The Chocolate Hills are a group of about 1,268 hills located in the province of Bohol in the Philippines. They are named for their brown color, which is due to the fact that they are covered in grass that turns brown during the dry season. The Chocolate Hills are a popular tourist destination and offer a variety of activities for visitors of all ages.
The Chocolate Hills appear to be seemingly endless when viewed atop the hill in Carmen town. The viewing deck there gives you a 360° view of the hills “as far as the eyes can see”. It is more majestic when viewed from a plane – them appearing to be thousands of mole hills dotting out from verdant surroundings.
The Chocolate Hills of Bohol are spread over an area of 50 square kilometers or more and vary in size from 30 meters to 120 meters in height.
The hills are spread over an area covering the towns of Sagbayan, Batuan, Carmen, Bilar, Sierra Bullones and Valencia. Most of the hills though are found in Sagbayan, Batuan and Carmen, the later having the most uniform cone-shaped hills.
Two resorts have been developed: one in Carmen town called the Chocolate Hills Complex, and one in Sagbayan and known as Sagbayan Peak. The oldest resort of the two is the Carmen complex and is located in Barangay Buenos Aires about 5 kilometers from the town. Carmen town is 55 kilometers from Tagbilaran City.
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The Chocolate Hills are located about an hour's drive from Tagbilaran City, the capital of Bohol. There are several companies that offer transportation to the Chocolate Hills, and prices vary depending on the company and the type of transportation.
Buses bound for Carmen town or Sagbayan are available at the Dao Terminal in Tagbilaran City. Just ask the bus drivers to drop you off at the junctions leading to the resorts. In Carmen town, the road leading to the resort from the junction is only a 10-minute walk along a winding uphill road.
Vans are the most common means of transportation though, especially when traveling with a group. Aside from convenience and comfort, visitors can visit more places in a short span of time. Waiting for buses or public rides is time consuming.
Or you can join a Chocolate Hills Tour
Nestled in the central part of the island, a mesmerizing karst landscape awaits your discovery. The legendary Chocolate Hills captivate with their smooth and perfectly shaped conical hills, stretching across a vast area. But how did these unique formations come to be?
Once upon a time, during the Pliocene era, approximately 2-5 million years ago, the site was teeming with thriving coral reefs. These reefs built up over time, forming a thick and widespread platform. As the ages passed, geological forces caused this platform to rise above the sea level, and eventually, it fractured.
Nature, in its ceaseless dance, began the slow and captivating process of transformation. Rainwater, streams, and groundwater delicately interacted with the limestone formations, dissolving them over countless years. Gradually, the enchanting cone karst landscape we see today emerged, creating the magical allure of the Chocolate Hills.
Prepare to be captivated as you explore these geological wonders, marveling at the unique beauty that time and nature have crafted. The Chocolate Hills beckon you to unravel their origin and immerse yourself in their enchanting allure.
There are many different things to do at the Chocolate Hills. Here are a few of the most popular activities:
Click to join a Chocolate Hills Tour
Marvel at one of Bohol's most iconic landmarks—the Chocolate Hills—with our specialized Chocolate Hills tours. Witness the surreal landscape of perfectly conical hills that turn chocolate brown during the dry season, creating a mesmerizing sight. Our tours take you to the best viewpoints, allowing you to capture breathtaking photos and learn about the geological origins of these natural wonders. Immerse yourself in the enchantment of the Chocolate Hills and create memories that will last a lifetime.
What’s unique with these limestone chocolate hills is that they are only covered in grass and the cone shape is more or less common to all although differing in size. The hills look chocolaty only during dry season when the grass withers and turns into brown and looks like giant chocolate kisses.
Grass species found to thrive on the hills are Imperata cylindrical and Saccharum spontaneum and several Compositae and ferns. Trees grow on the base of the hills and are lush and verdant rings around the almost bare cone-shaped hills resulting in its awesome natural beauty.
Likewise, the flatlands surrounding the hills are given to rice and corn farming and results in a beautiful green backdrop for the Chocolate Hills. Elevation ranges from 100 meters to 500 meters above sea level. Higher hills can be found but almost uniform cone-shaped hills are found in Carmen town.
The most acceptable geological theory of the Chocolate Hills of Bohol is that the hills were the result of thousands of years of weathering of marine limestone. Others say that the hills were formed ages ago by the uplift of coral deposits or that they erupted from the sea in a massive geologic shift, and the action of rain water and erosion for the past thousand years put in the finishing touches.
Considered sometimes as the “Eight Wonder of the World”, the Chocolate Hills has been declared as the country’s 3rd National Geological Monument by the National Committee on Geological Sciences on June 18, 1988 in recognition of its special characteristics, scientific importance, uniqueness, and high scenic value; and as such is among the country’s protected areas.
Proclamation No. 1037 was signed to this effect on July 1, 1997 declaring the hills as a natural monument and that they are now covered under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as the lead implementing agency for its protection.
Furthermore, the Philippine House of Representatives introduced House Bill No. 01147 on July 6, 2004 wherein it was reiterated that the hills are a national patrimony and geological monuments, penalizing their plunder, destruction or defacement, and for other purposes.
Finally, on May 16, 2006, the DENR submitted the Chocolate Hills of Bohol to the UNESCO World Heritage for inclusion in the list of Natural Monuments because of its outstanding universal value, superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty. The area is now in the Philippine Tourism Authority’s list of tourist destinations in the Philippines.
A tourist destination way before the white sand beaches of Panglao came to be known, it is now featured in the provincial flag and seal of Bohol to symbolize the abundance of natural attractions in the province.
The Chocolate Hills Complex is a government-owned and operated resort. The Carmen-LGU and the provincial government presently own the complex with the former managing the operation anchored on a 70/30 sharing of its net income. The complex has a restaurant, souvenir shops, hotel with swimming pool, and a viewing deck.
The newly developed “Sagbayan Peak” is a 5-hectare mountaintop resort and recreation center which also has a viewing deck that offers a 360° view of the hills and the blue sea beyond. It is 18 kilometers from the Complex in Carmen town.
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Read more: Chocolate Hills of Bohol Legends
There are several hotels and resorts located near the Chocolate Hills. Here are a few of the most popular options:
There are several restaurants located near the Chocolate Hills. Here are a few of the most popular options:
Tips for Visiting the Chocolate Hills
Here are a few tips for visiting the Chocolate Hills:
The Chocolate Hills are a great place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the Philippines. It is a must-visit for any traveler to Bohol.