We have been 5 nights in Bohol but we will summarize what to do in 4 days, which we think would be enough to see most of the highlights of Bohol. We would recommend going to Bohol for its beautiful snorkeling opportunities, as well as nice road trip opportunities, together with the unique Tarsier monkeys (the second smallest monkeys in the world with these cute little huge eyes).
Bohol Island 4 days 3 nights itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Bohol via boat or plane
Arriving to Bohol is possible by plane from Manila or other islands (and even from South Korea, since most of the visitors of the Philippines come from there) as well as by ferry from neighboring islands. Going from Siquijor or Cebu city is quite straightforward with a direct ferry. We took this option via OceanJet, which is one of the main operators of the Philippines.
However, we must say that the process of checking in at the airport of Siquijor was not that easy and they kind of try to rip you off a little bit. Taking a ferry from Cebu to Dumaguette or even from Dumaguette to Siquijor was only about 150-200 pesos but taking a ferry to Bohol was 800 pesos. Then, when you enter you need to pay an environmental fee, which is just 14 pesos.
And here is where the important info might come handy. When you enter the check in area you need to go to the counter on the left to get a seat assignment! There is a very chaotic queue and that’s the one you need to follow. The other queue at the right that says check-in counter is actually only for baggage dropping. And of course you need to pay extra, so if you mistakenly go to that one with a backpack, they will try to charge you for it. And if you go to that queue first, you will have lost time waiting since you first need to get a seat assigned. The second thing is what happened to us ^^ but it was ok since we had a lot of time to spare.
First counter on the left with the chaotic queue (the correct counter for check-in)
Second counter on the right, with a sign of check-in but that is actually to drop a baggage.
Since we arrived in the morning we took our day to relax, do some blogging and visit the Alona beach.
Day 2: Second smallest monkeys in the world and chocolate hills
These are two of the highlights of Bohol and it was indeed very cool to see both but the road trip there was amazing, one of the best we’ve done with the motorbike, and it reminded me of the Ha Giang motorbike loop in the north of Vietnam. It was very local, full of beautiful rice terraces and many people saying hi since they were not so used to seeing tourists.
As part of the road trip we went to the Tarsier sanctuary, which is a place where the Tarsier monkeys are kept in a natural environment, with natural trees and freedom to live their lives. They are nocturnal so during the day they usually hide under the trees. In the morning, the people that work there find how many have come back in the trees of the sanctuary and you get to see them in their natural habitat. It’s cool because they’re kept there and not in cages as they do in other tours. This means that you don’t get to touch them but you get to observe them being themselves. They are really cute with their huge eyes but also they are very cute when they close them to sleep during the day. For this part, it was really worth it to have a nice camera.
After that, and after a short ride under the rain, we got to see the famous chocolate hills. By this time of the year it’s more like matcha hills since they are pretty green because of the previous rain season. They were very beautiful and quite photogenic as well. It was very interesting to know that they have been formed after many years but that they used to be a huge coral reef when the sea was on top of this part of land.
Day 3 Relax at the beach, go to the cave and swim with sardines
Alona beach is supposed to be the most beautiful beach in Bohol. It’s a white sand beach but the colors of the water are not as beautiful as in some other places, especially as in Palawan. The beach is also not so good for snorkeling and many people try to sell you tours. Also there are many abandoned dogs that come to you when you open a bag of chips… However, it was ok to relax at the sand for a while, hearing the nice sound of the sea. Also walking by the beach to the rocks on the right is a nice thing to do.
By renting a scooter (in Panglao you can rent them for only 300 pesos, near our hotel close to Alona Pawikan resort). You can continue your third day by going to a cave with a beautiful natural swimming pool on it. You can pay 50 pesos to enter and 10 to park your motorbike. If you want you can pay 75 pesos for swimming in the cave's natural pool (but no one controls who is swimming or not ;)).
Very close to that you have two places for snorkeling, the Doljo beach and the Napaling reef where you can see the sardine tornado and a beautiful coral cliff going down for several meters. It’s a very nice destination for free divers. Unfortunately, when we were there the sea was too wavy so we had to skip the snorkeling activities but we saw the place from above and it looked nice! We even spotted some free divers diving anyway.
Day 4 Island hopping
The other thing to do is to go island hopping or a diving excursion. We did that to Balicasag and this was another of these places that is not controlled and there were many tourists from the main island going there at the same time. This meant that we even had to wait to land our boat on that island to get the snorkeling gear. You can expect to pay between 800 and 1500 pesos per person for the island hopping day including snorkeling gear, the environmental fees of 400 pesos but not including water or food.
When we entered the water and escaped from the multitude of boats by swimming along the reef to the right of the beach, we realized why this place is so popular among tourists. The corals were really beautiful, the reef wall was amazing, going down to the deep blue and there were many species of fish as well as many turtles. We saw 7 sea turtles from really close and two of them were even dancing together. It was very beautiful to see that. We’ve prepared a summary of the highlights of the snorkeling here:
However, it is a very popular destination, which means that it's full of boats, so full that we needed to wait 20 minutes to disembark. Moreover, the boats drive really close to the coral, using some spear to redirect the boats, which I think it might farm the coral growth...
The following picture is to give you an idea of the amount of boats you can expect on a normal day!
Day 5 waterfalls
If you have another day and you’re still up for adventures you can go to visit the waterfalls of Bohol. There are many waterfalls in the countryside, relatively close to the chocolate hills but more south of it. In our case, since it was raining a bit we decided to do a day in the city and the hotel relaxing and doing some blogging and YouTube. Of course, since some of the days we were in the city we used the chance to go to the main shopping mall and get some tasty Filipino pastries from a very popular bakery.
We also saw a funny Jeepney typical from the Philippines
Bohol is also a very nice island that offers many things, from beautiful snorkeling to nice caves and waterfalls. The beaches are not as astonishing as in other places of the Philippines but people are very nice and the food in Bohol was also great.
P.S: We have actually been 5 nights in Bohol since it was our last stop and we wanted to add some days for flexibility, which was actually pretty good since the ferry to Bohol was cancelled for 3 days in a row because of waves.
We hope you liked this post. Let us know what you think ^^