Venture beyond the beaten track and you’ll be rewarded with truly fascinating encounters with nature, history and culture.

Bohol, one of the most beautiful island provinces in the Philippines. It’s only a short flight from Manila or a quick ferry from Cebu, yet is relatively undiscovered by the holiday crowd.

The island boasts undulating verdant hills, waterfalls, serene rivers, mangrove forests, undisturbed wildlife, luminous white sanf beaches and picturesque offshore islets.

It is one of Asia’s finest diving destinations, boasting an undersea panorama of stunning coral gardens with vivid, tropical marine life. And with more than a hundred caves in its mountainous interior, Bohol is ideal for spelunkers and trekkers.

The island is also a historical and cultural destination. Its 16th century watchtowers and ancient coral stone churches with gilded altars and priceless icons are worth a visit.

Balicasag Island

Considered to be one of the best dive spots in the Philippines, Balicasag Island is ringed by a pristine reef that drops to an impressive underwater cliff as deep as 50m. Soft and hard corals, barracuda and wrasse can be spotted here. And if you visit between December and March, you might even spot the occasional whale shark. Divers who wish to stay on the island, can book cottages at the Balicasag Island Dive Resort.

Chocolate Hills

Bohol’s iconic tourist attraction is the unique panorama of over a thousand hills that span far into the horizon. The vegetation on it dries in the summer to a chocolate-brown which in turn, has given it its name. Locals (and romantics) believe that the hills are solidified teardrops from a lovelorn giant.

Cabilao Island

The only sounds to break the constant hum of waves are church bells and the occasional rooster. This is paradise for those hoping to escape the beaten track to a laidback island. Cabilao Island’s limited beaches are quiet getaways and its main draw is the diving. Its waters are home to seven species of shark and the famous pygmy seahorse. Although at only 8mm, you’ll have to keep those eyes peeled to spot one as it camouflages itself in the surrounding red coral.

Baclayon Church

This is well-preserved landmark was declared a national historical treasure in 1995. Its antique décor and religious relics, some of which are on display in the church museum, date back to the 16th century.

The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in Corella

Drop by the park for a rare chance to get up close to the Philippine tarsier in its natural habitat. At just three to six inches tall, this animal is one of the smallest primates in the world. With gaping eyes, miniscule proportions and a sensitive nature, the tarsier certainly has a quirky charm.

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