June is not the best month to introduce foreign friends to the Philippines. June is the beginning of the typhoon season, which means high humidity, heavy rain and strong winds, and really bad flooding. When I say really bad, it’s bad, like knee to chest-deep flooding in some areas. Americans usually have their vacations from June to August, matching the school year schedule, which is typhoon season in the Philippines. Usually the best time to visit Philippines is between December to April.
Bohol is the home to the Chocolate Hills, tarsiers, snorkeling, and beaches! Bohol in early June was not bad at all. Weather was perfect! We stayed in Hennan Resort in Panglao Island, which is a family-friendly, deluxe resort in the island. Daily Filipino-buffet style breakfast is included. Hennan has a nice, beachfront area that is cleaned daily. Algae, stray dogs chilling along the beach, and occasional trash are pretty common, unfortunately. There are plenty of boats-for-hire as you walk outside the resort property, diving schools, and restaurants. Let me assure you that you’ll have the freshest seafood around here! I’ve also had the best Filipino ice cream in Bohol at The Buzzz Café, which uses local ingredients, its own cassava cones, and local Filipino flavors (ube, durian, and malunggay to name a few). I had the malunggay ice cream pretty much everyday I was in Bohol.
Aside from the access to fresh seafood, the copious scoops of malunggay ice cream, great moments with friends, the highlight of this Manila getaway was swimming and snorkeling on the Balicasag Reef. I don’t know how to swim. I am fearful of being in a body of water where I am unable to touch the ground, even with a life vest. As we were paddled on our bangka (little boat in Tagalog) into the reef area, it took me 20 minutes to muster the courage to get out of the boat. Our lovely fisherman held my hand as I swam around the reef, and eventually I was on my own swimming and enjoying the world underwater. It was a surreal experience to see the corals, fishes, turtles, and plants. I was blown away. We lost track of time and didn’t realize we have been swimming for 2-3 hours.
I had visited Bohol when I was younger so I didn’t feel so badly skipping Chocolate Hills and the tarsiers. However, for a first-time visitor, rent a motorcycle and try to see the hills and the monkeys. I had wanted to hike the Chocolate Hills but after researching on my own, and eliciting a travel agent’s help in finding hiking/trekking trails at Chocolate Hills, we both found out there weren’t any. But if this is false, and there truly are trails around, I would love to know so next time I visit, I can bring my hiking shoes with me!