On the Philippine Island of Bohol, just South of Cebu in the Central Visayas, there is a ‘Magical Place on Earth’. An Area of low, conical and dome-shaped hills, known as the Chocolate Hills. They are an unusual geological formation which is composed of almost 1.300 perfectly cone-shaped hills of various sizes (30-120 meters high), spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometers.
These Hills are covered with a carpet of rough grasses that are green when it rains but turn brown during the dry season, between February and May – hence, the name. They look so perfectly shaped that one can easily get the idea, that they are man-made.
The mounds are packed together on a limestone plateau in central Bohol. Their origin is a mystery, they surprisingly have none of the features associated with limestone landscapes elsewhere in the world, such as caves or karstic formations.
It is said, that there is no comparable natural formation like that in the whole world!
The accepted scientific explanation at present is that they have been eroded by rain; however local legends tell a different story.
One tells how 2 angry giants hurled rocks at each other, but eventually were reconciled and the rocks just were left where they fell. Another recounts the story of the giant Arago, who fell in love with and kidnapped a mortal girl named Aloya. Separated from her family, Aloya became desperately homesick and died. The Chocolate Hills have been eroded by the inconsolable Arago’s torrents of tears.
Of course, some people also say, the Hills look like women’s breasts – and for sure, there is some truth in it as well.
There are busy ferry connections from Cebu to Tagbilaran/Bohol. Bohol isn’t such a huge island. Wherever you stay for the night, in the capital Tagbilaran, on Alona Beach on Panglao Island or in any other place – you can reach the Chocolate Hills by bike in about 2-3 hours from any location on the island, or by bus in maximum 4 hours.
I remember that the hill-top station at Sagbayan Peak is a great place to enjoy the whole scenery, although it’s almost always under construction. From here you have a 360 degree view of the area and the Hills will be all around you. Getting there is easy as well, as you drive through the villages and smaller towns on the island, just ask the locals for direction. They will happily point you the right way. The other option is to get a bus from Tagbilaran to the town of Carmen and view or explore the Hills from here.
I wouldn’t recommend to go from Cebu to Bohol just for the Chocolate Hills or on a day trip only, as it will be quite hectic and the island has so much more to offer, a bustling capital city (Tagbilaran), a curvy Jungle River, hundreds of Caves, old Spanish Churches, the Tarsier Monkeys (the World’s smallest monkeys), as well as nice beaches with hotels in every price range. There is great diving around Alona/Panglao Island, or at closeby Balicasaq, Pamilacan and Siquihor Island or Cabilao Island closer to Tagbilaran.
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