1. Tagbilaran City
The capital of the province, Tagbilaran has a number of attractions
within its environs and is the transportation hub with buses and jeepneys
going in all directions. There are a number of hotels and pensions at various
prices. The new Bohol Tropical Resort Club, located on the water with its
own beach, is within the city proper and is one of the more expensive.
It was open but still under construction when I passed by in late 1996.
It has a nice pool with a waterfall and outdoor tables where food and drinks
are served. The resort was festively lit during the holiday season.
2. Panglao Island
Rizal Park or Plaza Principe is the town square and is the political
and religious focal point with the St. Joseph's Cathedral and the Provincial
Capitol facing off across the neutral territory. The place is especially
lively on weekends when there is an evening mass. Across one corner is
the provincial library were you'll find the more studious. It has a relief
map of the island and hung portraits of past governors and statesmen. Nearby
is a children's playground built by the local Lion's Club.
Jutting out into the sea a short distance north of Rizal Park, this
pier is a popular rendezvous for sweethearts at sunset.
Blood Compact Site
A marker located in Barangay Bool where the Spanish explorer Legazpi
entered into an alliance with the local king Sikatuna that opened the door
to colonization of the Philippines in 1565.
President Garcia Memorial Park
Rolling landscape and life-sized statue commemorate the former President
and provincial governor. Nearby is the new provincial capitol.
Once the home of former President Carlos Garcia, it now houses memorabilia
and cultural and natural artifacts.
Banat-I and Elly Hills
Situated near town, these provide vistas over the Mindanao Sea and
A popular swim spot in town is protected wthin a cove.
A top resort and diving destination, the island is connected with a
couple jetties to the main island of Bohol near Tagbilaran. Many tourists
bypass Tagbilaran and head out to one of the many resorts located there.
You can hire a tricycle (motorcycle with sidecar) to bring you. The two
main towns are Dauis at the Tagbilaran end and Panglao at the other end
about 15 km further. Along the south shore road is where most of the resorts
are located. One of the first reached is the Bohol Beach Club a luxury
resort in it's own exclusive location. A little farther on is Alona Beach
which has a number of small resorts, restaurants, and dive operators clustered
along a road. While I stayed at a private home, I stopped by the Alona
Kew resort which had a nice restaurant and reasonably priced cottages.
3. Chocolate Hills
There are plans to develop Panglao into a large resort community and
to relocate the airport there. This will certainly ruin the rustic getaway
charm the place now has. Similar to what has happened at Mactan, the destruction
of coral reefs is soon to follow.
Near the town of Dauis, this is an underground grotto with a pool at
the bottom. When I visited years ago there were no other tourists and just
a few locals in the area. The landscape is flat and when we asked directions,
we were led literally to a hole in the ground. I can't recall if there
were steps but I do remember that my companion had no interest in going
underground so I went alone. Once inside, the grotto was lit by "skylights"
apparently other holes opening to the surface. Water seeped through the
walls into the large dark pool. I stripped and dipped but it was pretty
creepy not being able to see what's lurking below you. The water was cool
Back in town is this interesting church with a neat plaza in front
and the municipal buildings nearby. Next to the plaza near the agricultural
office was some kind of strange grafting experiment that combined a deciduous
tree with pine branches. The flocks of birds loved it. The church itself
is famous for its miraculous well near the altar. The story goes that the
townsfolk sought protection at the church during a siege by pirates. Running
out of provisions they dug a well near the altar and fresh water sprung
up allowing them to survive the siege.
My companion and I stopped on a quiet afternoon when no one was around.
It was dark inside but once our eyes adjusted we located the wooden cover
on the floor near the communion rail. And sure enough there was a hole
through the stone floor and about ten feet below water could be seen. Some
boys followed us in and went to the sacristy to fetch a pail with a rope.
We took the water out back and used it to freshen up with the hope that
it had healing power as well. I tasted a little and it was definitely fresh
which is amazing because just a short distance from the back of the church
is the sea.
A small island off the end of Panglao its about a 45-minute boat ride.
It's a government-owned coast guard station but there's a small village
of squatters and a government-run cottage resort securely fenced off from
the rest of the island. It has been declared a marine reserve and off the
resort's coral and shell beach, a teeming reef stretches out for about
50 meters before dropping off into the deep blue. Dive operators from Panglao
head out here and anchor their boats just off the resort. Inquire at the
tourism office in Tagbilaran about dive-stay packages for the resort.
Bohol's "main attraction" are these unique mound-shaped hills scattered
by the thousands on the island's central plain concentrated near the town
of Carmen. You can arrange for special transportation or take one of the
regular buses or jeepneys to Carmen. The make-shift entrance gate to the
Chocolate Hills Resort is reached before town. The resort is located at
the top of a hill. When I first stayed there it was set up like a youth
hostel but has since been remodeled with private rooms and a pool. Meals
are provided in its cafeteria. There's a mini-zoo that includes a pair
of the primitive primate called the tarsier that is only found on Bohol.
The resort is actually on the first level of a two-level hill and you can
climb the 213 steps to the upper hill with a commanding view of the surrounding
hills and a plaque that explains the process by which the hills were formed.
4. Badiang Spring, Valencia
The town nearest the Chocolate Hills is worth a visit for its provincial
charm. The self-proclaimed "cleanest town" makes it a point not to let
unsightly litter collect on its streets. An orphanage called The Home is
listed as a tourist attraction.
Retracing the road back to Tagbilaran, you pass this town about 15
km from Carmen. It is noted for hosting Boy's and Girl Scout camps in it's
nearby hills. I've heard there is a swimming pool and mini zoo in the area.
This is also the entrance to the newly designated Datu Sikatuna National
Park. The park is yet undeveloped but you might run into a crew-cut Peace
Corps volunteer working on a park plan.
From Bilar the road descends toward the coast through the verdant "Man-made
Forest" and eventually winds along the Loboc River to the town of Loboc.
Loboc has an interesting old stone church. Nearby is a partially-built
concrete bridge meant to extend the highway across the river but couldn't
be completed without destroying the church. The massive church hasn't moved
and the "bridge to nowhere" stands as testimony to divine destiny.
Boat operators in Loboc provide cruises up and down the "cleanest river"
including dinner trips on floating restaurants. Near Loboc are a couple
of falls, Tontonan and Busay, that provide places to swim.
About 40 km east along the coastal highway is the town of Valencia
and just past the town proper is a spring called Badiang. The copious flow
of water usually pours out of a couple pipes over a waterfall a few meters
high. But early in the day, with a few turns of a valve, the flow is diverted
down a concrete channel into a swimming pool which fills in less than an
hour. Once the pool is filled, the water is directed back over the falls
where it spills into a shallow pool suitable for children.
5. Loon--Cabilao Island
Located next to the sea, there is a concrete quay where the tourism
authority has constructed wood and nipa picnic tables and shelters. The
beach here is of smooth river stones but the cove is protected and suitable
for swimming and snorkeling.
Just a few kilometers outside of Tagbilaran is the town of Baclayon
and its church which is considered to be the oldest in the Philippnes.
It was built in 1595 by Jesuit missonaries who were the first Europeans
to come to the island. It also houses a museum with artifacts from this
Heading north along the coastal highway you'll reach the town of Loon
about 25 km from Tagbilaran. Loon has a beautiful old church with a long
flight of stone steps that connects the church to Napo the former town
seat. The 154 steps were built during Spanish using forced labor and is
considered to be the longest in the country. Other attractions in Loon
include the Castillo Swimming Pool, Loon Spring, and Lintuan Beach.
Cabilao is a popular destination with dive operators out of Cebu and
is frequented by hammerhead sharks. It can be reached from Loon by pumpboat.
I haven't been there myself but it's supposed to have a nice beach, a lighthouse,
and a cottage resort with dive facilities.
Half way to Loon past the town of Maribojoc is Punta Cruz which has
an ancient stone tower overlooking Maribojoc Bay. Used as a lookout for
marauding pirates, the tower's wooden cross has supposedly exerted miraculous
powers in repelling raiders from the sea.
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