Bohol : beyond Tagbilaran and Panglao


Bohol is the 10th largest island in the Philippines. To regular visitors staying for 3 days,  seeing the tarsier, the Chocolate Hills, lunching on a raft in Loboc, and having a dip in the white sand beaches of Panglao complete the Bohol experience. Very few venture beyond Tagbilaran and Loboc.

I did, and I traveled to all coastal towns, effectively covering the circumference of Bohol Island. The trip made me want to go back to Bohol and travel to a few of the  73 other islands within the province, maybe staying at least 2 weeks to accomplish this mission. After the typhoon season.

a tour around the entire island of Bohol, not just Tagbilaran and Panglao on the bottom left

From Tagbilaran and Loboc, the next town via the Carlos P Garcia Circumferential Road is Alburquerque (and no, I did not misspell it). Locals just call the place Albur. I took a snapshot of the church which I thought had a more impressive facade than the older and much more popular Baclayon Church. Albur is also where the “balisong” makers are.

the church in Albur

a panday in Albur making balisong

Loay is a town that competes with Loboc in the “lunch on a river cruise” business. They also hold firefly tours at night. Loay is the major fishport of Bohol, and where fresh catch from Cebu or Mindanao find their way into the markets of Tagbilaran.

a Loay attraction

Loay competes with Loboc on the river cruies lunch business

Lila is a progressive town, but does not seem to offer visitors any ‘tourist attraction”.The town was originally part of Dimiao, and then at one point was annexed to still another town, the neighboring Loay.

Lila Public Library

Lila church

Dimiao is known for Kayla beach resort, the only spot in the town that draws visitors. Kayla is in Bgy. Balbalan and has a white sand beach, with a swimming pool, restaurant, and accommodations. The San Nicolas Church in Dimiao is also a must-see, made with cut stone in a neo Baroque architecture.

on the way to beautiful Dimiao

San Nicolas Tolentino church

the fenced-in Kayla beach

Valencia is an interesting town. I stopped at Badiang Spring Resort where the swimming pool is fed by fresh spring water. The owners of the resort are currently building a hotel to accommodate out of town guests.

a beautiful old house in Valencia

Badiang Spring Resort, with accommodations soon . . .

Garcia Hernandez is host to a the Philippine Mining Service Company, and it is the only town with a huge conveyor above the highway, to service the mines on the mountain and the offices on the other side of the road, by the ocean.

welcome to Garcia Hernandez

Garcia Hernandez town, still gaily decorated 2 days after the fiesta

the only Bohol town with an overhead conveyor on the main road

Jagna is a big town and is the gateway to Camiguin from Bohol. I actually came to Bohol from Camiguin, disembarking from my boat at the port in Jagna. The town naturally has pensions and inns for travelers who miss their boats or who would want to rest before moving to Tagbilaran.

the pier in Jagna, for boats from Camiguin

Jagna is the home of the Bohol “calamay”. I bought a piece and requested the owners to see how the calamay is made. It is made of sticky rice that with sweeteners and other “secret” ingredients are cooked over fire in a huge caldera, continuously being tossed by workers to make them even stickier.

I had coffee at Garden Cafe which is operated by the I.D.E.A., an organization helping the deaf. The adjoining pension house offers spartan accommodations. Rates start at P450 for dormitory-type rooms with fans, to P850 for a room for 2 with aircon and hot&cold shower. Call them to book at phone (038) 5310030, or (038) 2382398.

to Garden Cafe, behind the church in Jagna

use sign language to communicate with the Garden Cafe and I.D.E.A. pension house staff

best room at I.D.E.A. for P850

run by the International Deaf Education Association (I.D.E.A.)

I checked out another hotel in Jagna. It is called Domene Kaw, and has rooms that open to the sea. Rooms start at P1,000 and an ocean view suite goes for P2,000. Phone (038) 238 2127

Domene Kaw Hotel in Jagna, by the sea

Next town is Duero. It is another beautiful coastal town.

Guindulman is host to St Mary Academy and has a thriving trade going in its commercial center.

Candijay is a sleepy town that leads to Mabini, a town that is the jump off point to several islands like Calamangan, Tabangdiao, Cantil  and Lumislis.

a sleepy town, but

gateway to Mabini town and more islands ! ! !

From Candijay, we passed by the town of Alicia to get to the town of Ubay.

Ubay is a major Bohol town. It is also the farthest town from Tagbilaran, the provincial capital. It is a port town that is host to several businesses like restaurants, hotels, banks, and shopping centers. Crossing the Cunigao channel from Ubay will bring visitors to Lapinig Island where the town of Carlos P Garcia is located.

lunch stop at Chicken Ati-atihan in Ubay, the farthest town from Tagbilaran City on Bohol island

Ubay is famous in Bohol for dairy products

this town is a major trade center

In Trinidad town, I saw a rather unique sight: coffins being loaded onto a tricycle. I just hope they do not do the same thing during burials.

not a burial – – they were delivering to another funeral parlor on a “Ligaya” tricycle

Next town is Talibon, another port town. Talibon is the jump off point to the islands of Tambo, Banbanoan, Mahanay, and Jau.

watchtower at Talibon pier

pension houses and inns in Talibon, good for visitors hopping to the nearby islands

Getafe is still another port town In other literature, the place is also called Jetafe. This town is a sister city of a Spanish town called Getafe where a street is called Isla de Bohol. From Getafe, visitors can go to Jandayan and Banacon islands.

beautiful road to Getafe, a sister city of the Spanish city of Getafe

Buenavista is a town that is host to the oyster farm along a beautiful river. I checked out the industry, riding on a banca (P100) to get to the bamboo beds that serve as breeding places for oysters.

market by the river

oysters cultured in rafts on the river

From Buenavista, the next town is Inabanga, and then Clarin, until we reached Tubigon.

We got to Tubigon, another port town.Tubigon is closest to Cebu and is serviced 2x a day by roll-on-roll-of transport from Cebu.

Passed by  Calape. before reaching Loon. Loon is an old town where boats from Cebu bring visitors to Bohol. I actually saw the pier in San Jose town where passengers are brought to Loon, Bohol.

Antequera is famous for its Mag-aso Falls. I just had to make this detour from my coastal road drive to see the falls. Why? In the WOW Magic sing video od places in the country, the Mag-aso Falls was then the only remaining sight I have never been to. “Aso” means smoke or fog, and this is the effect of the cascading waters of the falls.

Back to the coastal towns, and we are in Maribojoc. This town is famous for the Sta Cruz watchtower.

The last town before hitting Tagbilaran City is Cortez. This town is being developed as another tourism destination, with the launching of the project done only a few days before my visit. Unfortunately, the center was closed when I dropped by. I was told visitors are taken to a boat that is configured to have seats like those in a bus, and the boat takes visitors to the 5 towns for a taste of local culture. Like riding a carabao. Snacks and lunch are part of the package. Check this out when you visit.

the bus-type ferry to 5 towns

The coastal road trip around the whole island of Bohol ends with a return to Tagbilaran City. I figure that visitors can do this trip on public transportation in 2-3 days. Or you can opt to tour the whole island for one day a rented car for P4,500. I guess the car rental was well worth it.

16 thoughts on “Bohol : beyond Tagbilaran and Panglao

  1. bohol, for its size, is a beautiful place worth taking time to drive around. my father although from sibonga, cebu was born between cebu and tubigon. yes, in the middle of the blue wide seas while my lola was en route to bohol.

    calape boasts of giant crabs (lambay) or alimango as they are sometimes referred to especially when it’s in season.

    then, there’s this underground water pool. i forgot which part of bohol that was. in my younger days, it was just a small hole. one just squeezed through that small hole to go down. a bit dark but there are areas where light filtered through. the water was pretty deep but the kids i saw just fearlessly dived in. there were women who brought their laundry to wash. the last time i was there, that was in 2004, the hole was made larger. the site pretty much a tourist destination now.

    anyway, it was a nice experience to go and visit Bohol with my family.

  2. Last July 3-4 I visted Bohol (again) together with some Vietnam tour operators, after seeing it for the first time some 15 years ago.
    Some things don’t change. Bohol has kept more of our Spanish heritage than in any town, except Vigan, I think.
    Been to the places mentioned. I must say,Bohol is one charming place. I’m glad I was able to see it again.

  3. indeed sir…your words are so true when you say few venture beyond the usual tourist route. there is also a town east of Guindulman. the town of Anda. you should see their public beach. white sand and oh so clean! just near a very old church. Anda public beach reminds me of panglao and boracay before all the resorts.

  4. Just did the circumferential road trip of Bohol. Agree with BoyP Lakwatsa on his thoughts including Soledad Suites where I previously stayed in one of my previous visits

  5. yes, do agree with Cebu Divers. Anda is so quite and the white beach in Dapdap Beach is such enchanting. you should also experience that so cold “Bugnao Se E” cave. I took a bath in that cave several times during my visit 5 decades now. Recently, my siblings in Manila kidnapped me and brought me to Bohol. Landed in Mactan airport, where my other siblings from Zambo. waited for us. Got surprised cause I didn”t know the activities and the itinerary. Just went with the flow, took the early trip via fast craft to Tubigon, had our breakfast at Tubigon Port. Then proceeded to the interior places such as Calape town, to Sagbayan Peak, then Chocolate Hills at Carmen, Pilar, Alicia to Anda, Guindulman and slept at Tagbilaran City. All these, done in one day. What a memorable and exciting experience we had, been with the most of tourist spots in Bohol. Love to see Bohol Island again, on the other coastal side facing Leyte Island.

  6. hi. maybe you can help me plan an itinerary for a 4days 3nights trip in bohol. your suggestion is much appreciated. thank you.

    • I assume your entry point is Tagbilaran, either by boat from Bohol or flying in from Manila. Arrive early for your first day. I think Day 1 should be spent exploring the usual tourist spots: Baclayon Church (now ruined), Blood Compact site, tarsiers, Chocolate Hills, lunch on the river, Loboc church, and on to Panglao Island (connected by a concrete bridge, it doesn’t feel like you are going to another island) Stay overnight in Panglao, checking in at Dumaluan (book ahead of your trip). Beach in the morning, and then proceed in the direction of Ubay, the town which is the farthest point from Tagbilaran. From your hotel, if you hired private transport, you can explore the twons on the way. Do not miss Jagna, the biggest town in between Tagbilaran and Ubay. In Jagna, visit the kalamay factory. Refer to my blog on towns and sights in between. Overnight in Ubay (google for updated info on accommodations, will be easy to find accommodations because Ubay is a major town. If you arrive early, you can plan to visit Lapinig Island for the Carlos Garcia town. Decide on which you want – – towns in between or visit this island. In the morning, proceed to Tagbilaran, without going back the same route – – imagine yourself circling the island of Bohol. Plan to see the oyster farm in Buenavista. And the Mag-aso Falls and the beautiful church in Antequera. Next town is Maribojoc which is famous for the old lighthouse. Back to Tagbilaran and stay in the city on the third night. My favorite hotel is Soledad. Check out the city, and any spots you might have missed on day 1. On the fourth day (next day) you will be homeward bound. Enjoy Bohol.

  7. Would appreciate it if someone can share the name,email addrress and/or phone number of a driver/car who does day trip around Bohol? Estimated cost would be 4,500 incl. gas, etc.?

    • Oh I traveled around Bohol 6 years ago and paid P4,500, all-in. I booked the car thru the travel desk of the Tagbilaran hotel I was staying in, called Soledad. I did not bother to get the contact details because I would really opt to book thru the hotel as I would tend to feel more secure knowing that the hotel knows where my whereabouts and the contact details of the driver and/or the car rental company.

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