Tarsiers. When you google Bohol, there are two things that will immediately pop up. The tarsiers, one of the world’s smallest primates, is one of them. After seeing them in real life, I understand why they get so much “hype”. Besides the fact that they are an endangered species and you can only see them in a limited amount of places, they are also so gosh darn cute! Pictures don’t even do them justice, since it doesn’t reflect their real size and cute blinking eyes enough. It’s something you just have to see for yourself – but please choose the place where to do so carefully and be respectful of your surroundings.
Extra tip: Visit the Tarsier sanctuary in Bohol where they aren’t kept captive (as opposed to the Tarsier Conservation Area) and be as quiet as you can be because they normally sleep during the day and apparently have suicidal urges when they’re scared (no joke). Also, fight the urge to cuddle them – it’s not allowed anyway.
The Chocolate Hills. And this is the second “attraction” that will pop up during your search. Even though this is pretty much the main tourist thing to do, I wouldn’t leave them out of your visit since it’s something you won’t be able to see anywhere else. Yes, basically you are just admiring a landscape – but it’s a pretty special one.
Extra tip: Instead of going to the general viewpoint, try to find a more alternative spot where there’s less of a “crowd”. We had a pretty packed planning that day, otherwise this was something we would have done.
Loboc river. During the day, its bright green color and lush surroundings make it a beauty to look at – unfortunately there will be touristy boats with loud music going up and down the river which makes an otherwise serene experience a bit less calming (to say the least). Luckily, these river cruises are only allowed during a certain time period, so you can avoid them if you want. During the day, it’s fun to either take a kayak and explore the river (there are small waterfalls near Nuts Huts) or do the same with a stand up paddle board. At night, you have the option to go on a firefly tour – which I would also recommend. I had Disney-like experiences in mind for this one, and whilst there were no sudden singing frogs or fireflies surrounding me, it was still really special to see a bunch of them grouped together in certain spots. Imagine a pitch-black nature surrounding, and thousands of fireflies moving & lighting up the trees, it was really as magical as it sounds. Considering the difficult light circumstances, it’s basically impossible to take pictures of this so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Extra tip: ask the place where you’re staying if they can arrange a boat to take you on the tour (usually one of the local fishermen) and ask around if there are people who want to join so you can split the cost (the boats usually fit around eight people).
Explore Panglao. This island is part of Bohol province, and is reachable by car from Bohol island. If you look at the map, you’ll see that Bohol as an island is much bigger than Panglao but it’s still very well-known since this is the “beachy area”. We spent our first couple of days here and discovered some nice spots, but it can feel quite touristic – especially near Alona Beach. Things I would particularly recommend on this island is going for lunch or dinner at Bohol Bee farm, and chilling at their dive bar downstairs or go to Bohol Beach club (near Dumaluan beach) when you’re feeling fancy. Read: buy a slightly overpriced drink or bite to eat and relax in the cool hammocks. The sunset view here was fantastic! Other than that, make sure to go on an island hopping tour – you’ll see dolphins in their natural habitat, go snorkeling at Balicasag island and visit a pretty strip of sand at Virgin island (great spot for a photo op).
Extra tip: Pack a lunch, fruits and water for the island hopping because you leave very early and usually come back a little after lunch. Don’t want to get hangry when you’re surrounded by all that beauty.
Take the ferry to Siquijor. Also known as the island of black magic that pretty much stole my heart. Granted, this is not a part of Bohol (and there are definitely more things to see here) – but if you’re done exploring the island of tarsiers and Chocolate Hills, your next stop should be Siquijor. It’s small, but stunning – and the beaches & clear blue water will surely take your breath away. Basically, it’s living the paradise island life to the max: the beautiful nature, super relaxed vibe, picturesque palm trees and white beaches will make you never want to leave.
Your Bohol itinerary obviously kind of depends on how much time you have and what kind of trip you’re looking for. If you’re up for more adventure and exploring, I would add some of the lesser-known areas (like the north) to your list. If you’re not visiting any other islands, but want to experience a more relaxed white beach vibe – I’d go to Anda instead of Panglao. For more tips, check out my post about the waterfalls of Siquijor & Bohol.