The stunning Philippine island of Bohol is a natural wonder, perfectly shielded from the vicious weather that blights many of the other nearby islands by being shielded on all sides, and so able to develop undisturbed into a perfect (if slightly tourist-ridden), picturesque centre of scuba diving, sailing and animal watching.
The incredible Chocolate Hills – arguably Bohol’s biggest draw – poke like giant molehills through the forest canopies, more than 1,000 of them dominating a surreal skyline on what - legend has it - is a district formed by ancient giants bombarding each other with handfuls of sand. Taking in the views over palm trees and paddy fields from the peak of these bizarre (yet completely natural) 40-meter peaks is almost otherworldly.
Bohol is believed to be an island which used to be submerged in water, which explains why there are a number of underground caves in this area. A popular cave to go to is the Hinagdanan caves in Panglao island.
Of course, being a tropical island, there’s plenty in the way of beaches and water-based adventures, too. Scuba diving – or at least snorkeling – here is practically essential, and all takes place off rustic boats floating near coral-strewn, white sand beaches. The more adventurous can indulge in dolphin or whale watching, while incredible seashells (be careful of customs restrictions – and never take anything live) sprinkle the beach.
To one end of the island the Punta Cruz watch tower – which eyes three neighboring islands including the popular tourist spot of Cebu – makes for an impressive, towering relic with picture-postcard views, while a host of other protective and long-abandoned watch towers guard the island’s shores, remnants of an ancient Spanish invasion. Head for the modern side of Bohol and the island’s restaurants and you’ll find a love of mango, banana and the dreadful smelling durian, one of which manages to turn up in pretty much every dish you’ll find outside of the rare resort-feel districts.
At the Sikatana National Park you can indulge in a bout of tropical bird watching, or under Bohol you’ll find a giant network of moist caves, numbering in the thousands, which are perfect for developing your caving skills. All in all, Bohol is a slightly less obvious island destination than the typical Philippines holiday, and – with its local take on culture and laid back vibe – all the better for it.
Panglao Island nestled in the central Visayas region that is located southwest of Bohol and east of Cebu. Panglao is renowned for its word class diving locations and many tourist resorts. It…