Our plans for exploring the best Bohol tourist spots included scuba diving and enjoying the beach life of Panglao. That quickly changed after spending two days with on and off power in our guesthouse.
Plans always change and there’s nothing you can do about it, and after spending a few days sitting out a class one typhoon, we were in need of a true adventure.
So we decided to hit the road on the only nice day we would get and uncover some of the best things to do in Bohol. Our scooter adventure took us down through the back-country of Bohol, exploring Tarsier Sanctuaries, a man-made forest, climbing the Chocolate Hills of the Philippines and everything in between.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Philippines (Country Guide)
Our 4 Favorite Bohol Tourist Spots
We started off on our motorbike around 8:00 A.M. Not knowing what we would really get into or if we would even make it to the Chocolate Hills. The roads were covered with debris from the past few days of non-stop storming. As we reached the main roads into the city of Tagbilaran we found one of the bridges was out due to the storm.
So, we followed the other bikes to the other access point, over the second bridge and onto the main island of Bohol. This was not our plan but it worked out in the long run, as we ended up on a different road as we traveled up through the island.
This back road took us through farmer’s villages were they dried items on the side of the road. We quickly found ourselves stopping for photos while the farmers worked in the fields and the kids played in the road.
1. Tarsier Sanctuary
As we made our way up the road we came upon a Tarsier Sanctuary. This was marked clearly on the side of the road with a large billboard. What is a Tarsier? Tarsiers are the world’s smallest primates with huge eyes and they can turn their head 360 degrees.
They are nocturnal and no larger than a human’s fist. This can make spotting one in the wild very hard.
To our luck, our park guide spotted one before sunrise so she knew right where one little guy was hiding. The Tarsier was tucked up in a tree hidden by branches and leaves. This little guy just sat there trying to sleep.
Our guide quickly grabbed a branch to move back some of the bush that was covering him and he quickly came to life. Showing us his large eyes and rotating his head back a forth.
Due to the little size of these guys we were extremely lucky to see one, many visitors may not see them. After a few minutes of shooting photos of this little guy, we decided to leave him in peace and hit the road again to get back on with our scooter adventure.
2. The Man-Made Forest Outside Bilar and Loboc
The scenery changed a lot on this ride. We went from island beaches to city, country, rice paddies, then to a man-made forest. Yes, a man-made forest. The Bohol man-made forest is the first and only man-made forest in the Philippines.
As we entered the start of the forest we felt the abrupt changes in temperature. It was hot outside the forested area especially on the blacktop but once under the overhanging trees, we were refreshed by the cool breeze and shade it provided.
The forest is incredibly lush and full of life. We pulled over twice each time we passed through it to just listen and enjoy the shade.
3. The Chocolate Hills – One of the best Bohol Tourist Spots
Our main goal was to reach the Chocolate Hills and everything else on this adventure was just an extra bonus. We eventually reached the Chocolate Hills complex around noon and started up the winding road that reaches the top of the hill where we enjoyed a bite to eat.
Following lunch, which was not too overpriced, surprisingly, we climbed the short pathway that leads to an overlook to take some photos. From here you can see the grass-covered hills which have brought fame to the small island of Bohol.
The Chocolate Hills look like giant molehills. These are not man-made artifacts. The chocolate hills consist of around 1268 hills.
They are very uniformed in shape, looking like they were placed there by someone. Here we quickly ran into lots of tourists, which was funny because on our way there we did not see many.
There isn’t much to do here besides climb to the scenic overlook, take some photos and eat. Many people just spend a few minutes enjoying the sights then they continue on their way. We did the same.
Enjoy a full-day tour of Bohol Island, traveling with an informative guide around the stunning island. Relax during a lunch cruise on the Loboc River, where you’ll have the opportunity to spot indigenous Philippine tarsiers, some of the smallest primates in the world. Visit the Chocolate Hills from several vantage points.
4. Island Scooter Adventure
After viewing the Chocolate Hills, we thought we would check out a zip line company. We turned down a long bumpy dirt road, that took some time to navigate due to the massive size of the potholes. We reached an intersection where we could turn to go to reach the business but there was a guard standing there.
He gave us a quick look and then asked us to pay a toll to use the road. No kidding, he was going to charge us to take the road to the zip line business. So much for wanting to zip line. We told him no way, since he was trying to charge us as much as zip-lining, and turned around.
Once we made it down the bumpy dirt road, we turned back on to the highway to continue our ride back. We were cruising down the highway when a large truck passed us in the other lane and the bike quickly started to shudder. Lina told me to slow down to see if it would continue, and it did, so I pulled over to see what the issue was.
We had a blown a tire. No joke, in the middle of freaking Bohol, we had a flat tire. The prospect of walking the bike all the way back to Alona Beach was daunting. We dismounted the bike and began pushing it to the nearest village.
By some stroke of luck, there was a man standing on the main highway who happened to notice us pushing the bike.
He took one look at us and promptly said two words, ‘flat tire?’, as if it happens every day. He directed us off the highway down a side road to a small shop filled with younger guys sitting around playing cards. They looked up from their card game in perfect union as the guy shouted to them and pointed to us.
Two young boys jumped up and quickly went to work on our bike without saying too much. In a matter of minutes, they had the interior of the tire extracted and were performing a diagnosis on it to find the leak and repair it.
The boy working on the tire quickly found the hole and started to patch it. The whole repair took no more than 30 minutes. Once done the boys were happy to get us back on our way.
The main boy who worked on our bike was not going to charge us but we would not allow that one of the other boys said 100 so we gave them 200 for helping us out. This would equal $8USD. They quickly took their money and ran to the little shop along the road to buy cigarettes, smiling and thanking us.
After the day we had, our ride back the rest of the way was pretty uneventful. We took the main highway back and the traffic was a little heavier due to this being the way everyone takes but it was simple and fast-moving.
There were many spots along this road where the road quickly turned to one lane without notice. They were cutting out parts of the highway so if you did not notice that your lane ended you could literally end up falling into a 5-foot deep hole.
For our scooter adventure, we only used one tank of gas and it took just over 7 hours with all of our stops. You can take different routes and you could certainly move faster if you wanted to.
However, our route was basically a circle route that put us through country back roads for a close up look at local life. This, in my opinion, is the only way to have a real adventure on Bohol.
20 More Things to Do in Bohol, Philippines
5. National Museum Tagbilaran
Tagbilaran is the largest city in Bohol, but few travelers hang around here for long. If you pass through, then it’s worth visiting the interesting National Museum, where if you have an interest in the local history, you can delve into the island’s intriguing past.
It’s not the largest museum, but there is a varied collection of archeological finds, including ancient human skulls, that have been found around the island.
6. Blood Compact Monument
History lovers will want to check out the famous Blood Compact Monument when they are in Bohol too, an iconic Filipino statue that depicts the world-changing meeting of the Spanish and the locals on Bohol, in the 15th century.
The Spanish explorer made a blood compact with the local leader, and what followed was hundreds of years of colonization that changed the Philippines forever.
7. Baclayon Church
Baclayon Church is the centerpiece of Baclayon, which is one of the oldest Christianised settlements to be found anywhere in the Philippines.
The stone church dates back to the mid-1700s and is an impressive example of Spanish colonial architecture which has somehow withstood many earthquakes and wars over the centuries.
8. Scuba Diving
Bohol is surrounded by some of the clearest waters to be found anywhere in the Philippines, and it’s one of the best islands in the country to go diving. Considering there are well over 7000 islands in the Philippines, that’s saying quite a lot.
Bohol’s diving will impress even the most experienced of divers though, with beautiful coral reefs and an incredible array of biodiversity to be found off the coast.
Many of the best dives can be easily accessed by a short boat ride from Alona Beach, on Panglao Island, including such supreme sites as Arco Point and Danao Beach.
9. Loboc Church
Loboc Church is another impressive example of Spanish colonial architecture to be found on Bohol. Dating back to the 1600s, the church was built using coral rocks taken from the reefs and the beaches, and is one of the oldest churches still standing in the Philippines.
The most impressive feature is the huge watchtower which also functioned as the bell tower.
10. The Bamboo Bridge
The Bamboo Bridge has become one of the most iconic Bohol tourist spots, as visitors travel here to cross this swaying, hanging bridge that spans the Loboc River.
Known officially as the Sipatan Twin Hanging Bridge, two bamboo bridges cross over the green water on either side of one another, offering superb views out over the river and the surrounding jungle.
11. Mag-Aso Waterfall
Mag-Aso Waterfall is one of the most beautiful Bohol tourist spots. Hidden away in the jungle in the dense interior of the island, the waterfall is a great spot to cool off and escape the humidity. The water crashes down from the rocks, surrounded by trees and vegetation, into a deep plunge pool below.
A steep, jungle strewn step way leads through the forest from the road until you emerge out into the wide waterway. The falls are 8 meters high, so not necessarily the tallest in the Philippines, but they are a fantastic spot to visit.
Explore scenic Panglao Island on a 5-hour, small-group tour that includes hotel pickup and drop-off, and entrance fees at sites around the island. Enjoy the personalized experience of a small group as you go deep into Hanagdanan Cave, learn about local beekeeping, take in historic sites, and tour a shell museum, then see Panglao’s untouched nature at a pristine white sand beach and the dramatic Mag-Aso waterfall.
If you aren’t qualified to dive then there is still plenty of great snorkeling to be had off the coast of Bohol. Much of the coral reef lies close to shore, and it’s easy to swim off the beaches and find some excellent, colorful and diverse spots to snorkel over.
You can also join boat trips heading out to snorkeling spots further off the coast, and you can see anything from turtles to manta rays.
13. Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Bohol is an excellent location for Stand Up Paddle Boarding, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro. With crystal clear water right below you, it’s easy to paddle out along the beaches in Panglao.
More adventurous paddlers may want to try their hand on the Loboc River, where the water might not be clear, but the jungle laden surroundings are still spectacular.
14. The Beaches
Some of the best Bohol tourist spots are undoubtedly the beaches, the most popular of which are found on the island of Panglao. Alona Beach is the most well known Bohol tourist spot, and here you can find a beautiful stretch of sand, and plenty of bars, hotels, and restaurants to match.
Alona can get busy though, and a great, quieter alternative on Panglao is the serene Momo Beach, or further out to sea, the white sands of Virgin Beach.
15. Sagbayan Peak – One of the best Bohol Tourist Spots!
Located in Bohol, Sagbayan Peak is one of the tallest mountains to be found in Bohol, and from the summit, you can see over much of the surrounding area, which includes the beautiful Chocolate Hills in the distance.
The cooler climes make for a welcome escape from the humid coastline, and you can find a small resort at the top welcoming visitors in.
16. Danao Adventure Park
One of the best known Bohol tourist spots is the Danao Adventure Park, a thrilling jungle playground that’s full of adrenaline-inducing rides and activities.
Set in the north of the island, amidst the spectacular dense forest, here you can take on zip lines, bungee jumps, high ropes and much, much more. You can easily spend an entire day exploring the park and enjoying the rides and adventures waiting here.
17. Night Life
As a big travel hotspot, for both backpackers and holidaymakers, Bohol has some lively nightlife. In peak season, the parties can go on into the early hours of the morning, particularly at Alona Beach.
If you just want a quiet cocktail while the sun sets over the horizon though, then there are plenty of great spots to enjoy the moment too, without the crowds.
18. Loboc River Cruise
The Loboc River is one of the most beautiful Bohol tourist spots, and it makes a great change from the beach while you are traveling across the island. The huge river cuts through the middle of the island and is surrounded on both sides by lush jungle and vegetation.
A favorite way to see the river is to take a boat cruise along the calm, green water, many of which include lunch as you float along the Loboc.
Enjoy a full-day tour of Bohol Island traveling with an informative guide around the stunning island. Relax during a lunch cruise on the Loboc River, where you’ll have the opportunity to spot indigenous Philippine tarsiers, some of the smallest primates in the world.
19. Kayaking with Fireflies
On the Abatan River, north of Tagbilaran City, you can find an incredibly unique ecosystem of mangroves that is home to an abundance of fireflies. At night, the fireflies appear in force, and the mangroves here have become one of the most popular Bohol tourist spots.
A great way to experience the fireflies at night is to take a kayaking tour along the river. Quietly paddling through the glowing jungle under the stars is a tour like few others.
20. Cambuyo Rice Terraces
Bohol is an island of unbeatable beauty, but some places take the top spot amongst the natural scenery here. One of those must-visit destinations is the rice terraces of Cambuyo.
Little known Bohol’s rice terraces can easily match those of anywhere in the Philippines, or even anywhere else in Southeast Asia, and it’s certainly worth the drive out into the countryside to see them first hand.
It is greenfield after green field, layered and terraced with rice paddies and farms stretch towards the horizon. It’s a serene sight, so don’t forget to bring your camera along too.
21. Hinagdanan Cave
The Hinagdanan Cave is quite unlike any other natural feature in Bohol. This ethereal, underground cavern is quite the sight to behold and is easy to reach from the major tourist spots, as it’s found on Panglao Island.
Natural light seeps into the subterranean chambers, lighting up the clear, turquoise-tinged water found underground. You can swim in the cool waters, and it’s a great place to escape the heat on the ground level.
22. Virgin Island
Virgin Island – also known as Pungtud Island – has some of the whitest sand to be found anywhere in the Philippines. Found off the coast of Panglao Island, you’ll need to take a boat out over the coral to reach this pristine paradise.
The sandbar is absolutely stunning, and there’s little to do here except for relaxing in isolation, surrounded by sand, sun, and sea.
23. Balicasag Island
Balicasag Island is located just a short boat ride away from Alona Beach on Panglao, and it makes for a beautifully serene day trip and is one of the best Bohol tourist spots, which you can even combine with a visit to the nearby Virgin Island too.
Balicasag is a haven for wildlife, being surrounded by protected reefs that are teeming with life. The island has everything, being encircled by white sands, strewn with tropical palm trees and drenched in sun.
24. Lamanoc Island
Lamanoc Island is found out on the far eastern edge of Bohol, close to the Anda region. Compared to islands closer to Panglao, Lamanoc is relatively off the beaten track and sees far fewer visitors.
When the tide is low enough, you can walk out across the short strait to Lamanoc Island, and other times, you can boat, kayak or even paddleboard.
The island is surrounded by limestone cliffs, covered in mangroves and forest and full of wildlife.
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