Chocolate Hills? Check. Tarsiers? Check. Wind down and take a subdued sojourn to Balicasag and Virgin Island of Bohol
Written by ANGELO RAMIREZ DE CARTAGENA
Photographed by Jerick Sanchez of Studio 100
Much has been written about the tropical wonder that is Bohol. The calm and languid province calls to mind vivid imageries of lush greens, generous stretches of undisturbed powdery sand, and an endless sea of crystalline blues seemingly sparkling as it catches the light.
There is more to the island than the much studied and photographed (obligatory tourist shots, of course) sprawling Chocolate Hills and tarsiers. Not quite a hop and skip as much as it as 30 to 45 minute boat ride from the pop culture override that is Alona beach (geographically listed as Tawala, the small stretch of paradise was named after 80s actress, Alona Alegre), take to the sea and head over to breathtaking respites in the form of two islands—Balicasag and Virgin Island.
BEGIN WITH BALICASAG
If you remembered to pack your steely discipline on your Bohol getaway then chances are, you will be able to be up at around an ungodly 6 AM to set out to the island day tour and greet the day with the dolphins. Yes, dolphins.
However, we didn’t quite wake up on time so sadly, dolphins were out of the question. Fear not, as Balicasag promises an experience like no other. The small, almost circular island is one of the finest diving and snorkeling sites and declared marine sanctuary this side of the Pacific. After getting lost in a whole new world under the sea, set out to the pristinely white sand bar framed by a sprucing of bougainvillea flowers and palm trees and have your lunch or merienda of sandwiches, halo-halo, and (in our case) piña colada, with the ocean as your view.
NOT SO LONELY HOUR
As the golden hour teased from a little above the horizon, it was time to set sail to the glorious oasis that is Pungtod Island, or as the locals have appropriately called it, Virgin Island.
During low tide, a beautiful white powdery sandbar is exposed, leading to the island itself. An inexplicable wash of calm greets you as you step on the island. As the sand crunches under your feet and the wind grazes your skin, you are treated to an unmatched view of the sun, sea, and a mushrooming of other islands. For the spiritual, there stands a Padre Pio shrine where you can have a quiet moment and pray.
PIECE OF HEAVEN
This may not be your usual summer sojourn to Bohol. Tick the typicals off your bucket list (for first timers) and enjoy a more subdued, relaxed, and ultimately refreshing trip around this little piece of heaven.