The Chocolate Hills and other Bohol Day Trip Stuff

Just next to the well known island of Cebu is the lesser known island of Bohol. In February, I did the see-it-in-a-day tour of the main sightseeing spots on the island. I didn’t see everything on the tour due to rain, but the weather was kind enough to hold up until I’d checked the main sights off my list.
In February, 2007, I found myself for a week on Alona Beach on Panglao Island, just off the tip of Bohol Island in the Philippines. Although my intention was to get a week of work done in tropical comfort, I of course did the one day tour of the major spots on Bohol. While some of it smells of tourist trap, I would recommend it to anybody.The usual way to go is to book a taxi, which I did on my third day. I paid 1,800 pesos, which I think was better than the average rate. Be sure not to drink too much coffee before setting out, as your blood pressure will already be spiking by the way they drive on the island. So you get to see the sights AND have several near-death experiences. All quite a deal for 1,800 pesos.
The first stop on the tour was the Chocolate Hills. A group of closely packed peaks – 1268 to be exact – that are all that’s left of an uplifting of ancient coral reef deposits. They are called “chocolate” due to the brown hue they take during dry season. I climbed to the the top of the viewing sight, which is located at the highest peak in the area.

The Chocolate Hills of Bohol

It was hard to get a clear shot since there are swarms of tourists, both foreign and Filipino alike, vying for the front spots for photos. I got in some photos, and then just wandered around a bit. If I go again, I’ll hire a motorcycle taxi to take me around through the hills a bit, but on this trip, I was just doing the “been there, bought the T-shirt, checked it off the list” version of the tour.

And of course, I went to visit the tarsiers – those super cute little fur balls that are the world’s smallest primates. I was under the impression that you just went into a wilderness area and looked yourself, but as it turns out, they have about five of them in a small enclosure, and you just pile in with 30 other people and try to get close enough for a photo (no flash, of course, so no clear photos).

I got tired of getting bumped around by the classloads of schoolkids there, so I went onto the monkey cage. The monkey was female, and so wouldn’t let girls near, but she was quite happy to kick back with me. Must be my hairy, monkeylike bod that made her feel in good company.

The final thing for that day was a late lunch on one of the many floating restaurants. It was about 300 pesos ($6) per person for lunch, music, plus a long ride up the river and back. Definitely worth it just to get a feel for life along the river.

At one very remote point, there was some bald white guy swimming up the river. It still remains a mystery, but I suspect he was living in one of the small riverside dwellings. On the way back, the rain finally starting coming down heavy. Personally, I loved it, as it really emphasized that in-the-jungle feeling.

There were still a few other sights to visit but the rain really started coming down. Mostly, they are visits to older churches. But you pass by old churches all along the way anyway, so I’d say I didn’t miss much. If you go to Cebu, or anywhere near Bohol, be sure to find your way to Alona and take the day tour. Then buy me a beer for giving you such great travel advice. 😉
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