Proof that good things come in small packages, Bohol is a true force of nature.
Whether you prefer lazing in a hammock on a beach, slipping into cruise control, revving up on a quad bike or slipping into adrenaline-fuelled adventure mode, Bohol will soon bring each of your senses up to speed.
Soon to celebrate its 500th anniversary since being ‘discovered’ by circumnavigating Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, the Philippines island of Bohol is a relaxing two-hour Oceanjet ferry ride from Cebu.
Known for offering “a little bit of everything”, the mountainous topography [only 30 per cent of the island is flat] creates memorable landmarks and experiences.
Star Wars fact or fiction?
For example, what do Yoda, Gremlins and Bohol have in common?
Believe it or not, it’s the tiny nocturnal creature known as Tarsius syrichta on whom locals claim the Hollywood characters are said to be based.
Often mistakenly referred to as monkeys, the nocturnal tarsiers are closely related to lemurs and grow up to 12.5 centimetres.
Bohol is home to one of the three tarsier species unique to south-east Asia, with Professor Carlito Pizarras creating a 8.4-hectare tarsier sanctuary (one hectare accessed by the public) in 1996.
The tarsier’s giant eyes are 150 times the size of humans’ in relation to body size and – due to having no peripheral vision – can turn their head 180 degrees in either direction.
Take me to the (Loboc) river
Rest assured, the cuteness of the tarsier is only the beginning of Bohol’s abundant charms.
If you prefer something a little less taxing, chill out like never before with a gentle Loboc River Cruise, all while being serenaded, munching on Filipino cuisine, and stopping along the way for energetic performances by singing and dancing troupes on floating platforms.
Romantics can take the moonlight option, where fireflies guide the way.
The natural attractions continue at the famous Chocolate Hills, the 1776 limestone domes dotting the countryside and named after the shade of brown they turn during the dry season.
Rest assured, the walk up to the lookout gets the blood pumping – but it is worth it for the superb views.
Cross-country joy ride
If you prefer taking a hands-on role rather than simply sightseeing, there’s still plenty to experience in the immediate area.
Rev-heads wanting to work off a little steam can get their petrol fix with some low-risk quad biking activities nearby.
Available for individuals or groups, the cross-country tour across flat bush tracks equally accommodates the novice or experienced rider.
Something in the air
Those seeking a little adventure should try the Danao Adventure Park, where eager participants can try their hand at kayaking, root climbing, caving, ziplining or the world’s largest canyon swing, appropriately known as The Plunge. (LINK article)
All of these activities are based in a lush nature park that was once the base camp of the revered Boholano hero Francisco Dagohoy, who led the longest Philippine Revolutionary Movement (1744-1828) against the Spanish colonial government.
Having experienced the ziplining and The Plunge – and survived to tell the tale – I can honestly say the experience is indeed revolutionary and highly recommended.
Beaching to the converted
Last but not least is the option for a stress-free existence and settling for the tranquillity of lounging by the pool, snorkelling, diving, aquasports or claiming a spot on the pristine white sand of the private beach.
The renovated Bohol Beach Club, which was the island’s first international-standard resort in the 1980s, has all this and more.
That “little bit of everything” on which Bohol prides itself certainly goes a long way – as will your budget.