I arrived in Bohol not knowing what to expect. A high school friend lived in Bohol and offered to show us around, so we put our schedule in his hands and packed our bags.
I always imagined Bohol as a sleepy provincial town, although I had heard a lot of interesting stories about tarsiers and diving. The Chocolate Hills intrigued me each time we flew over Bohol en route to somewhere else, but it was a fleeting thought and often forgotten after landing in Boracay.
My first clue that Bohol wasn't just a sleepy little town was the difficulty of getting plane tickets. The flights were booked solid every weekend I tried - May, June, weekend after weekend. We finally got reservations for two months away.
Next question, where to stay. Luxurious villa? Cheap bamboo hut on the beach? In the end, the mouthwatering pictures of Alona Palm Beach Resort won out. We went for the villa, and it was a wonderful choice. It's definitely not for the adventurous - their spacious, well-designed rooms are guaranteed to tack at least an hour onto your sleeping time each day, and it's a struggle pulling yourself away from their infinity pool so you can get to the beach.
Upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised to find you can actually drive to Panglao Island (duh, I'm such a clueless city person). In fact, you can see Panglao Island from Tagbilaran, it's just across the bridge! Alona Palm is a 30 minute drive from the airport, smooth road. You're there almost before you know it.
Four days. Strolling down the beach. Eating calamari. Getting a massage. Waking up early for dolphin watching. Snorkeling at Balicasag Island. Watching fish, fish, fish. Looking enviously at the divers descending down the ocean wall at the edge of a marine sanctuary. Hanging out at the bars (or, rather, bar - several were open but only one was alive).
On the last day we took a road trip and drove to the blood compact monument, Baclayon church, Loboc river and a tarsier viewing station, and the Chocolate Hills at Carmen.
If you get withdrawal symptoms and begin craving airconditioned malls, stop at the Buzz Cafe, run by the Bohol Bee Farm.
Getting there and away
Philippine Airlines offers reasonably-priced PALakbayan packages for most of the popular resorts in Bohol.
Where to stay
Splurge and try out Alona Palm Beach Resort.
What else to do
Take a look at the Bohol web site.
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