The 10th largest island in the Philippines, Bohol is where the wild side of the archipelago truly comes to life. Remote, rustic and raw – Bohol’s charm lies in it still being mostly untouched by modern commercialization. Dotted with dense jungles, gushing waterfalls and fascinating natural caves that inspire adventure even in the most laid back traveler, this Filipino island is one of a kind!
What to know before you visit Bohol
Although quite remote, there are several ways to get to Bohol, the most popular being a direct flight from Manila. However, our favorite way to reach the island is on a ferry, especially when planning a day trip. Located only 2 hours away by ferry ride from Cebu, Bohol makes for a perfect day trip destination from its neighboring island.
Taking a ferry from Cebu to Bohol is not only economical but is also a great way to take a ride through the Cebu Strait that separates the two islands. Hop on one of the many ferries departing from Cebu Pier that will drop you off at the Tagbilaran City Port Terminal in Bohol. The ferries by OceanJet run very frequently all day long, every 1-1.5 hours, so if you plan on doing a day trip from Cebu to Bohol, take an early morning ferry around 6 am and take the last ferry out of Bohol at 6:30 pm.
However, when planning your trip to Bohol, be mindful of the fact that the island gets a fair amount of rainfall throughout the year, June to November being the rainiest time of the year. So if you’re after some sunshine, visit between December and March, typically the hottest and driest time of the year. Alternatively, plan your trip anytime from April to June when it is neither too hot nor too rainy.
Things to do in Bohol on a day trip
Now that we have the facts and figures out of the way, let’s redirect our attention to the island itself. While one day may seem like very little time, it is still possible to explore Bohol and get a taste of what it offers. Here’s a quick round-up of some of the things you can do on your day trip to Bohol.
Take a leisurely cruise on the Loboc River
One of the most popular things to do in Bohol is a relaxing cruise on the Loboc River, flanked by stunning greenery on both sides. As you board your boat cruise and gently glide across the river, what strikes you is the rustic setting around you.
Towering palm trees swaying gently in the warm breeze, children from the nearby Loboc town playing on the bank on the river, and the moss green hue of the river water accentuating the greenery that surrounds you. The cruise is a wonderful way to experience the laid back vibe of Bohol and is offered by most local tour operators in the region.
Discover the unique Chocolate Hills
An intriguing geological formation comprising of more than 1,200 rounded, conical hills spread over an area of 50 square kilometers is one of the most iconic sights in Bohol. Commonly known as the Chocolate Hills, they owe their name to their color, which appears to be different shades of brown from a distance, when the grass patches on their surface dry up. Very fascinating to look at due to their unique shape and their sheer number, the best place to get a good look at the Chocolate Hills is from the viewing deck at Carmen Town.
Meet the world’s smallest primate
Did you know that the world’s smallest primate, the tarsier, is a native of Bohol? An adorable nocturnal animal with big, round eyes, the tarsier is now an endangered species and is found in very few places in the wild.
The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary is one such place in Bohol that is not only home to the tarsier but also works towards the protection and conservation of the species in their natural habitat. An eye-opening and informative experience, you can either choose to observe the tarsiers in their protected enclosure while they feed or sleep or you could also opt for a more realistic experience by walking the Tarsier Trail in the wild.
However, as exciting as this sounds, do keep an eye out for sanctuaries that claim to be legitimate but are actually not, like the Loboc Tarsier Conservation Area. This is a popular tourist attraction in Bohol but is not affiliated with the Philippine Tarsier Foundation and has often been found to be unethical in their treatment and care of the animals.
Live the beach life on Panglao Island
Visit another island when you’re already on an island? Sure, why not? You’re in the Philippines after all! Panglao Island, located in the southwest of Bohol, is a separate island in and of itself but is connected to Bohol via a bridge. Although you’re technically crossing over to another landmass, you can simply take a bus or a local taxi to get there.
Blessed with postcard-like beaches, some of the best scuba diving spots in the country and ample sunshine, a day trip to Bohol is not complete without spending a couple of hours soaking in the tropical sun on Panglao island. End the day while watching a glorious sunset here, before heading back to Cebu on a ferry ride from Bohol.
Bohol is one of those destinations in the Philippines that still remains off-beat, in the truest sense of the term. If time permits, you can easily spend a couple of days here and you’ll still find plenty of things to do. However, if a day is all you have, then a quick day trip to Bohol from Cebu is a great way to get a glimpse of the region. As you can tell, Bohol’s unofficial title of “God’s little paradise” is certainly not to be taken lightly!