Escape Travel

Discover Bohol Island: A Tropical Paradise in the Philippines

Nestled in the heart of the Central Visayas region of the Philippines lies a hidden gem that is sure to captivate even the most seasoned travelers – Bohol Island. With its idyllic tropical setting, awe-inspiring natural wonders, and vibrant local culture, this enchanting island offers a sensory feast for all who dare to venture beyond the beaten path. Whether it’s diving into the crystal-clear waters, exploring the historic Spanish colonial churches, or exploring the Chocolate Hills, Bohol Island promises to be an unforgettable journey into the heart of paradise. Main Image: James Morrison @yesjmo

Oz’s Emerald City has nothing on this. The green of the Loboc river dazzles with its beauty. Unlike the Wizard of Oz, who relied on illusions and trickery, Loboc’s natural beauty needs no embellishment. A stunning yellow kingfisher gracefully flies in front of me, and I take a deep breath, hoping to etch this moment into my memory forever. We are cruising down the Loboc River on a stand-up paddleboard and as our tour guide expertly navigates past us, snapping photos, we struggle to maintain our balance. A shriek of laughter and one of our party has fallen in, and I’m jealous – the smooth green cooling water looks so tempting, but I’m determined to stay standing and soak in the breathtaking scenery.

Looking around me I am reminded of why travel is the ultimate routine reset. Amidst the stillness of the surroundings, a faint sound can be heard in the distance: a man’s voice amplified by a megaphone. Asking our guide, we discover that it is a local fisherman, selling his daily catch door-to-door, a hangover of sorts from the pandemic, when locals couldn’t leave their homes. A little further along the river, we stop and swim, the cool jade water a relief from the tropical heat and humidity.

The splendor of Bohol is not limited to this solitary experience. If that were the case, my wanderlust would still have been satisfied, but the rest of day is one highlight after another – a lunch cruise on the river drinking listening to a local band belt our Filipino and international classics (Achy Breaky Heart anyone?!), a chance to participate awkwardly in a local dance, an off-road adventure in an All -Terrain Vehicle and a visit to the famous Chocolate Hills.

If Day 1 sounds adventurous, then day 2 is its antidote. A long morning swim and kayak on Alona Beach, an archery lesson followed by cocktails by the pool at Amorita Resort and a world-class massage from the team at Sea Tree Spa it really is one long exhale.

We are on Bohol Island in the Philippines, and it is the tropical paradise that you dream about when you are planning a Philippines getaway. As our local tour operator Miss G explains, “no pollution, no crime, no traffic, no worries!” And it’s true – the island is an oasis of calm, with crystal-clear waters, powdery white sand beaches, and verdant green forests. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a little bit of both, Bohol Island has something for everyone. We definitely aren’t in Kansas anymore.

Loboc River


Bohol Island is located in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines, situated between Cebu and Leyte. It is the tenth largest island in the Philippines and is known for its pristine beaches, lush forests, and unique natural attractions such as the Chocolate Hills and the tarsier sanctuary. Bohol Island is easily accessible by ferry or plane from nearby islands, and there are plenty of transportation options available for getting around the island. Whether you’re traveling from Manila or another island in the Philippines, Bohol Island is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty and charm of this part of the country.

How to Get There

Bohol Island is accessible by air and sea. The island has an international airport, the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, which serves flights from major cities in Asia, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea. From Manila, you can take a direct flight to Bohol Island with Cebu Pacific, which takes about an hour and 15 minutes.

If you prefer to travel by sea, you can take a ferry from Cebu City to Tagbilaran, the capital of Bohol Island. The ferry ride takes about two hours, and there are several ferry companies that operate daily.

Travelling from Australia, Cebu Pacific flies from Melbourne to Manila and Sydney to Manila three times per week. Cebu has a very extensive network of destinations across the Philippines and beyond, including Bohol. The carrier provides flexible booking options, competitive pricing and a friendly and efficient service.

ele Tip – if you have a layover in Manila for a few hours or even overnight, check in to The Savoy Hotel. The hotel has a Travel & Stay room package which includes an overnight stay in an Essential room, buffet breakfast for 2, complimentary wi-fi access and use of hotel leisure facilities.

Cebu Pacific

What to Do

Chocolate Hills One of the most iconic landmarks in Bohol Island is the Chocolate Hills. These are a group of more than 1,200 hills that are spread out across an area of about 50 square kilometers. During the dry season, the hills turn brown, hence the name “Chocolate Hills.” You can climb up to the viewing deck to get a panoramic view of the area. It’s a sight you won’t want to miss! ele Tip – it is a steep climb up and will suit those capable of handling a number of stairs, great views can also be seen from the arrival area if you don’t want to hike the stairs.

Tarsier Sanctuary The Philippine tarsier is one of the smallest primates in the world, and is only found in the Philippines. On Bohol Island, you can visit the Tarsier Sanctuary, where you can see these cute and unique little creatures up close. The sanctuary is located in the town of Corella, which is about 20 kilometers from Tagbilaran.

Alona Beach Bohol Island is home to many beautiful beaches, but Alona Beach is one of the most popular. This long stretch of white sand is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. There are also many restaurants and bars along the beach where you can enjoy a cold drink or a beach-side meal.

Loboc River If you’re looking for a unique experience in Bohol Island, a cruise along the Loboc River is a must-do. You can hop on a floating restaurant and enjoy a buffet lunch while cruising along the river. Along the way, you’ll see lush greenery, waterfalls, and local communities.

Hinagdanan Cave Bohol Island is also known for its natural wonders, such as the Hinagdanan Cave. This cave is located in the town of Dauis, and it features a crystal-clear underground lake. You can take a dip in the lake or explore the cave’s many stalactites and stalagmites.

ATV Adventure in the Chocolate Hill For the adventurous ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) is a popular activity. The island’s rugged terrain and lush forests make it an ideal location for off-road adventures on ATVs. You can explore the scenic countryside, pass through rural villages, and marvel at the stunning landscape of Bohol Island.

Stand-up Paddleboard Tours For adventure-seekers, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) on the Loboc River is a must-try experience. The tranquil waters of the river offer a unique and peaceful way to explore the lush greenery and scenery that Bohol Island has to offer. Fox and the Firefly Cottages, located in Loboc, offer SUP rentals and guided tours along the river. It’s a fun and unforgettable activity that’s suitable for all ages and skill levels. Don’t miss the chance to paddleboard on one of the most beautiful rivers in the Philippines!

Where to Stay on Bohol island

Bohol Island has many accommodation options, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious resorts. Panglao Island is a great choice. This island is connected to Bohol Island by a bridge, and it’s home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the area. There are also many resorts and hotels in Panglao Island that offer privacy and tranquility.

Fox and the Firefly Cottages and Amorita Resort are two of our favorite places to stay in Bohol. Both offer unique and unforgettable experiences in different parts of Bohol, from charming cottages in the middle of nature to luxurious seaside villas.

Amorita Resort

Amorita Resort, located in Panglao Island, offers a luxurious seaside escape with stunning views of the Bohol Sea. The resort has elegant villas and suites, each featuring modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, and air conditioning. The villas are designed with traditional Filipino elements, such as high-pitched roofs and natural elements, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The resort also features two infinity pools, a spa, and a restaurant serving Filipino and international cuisine. It is located right on Alona Beach and is a perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of exploring the island. The service is thoughtful and exceptional, you will feel thoroughly cared for during your stay.

Amorita Resort

Fox and the Firefly Cottages

Fox and the Firefly Cottages, located in Loboc, offer a rustic and peaceful retreat in the heart of Bohol’s lush forests. The cottages are built in a traditional Filipino style, with thatched roofs and wooden furnishings. Each cottage is equipped with modern amenities, hot and cold showers, and Wi-Fi. The property is situated along the Loboc River, making it a perfect place for nature lovers who want to enjoy the tranquil beauty of the river. They also offer tours and activities, such as stand-up paddleboarding, river cruises and hiking, making it a perfect base for adventure-seekers. Food & Fables, the in-house restaurant, serves up delicious food all day and is a highlight of the stay. The stand-up paddleboard tours should not be missed, there is even an evening tour which travels up the river to see the magical fireflies and is a true highlight of a stay at Fox and the Firefly. Opt for a room upstairs overlooking the rice paddies – a tranquil spot to relax and take in the beauty of the location.

Fox and the Firefly Cottages

When to Visit

The Philippines has a tropical climate, which means it’s generally warm and humid throughout the year. However, the best time to visit Bohol Island, and the Philippines in general, depends on your preferences and the activities you have planned.

The dry season, from November to April, is generally the best time to visit Bohol Island as it has lower chances of rain and more sunshine. This is the ideal time for outdoor activities such as island hopping, beach-hopping, and other water sports. It is also the peak tourist season, so expect higher rates for accommodation and transportation, especially during the Christmas holidays and Holy Week (the week before Easter Sunday).

The wet season, from May to October, brings more rain and higher humidity levels. However, this is also the time when the lush greenery of the island is at its finest. The rains usually come in short bursts, and the island is still accessible for tours and activities. If you’re planning on visiting during this time, be sure to bring a raincoat or umbrella and expect a slightly lower volume of tourists, making it a quieter and more relaxed experience.

The shoulder season, from June to October, can be a great time to visit Bohol Island. During this period, prices for accommodations and tours are usually lower, and the weather is still warm enough for outdoor activities. Just be prepared for occasional rains and storms.

How to Get Around

  1. Motorbike – Renting a motorbike is a popular way to get around Bohol Island. It’s affordable, convenient, and allows you to explore the island at your own pace. You can rent a motorbike for as little as 300-500 PHP per day, and fuel is relatively cheap. However, keep in mind that traffic can be busy in some areas, and road conditions may not be ideal.
  2. Tricycle – Tricycles are a common mode of transportation in Bohol Island, especially for short distances or when exploring the towns. They are cheap and can accommodate up to three passengers. However, they may not be the most comfortable option, and you may need to negotiate prices before getting in.
  3. Car or Van Rental – If you’re traveling with a group or prefer a more comfortable and convenient option, you can rent a car or van with a driver. This is a more expensive option, but it’s a great way to explore the island with ease and comfort. Rental rates vary depending on the vehicle and the duration of your rental.
  4. Public Transportation – Public transportation is available in Bohol Island, including buses and jeepneys. However, they can be crowded, and schedules may not always be reliable.
  5. Tour Packages – If you prefer a hassle-free way to explore the island’s popular destinations, you can book tour packages from local tour operators or your accommodation. These packages include transportation, entrance fees, and a guide, making it a convenient and stress-free option.

Currency and Money

The currency used in the Philippines is the Philippine peso (PHP). It’s recommended that you exchange your currency to pesos upon arrival at the airport or at a reputable money changer. Credit cards are widely accepted in major establishments, but it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand as many smaller establishments will only take cash.

Philippines Travel Tips

The Philippines is a beautiful country with a unique culture and stunning natural wonders. If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines for the first time, here are some travel tips to help make your visit a smooth and enjoyable one:

  1. Plan your itinerary ahead of time: The Philippines has many islands and destinations to explore, so it’s important to plan your itinerary ahead of time to make the most of your trip. Research the places you want to visit and book your accommodations and transportation in advance to avoid any last-minute surprises.
  2. Be prepared for the weather: The Philippines has a tropical climate, which means it can be hot and humid year-round. Be sure to pack lightweight, breathable clothing, and don’t forget to bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. It’s also a good idea to bring a rain jacket or umbrella, especially if you’re visiting during the rainy season (June to November) and insect repellant if you are planning to be in forest areas.
  3. Bring cash: While credit cards are widely accepted in major establishments, it’s always a good idea to have cash on hand, especially when you’re visiting smaller towns or markets.
  4. Respect the local culture: The Philippines has a unique and diverse culture, and it’s important to be respectful of local customs and traditions.
  5. Stay safe: Like any other destination, it’s important to stay safe when traveling in the Philippines. Avoid walking alone at night, especially in unfamiliar areas, and be cautious when using public transportation. It’s also recommended to keep your valuables in a secure place and to avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
  6. Try the local cuisine: The Philippines is known for its diverse cuisine, and it’s a must-try when visiting the country. From adobo to sinigang to ube, there’s something for every palate.
  7. Embrace the adventure: The Philippines is full of adventure opportunities, from island hopping to hiking to diving. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Just make sure to book with reputable tour operators and follow all safety precautions.

The ele Team flew to the Philippines courtesy of Cebu Pacific and stayed at Amorita Resort on Bohol Island.

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