Nature Tripping in Bohol

A view from Tan-Awan, San Isidro, in the direction of Cebu.
A view from Sagbayan Peak, a newly opened restaurant and attraction park on top of one of the Chocolate Hills in Sagbayan, not far from Tubigon.
The man-made forest in Bilar, on the road to the Chocolate Hills.
One of the many still unspoiled waterfalls on Bohol, waiting for you to be discovered.

The lake in front of this fall is very deep, but if you swim across to the waterfall, you can enter a small cave behind it. In it, you will find some marvelous formed stalactites and stalagmites.

To the right of the fall is a cave. If you dare, you can climb up the top of that cave, and dive five meters down (check the current depth of the water before jumping!).

Loboc river, taken from a bridge near its mouth.

The famous Mag-Aso Falls near Antequera.
A close encounter of a banca with dolphins near Pamilacan Island, Bohol.
The Chocolate Hills just after the summer, when they have their characteristic brown color.
Badiang spring is a natural spring, developed into a swimming pool.
A house along the Loboc river.

View on Anda beach from the South-West.

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The Beaches of Bohol

Bohol is blessed with a number of marvelous white beaches, which just await to be discovered and enjoyed.

Panglao Island

Alona Beach Probably the most beautiful, and surely the most developed beach on Panglao is Alona Beach. Located at the Southwest of the island, this beach is about one and a half kilometers long, lined with nice resorts, which are great to stay for a some time, a number of well equiped diving establishments and pleasant places to eat out, if you do not want to eat at your resort's restaurant for a change.

Probably the only drawback of the beach are the large numbers of sea urchins that inhabit the water, starting some twenty or thirty meters out of the coast. You will just have to be careful when wading.

Don't forget to bring your snorkling equipment. When you swim about one hundred meters off the beach, you will reach the edge of the 'house' reef, at between three and five meters deep, and thus can be easily observed even without scuba equipment. If you are into scuba diving, though, don't forget to have a few dives here as well, as it is certainly worth it, not bad at all, even compared with the reefs the boats will bring you to.

Dumaluan Beach, also on the south of the island, is about two and half kilometers east of Alona Beach. Here you will find some of the more exclusive beach resorts of Bohol, such as the Bohol Beach Club.

Bikini Beach is about eight kilometers from Tagbilaran, and hence a popular location for local pick-nickers.

Momo Beach is on the north side of Panglao. This again is a shallow beach.

Doljo Beach (pronounced 'Dolho' beach) is on the Northwest of the island, not far from Momo beach, and is also a nice beach, mostly free from sea-grasses. This beach is known for the beautiful sea shells that can be found here.

The world famous Dumaluan Sunset

A piece of coral washed ashore. Even if you find such a piece of coral on the beach, you should still not pick it up and bring it back home, because corals are a protected species, and some customs officer abroad cannot see how it got into your possesion. Besides, it belongs here on the beach, to slowly erode and become part of the sand...

The beach near Baluarte Point on Cabilao Island.

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Are tourists safe in Bohol?

The Philippines sometimes receives negative press regarding the safety of foreigners. We believe this is not always deserved, and certainly does not apply to Bohol. In this article we will give some advice about the safety situation in the Philippines, and some tips to stay out of trouble.

Theft and Robberies

Just as much as in your hometown, thefts and robberies can happen in the Philippines, especially in the larger cities (of which Bohol has none: Tagbilaran, the largest city has sligtly less than eighty thousand inhabitants). Unlike in your hometown, you are probably a stranger, unknown with local conditions and customs, and because of that more easily attract the attention of criminals. However, if you take some simple precautions, most of the Philippines is perfectly safe for travel.

Follow the following do's and dont's.

  • Do put only a small amount of money in your wallet. A couple of hundred pesos is enough to pay for all the snacks and small souvenirs you can buy on a day.
  • Don't carry large amounts of cash with you. If you have to carry larger amounts, keep it very close on your body, in a place where it cannot be reached without removing your clothes. A money belt under your pants is often a good suggestion.
  • In most places ATM's are reliable and they are often guarded, however, don'tdon't allow other's to look over your shoulder or see where you put your money. use them at late hours, and
  • Don't wear jewelry -- chain snatchers sometimes operate on local busses and jeepneys.
  • Don't show out with your wealth. Keep camaras, etc. in unsupicous looking bags, not in flashy camara bags. Only bring them out if you want to photograph something.
  • Travel light. Don't bring more than a single small bag that you can keep in sight. In the tropical climate you need only a few sets of light clothes, and you can have them washed at almost every hotel.
  • Be cautious when approached by overly helpful people at crowded places in cities, such as airports, bus-stations and piers. However, don't avoid getting in contact with the Filipinos, for you will miss a lot of friends...
  • Do carry a number of photocopies of important documents such as your passport and airplane tickes, so that you have the details handy in case the real ones get missing. Ofcourse, keep them separate from your real documents.
  • Don't Accept drinks from strangers. Some people have been drugged that way, and then robbed of their possessions.
  • Last but not least, do use your common sense!

Crooks can be very creative in thinking out con-schemes. Be very critical of every odd story and money making scheme. A very common trick is too tell you that somebody has just snatched your wallet, hoping that in your response you will give away the place you hide it.

However, don't let these precautions spoil your frame of mind, just be alert when needed, and enjoy your stay.

Terrorism and Kidnappings

Several years ago, the Philippines had a lot of negative press regarding the safety of foreigners. Reports of tourists being kidnapped by terrorists from Malaysia, and Palawan aren't a comfortable read. However, we don't believe there is any reason for concern, and asure you Bohol is safe.

Most of the trouble with so-called muslim separatists and the infamous Abu Sayyaf group takes place in Southern Mindanao and on the Southern islands of Basilan and Jolo. Bohol is roughly 700 kilometres away from those areas, and when using boats, potential kidnappers will have to travel at least double that distance. The small map below will clarify the situation. As you can see, the distance from Palawan to Basilan is roughly the same as to Palawan, however, unlike Palawan, where kidnappers can go across open sea, to get to Bohol they have to get into water surrounded by islands on all sides, which is much more difficult to enter or leave unnoticed. Besides that since the events, the Philippine Navy and Police are on high alert for attacts like this. The conclusion is that it is extremely unlikely you will be confronted with kidnapping attempts on Bohol.

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Getting to Bohol

How to get there:

Bohol is located in the middle of the Philippines, and can be conveniently reached by air and boat.

Coming from abroad, you have two options: you can fly to Manila or Cebu. Cebu is the most convenient, but only a limited number of international flights will arrive there. Coming from Europe, you'll need to have a stop-over in either Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Hong Kong, however, it will save you the hassle of going through Manila. Among others, the following airlines fly international routes to Cebu: Silk Air, Malaysia Airlines, and Cathay Pacific.

If you come via Manila, you'll probably want to take a connecting flight to Tagbilaran, which takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It is also possible to take a boat to Bohol, but will take 25 hours, and is only advisable if you have plenty of time and enjoy a trip on sea, or have to travel on a rock-bottom budget. If you come from Manila, you can also go to Cebu by air, and then continue by boat. There are numerous daily flights from Manila to Cebu. The flying time is about 50 minutes. The transfer by taxi from the airport to the pier takes about 30 minutes in normal traffic conditions, and should cost 165 pesos. The following airlines fly on the from Manila to Cebu: PAL, Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines, Asian Spirit, Astro Air, and Grand Air.

It is always worthwhile to look for a promotional fare if you fly. You can save a considerable amount of money by asking around a little.

If you come via Cebu, you can also take a short 25 minute flight, but you'll probably want to take the one and a half hour trip with a fast boat to Tagbilaran. The regular boat to Tagbilaran will take about four hours. It is also possible to take a boat to Tubigon and Talibon, which may be more convenient if you want to be on the west or north coast of the island.

The most economical way to get from Cebu to Tagbilaran by boat is to catch a ferry to Tubigon, and continue by bus from Tubigon to Tagbilaran. This is sometimes both faster and cheaper than taking a boat directly to Tagbilaran.

Note that security regulations on domestic flights in the Philippines no longer allow bringing liquids (such as perfumes and bottles of wine) as carry-on items into the cabin. Even if you had those liquids sealed by duty-free shops on the airport of origin, you may be forced to throw them away if you are not able to place them in your checked-in luggage.

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