I couldn’t decide where to travel in the Philippines. With 7,107 islands, I felt overwhelmed with choice. So I asked around, and I took the advice of a fellow London blogger who recommended Bohol, an island in the Central Visayas.

Loboc River in Bohol

She told me that Bohol, the 10th largest island in the Philippines, had a lot of natural attractions and that its neighbor, Panglao, was paradise. Richard from the Philippine Department of Tourism in London said the same thing. Convinced, I worked with him to set up the perfect trip to the islands. Here’s the story…

Church in Bohol

On my first full day in the Philippines, Amorita Resort in Panglao sets me up with a countryside tour of Bohol. My guide, Melot, and driver, Cory, pick me up in the morning and drive me across the small causeway that separates Panglao from the larger island.

Sunset in Bohol

The first destination on our Bohol tour is the one I am most excited about: a tarsier sanctuary. What is a tarsier? A real life gremlin, also known as one of the world’s tiniest primates. Small enough to fit in the palm of a hand but fierce enough to be the only primate to hunt live prey, the big-eyed, small-bodied creature is both adorable and endangered.

Tarsier in Bohol

After watching a video about the tarsier, I take a tour of the sanctuary with a guide, who shows me four of the 10 resident animals (the other six being expectant mothers that understandably don’t want to be disturbed). They are adorable, and I want to put one in my pocket (I don’t).

Tarsier in Bohol

I continue my tour of Bohol with a trip to Loboc. The town is famous for the Loboc Children’s Choir, which is known throughout the world for its exceptional musical talent. It is also famous for being the location of popular river cruises, one of which I board for a buffet lunch.

Loboc River Cruise in Bohol

As I eat, I am awed by the green hillsides that climb up from the banks of the aquamarine river. At one point, I get off the boat to see a traditional performance in which children dance between two long sticks that are clapped together to the beat of live music.

Children Dancing in Bohol

During the performance I get distracted by some resident river dogs, six adorable strays that swim up to the boat to say hello and bask in the coolness of the water in the hot, humid climate. They have the right idea.

River Dogs in Bohol

When the boat returns to Luboc, my tour continues with a trip to the Chocolate Hills, clusters of brown Hershey’s Kiss-shaped mounds dotting Bohol’s countryside. The result is a unique natural phenomenon the likes of which I have never seen anywhere else in the world. I want to admire them and eat them at the same time.

Chocolate Hills in Bohol

Instead, I save my appetite for something better. May is festival month in Bohol, and every day of the month a different town has a fiesta feast for a different saint. Today it is the town of Alburquerque’s turn to celebrate the Fiesta of Santa Monica, and I am invited to join Melot at her friend’s house for a fiesta meal.

Fiesta Food in Bohol

We are given a warm welcome when we arrive, and I am happy to experience the famous Filipino friendliness firsthand once again. We take a pass at a table full of food in the living room, which is just the beginning of our feast. Soon another table is filled with everything from fish to seashells, and I eat my fill along with the others.

Yellow Watermelon in Bohol

After the fiesta, we make a stop at the famous Baclayon Church, the historic Clarin Ancestral House, and the Blood Compact Monument on Bohol that commemorates the first friendly relations between the Spanish and the Filipinos in 1565.

Clarin Ancestral House in Bohol

By the time we leave the monument, sunset is nearing. It’s hard to believe how much ground we’ve covered in just one day, but I feel like I’ve gotten a great overview of the nature, culture, and wildlife of the island.

Church in Alburquerque in Bohol

In fact, Bohol has so much to offer that it’s hard to comprehend how much more time I would have to spend traveling in the Philippines to get a feel for the other 7,106 islands in the archipelago.

Back in London, I meet with Richard from the Philippine Department of Tourism again. Over bubble tea and Filipino-style tapas at a new cafe in Notting Hill called Lakwatsa, we discuss my trip and my need to go back and see more of the country.

River Cruise in Bohol

And our discussion brings me full-circle. With over 7,000 islands and a variety of activities and attractions to choose from, how can I possibly narrow it down again? Add to that the fact that Bohol set the bar incredibly high, and I might be paralyzed by indecision. But being open to suggestions worked last time, so if you have been to any islands in the Philippines that can match the ones I visited, please let me know!

18 Comments on Lady on Bohol Island

  1. Over 7,000 islands! That blows my mind.
    Relying on reviews and suggestions of those who have
    been is the best idea.
    I wish I could help you but I have not been…
    still absorbing the fact that there are over
    7,000 islands. WOW!! Hopefully I will visit ~ even one
    island ~ one day.

  2. I’m happy & proud to let you know that YES, there’s more! Much much more! IM sure you’ve heard of El Nido! Oh WOW! IT IS BREATHTAKING! If you love snorkeling you can go to Sumilon Island in southern Cebu, but that’s after swimming with the gentle giants or whale sharks (butanding )in Oslob of-course.. it’s only 15- minute boat ride from each other. If you are more laid-back & wants to have the feel of being a castaway sort of Survivor Challenge… Calaguas in Bicol south of Luzon is your beach, it has the same fine white sands of Boracay without the annoying crowd. Go hiking to Mt. Pulag in northern Luzon and stand above the clouds where you can see unique flora & fauna. Swim with thousands of sting-less jellyfish in Surigao Mindanao. OH wow! In summary every island has something to offer, We have hundreds of Waterfalls, beaches, mountains,churches, and lakes . there is a Fiesta Everyday!…. There’s always something to celebrate. I’m sure I cant cover everything. I think you’ll just have to see it for yourself! 😀 Good Luck! Hope you visit us again soon!

  3. Thank you for creating such a wonderful article. We have been sending guests to Bohol (and the rest of the Philippines!) for some years now. The country has long been neglected as a travel destination, but slowly and surely, people like Richard, (who you met in London), are putting that right.

    If only more would help spread the word! 🙂

  4. You might concider going to Mindanao, and the Island of Samal…I did see some wonderfull firedancing there…Can be warmly rcomended…and when you are in Davao…make sure to also visit the Pearlfarm….

  5. Like you, I LOVED Bohol. I think in all honesty, it is one of the nicest places to visit in the entire Philippines. As one of your other readers pointed out above, El Nido is another outstanding place and possibly the only other destination that has a leg up on Bohol, but not by much.

    Dumaguete is also a quick little trip from Cebu and is outstanding in its own way.

  6. Visited El Nido in Palawan in Dec 2013. Did my PADI AOW dive course. Must say prob most beautiful islands I have even visited. Check out closing scene of Jason Bourne trilogy. Sailing into the setting sun. Awesome beauty folks.

  7. Along with the others, I would recommend El Nido in Palawan Island, Balesin island, and Bellarocca, and perhaps Boracay as well for beach and party scenes.

  8. you could also try Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur too <3 that was fantantic and a vintage place every traveller must visit here in the Philippines. 🙂

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