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Bohol offers independent travellers a wealth of options both on and off the beaten track. This island province is promoted almost exclusively through images of cute bug-eyed tarsiers and the majestic Chocolate Hills, but there's much more to experience. Offshore there's superb diving, and when you throw in jungle-fringed rivers perfect for kayaking and paddle-boarding and pristine white-sand beaches it's easy to understand the Bohol appeal.

Boholanos still affectionately call their province the ‘Republic of Bohol’, in reference to the island’s short-lived independence at the turn of the 19th century. It's an appropriate appellation – today's successors of the republic are fierce protectors of Bohol's distinctive cultural heritage. The 7.2-magnitude 2013 earthquake killed more than 200 people and destroyed several of the island's majestic Spanish-era churches. Reconstruction is ongoing and is likely to continue for the next few years, but otherwise few obvious effects of the quake are visible.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Bohol.