilaran Airport in the city of Tagbilaran. There are regular flights to Tagbilaran from Manila, the capital of the Philippines. The Airport is served by Philippine Airlines, Zest Air, and Cebu Pacific. Plans are on the anvil to build a new airport named New Bohol International Airport or Panglao Island International Airport to serve Bohol and promote its tourism industry.

Alternatively, you can fly to Mactan–Cebu International Airport, which serves the city of Cebu and is connected to many important Asian cities like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Cebu is a place worth visiting and from there you can take a ferry to Tagbilaran.

Water route

Accessing Bohol via a water transport is not a problem at all because there is a steady stream of ships and boats reaching the Tourist Pier in the city of Tagbilaran. The pier manages about 4000 travellers per day.  More than nine ships come from Cebu itself every day, besides ships from other places like Manila, city of Ozamiz, city of Cagayan de Oro which is famous for its whitewater rafting, city of Dipolog with a long history behind it, Larena, Iligan City which is famous for its waterfalls, Plaridel, and Dumaguete.

Moving around in Bohol

You can explore Bohol in a taxi, by taking a bus, or by renting a car or a motorbike. All these transports are available and usable in the island.

By taking a bus

The towns of Bohol are interconnected by buses that ply back and forth frequently. These can be availed for going to another town or visiting a place of interest.

By renting a transport

You can rent a motorbike or a car in Panglao or Tagbilaran via travel agencies or directly. A motorbike is ideal for exploring Bohol. The risk of bike accidents is quite low in Bohol because its coastal roads are good and people generally drive carefully. Alternatively you can hire a car and driver and the driver can also become your guide in enjoying the best of the island.

By a taxi or tricycle

Tricycles are cheap in Bohol. So, if you want to make a short trip in Bohol for shopping or sightseeing, a tricycle is a good option. There is no dearth of taxis also but a taxi is obviously more expensive than a tricycle. However, for longer trips a taxi is a must.

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