You may have heard of Bohol’s spectacular Chocolate Hills and its adorable Tarsier inhabitants. But did you know that here, you can also see a tree glow and sparkle at night, have a waterfalls all to yourself, and join an impromptu street party? Here’s how.
1. First, pick the wrong motorbike.
Because Bohol has impressive wide and beautiful highways, assume that an automatic scooter would suffice for your island adventure.
Then find out later that all the cool “secret spots” like hidden springs, remote waterfalls and elusive rice terraces are connected by bumpy dirt roads made up of loose jagged rocks which 1) can easily bang up old wheels and 2) are not fun to walk on while pushing a flat-tired motorbike.
Face constant rejection from Bohol’s old school bike mechanics for being modern and picking a tubeless tire which they just can’t be bothered with. But also, receive smiles and company from all the curious local kids who will help you push your bike through their village.
2. Choose the long and winding road.
Decide that you want to explore as much of Bohol as possible and travel a loop–which takes longer than going back and forth the same road–from east to west. From Tagbilaran (airport), travel to Panglao, Loboc, Candijay, Anda, Jagna, and then back to Loboc.
Realize that the more road you cover, the more changing landscapes you see. Quaint towns to green rice fields dotted by hills, a rich mahogany forest to the bluest sea. You may also chance upon an overturned beer delivery truck and join the locals for an instant street party!
3. Make deliberate and leisurely stops.
You’re not on a group tour, you’ve got complete control of your schedule. Instead of just parking along the highway of the Loboc Manmade Forest for a quick selfie, walk into the actual park.
Sit beneath the cool shade of these trees and hang out. Bring some snacks, even a little instrument. Chat with the park’s caretakers and learn interesting anecdotes about Bohol and its residents. Try the same approach to all your destinations and get more out of your trip.
4. Do the “touristy stuff.”
Realize that some things just shouldn’t be missed.
Tell yourself you’re on a motorbike for a unique and more convenient experience but joining the tourist crowds isn’t uncool at all. Understand that there is a reason why The Chocolate Hills and the Tarsiers are on every shirt, postcard and keychain.
Be stunned by the fascinating sight of the hills, no matter how many times you’ve seen the photos. Then, catch yourself cooing and babytalking to the undeniably cute Tarsiers who honestly, just want you to leave so they can sleep.
5. And of course, the non-touristy stuff.
Find out through the locals that The Chocolate Hills has a less popular sibling called Himontagon Hills. Drive up one of those dodgy dirt roads and be greeted by spectacular scenery and absolutely zero tourists. Wonder why such a beautiful place isn’t well known then decide to enjoy your private 360 degree view instead.
6. Hop on to other rides.
Park your motorbike for a few hours to enjoy other modes of transportation, like a motorized boat in Panglao for dolphin watching at dawn, or a paddleboard in Loboc river for a firefly tour at dusk. Feel the thrill of dolphins splashing around your boat as if playfully challenging you to a race.
Notice how the river reflects the stars and multiplies the lights from both the fireflies and the sky, wrapping you in a magical and mystical moment as you get to the “mother tree.”
7. Wander around at night. Crash some parties.
Feel so safe and at home in Bohol that you can just drive around the little towns at night. Be pleasantly surprised by all the nightly parties and activities such as kids practicing dance routines in a park in Panglao, a town singing competition in Anda, and the best one yet, a Barangay disco party at an old gymnasium in Jagna.
Find yourself dancing with a bunch of kids, senior citizens and everyone in between to blaring speakers and rotating green and red lights, as everyone just have themselves a good time.