Anda is a small peninsula located in the Eastern tip of the island province of Bohol in the Philippines. Located roughly 100 kilometers, or three hours by public transportation from capital Tagbilaran City, Anda remains off the main tourist circuit. I heard from other travel bloggers that the place has a great beach and is not as crowded as Panglao Island.
So on my last day in Bohol, I decided to ride there on a rented scooter. While looking at the route on Googlemaps, the long coastal road called out to me. From Baclayon, this involved traversing the Bohol-Circumferential Road passing through numerous towns.
Day 3: Baclayon – Loay – Lila – Dimiao – Valencia – Garcia Hernandez – Jagna – Duero – Guindulman – Anda (and back the same route) (93.4 km x 2 = 186.8 km)
I had visited most of the “must see” sights in Bohol the previous day. For first-timers, top attractions include climbing up a view deck to get a good view of the Chocolate Hills (one of the country’s most iconic landmarks), seeing tarsiers (the smallest primate) up close, passing through a man-made forest, cruising along the Loboc River and eating a meal at the Bohol Bee Farm.
READ MORE: Bohol by Motorcycle (Part 1)
While the tour was nice, I wanted to get away from the hordes of tourists all doing the same thing. I commend Bohol on its ecotourism attractions, but sometimes everything can just feel very neat and packaged. There is little room for serendipity. It’s a completely different experience riding solo and discovering destinations for yourself.
Another reason I wanted to go to Anda was to get a hold of local craft beer. Trying out different variants of craft beer is a personal sidequest that’s bordering on obsession. Since I arrived, I was looking for a good bar but found only San Miguel and the usual American beers. After Googling “craft beer + Bohol,” the only lead I got was Coco Loco, a new bar located along the white beach in Anda. So yeah, I thought of the trip as a beerhunt to a beach, with a nice scenic ride on the side.
The road from Baclayon to Anda is really scenic. The previous day’s ride was mostly through small towns, rice paddies, some twisties and through the foothills of the Chocolate Hills. But there’s really something about riding right next to ocean. Open road in front of you, sea right beside you, and mountains in the distance. Add to that, almost zero traffic and the general laid-back vibe of towns that haven’t yet been ruined by commercialization.
Fishermen were casting their nets out on shallow shores. Boats in the distance sailed by on blue waters. Viewdecks constructed along the road offered places for locals to catch a breeze. For miles, it was just me, the open road, the deep blue sea, and a new destination on the horizon.
One sight along the road broke my enjoyment of the scenery. In the town of Garcia Hernandez, there was a strange overpass connecting the mountains over the rice fields and across the road. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was an elevated conveyor belt labelled Philippine Mining Services Corp – Bohol Mine which led to a building and port on the other side. I know mining has a part to play in the Philippine economy, but it was just sad to see the destruction happening to the mountains in such a beautiful island.
A friend from TarShare recommended I try Calamay, one of Bohol’s food specialties. While it can be bought in souvenir shops in Tagbilaran, the best-tasting ones can only be bought in the town of Jagna. Made of ground glutinous rice, coconut milk, and brown sugar, this delicacy is traditionally mixed in a kawa and packaged in coconut husks. There were lots of factories along the road advertising Calamay-making and I bought a small pack (P30/serving) from a vendor on the street. The dark brown mixture has a distinct sweet flavor and sticky consistency.
From Baclayon, it took me 2 hours to get to Anda at a leisurely pace with photo op stops. Along the road, I noticed a lot of markers pointing to different attractions – waterfalls, beach resorts, diving spots, cave pools, and caves. I heard that some of the caves were even used as a burial place of the ancient Andahanons. Finally, I saw the sign pointing to Coco Loco and White Beach.
Designed like a typical nipa hut or beach shack, Coco Loco is an alternative café and store that opened just last October 2015. It’s located near the municipal hall and church on a short rough road leading out to the white beach. Displayed tantalizingly on their window sill along with fresh coconuts were bottles of beer from The Cebruery, a Cebu-based microbrewery. Beerhunt successful!
READ MORE: Craft Beer in Bohol: Coco Loco at Anda Beach
I zeroed in immediately on the Chocolate Hills Porter. What better beer to enjoy in Bohol than one named after its most iconic landmark, right? Named after the famous grass-covered limestone hills, Chocolate Hills Porter is a roasty, dark beer with chocolate notes. I asked to take out the beer to the beach for a better view and settled under a tree in the shade.
My only view of Alona Beach in Panglao was the shore crowded with boats while I searched for a place to eat on my first night. In contrast, the white beach in Anda was wide open and had only a handful of people. A few foreigners were tanning themselves on the beach, while local kids were playing in the shallow waters. The sight of the clear water and white sand was worth the long drive. Despite the beach being right in front of the church and municipal hall, it was so clean and uncrowded!
Strange encounter while I was drinking on the beach. An elderly woman came up to me and started talking to me in the local dialect. I don’t speak Bisaya but what I could understand was that she was not from there, plus the words namatayan (a relative died) and barya (change). I felt guilty for enjoying a beer on the beach and gave her some bills. She seemed very emotional and started crying and thanking me profusely until a local guy hanging out near some tricycles came near. He apologized, saying she was probably mentally ill and sent her on her way. He asked if I wanted to do a tour around Anda to nearby caves and waterfalls. When I told him, I brought a scooter from Baclayon, he suggested I check out some of the sights on my way back.
After lunch in Coco Loco, I just drove around a bit around town and attempted to look for the waterfall, but ended up in a cemetery on the end of a paved narrow road. The path was a trail to the side and locals nearby said that it would be difficult to bring the scooter up.
On the way back, I saw a sign pointing to Cabagnow Cave Pool, and made another detour. Cabagnow Cave Pool is a small but deep swimming hole where you can jump in, but the only way to get out is with a ladder which you can rent (for P150) from a caretaker nearby. A local pointed out the path hidden in a trail near a beach and asked if I wanted to swim. As much as I wanted to, I knew I didn’t have enough time. Maybe next time.
It was the sight of a dog peacefully wading in the water that got to me. I couldn’t leave Bohol without swimming in the beach. Good thing I purposely wore swimwear under my clothes. I knew that my clothes would be dry anyway by the time I got back to Baclayon, so I stashed by bag beside a boat and jumped in.
Despite the noontime heat, the water just felt so refreshing. My only regret is that my visit was so short. I promised to myself to go back and stay longer. Maybe rent a mountain bike instead to go to the waterfalls and caves. Two hours later, I was back in Baclayon with just enough time to return the scooter, grab my backpack at the homestay and hop on a jeep to the port. I boarded the Fasctcraft Ferry at 5:29 for the 5:30 departure. The last image I have is the blurry sunset taken from inside the glass window.
It may have been a short trip, but that solo ride to Anda was the highlight of my trip. I’m glad to have seen a different side of Bohol. Will definitely stay longer next time.
TRAVEL TIPS & USEFUL INFO:
- It’s very easy to go around Bohol on a self-guided tour. Allot 1 day if you only plan to visit the main tourist sites. 2-3 days is better to maximize your stay. There are numerous gas stations around the island.
- Bikes for rent range from fully automatic scooters, semi-automatic scooters, manual motorbikes and sport bikes. Rental includes helmet and insurance.
- Motorcycle rental in Bohol ranges from P400-P800/day for 24 hours use, excluding cost of gas. You’re expected to load the bikes with a full tank before returning it.
- I rented the Honda Scoopy (P450/24 hours use) from Hey Joe Motor Bike Rental. They are based in Baclayon but provide free delivery to Tagbilaran City. All motorcycles are new, well-maintained and affordable. Contact Tim for inquiries: 0915-2781949
- There are also motorbike rental places along Alona Beach in Panglao and Tagbilaran. Mike’s Motorcycle Rentals (http://www.boholmotorcycles.com) is based in Tagbilaran. They can deliver to the pier/seaport or Bohol hotels. Bikes range from P600 to P800 for 24 hour use. Text: 0906-2493199 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries.
- In Anda, you can rent motorbikes (as well as mountain bikes and kayaks) from Anda Adventures. Ask staff at Coco Loco Cafe (http://cocoloco.ph) for details or contact 0916-5092643.