Having left Donsol we were now heading to the island of Bohol. This required pretty much every type of transport – bus, plane, taxi, ferry, taxi – in order for us to get to our hostel. We quickly discovered that the German guys we had met on the bus from Donsol were doing the exact same journey, to the exact same hostel so spent most of the journey with them and shared taxis along the way. The journey was pretty smooth, but the ferry was outrageously cold and we felt like we needed a thick coat for most of it. Our hostel when we arrived was really nice – spread out and spacious with decent rooms.
Our first day in Bohol was spent on scooters visiting the main sights of Bohol Island. We were actually staying on a small island just beside Bohol called Panglao, but the two are connected by bridges so it’s easy to get across. Our first stop was the butterfly farm, which was pretty disappointing from a butterfly perspective but had a slightly odd collection of tropical birds and some big snakes which you could hold and made the whole thing pretty good.
The ride was really nice as we went along some riverbanks and then to the “man-made forest” of which the island is proud. It was essentially a tropical forest with a road through it which was very pretty.
Next up was the Tarsier sanctuary. Tarsiers are tiny primates. They are nocturnal and can jump up to 5 metres between trees which is a long way considering they could easily fit in the palm of your hand. Also, they are super cute so we had a great time walking around and taking photos of them.
On we went and found a ridiculously cheap local restaurant for lunch before going to the Chocolate Hills. You can ride almost the whole way to the top before walking up a load of steps to the main viewpoint. The hills are the result of the erosion of rock made from broken coral which then protruded from the sea before the rain carved it up into the strange, lumpy formations that are there now. The name of Chocolate Hills is due to their appearance when the foliage turns brown and the whole area looks like a giant chocolate bar. We weren’t there for that, but they were a pretty awesome sight regardless.
By now it was time to head back to Panglao through the beautiful rice fields and to the main beach in the area, Alona Beach. We arrived at around sunset so had a walk up and down before heading to a restaurant for dinner. The beach was lovely soft white sand but it was pretty busy and very built up with restaurants and bars the whole way along.
Claire had been wanting to do the next stage in her dive training so along with the German guys from Donsol who were in the same boat started her 2 day course. I did one day of diving too, the reef was nice but compared to Indonesia it was sorely lacking. There are meant to be some really good sites around for those with a bit more time on their hands, so if we ever make it back we might try some of those.
While Claire was on day 2 of her course I had a lazy day of lounging around and wandering down to the local beach which we’d been told by the dive instructors was arguably the best on the island. The beach really was nice, with the same soft white sand as Alona but without all the people and buildings. It was lacking any shade at all though, so I had to retreat back to the hostel in the middle of the day when it was too hot.
With Claire now fully qualified as an advanced diver and now officially able to do all the dives she had been doing anyway, we went out for beer and pizza with the Germans and a couple of the dive staff who were essentially all travellers who had ended up in the Philippines for a little longer than planned. It was a good night and a nice way to end a lovely time on Bohol, with a ferry to Siquijor the next day.