There are so many things to do in Bohol, an island which is gradually making its mark as an eco-tourism paradise. It’s easy to see why it ticks all the boxes. Jungle adventure? Aye. White sand beaches? Cracking nightlife in Panglao? You’ll find all of these things to do in Bohol and more.
Whether you want to discover the (rather green) Chocolate Hills, meet the mysterious Tarsiers or simply relax on one of the many beaches the island has to offer, Bohol has something for every kind of traveller.
Bohol rightfully deserves a place on your Philippines itinerary. Read on for everything you need to know, including some of our favourite things do in Bohol, in our ultimate guide to the island. Be sure to check out our other Philippines travel guides for more information.
- Getting There
- What to Do – Panglao Island
- Party on Alona Beach
- Island Hopping
- Loboc River
- Get On Your Bike
- Where to Stay – Panglao Island
- Where to Eat – Panglao Island
- Bohol Island Summary
- Bohol Island Budget Breakdown
The easiest and quickest way to get to Bohol is to fly into Tagbilaran Airport; Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines & Air Asia have daily flights from Manila (flight time: 1.5 hours) for a reasonable rate.
If you’re already on Cebu Island, Bohol is easily accessible by fast ferry. The two main companies are Ocean Jet (P500 Tourist Class) and Supercat (P600 – beware of frequent cancellations) and the crossing takes around two hours. You can also take the ferry from Dumaguete and Siquijor with Ocean Jet (both around 2 hours).
Whether you arrive by air or sea, your arrival destination in Bohol is Tagbilaran City. From here, it is around 40 minutes to Panglao Island, where the majority of island accommodation lies. Either pre-arrange a transfer with your accommodation or squeeze onto a tricycle with your luggage for P300 total (2 passengers). If there are a few of you, another option is to take one of the shared taxis – there’s a rank outside the arrivals terminal.
What to Do – Panglao Island
Party on Alona Beach
Alona Beach is the main tourist hub in Bohol, in the past famed for its white sand beach, crystal clear waters and rocky cliffs. These days, the ‘tropical paradise’ vibe has sadly been overtaken by crowded beach bars, tacky souvenir shops and overpriced tourist restaurants. They have literally concreted the west side of the beach:
Since we were in Bohol for NYE 2019, we were happy with the party atmosphere of Alona Beach nightlife. If you’re searching instead for tranquillity in Panglao, head further up the coast to Dumaluan and Bikini Beach.
Our top picks for bars along the beach were Reggae Bar AliaHailey (classic Philippines) and Aluna Bar. As we said, we were here for New Years so the nightlife of Alona suited us. If you’re looking for ‘paradise’ in the Philippines, Alona isn’t for you.
As with the majority of Filipino beach resorts, one of the top things to do in Bohol is to explore the marine life of the surrounding islands. The most popular island-hopping trip starts with dolphin watching off the coast of Panglao, before heading to Balicasag and Virgin Island (sandbar). To give you the best chance of some dolphin spotting, the tours start first thing in the morning from Alona Beach.
Balicasag Island marine sanctuary is just as popular with divers as snorkelers, due to the high chance of spotting turtles and the world-class diving on offer. It’s also a great spot to practice free-diving.
Paddleboarding, ziplines and hidden waterfalls, the Loboc River is full of natural wonders and is quite rightly one of the top things to do in the south-western corner of Bohol. Navigate your way through jungle passageways on an SUP tour, hop on a relaxing river cruise or enjoy night kayaking with the fireflies.
Get On Your Bike
The best way to explore Bohol is to get your own wheels. Soaring along the roads on your rented motorbike just adds to the jungle adventure and the majority of the roads on Bohol Island are in excellent condition.
The below was the exact roadtrip we completed in one day from our base on Panglao Island. Rent your scooter from Moon Fools hostel (around P500 per day) and make sure you’re up and out early. If you would rather go on an organised tour, the Bohol Countryside Tour takes in most of the below sites and you can book this through one of the many tour operators in Panglao.
1. Brave the Bamboo Hanging Bridges
Also known as the Sipatan Twin Hanging Bridges, pay your P35 entrance and wobble your way across to the other side and back. Not the most exciting thing to do in Bohol, but we had a laugh anyway.
2. Bilar Man Made Forrest
A favourite stop for tourists, this 2km stretch of road is fun to drive through. Just watch out for people standing in the middle of the road taking pictures as you fly around the corners.
3. Visit the Tarsiers
Considered to be the world’s smallest primate, a visit to the see the mysterious Tarsiers in person is a must on your visit to Bohol. There are actually two places claiming to be ‘sanctuaries’ so make sure you go to the correct place – we made this mistake of not doing enough research. The Loboc Tarsier Conservation Area (P60, free parking) is NOT an official conservation sanctuary. The official Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Corella.
4. Chocolate Hills
As one of the top things to do, a visit to Bohol would not be complete without a visit to the ‘otherworldly’ Chocolate Hills. We’ve got to be completely honest – we were absolutely underwhelmed with this attraction. The hills were far greener than milky chocolate and the set up is extremely touristy.
P50, free parking
5. Pangas Falls
After being on your bike all day, this is the perfect place to cool down (entrance P30, parking P5). We stumbled upon these waterfalls by pure coincidence; they’re tucked off the main road and along a pretty bumpy track. When we were there, it was just locals playing about and even though this was not the most spectacular waterfall we saw in the Philippines, they were great fun for a few hours.
IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME:
Unspoilt stretches of white sand in south-eastern tip of Bohol Island, Anda is perfect for travellers looking to relax away from the party vibes of Panglao. Be sure to check out the many cave pools. The most popular one is Cabagnow.
North Sand Bar
Also accessible from Mactan Island, this incredible sandbar is also known as Bongan Sandbar. To reach from Bohol, you need to travel to the town of Talibon where you will be able to organise your boat (journey time of around an hour to the sandbar). We never made it here, but heard great reviews from those who did.
A pebbled beach in the Philippines! Can-uba is located in the town of Jagna, and is much less touristy than Alona. This is the spot if you’re looking for peace and tranquillity during your visit to Bohol.
Turquoise water, rope swings and cliff jumping; this is one of top things to do for adventure lovers in Bohol. It’s hard to find, but the journey is worth the effort, with plenty of cliff jumping and swings.
Also called Dimiao Twin Falls, prepare yourself for a gruelling stair workout in order to visit. We heard this is getting more and more popular with tourists, and therefore can get pretty crowded.
Where to Stay – Panglao Island
Panglao Island is the main accommodation hub of Bohol, and where the majority of visitors opt to base themselves. Panglao is connected to the main island of Bohol by two bridges, so it’s easy to explore from there. The majority of resorts are based on and around Alona Beach, with many eco resorts and huts based a little further along the coast. There is also the option of staying in Tagbilaran – although we wouldn’t recommend this as it’s not much more than a transport town.
Moon Fools our choice
Eco-friendly hostel with FREE cocktails every night at 6PM. What’s not to love? We stayed here over New Years Eve, and met the greatest bunch of people to celebrate with. There are tours arranged daily via the sign up board – great for solo travellers. Location is handy; around 10 minutes walk to Alona Beach.
Dorms from P625
Bohol Coco Farm
Whilst the location may be a little out the way, this backpacker hideaway is extremely budget friendly, relaxing and environmentally conscious (ingredients for the popular vegetarian menu come straight from the farm).
Dorms from P400
Where to Eat – Panglao Island
If you are after authentic local dishes throughout your stay in Bohol/Pangloa… you may be disappointed. Eateries seem to be extremely catered to tourists, with prices and quality reflecting this. As the area around Alona Beach gets more and more commercialised (a 7/11 has just opened, with a McDonalds opening soon next door), we felt like the majority of food was fast, unhealthy, western and overpriced.
After some research and recommendations, we did manage to find the hidden (healthy) gems below:
Bohol Bee Farm
Situated a few km from Alona Beach, the 15-minute bike/tricycle ride out to Bohol Bee Farm is worth it. The organic onsite restaurant has an incredible ocean view and the food is extremely decent value for money. The homemade bread is to die for, and the best thing is they give you this as part of a complimentary table starter. We never made it to the Buzzz Café on Alona Beach itself, but we heard great things about the ice cream from there.
Mains from P200
Insta-worthy smoothie bowls, a range of veggie/vegan delights and actual coffee (no 3 in 1 brew sachets in sight); a stay in Pangloa isn’t complete without a visit to Shaka. Branches are popping up throughout the Philippines (Siargao, El Nido and Moalboal) and their fabulous reputation is fully deserved! This is next door to Moon Fools hostel – you can literally roll out of bed into a tasty vegan burger.
Dishes from P250
Isis Thai Restaurant
If you’re looking for an affordable bite to eat along the beachfront, this Filipino-Thai restaurant does the job. The fresh counter at the front is extortionate, but the main menu is reasonable and full of classic options like Pad Thai, Shrimp Spring Rolls and Pork Adobo. Just try to ignore the unfortunate name…
Roderick & Vivien Seafoods and Restaurant
We heard rave reviews about this place and were excited to try it. But even by Filipino standards, the service was so appalling we didn’t even get the chance to order before leaving. Avoid at all costs sadly.
Bohol Island Summary
- Get your ferry and check in to your accommodation
- Organise renting your scooter from tomorrow
- Grab a drink on Alona Beach
- Start your day with a Shaka breakfast
- Get on your bike and complete the full day roadtrip detailed above (or an organised Bohol Countryside Tour)
- Alternatively spend the day at the Loboc River
- Finish your day with a delicious dinner at Bohol Bee Farm
- Head to Alona Beach and organise your island hopping trip
- Enjoy your last night in Bohol before moving on to your next destination
- Moon Fools Hostel
- Bohol Coco Farm
- Bohol Bee Farm
- Isis Thai Restaurant
- Roderick & Vivien Seafoods and Restaurant
- Reggae Bar AliaHailey
- Aluna Bar
Bohol Island Budget Breakdown
- Ferry Cebu – Bohol
- OceanJet (2 hours)
- P500 per person
Total: P1000 ($19)
Moon Fools Hostel
- 10-bed ‘pod’ dorm x3 nights
- P625 per night
Total: P3750 ($72)
- Bamboo Hanging Bridges P35 per person
- Loboc Tarsier Conservation Area P60 per person
- Chocolate Hills P50 per person
- Pangas Falls P30, Parking P5
Total: P355 ($7)
- Scooter hire: P500 per day
- Tricycle from ferry port to Panglao: P300
Total: P800 ($15)
- Bus Moon Fools hostel to Tagbilaran City: P40 (5 minute walk to pier)
- Ferry to Siquijor Island: P800
Total: P1680 ($32)
Total for 3D/3N: P7585/$145
The above budget is for x2 people. Food and drink (and scooter petrol) is not included.
This budget breakdown isn’t meant to be an exact record of what we spent, but should give you a rough idea of what you’re likely to spend.
*all currencies accurate at the time of writing (Jan ’19)
LIKE THIS POST? PIN IT!