Although I was born and lived for 27 years in Philippines, I tend to be a tourist in my own country as my family was never big in travelling whether in-country or abroad. Sadly, my non-Filipino friends have seen more of the Philippines than I have. With this, my partner and I decided to explore and discover the Philippines together as we would also like for our family to know our homelands despite being all over the world.
To start this discovery adventure, earlier this year, my partner and I spent 4 days exploring Bohol, an island in the central Visayas region in the Philippines. This was our 4-day itinerary:
We arrived at Tagbilaran City, capital of Bohol, via Philippine Airlines at 15:55. A direct flight to Tagbilaran City from Manila is approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. We were picked up at the airport by the hotel’s transportation service, which was free of charge. The drive from the airport to the hotel was approximately 30 minutes.
We decided to stay in Panglao Island, a smaller island of Bohol known for its white beaches. We stayed at the Amarela Beach Resort which is perfect for those who are looking for a quiet resort with a private beach. It is about 15-minute drive to the popular Alona beach or the town center. The place was very private and we loved the fact that our only issues were where to swim, beach or pool? Or when to eat and what to choose? What we also loved about this hotel is they can arrange everything for you. We looked at their books of things to do in Bohol, we told them what we want and they arranged everything.
We stayed in the resort at day 1 for a chill cocktails, night swim and dinner night.
We started the day with an early walk by the beach to watch the sunrise. The resort’s private beach is connected to kilometers of beaches with fine sand.
After breakfast, we were picked up by our transportation to a whole day of sight seeing.
First stop was a visit to Yoda’s Filipino cousins. Yes, did you know that the creation of Yoda was inspired by the Tarsiers? Tarsiers are found in the Philippines, Indonesia and Borneo. They are considered as the smallest primates to exist and they are the cutest!
We recommend visiting them at the Philippine Tarsier Foundation who have these little sweethearts in their natural habitat, not caged which some tourist spots in Bohol do.
Second stop was an up-close and personal visit to the famous Chocolate Hills. We did this by renting a buggy. Aside from the stunning close up view of the chocolate hills and bright green rice fields, the off road driving was fun.
For late lunch, we took a floating restaurant that went around the Loboc River for an hour. It was a buffet of local food. The food wasn’t really that impressive and it is one of those extremely cheesy touristy thing to do. We recommend to skip this part and get lunch somewhere else.
Before heading home, we briefly stopped at the Bohol Bee Farm. For our organic lover family and friends, this is your little piece of heaven. We took very quick (less than 30 minutes) guided tour that provides very interesting information on bees. Here, you can also find nice hand-made Filipino home products.
With very little rest, we headed to the town of Maribojoc, an hour drive from Amarela Resort, for a magical evening – an evening kayaking with the fireflies. We were given an orientation by professional kayakers for 30 minutes. We came with a group of more or less 20 people. We were told that the river in the evening is usually calm. From our experience, it wasn’t really that hard. It was an exercise but nothing extreme. Some of the individuals in our group chose to pair up with a professional kayaker. It is also safe as we were required to wear life vests.
Kayaking in the dark can be uncomfortable and can make anyone nervous. But trust us, once you’ve reached the first colony of fireflies, you’d forget your fears. There was even a colony that covered an entire tree. It is a beautiful once in a lifetime experience.
Once back at the base, we were served with hot Filipino meal.
It was another early start for us. We were at Alona beach by 7:15 am to prepare for diving and snorkeling at Balicasag Island. Yes, if you have non-divers like me in your group, snorkeling is also possible.
There are so many diving shops along Alona beach but we did the diving and snorkeling with Go Scuba. If I remember it correctly, we went to the Cathedral, Black forest and Diver’s heaven sites. In Balicasag Island, the water is so clear and the corals and different kinds of fish are breathtaking. I was so mesmerized when I was snorkeling at Balicasag Island that my guide had to pull me back to the boat because the divers have started going up to the surface already and I didn’t want to go back just yet. This is such a statement considering I have an extreme fear of depth in the water. My partner, on the other hand, said it was one of his favorite dives considering he has many dives in different parts of the world.
For late lunch, we had a wonderful meal at the Sea Breeze café along Alona Beach. We head back to our hotel and had a massage by the beach in the afternoon.
We had a mid-afternoon flight back to Manila, leaving Bohol with a promise to come back.
Four days in Bohol is not enough but for us, we have successfully maximized our visit with this itinerary.