One of the most worthwhile stops in Bohol is the Chocolate Hills. These renowned hills are scattered over a span of 20 square miles. These hills are not large, the tallest one barely reaching 493 feet. The rest range from 98 feet to 164 feet. It is estimated that there are 1268 hills, but others believe there are as many as 1776.
The hills vary in size, but when seen from above they look perfectly symmetrical. This leads many to believe that this creation is man-made. However, geologists still don’t know how these hills were formed. One theory is that the hills are weather formations of marine limestone that are on a clay base.
The locals have many legends relating to how these hills were formed. The more common one is that giants once fought against each other until they became tired and collapsed. The hills are said to be their bodies as they fell into an endless slumber. Another story is about a giant named Arogo who fell in love with a mortal woman. When the woman died, Arogo wept for days, his tears turning into the hills seen today.
The hills got their name because of their unusual color. During the winter months, the hills are a luscious green color with flowers. During the summer the hills turn into a deep brown as the grass starts to die. They were named the Chocolate Hills because, during the summer months, they resemble Hershey Kisses.
These hills have several unique traits that set them apart from other hills. Amanda Arambulo said, “The actual mounds are quite weird; if you go down to the base and have a look, these things simply rise from nowhere. Most normal hills usually have a gentle slope that starts them off, but these hills sit there on grounds that are completely flat, and they suddenly exist.”
Most people who visit Bohol don’t get the chance to see these hills. While they span for many miles, it is very difficult to get there. They are way off the grid and take about eight hours to get there. In order to get to the island, people have to take a three-hour boat ride from the port of Cebu. Then, once on the island, there is a two-hour taxi ride to the actual hills. At the base of the Chocolate Hills, visitors must pay for a tour, which can range from 100 to 200 dollars.
There are two places where tourists are able to view the hills. The first is the viewing deck of the Chocolate Hills Complex. The Chocolate Hills Complex is located at the top of the largest hill. It has 214 stairs leading up to the viewing deck and is complete with gift shops and restaurants. The second place is at the Sagbayan Peak, which offers a full 360-degree view of the Chocolate Hills. Once you enter the building there is a ticket booth where tourists must pay ten pesos to enter. Surrounding the ticket booth there is an enclosed structure full of tarsiers, the smallest primate in the world. Visitors are allowed to enter the sanctuary to look at the tarsiers, but cannot take pictures or make noise.
The Chocolate Hills are considered as one of the wonders of the world. Though the hills are challenging to get to, it is a worthwhile stop when visiting Bohol, Philippines.