The Chocolate Hills are a geological formation in Bohol Island. It’s one of the most famous tourist destinations in Philippines. This hills of a generally conical and almost symmetrical shape are covered with a grass that turn to chocolate brown during the dry season. From the height they look like chocolate truffles or a box of “Hershey’s Kisses». This gave the name to this amazing place.
Chocolate Hills are featured in the provincial flag and seal.
There are from 1,260 to 1,776 hills spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometers. Hills are not very high, from 30 to 120 meters.
Chocolate hills have been declared the country’s third National Geological Monument and proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Chocolate Hills Origin
A uniqueness of this place is not only the beauty of the landscape. So far there is no consensus about the origin of this natural monument. According to one of versions, Chocolate Hills of Bohol was formed ages ago by the uplift of coral deposits and the action of rain water and erosion. The second ones says that the grassy hills were once coral reefs that erupted from the sea in a massive geologic shift. Wind and water put on the finishing touches over hundreds of thousands of years. According to the third one these hills are the remains of volcanic activity covered with limestone.
But it is unlikely the hills are manmade monument. According to scientists, the creation of such structures by hand would take a lot more effort, human resources and construction materials than the erection of the Egyptian pyramids.
Legend of the Island
There are a few legends explain the formation of the Chocolate Hills. The first one tells the story of two feuding giants who hurled rocks, boulders, and sand at each other. The fighting lasted for days, and exhausted the two giants. In their exhaustion, they forgot about their feud and became friends, but when they left they forgot to clean up the mess they had made during their battle, hence the Chocolate Hills.
A more romantic legend tells of a giant named Arogo who was extremely powerful and youthful. Arogo fell in love with Aloya, who was a simple mortal. Aloya’s death caused Arogo much pain and misery, and in his sorrow he could not stop crying. When his tears dried, the Chocolate Hills were formed.
Are Chocolate Hills As Good As On Pictures?
The place is really unique. I mean nowhere else you can see the same landscape. Looks like the hills simply rise from nowhere. Neat cones spread for many kilometers around. Rice fields, houses and roads between this beautiful hills look so tiny. It’s like people live in a wonder country of giants.
But, frankly speaking, I wouldn’t call this place super spectacular in terms of feeling. These hills are not giant, so do not expect a grand greatness of nature. Thousand of hills around is a very nice picture, and definitely worth a look at. But it’s not something that you will remember all your life, as the most-most. Nevertheless, I definitely recommend to visit this place.
We arrived at Chocolate Hills in the middle of a cloudy day. Not the best time for photos, but at least there were no hard shadows. It would be better, of course, to shoot at sunrise or a sunset, when the hills are covered with soft pink or blue light.
A viewing platform “Chocolate Hills Complex” is located on one of the hills. A staircase of a few hundred steps leads to the top. After the earthquake of 2013 it was destroyed, so now it’s partially closed. I hope it will be repaired and be back to the original appearance soon.
There are several restaurants, souvenir shops, and “Chocolate Hills Resort” hotel on the way to the viewing platform. We’ve got tea at one of the restaurants, the prices were reasonable, taking into account how popular the place is.
“Chocolate Hills Complex” is the original viewing station of the Chocolate Hills. It located about 55 km from Tagbilaran city and 5 km from Carmen city. There is another viewing station near the Sagbayan city called “Sagbayan Peak”. It is much further away from the major cities of the island (75 km from Tagbilaran city), also the place is less promoted, so there are much less tourists there.
It’s nice that the hills can be seen on the way to the observation platform. This place is not like a limited by a fence tourist destination. It’s a part of habitual way of life of local residents.
How To Get to Chocolate Hills?
Please read my post “All Bohol in One Day” with a route that includes Chocolate Hills as one of destinations on the way. The start point for the route could be Tagbilaran city, Tubigon city or Alona Beach in Panglao.
How To Get to Chocolate Hills from Tagbilaran?
Take a bus to Carmen city at a bus station near island City Mall. Ask a driver to take you off at Chocolate Hills. There is a billboard on the road, so you will not miss it. The road take 1.5-2 hours and costs 30-80 pesos depending on the type of public transport. Then you need to go around 10 minutes up to reach a ticket office. If you prefer “habal-habal” transport or a car / motorbike rental service than you don’t need to stop at the main road, you can go directly to the ticket office.
How To Get to Chocolate Hills from Tubigon?
You can get to Chocolate Hills from Tubigon via Carmen city. Take a bus to Carmen at Tubigon bus terminal. The bus terminal located 1 kilometer away from Tubigon port. The road takes 1-2 hours and costs 30-80 pesos. In Carmen you can take a bus that goes to Tagbilaran and take off at Chocolate Hills. But it’s much more convenient to take a motorbike or tricycle there. In this case negotiate with motorbike or tricycle driver to get you to the ticket office, not just to a crossing to Chocolate Hills. We took tricycle for 100 pesos. The road took 15-20 minutes.
Read more about Tubigon -> Chocolate Hills here.
How To Get to Chocolate Hills from Alona Beach?
Option 1. Go to Tagbilaran city and than go as described above.
Option 2. Take one of tourist tours at Alona Beach. I saw one for 400 pesos. It’s cheap, but I’m not sure about the quality. The only thing I know for sure, they don’t go to Tarsier Sanctuary, only to a tarsier center in Loboc, but it’s not the same. Also some people including me just don’t like group tours. :)
Option 3. Rent a car or a motorbike and get to the place according to a map.
How to Get to Bohol from Cebu Island?
Read here about reaching all Bohol attractions from Cebu island.
- Dates of the trip: 19-20 of December, 2014
- Place: Chocolate Hills
- Nearest city: Carmen, Bohol Island, Philippines
- Ticket price: 50 pesos
- Time for visiting: 1-2 hours