Visiting Bohol 
  Getting There 

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. 

    Rizal Park 
    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. 

    Jaycee Promenade 
    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. 

    Bohol Museum 
    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 neighboring islands. 

     Kaingit Beach 
     A popular swim spot in town is protected wthin a cove.

2. Panglao Island  
    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. 

    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. 
    Hinagdanan Cave 
    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 and brackish. 

    Dauis Church   
    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. 

    Balicasag Island 
    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. 

3. Chocolate Hills 
    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. 

    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. 

4. Badiang Spring, Valencia 
    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. 

    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. 

    Baclayon Church 
    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 period. 

5. Loon--Cabilao Island 
    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 Island 
    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. 

    Punta Cruz  
    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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