Last night in Bohol and a change of hotel. This was brought about by us changing our itinerary, returning one day later than originally scheduled. Grand Luis Lodge were unable to accommodate us for this final evening, and arranged for us to stay at the Bohol Bee farm instead. As Bohol Bee farm was one of the choices of hotel that was on my original short list, I was not particularly disappointed.
Bohol Bee farm is an extraordinary place, which grew out of the vision of Vicky Wallace to produce organic vegetables. What started off as a small holding is now an enterprise employing 200 people and including a farm, handicraft and weaving workshop, restaurant, shop (and there is another shop selling BBF products in the shopping mall in Tagbilaran) and holiday chalets. And of course, bees, though ironically bees do not thrive particularly well on Panglao Island, and most of the farm’s bee hives are now located on mainland Bohol.
We were given a guided tour of the farm, including the opportunity to handle the bees. (They are imported European bees and fairly docile in the warm Bohol climate.) The farm produces a wide variety of vegetables and herbs, which supply the restaurant and their own products. The farm is right by the coast, at the top of a low cliff and steps cut into the cliff lead down to a sunbathing deck. There is almost a beach here – the water is only a foot or so deep – but plenty of spiny sea urchins, so watch out!
We enjoyed lunch and an evening meal at the BBF restaurant. This was Filipino food with a twist – genuinely original dishes cooked with locally sourced ingredients, from the farm and the sea. Excellent shakes and fresh fruit juices as well. To my mind (and as I write this, Sophia and Dan are agreeing with me) this was the best food we have had so far in the Philippines. BBF has become particularly famous for its salads, which are topped off with edible flowers.
There is a certain quirkiness about BBF, and this extends to the accommodation, which is in little chalets or cabins. Each chalet is named after a particular vegetable or fruit, and this theme is extended to the decor. (For example, Nathaniel and I were in the Eggplant Room and the walls of our cabin were painted purple.)
We didn’t hang around BBF all afternoon, as some of our group wanted to find somewhere with watersports, so we were taken to nearby Alona beach, which is probably the best known beach in Bohol. Personally I was disappointed by Alona – not busy enough to be a fun party beach (like Borocay) and not quiet enough for chilling out (like some of the beaches we visited in Palawan.) And only one outfit renting jetskis and banana boat inflatables, for what we thought was an exorbitant price. Although we enjoyed a dip in the sea and a cocktail at a bar we would probably have been better going to one of the other beaches in Bohol. Alona is very dive-oriented but doesn’t see to have much else going for it – even the coral sand is a bit rough underfoot. So round about sunset we returned to the Bee farm for some more delightful organic food and edible flowers.
For more photographs of our trip to Bohol visit here.