CHOCOLATE HILLS are a bizarre and popular attraction in the middle of the island of Bohol in the Philippines. In the dry season, the 1,776 symmetrically shaped conical mounds covering 20 square miles turn brown, and look like endless rows of chocolate kisses—which is how they got their name.

There are three legends explaining the formation of the Chocolate Hills. The first tells about a fight and feud between two giants who hurled rocks at each other until they tired and became friends, forgetting all about the mess they’d made. The second legend speaks of a giant named Arogo who fell in love with a mortal, Aloya. When she died, he was in such pain he could not stop crying, and when his tears dried, they formed the Chocolate Hills. The third legend is the least appetizing and tells of a giant carabao (water buffalo) who ate all the villager’s crops. Finally, the townspeople couldn’t sacrifice their good food anymore, so they piled up all the spoiled food for the carabao to eat. He ate it, but couldn’t digest it, and left behind him mounds and mounds of feces, which dried into the Chocolate Hills.

The real story is that the hills are conical karst topography, which means they are grass covered limestone that was once part of the marine floor, but the massive uplift of coral deposits and the effects of rain, water and erosion have created what you see today.

How to get there

The Chocolate Hills are spread over an area covering the towns of Sagbayan, Batuan, Carmen, Bilar, Sierra Bullones and Valencia. Most of the hills are found in Sagbayan, Batuan and Carmen. You can view the hills from two lookouts—one in Carmen, called the Chocolate Hills Complex, and one in Sagbayan, called Sagbayan Peak. Carmen is 55km from Tagbilaran, and you can get there by bus, taxi or motorbike.

What to consider

  • For a really spectacular view, hire a plane to fly over the landscape.
  • The only place to spend the night in the Chocolate Hills is the government run Chocolate Hills Complex.
  • The hills can be visited any time of year as they landscape is equally impressive in dry and rainy season.
  • The individual hills cannot be climbed, and viewing is limited to the lookouts (or a plane).
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