TRAVEL GUIDE: Firefly hotspot, sunken plane, and other Bohol must-sees beyond Chocolate Hills
It’s been a tough few months for Bohol.
Like most provinces in the Philippines, Bohol is still recovering from the tourism pause brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s not the only thing they are bouncing back from, though—there’s also the aftermath of Typhoon Odette that ravaged different parts of the country and left at least 410 people dead in December last year.
When I visited the stunning destination in June, the locals I met openly talked about Odette and how it was “one of the worst” that they've been through. They went on to recall how almost no area was spared from its wrath. I saw donation boxes in tourist attractions like Baclayon Church (one of the oldest Catholic churches in the PH) for its restoration as well as markers of the typhoon’s water levels at the Loboc Riverwatch Floating Resto’s waiting area, among others.
The tropical paradise still has a long way to go before it fully recovers. As we help the local tourism industry move forward with more hope, beauty, and compassion, it would be more thrilling to explore underrated gems that deserve the spotlight just as much as the time-tested spots like the Chocolate Hills and the Tarsier Conservation Area.
Here are some places to visit and activities to do to make the most of your next Bohol trip.
Abatan River – Firefly Tour
Fireflies, especially when grouped together, never fail to enchant. The little dance they do as they glow on a clear night evokes a magical feel that’s impossible to ignore. Through the Abatan River Firefly Tour, you can see such vividness in all its glory on a traditional Bandong boat or kayak.
This activity, which was launched “to encourage community participation in the conservation, preservation, and management of the environment and cultural heritage of the area,” gives visitors a chance to help farmers and fishermen residing in the area with their long-time source of livelihood.
South Palms Resort – Project Sirena
South Palms Resort boasts of rooms and villas with a perfect mix of the contemporary and familiar. But beyond all the luxuries, this vacation haven is also known as a hotspot for scuba diving, snorkelling and freediving.
The resort recently launched Project Sirena, a diving activity that offers an environmentally friendly way of supporting and enhancing the marine environment in Panglao. The star of this jump-off point is an old plane that’s been home to various marine species.
Even celebrities like Anne Curtis and Erwan Heussaff have taken stunning photographs with the sunken aircraft. Without a doubt, this deserves a spot—one whole row, even—on the 'gram.
According to the resort, the best time to visit is at 8:00 am but the underwater visibility depends on tide times.
Brgy. Bolod, Panglao Island
P1,500 per person (inclusive of 1 hour guided snorkeling, boat and gear)
Sikatuna’s Mirror of the World
Itching to fly out of the country but still can’t? At Sikatuna’s Mirror of the World, you can get a glimpse of various tourist spots across the globe—from the Merlion in Singapore and Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil to the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and so much more.
It’s one of Bohol’s newest attractions. Aside from the landmark photo spots for snapping selfies, the area also has a botanical garden that makes the park all the more IG-worthy.
Danao Adventure Park
For thrill-seekers, the Danao Adventure Park is a must-visit when you’re in Bohol. One of the top activities to do here is called “E.A.T.”, and while the packaged price comes with plated lunch from the restaurant, it actually stands for “Extreme Adventure Tour.”
At Danao Adventure Park, you can take part in activities that pump up your heart rate, including The Plunge (canyon swing), Suislide (zipline), Sky Ride (cable car), bungee jumping, and rappelling, among others.
You can also enjoy a kayak ride and learn more facts and trivia about Bohol here. Since the spot is located in a mountainous area in the interior of the province, Danao Adventure Park offers pick-ups and drop-offs from your chosen Tagbilaran or Panglao hotels for free. Expect a scenic countryside ride just getting there.
P25 (entrance fee). Activities include: Plunge (P700), Sky Ride (P250), Caving (P350), River Tubing (P200), Kayaking (P200), River/Mountain Trekking/Hiking (P200), Wall Climbing (P100), Rappel 60m (P600), Rappel w/ root climbing (P400), Suislide (P350), Tent Rental (P200), Camping (P25), Village Tour (P200), Zipline (P100).
Another spot for adventure lovers in Bohol is Hinagdanan Cave. This cave was said to have been discovered by a curious farmer who dropped a stone into a hole and connected a ladder to find out what it had to offer.
The cave accessible by a steep stairway, showcases lovely rock formations made of limestone around a freshwater lagoon, which is around ten to 12 meters deep. Only one person can go into the narrow entryway at a time. When you’re there, make sure to wear comfortable footwear as the cave's floor is slimy and a bit slippery because of the cave’s natural water droplets. You can visit the cave just to see it for yourself, or choose to take a dip in the cool waters at an extra cost.