The Chocolate Hills are a geological formation in the Bohol province of the Philippines. There are at least 1,260 hills but there may be as many as 1,776 hills spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometers. They are covered in green grass that turns brown during the dry season, hence the name. The hills are spread throughout the area, that covers the towns of Batuan, Sagbayan, Bilar, and Carmen. The hills vary in size from 100 to 165 feet in height, but the largest of them is about 395 feet tall.
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.
More romantic is the handsome young giant, Arogo, who fell in love with a mortal woman. When, as mortals must, she died, the giant wept, his great teardrops turning into the Chocolate Hills. However geologists have differing views about how these hills were formed. One plausible theory is that they are weathered formations of a marine limestone lying on top of an impenetrable clay base. During the dry season, the hills uniformly acquire a chocolate brown color. Of course, during the wet season, this awesome natural beauty has a green look because of the green grass. Curiously, no clumps of shrubs or even trees grow on the hills. 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.
These are spread over an area covering the towns of Sagbayan, Batuan, Carmen, Bilar 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. The newly developed “Sagbayan Peak” is a5-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.
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.
How to Get There
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.