The Philippines boast of some of the most unique and mystical natural wonders. But none can match the popularity of the Chocolate Hills, which form the major tourist attraction in the central island of Bohol, otherwise known for its exotic beaches. These hills constitute an unusual geographical formation and still bewilder people all around the world. The number of small individual mould hills comprising the area is estimated to be anywhere around 1,268 to 1,776, covering a total area of more than 50sqkm, distributed through the towns of Batuan, Sagbayan, and Carmen.
Highlights and Features
One of the many legends that try to explain the oddness of the locale has it that the hills came into being when two giants, during a fight, threw sand and stones at one another. When the fight ended, they ended their rivalry and became friends, and departed from the island. What lay behind was the mess. But sensible explanations suggested that the hills might have been exposed limestone karst formations that have experienced weathering for thousands of years. Averaging from 30 – 50 metres high, the highest peaks go up to 120 metres. They are generally conical in shape, and tend to be mostly symmetrical. Although they are covered in grass throughout the year, during the hot dry season that the hue of the grass turns chocolate brown, thereby transforming the entire region into seemingly unending rows of ‘chocolate kisses’, and thereby justifying the nomenclature.
It is largely due to this attraction that Bohol has been converted into a hot and happening tourist location. Such a locale is exclusive to only Bohol, and is not found anywhere else in the world. So, it is not without reason that the Chocolate Hills has been declared a flagship tourist destination, and also has been included in the list of Philippines’ official tourist destinations by the country’s Tourism Authority. It has also proposed to be included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The land between the hills is generally used for the cultivation of crops like rice, while two of the hills have been developed for tourists. One of them, the Sagbayan Peak, offers unobstructed view of the hills, while the other, the Chocolate Hills Complex, has been molded into a hill complex, located near the city of Carmen. It is basically a Government operated and owned resort, which presents 360 degrees of panoramic viewing experience. Besides, there is hostel, with a swimming pool and a restaurant.
- Location: Chocolate Hills complex, about four kilometres before the town of Carmen
- Remarks: If not on an organised tour catch a bus from Tagbilaran from the integrated bus terminal in Dao to Carmen. From here it is a ten-minute walk when following the relevant signage