Bohol is the main island of Bohol Province which has 75 minor surrounding islands. The island lies southeast from Cebu Island and southwest of Leyte Island in the Central Visayas region. This oval-shaped island is the tenth largest island of the Philippine archipelago.
Another gem of the Visayas, Bohol is a tropical haven of natural beauty. The coastline of the island is skimmed by gentle coves and white sand beaches. Bohol is not as internationally famous as far-away Boracay off the island of Panay, but is well-known locally as a paradise for divers and snorkellers.
Dolphin watching and whale watching tours are popular with both residents and visiting tourists. The best season is from March to June, but dolphins can be seen year-round.
In addition to white sand beaches and dive spots, Bohol is famous among other sights, for its Chocolate Hills, the Tarsier – arguably the world’s smallest primate, heritage sites and old stone churches.
Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific and Zest Air all service the Tagbilaran Airport. As of December 2012, PAL flies 4 direct flights daily from Manila each way. Currently all flights are during the day, however there are plans to upgrade the Tagbilaran airport to accommodate night flights. The Tagbilaran airport has had recent renovations. The tarmac accomodates 2 planes at time. PAL typically uses an Airbus 319 for service to Bohol.
The Tagbilaran City Tourist Pier handles more than 4,000 travellers on a daily basis. Nine daily ship visits from Cebu are processed efficiently, with other ships from Manila, Cagayan de Oro City, Dumaguete, Dipolog, Iligan City, Larena, Plaridel and Ozamiz City also welcomed on a regular basis. Another four port terminals cater specifically to Cebu and northern Mindanao routes. Additional berthing space for fast-craft ferries is currently under construction.
One way from Cebu is ₱500 by ocean jet and ₱800 for the round trip. (April 2014) / Bohol fast ferries schedule
Bohol Island is easily accessible by bus, private cars, taxi and rental cars. Many of the towns in Bohol have a bus terminal where one can get a ride to other towns. Tagbilaran City, the capital city of Bohol has an integrated bus terminal located in Dao, where you can get a bus ride to get in most towns in Bohol. Most bus lines operate follows daily schedules. To go the the Chocolate Hills, one had to take the interior-route like Carmen-Sierra Bullones.
Other ways, to get to different places in Bohol is to rent a car. There are several different transportation companies in Tagbilaran City where you can make arrangements to rent a car or van or jeepney. Taxis are also available, but usually you have to pay in pre-negotiated fare called Pakyaw.
Bohol is a small island and ideal for touring on a motorbike. Small bikes or scooters can be rented for as low as P150-P200 in Tagbilaran or Panglao if you take it for a week or more, although you may pay double that price for single day or short term rentals. The whole coastal road is in very good condition, and people drive in a somehow safer way than the common Asian standard. The interior roads are particularly scenic, although some stretches are under construction and alternate paved portions with rocky and/or muddy ones, so watch the weather if you are on a small bike. Pension Houses can be found along the way in most market towns, with prices ranging from ₱300 to ₱1000 for a room with fan/AC and usually cable TV. "Vulcanizing" shops, where you can get small repairs or air pumps, are found all over the island. On the whole, people are surprised and happy to see you, and will give you a taste of local Boholan lifestyle away from resorts centers with inflated prices and touts.
For the past 45 million years, tarsiers have inhabited rainforests around the world, but now they only exist on a few islands in the Philippines, Borneo and Indonesia. In Bohol, the Philippine Tarsier was a common sight in the southern part of the island until the 1960's. Once protected by the humid rainforests and mist-shrouded hills, these mysterious primates struggle to survive as their home is cleared for crop growing and because of poaching.
To date, the Philippine Tarsier Foundation has acquired 7.4 hectares of land in Corella, Bohol for a Tarsier sanctuary. With the Department of Environment and Natural Resources playing an oversight role, the foundation has asked other Bohol towns with Philippines Tarsier populations to donate 20 hectares (49.4 acres) of forestland for conservation.
It also runs a Tarsier Research and Development Center, which serves as a visitor center and venue for research, as well as a habitat preserve. At the sanctuary, a spacious net enclosure keeps a number of Philippine Tarsiers for feeding, captive breeding and display. Here, visitors can observe the Philippine Tarsier in their natural habitat. Within the sanctuary, the Philippine Tarsiers roam freely and all of them have got used to a seven-foot high fence that circumscribes the territory and which serves mainly to protect them from predators like feral cats while maintaining a theoretical chance for tarsiers to leave the enclosure and return as their wish.
Do not visit the caged Tarsiers which are elsewhere on the island (especially in Loboc). These are kept in insufficient conditions and often die of stress from the visitors and poor care. Dead animals are frequently replaced by new ones illegally captured from the while creating a high stress on the yet surviving population.
The Tarsier was used by Stephen Spielberg as the inspiration for E.T.
The Chocolate Hills
The Chocolate Hills are probably Bohol's most famous tourist attraction. The hills, which look like giant mole hill, are considered unusual geological formation that consists of at least 1,268 individual mounds that are scattered throughout the municipalities of Carmen, Batuan, and Sagbayan. The hills range from 30 to 50m high and are covered in green grass, which turns to brown during the dry season, making them look like chocolate mounds. (Quoted from "Your Guide to Bohol" by Sanchez-Bronce, Loop and Carpentier)
Legend has it that the hills came into existence when two giants threw stones and sand at each other in a fight that lasted for days. When they were finally exhausted, they made friends and left the island, but left behind the mess they made. For the more romantically inclined is the tale of Arogo, a young and very strong giant who fell in love with an ordinary mortal girl called Aloya. After she died, the giant Arogo cried bitterly. His tears then turned into hills, as a lasting proof of his grief.
However, up to this day, even geologists have not reached consensus on how they where formed. The most commonly accept theory is that they are the weathered formations of a kind of marine limestone on top of a impermeable layer of clay.
Bohol is known for its bee farm. The honey they get here has become a popular treat. It is also believed that honey from the Bohol Bee Farm has medicinal uses. Honey from Bohol got added uses in certain delicacies and recipes.
Bohol's rapidly growing status as a developing tourist attraction in the Philippines has resulted in the improvement of its tourist facilities. From quality boutique hotels to delightfully quaint bed-and-breakfasts, lovely top of the line hotels and resorts to a simple bed rented from a resident. As such, whatever your budget, you could easily find a suitable place to stay. During peak periods such as Holy Week, Christmas and New Year, rooms may be a bit more difficult to find and more expensive so it would be advisable to reserve in advance.
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