We decided for a long time whether to take a trip to the Philippines or not, which was a bit off from our trajectory. We were afraid that nature in the Philippines is quite similar to that in Indonesia. Finally, the decisive factor was that if we have come already so far from home, it is worth visiting as many places as possible here on this side of the globe.
Cebu and the Bohol Islands in the Philippines were our targets. We decided to skip both Manila, the famous Boracay archipelago and Palawan archipelago, which is perhaps the best-known tourist destinations in the Philippines. Cebu’s choice was due to the fact that it is relatively convenient to fly there and there are enough activities on the island and its surroundings.
We first landed at Cebu Airport and stayed in the neighborhood of the airport for the first night. It was a bit of a shock to us because the place to stay was literally in the middle of a slum. We were the only white people we met there. But the hotel was quite okay and we decided to come back to the same hostel the night before we leave. So we left one of our backpacks in the hotel that made our tour on the islands much easier.
The next morning we drove to the port to go by ferry to the neighboring island of Bohol. Ferry traffic between the islands is quite well organized.
We rented a scooter in Bohol Harbor. We had not booked any nights in Bohol in advance. This is because we could not find any reasonable price for us from internet and we hoped that it would be possible to get better deals on the spot. But it didn’t go as smoothly as we had expected. The number of hostels that were on our road was already full. Finally, one of the local gentlemen, whose sister run a guesthouse, helped us out. He took us there and we got a typical Philippine style bungalow for a couple of days. The bungalow location was not the most beautiful, but it was neat and there was everything needed for life, including the possibility of cooking and even air conditioning.
So we spent the first few days at Panglao, which is located in the south of Bohol. We rode around the island and discovered the local life. Quite soon it became clear why it had been so difficult to find accommodation. We had come to the Philippines on Easter time when the locals with a strong Christian tradition also celebrate and rest. At first glance, Panglao didn’t impress us. Quite a lot of beachfront areas are built with resorts and access to the beach is difficult. Also, the beach areas were not the cleanest. We found a nice beach in Alona. But it was a real tourist trap and, in addition to the white tourists, there were only those locals who wanted to sell something to tourist. However, we spent a couple of hours stretching along the beach. Kaija enjoyed the massage and Jaanus cold beer.
A bit further, we also found one local beach in the afternoon. It was full of local people! We didn’t even try to accommodate ourselves and agreed to dine at the beachside restaurant. Kaija ordered her favorite chili crab and Jaanus pork. On the first day, we realized that the Philippines likes to eat meat, especially grilled and fried meat. The real favorite of Jaanus was crispy pork belly. It was sold almost every corner. Surprisingly, it turned out that the Philippines is a paradise for pig meat lovers.
We couldn’t do much more on Panglao Island. We packed our bags again and drove back to Bohol, more specifically to Loboc. It is a famous area among tourists, where you can make river cruises in the middle of the jungle. On the way to Loboc, we stopped at some churches.
The road was super beautiful and ran along the coast with mangrove forests. The locals were working on the coast with their fishing boats. We made a longer stop in one of the animal parks, where there were pythons and butterflies. This place was quite a small, but for Jaanus it was enough because you could pet and touch pythons living there and this what he was talking about the rest of the day 🙂 Pythons there were different sizes and colors there. The same words can be said about the butterfly farm.
For lunch, we arrived at our hostel, which we had booked wisely in advance this time. This hostel was the liveliest experience we had in the Philippines. Our room was located right next to the river, with a comfortable seating area and waterslides. We laughed and had fun there like little kids in a candy store.
The river itself was a calm stream and the water seemed to be quite clean. We drove along with the cruise boats that were driven for tourists. See one of the most popular activities in Loboc – go on a big boat, have lunch there, and dance. It seemed to us that the hostel was more fun than on a crowded ship. So we skipped the boat and rented the waterbikes instead. The look different when we used to be in Estonia, but this did not ruin the experience, rather the opposite. Unfortunately, Jaanus got a kind of badly designed bike, which did not want to move very fast. It was a good workout and experience in one for him. Along the jungle, the riverside was incredibly beautiful. The river was surrounded by large palm trees, which were reflected in the green-blue river water. Pictures might give only some of this experience.
In the evening, we ate wonderful grilled fish in the hostel with and enjoyed the sunset.
The next day we took down the most important sights in Bohol, like the famous chocolate mountains, the Tarsier Conservation Area, one of the world’s smallest monkeys, and the manmade forest. The weather was fiercely burning and climbing the mountain of chocolate was not the easiest task. The view from the top of the hill was, of course, special. This place is advertised as one of the most important attractions in the Philippines. However, we later realized that such mountains could be seen freely in other places on Cebu Island. So it was incomprehensible to us why this place was so popular …
The park of Tarsier was small, but for small monkeys, it might be enough. Monkeys live in the wild and there is a jungle path for tourists, where small creatures but big eyes can be noticed. We saw quite a few of them. However, daytime they are mostly sleeping and not very active.
Last but not least, we drove through the famous manmade forest, which did not impress us, as it looked exactly like every other hardwood forest in Estonia 🙂 But it was still eye-catching as it was a planted forest that formed an obvious alley through which it was nice to ride.
With this, our four-day trip to the island of Bohol ended and we went by ferry back to Cebu Island. However, you can read more about this in our next post.