Bohol’s eco treasures feature scenic waterfalls and the bucolic charms of the Visayas region
Located in the central Visayas region of the Philippines, Bohol consists of the island itself together with 75 other minor surrounding islands. For its relatively small size, Bohol has a lot to offer: white sand beaches with picturesque coves, fantastic dive sites teeming with marine life, dramatic mountainous landscapes and lush forests home to many unique creatures. Bohol’s climate is generally dry, with a rainy season between June and October. It is usually warm and dry along the coast while cold and humid in the interior. Bohol is mostly unaffected by the numerous typhoons that hit the country.
Not only does Bohol have scenic mountains and beaches, but the province is also teeming with marine and wildlife. Bohol is a good place base to explore the “Visayas Dive Triangle”, which is formed by Cebu, Negros Oriental and Bohol. Divers from far and wide come to Bohol to experience its laid back atmosphere and diverse marine life, from corals to pelagic’s, that spreads across the islands.
There are plenty of great dive sites within close reach of Bohol. The island of Panglao, located south-west of Bohol, has a reef platform that is relatively narrow and shallow, covered with hard and soft corals with an edge that plunges down to 48m. Just 130 to 280m away from Alona Beach, the Alona House Reef can easily be observed with just snorkelling equipment. If you aren’t up for scuba diving or snorkelling, you can observe blue starfishes that congregate by the hundreds close to the shores of some Bohol’s beaches.
About 60 km off Panglao lies Balicasag island, the island is only 25 hectares that are fringed with shells and coralline beach. Balicasag has a number of dive sites such as the Resort Wall, a relatively flat and smooth fringe reef with a proliferation of sea fans and reef fish such as lionfish and scorpion fishes, and Cathedral Wall, a section of a wall fitted with caves and recesses housing corals, reef fish and schools of big jacks. If you want to spot a turtle, you can head to Turtle Point which is home to some large turtles.
A diver’s favourite, Cabilao island is renowned for hammerhead sharks, dolphins, tunas and groupers that shoal around its clear waters. Though sightings of these sea creatures can be rare, Cabilao island still has stunning reefs worth diving for. Those who want to discover more of the Visayas Dive Triangle and its rich marine life, dive sites in Cebu include Moalboal, Malapascua and Mactan and Negros Oriental.
Bushy Tail, Saucer Eyes
One of the rarest animals in the Philippines is the Philippine Tarsier. One of the smallest known primates in the world and is indigenous to the island, the Philippine Tarsier measures about 10 to12 cm and is no larger than a grown man’s hand. Characterised for its huge eyes, grey fur and very long tail, and just like an owl, the tarsier is capable of 180-degree head rotation. Mainly active during the night time, tarsiers live on a diet of insects, hunting amongst the trees. Over the years, the Philippine tarsier has been threatened due to deforestation, years of illegal logging and slash-and-burn farming, and tourism exploitation. This resulted to the Philippine Tarsier now being a protected species, and the best place to visit these small creatures will be at the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella, about 6 miles away from the capital of Bohol, Tagbilaran. This research and development centre welcomes visitors from all around the world.
Visitors are allowed to walk through a spacious net enclosure that houses about 100 tarsiers, giving you closer at these saucer-eyed creatures. The tarsiers in the sanctuary are kept for a period of time for rehabilitation. Other forest wildlife that you will be able to spot in the vicinity includes the flying lemur, Visayan hornbill, grass owl and the Philippine sailfin lizard.
The incredibly rare tarsier can sometimes be found in the surrounding forests of Corella and other forests in Bohol such as the ones near Antequera and the forests in Anda peninsula in the northeast of the island. Since the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary is off the tourist path, some private individuals would display tarsiers in cages along with tourist crowded locations. Best to avoid these as they are shy animals normally don’t survive that long.
Easiest way to travel to Bohol would be by plane. There are a number of domestic airlines that you can take such as Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines that would fly from Manila to the capital of Bohol, Tagbilaran City. You can also take a ferry to Tagbilaran City Pier. Apart from departing from Manila, you can take a ferry from Dumaguete and Cebu. If you are coming from Mindanao, there are boats from Cagayan De Oro and Dipolog.