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  • Writer's pictureSarina Harper

The Philippines ↣ Bohol

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

Chocolate Hills, Tarsiers and Sparkling Christmas Trees in the Middle of the Jungle

Just five weeks after our first adventure in the Philippines, we returned again - this time heading further south to Bohol for a tropical adventure! As passionate as I am about diving, I knew the Philippines had plenty more to satisfy my appetite for the great outdoors. So after a few days of diving Panglao Island next door, we changed gears and explored above the water. Covered in dense jungles, with hidden waterfalls and remote beaches to explore, stunning rice terraces, unique wildlife to behold, and plenty of friendly villages and markets, Bohol kept us busy!

We explored the islands of Bohol and Panglao by scooter, the hot sun on our shoulders as we zipped through villages where locals waved, honked and high-fived us. Dodging jeepneys and tuks tuks, I navigated the rocky roads with feigned confidence. Though driving, I took in the jaw dropping scenery: verdant rice terraces, vivid bursts of colorful flowers, and picture perfect palms spilling out from the endless jungle, growing on top of each other as if vying for attention.

After a picturesque journey we made it to the unique Chocolate Hills - coral formations from thousands of years ago that now dot the landscape like scoops of chocolate ice cream. After another hot day under the sun we scooted over to Panglao Island for a swim, motoring through a myriad of landscapes; from jungle, to rice paddies, through cool, thick forest, along beaches, through villages....

We neared the beach as the heat of the day diminished, but upon arrival a sudden downpour tried to dampen our plans! After the impressive deluge of rain concluded, a rainbow appeared over the water, and we waded in the ocean as the sun set dramatically behind the remaining storm clouds.

We opted for an Airbnb called La Casita de Baclayon. A gorgeous open villa, it was built with local materials but filled with collections accumulated by the owners’ travels. Lizards and crickets hung out on the walls while the sound of the cooling ponds painted a spa like atmosphere throughout our stay. The family treated us like friends, gave us advice about the region and cooked us romantic dinners in the middle of the jungle. We woke to heaps of fresh mango and pineapple, sinfully sweet and perfectly ripe.

A trip to Bohol wouldn't be complete without seeing the adorable little tarsiers! These endangered cuties are only found on a few islands in the world, and are known for having the biggest eye size compared to body weight of all mammals.

We discovered a secluded waterfall, an oasis in the jungle after a hot day motoring around the island. We cooled off, swimming in the river below before feasting on the freshest mango I'd ever devoured from the market we stopped in along our journey.

One evening, we took kayaks out to check out the firefly Christmas Trees. Darkness enveloping us, with thousands of stars to light the way, we embarked upon a two hour paddle. Thick jungle on either side, only the sound of our paddles in the water and the crickets chirping accompanied us. And finally: faint light appeared ahead as we approached what looked exactly like a Christmas Tree! Thousands of fireflies swarmed it, the others around left untouched. There were about eight of these lucky trees along the river, each one no less spectacular than the last. Moving the kayak directly under a Christmas Tree, I took in the light show and the stars. My soul sparked again, and I thanked my lucky stars to witness this spectacular event Mother Nature offered.

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