By Zerylle Mae Lim
Nestled in Central Visayas and separated from the island of Cebu by a narrow strait is Bohol, the tenth largest island in the Philippines and a tropical haven of natural beauty. Its shoreline is skimmed by bays and a combo of fine, white sand and clear blue water beaches which are popular for being a paradise for divers and snorkelers. The airport in Bohol is located in its capital city, Tagbilaran, and is served by a number of national flag carriers, most of which operate daily flights to and from the island, hence making it easy for tourists to discover the wonders of this Visayan gem.
These hills are a group of unusually-shaped hills located right in the middle of the island, with the highest one barely reaching 120 metres in height and altogether scattered within a fifty square kilometre area. Several legends surround the formation of these hills, but to this day, the true story remains a mystery. The famous hills earned the name as when the dry season ends, the grass turns from lush green to chocolatey-brown, still maintaining its spectacular appeal, therefore earning the status as the Philippines’ third National Geological Monument.
The immensely soft-furred and huge-eyed tarsier, also known as mawmag in Visayan and mamag in Luzon, belongs to a species of tarsier endemic to the Philippines and is found in the Southeastern part of the country, particularly in the island of Bohol. These endangered species can be found living in the wild in Tarsier Sanctuary, located in a forest between Corella and Sikatuna cities. As tarsiers are nocturnal creatures, it is best to visit them at night, as they are generally inactive during the day.
Bohol is abundant in marvelous white-sand beaches that are perfect for sun-bathing, diving and snorkeling during the day and entertainment that includes live music during a romantic dinner at night. Alona Beach located at the Southwest of the island, is one of the most popular and developed beach in Bohol and is lined up with nice resorts to stay in and diving establishments to cater to necessary equipment for dive enthusiasts.
The Sevilla Hanging Bridge
The Bamboo Hanging Bridge in Sevilla across the Sipatan River offers a daunting experience to walk onto it but is nevertheless one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bohol. The bridge was originally constructed using only bamboo that is tied together and held up by ropes but recently, steel cables have been added to it for added safety and security, now making it sturdy enough to take the weight of tourists and locals crossing it. The bridge spans around 40 metres and offers a remarkable view of the emerald river below it. The catch at the far end of this bridge are a souvenir shop that offers welcome drinks and snacks and the famous “Buko King”, who can strip a coconut (buko) in just 10 seconds using his teeth.
This cave, located in Dauis, Bohol, is a naturally-illuminated cavern with a deep lagoon, large stalactites and stalagmites, which amplifies its beauty. Classified as a karst as it is purely made of limestone, this exquisite cave features cemented steps that lead to its interior. The cave’s name Hinagdanan which means “laddered”, was given to it as the owner of the area who accidentally discovered it while clearing the place of decaying branches, had built a ladder just to get in the cave.
The Bohol landscape is dotted with a large number of breathtaking, refreshing waterfalls. One of the most visited is Mag-Aso Falls in Antequera, about 20 kilometres from the capital Tagbilaran City. With a height of about 25 feet, the twin falls is scenic against a backdrop of tall trees and wild plants including giant ferns and deep ravines. Bathing here truly feels like being in the middle of a jungle with the sound of the interminable chirping of the birds and the rush of flowing waters playing music to your ears.
An experience you cannot miss whilst in Bohol is a buffet indulgence on board a floating restaurant cruise along Loboc River. The cruise with buffet costs only PHP 450.00, and the package includes a short cultural show by the local community. Loboc River is a major tourist destination that is continually developed by the City Government. Cruising at night is more spectacular than cruising during the day as lights are installed on the riverside which adds to its romantic, world-class experience.
Mahogany Man-made Forest
The Bohol man-made forest is the first and only one in the Philippines. It is mainly composed of mahogany trees about 2 kilometres stretched densely across the towns of Bilar and Loboc. The forest and the tidy road in between exude a peaceful vibe to all tourists and locals talking a walk in it. The splendid view and the uniformed erectile order of the trees in the forest make the overall experience such a delight to all visitors.