South of Cebu, close to the international airport lies the beautiful island of Bohol. Famous for it’s Chocolate hills and the white beach of Panglao (which isn’t actually on Bohol) many tourists come to this island to see only that. A few days to tick off the highlights and move on…
But Bohol has so much more to offer! We are genuinely surprised by the beauty this island hides. Authentic villages with colorful flower gardens and the sweetest people that obviously never see tourists in their town. We loved this island so much we decided to spend the last week of our holiday there as well, on top of the five initially planned days. And still we are convinced we will be back here one day.
We hear travelers talk about Bohol, they want to see some Tarsiers, the Chocolate Hills and maybe go to Loboc, a day or two-three is more than enough. It’s is such a pity that people think this way, but although it hurts, we see the benefit of tourists moving on so quickly… now we have this magnificent island all to ourselves!
From Coron we want to travel to Bohol in one day, which is a bit of a challenge because our flight from Coron to Cebu departs at 11. This is the return flight of our initial flight from Cebu to Coron.
We’ve decided we want to go to Anda, a very authentic peninsula in the south east of Bohol island.
When we arrive by plane at Cebu-Mactan airport we take a taxi (P280 – €4,90) to Pier 1 in Cebu city where the ferry to Bohol leaves. We just make it on time to catch the 15:00 ferry (P525 – €9,15 pp) to Tagbilaran where we arrive at 17:00. Too late to get to Anda now, we’ll just spend the night here and continue our trip in the morning.
Tagbilaran doesn’t look very attractive but it’s clean and not as dusty as Coron. We find a great restaurant with authentic Italian pizza, best so far! Al Fresco Bay Cafe & Restobar has a nice look and feel and the Philippine pizza baker throws around the pizza dough like a real Italian.
Although our hotel JJ Seafood Village hotel has great reviews and a good location in the center of town close to the pier. But when we arrive we can only see old and dirty, faded glory. We need to switch rooms twice because the lock on the door doesn’t work properly. The pool smells sewery and doesn’t look like it is recently cleaned. Exhausted from our long day of traveling we drop on the bed, the airconditioning is so loud we can’t possibly sleep, on top of that we can hear the one next door too. We turn ours off and after an uncomfortable hot and sweaty night we wake up at 5. Alright time to go, but not before we make our complaints at the reception desk. We’ve paid a lot for the room (P2375 – €41,50) so we tell them we want half of it back. Jos shows the employee the room and after the firm discussion we leave our details and lateron receive back half of the amount. Ok, still, even for half the money it definitely wasn’t worth it staying there.
In Tagbilaran we take a tricycle to Dao bus terminal for p25 pp and from there we catch a bus that was just about to leave. We run so we have no time to think or ask and jump into the bus. It’s full and we need to stand in the narrow path for an hour. As soon as a seat is free I can take it and spend the rest of the 3,5 hour trip on the edge of a seat on the sharp remains of a broken armrest. Not sure which was more comfortable, standing or ‘sitting’. We pay P105 per person and get off just before Anda town where some resorts are located. We later find out that there is another terminal at DAO, especially for vans. There are vans to The price is P130 pp and the van drops you off at the town or wherever you yell stop. There are also vans to Guindulman, a town just before you reach the peninsula. Here you can take a tricycle for P20-30 pp to anywhere on the peninsula. Much easier and more comfortable than the public bus.
After a short walk from the main road we reach 1Peace beach resort where we’ve prebooked a bungalow with private bathroom. The bungalow has no airconditioning but there are mesh screens in front of the windows so at night we let the fresh sea breeze come in and sleep like a baby.
At 1peace beach there are a lot of rocks and sea urgins, so it’s not easy to get into the water. Fortunately the beach in Anda town is large, white and pristine. So after staying in this resort for a few days we decide to move to Zenith Inn in Anda town, very close to the beach.
The town of Anda is quite basic, there are some bars and restaurants but no parties and everything closes at 22:00. We love it here! So nice and quiet.
At the beach we enjoy a sandwich at Quinale Beach Bar. We want to take a swim and a german man who’s been coming here for 10 years says you can just leave your stuff at the table.
Don’t you just love it when a place it so pure you can just leave your things unattended and nobody even thinks about touching them. This is what I mean by PURE.
Chocolate Hills and more
In town we rent a scooter for the day for P500. We want to see more of this beautiful island and drive along the coastal road towards Jagna. Here you can drive into the mountains and follow a winding road to the Chocolate Hills. Not different from previous experiences, we find the trip almost better than the destination. We drive through the small villages, beautiful gardens filled with colorful flowers, for hours and hours. There is so much to see and we just cannot get enough of the colorful flowers everywhere.
The Chocolate hills are impressive, don’t get me wrong. it’s a WHOAH effect as soon as you enter the area. There is a lookout point from where you can see a 360 degree view over the (still green) Chocolate Hills and we are not the only ones, but still… phew what a view!
Ricefields and waterfalls
To think we almost skipped Loboc… expecting loads of tourists and high prices we decided to go to Loboc anyway just to see what the fuss was all about. Obviously we need to totally change our mindset, because there aren’t any tourists at all… anywhere…
We will stay in Loboc River Resort, an affordable but excellent resort along the riverbanks with a large pool and a beautiful garden. We pay P2300 which is about €40 and really get value for money. The rooms are large and so are the beds. The ambiance is fantastic and the views over the rivers are very entertaining. We almost wished we wouldn’t have to leave.
The restaurant in the resort is ‘very ok’ and the prices are not as high as we expected.
Happy people here in the Philippines… 🙂
Close to the resort is a walking bridge over the river, so we cross it to take a longer but more special walk towards the town of Loboc. We pass small houses with enthusiastic people waving and wanting to talk to us. I don’t think any of the tourists even come to this side of the river! We meet a lady who wants to show us her vegetable garden. It is small but impressive. She explains how she grow’s her veggies and gives us a papaya to go. It’s not ripe yet but you can cook it too, she says. She lives in a small house, more like a shed. This is my old house she says, but it doesn’t matter, “I’m outside most of the time anyway”.
Happy people here in the Philippines… 🙂
The town of Loboc is not as spectacular as we expected. It has some colonial buildings but otherwise it’s just a dusty town. Here we buy some fresh fruits and take a Jeepney back to the resort for P10 each. A Jeepney is the local transport. It looks like a big open (very air-conditioned) van, you sit in the back on benches and just give the driver a yell when you want to get off. The Jeepneys are beautifully decorated, one even better than the other. We’ve seen these Jeepneys on the other islands as well, this is a typical Philippine way of transport. Travel in style… and cheap too!
Back at the resort we go for a walk to Monkey Island. A small island on the premises of the Loboc River Resort. A path leads us around the island where there are supposed to be monkeys. Uh-uh… tourist tale, no doubt!
While we walk through the nice piece of forest, enjoying the birds and the butterflies we hear some rustling in the trees opposite of the water surrounding the island. We stop and stare and yes! Macaques! Who would have thought, but there are monkeys on Bohol!
The water around Monkey island is actually a Tilapia fish farm and today is the day they “harvest” the fish. Although it smells like a sewer when they drain the ditch, it’s incredibly interesting to watch.
We have set our minds in tolerant-mode while watching the 1700 kilos of fish die brutally when massively thrown in containers and covered with ice. This happens three times a year, says the counting lady who keeps a close eye on the scales. There are still a lot of fish lying on the drained riverbank. Splashing in a bit of mud until they suffocate. Inside I weep. Sigh… this is life. Nobody wants to be confronted with a harsh reality like this one.
From Anda we need to go back to Tagbilaran. This time we take a tricycle to Guindulman and from there we take a van to Tagbilaran for only 130 Pesos. While we are there we might as well go to the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary too. Who doesn’t want to see these cute little animals?
We haven’t heard much good of the Tarsier Conservation Area so we choose to go to Corella where the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary is located. From the ‘integrated bus terminal’ in Tagbilaran a tricycle takes us there for 100 pesos and will wait for us at the entrance. The entrance fee of the sanctuary is only 65 pesos per person and the route through the forest is not very long but we see five different Tarsiers! They are so adorable!
One of them jumps from tree to tree, did you know they can jump up to three meters?
Tarsiers are the size of a fist and threatened in their existence. Their greatest enemy: humans. Until recently, this cute animal was frequently captured and sold to tourists. Now catching Tarsiers is finally banned by the government and the Tarsier Sanctuary contributes to the reproduction and safe existence of these adorable animals, inside and outside their grounds.
As you can see, tarsiers have long fingers with frog-like tops and huge shiny peepers, their eye is even bigger than their brain. The head of this cute animal can rotate 360 degrees, so they can watch their prey very sneaky. They live on crickets and other large insects and as said, they can jump 3 meters from tree to tree! Awesome little creatures…
Before we take the ferry to our next destination Siquijor, we will stay in Panglao for one night. We need to see with our own eyes if the famous Alona Beach is as spectacular as its reputation.
A lot of hotels are already booked but we find one place that does not disappoint. Casa Manni’s is owned by Manfred, a German guy with his Philippine wife. They have a few luxurious bungalows build around a pool and surrounded by a very Philippine like garden. Very peaceful, which is definitely a must in the busy and noisy Alona. When we walk to the beach we are very happy we’ll only be here for one day. This crowd… although we expected touristic crowds everywhere we went we’ve never seen anything like this. So this is where all the tourist hang out! They all stick together in their little tourist town. Who could possibly like this?!
Totally prejudged we walk on to the beach. Let’s say, Alona Beach is ‘okay’. The sand is white and there are some palmtrees casually hanging around. It looks quite good, but there is one thing missing: ambiance. It’s strange, there is just no vibe…
We will not let this spoil our perfect image of this fantastic island… these ten days on Bohol were amazing. We’ve seen so much and still we haven’t had enough… This is one of the few places we know we’ll see again some day. Paradise on earth.