First things first, there is actually SO MUCH to do in Bohol. I only got the chance to visit for a few days in and around Loboc, however, I wish I was staying in the province for longer so I could explore more. Either way, if you’re visiting the Philippines, even if you’re short on time, making a stop in Bohol, specifically in Loboc is a must. Here are some suggestions on how you can spend two days and make the most of your time here.
You first need to decide how you are going to see the area. There are a few ways you can do this. You can either rent a motorbike, rent/take a taxi or tricycle (which is the most expensive option), or take the public transportation which is inexpensive and surprisingly easy to use. If you have a motorbike, you can definitely cover more ground quicker, but it really depends on if you’re comfortable navigating and driving yourself (this is a great article all about it from Alex in Wanderland).
We decided to take the most local route which is public transportation. For all our transportation for the day it cost us around 120 PHP each which is the equivalent to $2.50 USD. This itinerary will give you an idea of what to do via public transportation and also some ideas via motorbike.
Head to the Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella. This is recommended to do at the beginning of your day because it is only open until 4pm and sometimes closes early. Do not go to the Tarsier Conversation Area which is on your way to the Chocolate Hills. This is a very inhumane place and has a lot of controversy around it. Bohol is one of the provinces in the Philippines that is doing the most to promote awareness of this endangered animal, however the Tarsier Sanctuary is the most humane place to see this little animal and the cost for entry is only 50 pesos. The sanctuary should only really take 30 minutes to do as it’s pretty small.
To take transit to the sanctuary, find a bus heading towards Corella or Tagbalaren. If you are staying at Nuts Huts, stay on the side of the street the access road is on and wave down the bus as it passes. If you’re in town, just ask a local, and wave down the bus when you see it coming. It is a smaller bus. When you get on, tell the driver or ticket seller in the back you are heading to the Tarsier Sanctuary and they will stop there. The cost should be around 20 pesos.
After the sanctuary, your itinerary will depend on your mode of transportation.
If you are on a motorbike, start your journey towards the Chocolate Hills. Popular loops include: Carmen -> Sierra Bullones -> Jagna -> Loay Loop which is approximately 140 km and takes around 6 hours including stops. This trip can include a visit the Butterfly Sanctuary, Pangas Falls in Bilar, Chocolate Hills in Carmen and a scenic descent from Sierra Bullones to Jagna, plus a scenic coastal ride to Loay and Loboc.
Another route is Carmen -> Pilar -> Alicia -> Jagna which takes around 8 hours with stops. This route can include the above stops and also adds more beautiful changing landscapes.
Via Public Transportation:
After the sanctuary, take a bus back to Loboc which will cost again around 20 PHP. Wait on the opposite side of the entrance to the sanctuary. Buses should come around every 20 minutes after the hour (Ex: 10:20,11:20, etc.).
Once back in Loboc, take a big yellow bus that is heading towards Carmen. Locals will be able to ensure you’re in the right spot. This bus takes around an hour and cost from 30-40 PHP. Make sure to tell the ticket man or driver you want to go to the Chocolate Hills so they stop, otherwise, watch the road and tell them to stop when you get close.
Walk up the road to the entrance of the hills and pay your 50 peso entrance fee and start the walk up to the top where you can then climb steep stairs to get to the lookout. To get home, you’ll just catch the bus from the opposite side of the road.
The Chocolate Hills are a grassy series of hills that get their name because in the dry season they turn from green to roasted brown.
By this point for those not on a motorbike, your day is probably almost over. Head back home for some much needed rest and relaxation. If you’re staying at Nuts Huts, give them about 1-2 hours heads up and book the herbal sauna (200 PHP) and/or a massage (350 PHP). Another option for your evening is a highly recommended firefly tour which will take you to view the swarms of fireflies off the river. Check with your hostel on which they recommend as information online is limited!
Now that you’ve crossed some of the main attractions off your list, this day is your own to create as you please or to what suits your interests. Since I was staying at Nuts Huts, I took the morning to rent a kayak for 200 PHP per hour to kayak to the Busay Falls and then back down the river to Loboc town. You can also rent stand up paddleboards at SUP Tours to head down the Loboc River with.
In the afternoon I did a hike. There are two hikes that are recommended:
1) Hike to Cruz Daku which is a cross on the top of the highest mountain in Bohol. From the top you’ll get an incredible view. This hike should take around two hours from Loboc town and you can do it on your own, without a guide.
2) The cave hike is the one that I did through Nut Huts for 250 pesos and is only available through them. You need a guide for this hike. If you’re not staying at Nuts Huts, my guide, Pedro, gave me his number to call and arrange (09506361169). This takes you to a beautiful viewpoint and a bat cave that goes back 200m. Bring a flashlight because it’s spooky!
If these things don’t appeal to you, some additional options are:
The zipline at the Ecotourism Adventure Park
Logarita Swimming Pool in Bilar
Or if you’d like another day trip, these places can be reached by motorbike or public transport:
Green Recreational Eco Adventure Tour in Catigbian
Kawasaki and Camugao Falls in Balilihan
Badiang Spring Swimming Pool in Valencia
Dumaluan/BBC Beaches in Panglao
You may realize that there’s a popular attraction missing from my recommended list and that’s the Loboc River Cruises. These boats disrupt the river by damaging river banks and have basically made it so locals can’t fish at all during the day. Instead, kayak or take a stand up paddleboard to be a more responsible traveler.
There is really so much to do in and around Loboc, and if you’re staying at Nuts Huts it’s even harder to want to leave and do anything. Although two days is not enough to do it all, you can definitely still enjoy some of what Loboc has to offer and I definitely wouldn’t skip it all together just because you only have a couple days. Plus, believe me when I say that after staying at Nuts Huts, you’ll want to come back.