Dawn comes gently in Bohol, as colourful bancas converge in the tranquil waters off Balicasag Island, home to 11 species of dolphins and whales. A centuries-old watchtower stands atop this coral island, and now and then, a green sea turtle breaks the water's sparkling surface as if to take in its delightful surroundings.
Sheltered within the Philippines' central Visayas region, Bohol is earning a name as a top destination among nature lovers. Known for its extraordinary biodiversity and gorgeous countryside, time follows a leisurely, long-established rhythm on this sun-kissed island.
A 40-minute drive from the airport in Tagbilaran City, the white sand of Alona Beach -- Bohol's main tourist hub -- stretches for a kilometre and a half, sprinkled with resorts, bars and restaurants. Scuba divers have some of the country's most exciting dive sites at their fingertips, and island-hoppers can stroll Virgin Island's soft, crescent-shaped sandbar at low tide. As the sun sinks behind the palms, Philippine eagles can be seen returning to roost against the glowing sky.
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Overlooking a quiet end of Alona Beach, Amorita is a charming boutique resort set atop a limestone cliff. Couples can cocoon themselves in Amorita's lovely villas, each featuring a private plunge pool and patio, outdoor rain shower and locally crafted furniture. Amorita's signature infinity pool faces the Bohol Sea and mystical island of Siquijor in the distance. Always ready with a warm smile, staff call every guest by name, while in the open-air Saffron Restaurant and Bar, bartenders shake together a tempting array of cocktails.
When you can tear yourself away from Panglao's pristine shores, head inland to Bohol's palm-fringed Loboc River for a floating lunch cruise, and climb to the view deck in Carmen, overlooking the curious Chocolate Hills. Equal parts geological marvel and fantastic dreamscape, legends swirl around these perfectly formed limestone mounds, which rise from verdant plains to draw a gently undulating horizon.
Not far from the Chocolate Hills, one of the world's smallest primates makes its home near the town of Corella. Famously elusive, the Philippine tarsier may grow to a height of four inches, and is classified as 'near-threatened', with just a few hundred in existence on the entire island.
When night falls, go in search of the firefly haunts that set the banks of the Loboc River aglow. Loboc River Resort offers mesmerising firefly tours on banca boats, where the real attraction is not the magically lit-up trees, but the chance to glide silently into the night, with the dark silhouettes of the riverbanks on both sides, the inky water below, and a glittering sky of stars above.
Surrounded by lush gardens, Amorita Resort offers 14 luxurious garden and ocean villas showcasing a unique blend of organic materials and modern architecture. The resort's hilltop lounge chairs and infinity pool are the ideal place to relax under the tropical sky with a sweeping view of the Bohol Sea and Alona Beach.
Saffron Restaurant's Boholano menu of four delicious heritage dishes are presented at once, with Chef Raphael Ongchiong on hand to explain the story behind each.
Schools of jack fish and barracuda, eels, sea turtles and live corals at Balicasag Island, the Chocolate Hills, Loboc River and Tarsier Sanctuary.
SUP Tours' half-day stand-up paddleboard excursion winds upstream along the Loboc River to Busay Falls, past scenes of daily life, tidy riverside homes, father-and-son fishing tandems and an inviting cold spring.
Couples Will Love
Shimmering beaches, dolphin- and whale-spotting cruises at dawn, exceptional snorkeling and diving and fascinating wildlife encounters.
Bohol is accessible via flights and ferries to Tagbilaran City, the island's main gateway. Two bridges connect Tagbilaran city directly with Panglao Island.
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