Life can be stunning; it’s what happens after you craft, and often change, your lofty itinerary.
Several months ago I made my first trip to the Philippines, for a much needed vacation. Emphasis on “vacation,” and all the laziness we associate with the word. Cue two-and-a-half weeks of beaches & dancing & cocktails & dancing on the beach with cocktails, and you’ve almost summed up my time there. Almost. I had a thorough adventure in the region of Bohol, definitely the highlight of my time in the Philippines, despite originally choosing the country for a Latin Dance Festival I later attended on a different island. Go figure. It’s now so very close to wintertime, and I don’t know about you all, but I’m missing palm trees. So come along on this Flashback Friday with me.
Nobody had set foot out of the hostel yet, but we were all shining with sweat. Ten or so of us were on a mission to find motorcycles for the day, but then the men and women separated. I ended up with three German teenagers, each of whom took a turn driving us around the southern part of the island.
First we rented the motorbikes for a reasonable 400PHP (~$8) a day from an almost-abandoned hostel next door to ours. Those poor boys were fated to go it alone the rest of the day, as we lost them when they sought motorbikes elsewhere. Atop two vehicles, the four of us set out on a fairly well-tread backpackers’ trail around Bohol’s highly-touted sights. We studied what the package tours were offering, and then decided to go it alone for a fraction of the price.
It was a cloudy but beautiful day, even at nearly 8am, with the misty threat of rain varying throughout the day, luckily with no follow through. We actually ended up borrowing the bikes for two days. But if you don’t plan on beach time or are a fast traveler, this itinerary is do-able in one very early & long day.
Personally I spent a full day on the beach & exploring an underwater cave, as well as visiting a local bee farm. On the way to the beach, two of the guys actually crashed their bikes and we had to stop. Thankfully, a kind couple raced over and helped fix us up before they sent us on our way. Always wear your helmets, dears!
The Highlights of Bohol
First up on this grand tour of Bohol were the tarsiers. They have the honor of being the tiniest primates in the world, and only found on a few islands. We headed to the Tarsier Sanctuary to see these little guys, and actually arrived there before it opened, but they kindly let us in for a tour a bit early. A knowledgeable guide led us around for about fifteen minutes, whispering tarsier facts and answering questions as we all took turns snapping pictures. It felt sort of like one giant photo-op. But the introverted creatures were insanely adorable, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to contribute to maintaining a safe space for them.
Then we continued on through the countryside. Our path led us through long stretches of rice paddies & coconut trees, as well as the two kilometer-long man-made mahogany forest.
The next leg took another hour or so of driving, a beautiful journey broken up only by a snack break in a small town we passed through for lunch on-the-go. We arrived at the Chocolate Hills around 11am, before all the tour buses arrived post-lunch cruise. If you have the time and desire, a Loboc River Cruise does come highly recommended from many other bloggers.
There were still several dozen people at the Chocolate Hills complex, but most of them seemed to have driven or taken a bus there. They inflated my ego a bit by pointing and staring at our bikes and helmets, though personally I didn’t drive a bit. Filipinos are lovely people, but subtle they are not.
On the way back from our long trip to the Hills, we made several shorter stops for the sake of exploration. Passing right through the town of Loboc, we trekked around a low-hanging bridge, I stopped the caravan to ask an elderly woman about cacao beans drying outside a neighboring hut, and together we walked down to some waterfalls just as the skies started spitting rain.
Our 2 Days Could Easily Be Your Whole Day
Flying through the countryside and nearly right past our hostel, we finally arrived at the beach. The intermittent time was largely spent regretting being on the back of a bike, but glad I hadn’t eaten lunch yet. After all the stresses of the day and the motorbike and finding food, it’s time to relax. Find your paradise on the white sand beaches of Panglao Island, if you’ve made it this far.
If you want to skip the sunset on the beach, or if you didn’t get your fill of the Bee Farm at their Cafe, then head over to Bohol Bee Farm to catch a slightly different buzz. Or even hold it in your hands!
Happy adventuring! Have you ever been to an island as beautiful as Bohol? Drop a comment below!