My new favorite place for a chill two or three-day getaway here in the Philippines is the big and action-packed island of Bohol. There are many things I like about it, but one is that it’s easily accessible from where I live in Dumaguete, an easy and comfortable two-hour ferry ride (that is, easy and comfortable when the sea isn’t choppy, at which time it’s a seasick nightmare!) Bohol is also easy to get to from just about anywhere in the Philippines, as the ferry and flights from Manila, Cebu, and many other places land right in the main city of Tagbilaran.
From there, you grab a trike (their version of a motorcycle taxi with a sidecar) and bop on over the channel to the smaller island of Panglau (although it’s still Bohol), where there are some decent white beaches, nightlife and restaurants just enough to keep you entertained, and a chill vibe.
It’s also where I found the Bohol Bee Farm on my last day there, which I found to be a great side diversion if you’re already sunburnt and have checked off the Chocolate Hills, ziplining, and all of the other highlights off your list.
The venue started when a U.S. nurse of Filipina descent came home to Bohol and bought a plot of land, turning it into a vegetable garden, selling to locals and tourists alike. She soon expanded to a small kitchen where she baked bread, muffins and focused on organic and fresh recipes. She even brewed her own specialty corn coffee!
Customers kept coming and buying her creations, and she renamed the area as the Buzzz (three z’s!) Café. Now, it’s grown even more and on the site of the Bohol Bee Farm, with a resort, restaurant, coffee lounge (which is super chill, as they have a grand piano and couches on a raised deck right in the middle of the jungle!), a dive shop, an ice cream brand, and gift shop.
While it’s a neat concept and the food is still very healthy and high-quality, the whole operation has turned into a tourist trap. The upper portion of the establishment (it ranges down a sloping hill with tiers separated by outdoor staircases) is congested with van loads of Chinese and Korean tourists, buying ice cream, souvenirs, and checking into the hotel.
One tier down is the café, which was truly my favorite part. A sizable stair climbs further down, and I was at the restaurant, which is surprisingly big as it wraps around the hill on a deck that overlooks the ocean. The views are phenomenal on a clear day and it’s relaxing to get a super healthy meal (like smoothies made with local fruits, vegetables, and bee pollen) while enjoying the ocean breeze.
I saw a staircase going down towards the ocean and followed it, disregarding the sign that said the area below was for hotel patrons only. I found their deck that sat on the water, with a small dive shop and covered areas with areas to lie out and enjoy the water, go kayaking, or jump in for a snorkel or scuba dive off the rocky coast.
In all, the Bohol Bee Farm is interesting and a wonderful concept, but too much a victim of its own success to still be authentic or novel. It’s not a must-see, but if you do have an extra afternoon, want to try a new place for dinner, or it’s a rainy day, it’s a great alternative.