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Innova-tive Road Trips

Innova-tive Road Trips

Bernard Supetran

When Toyota Motors introduced its versatile multi-purpose van (MPV) Innova in the mid-2000s, its etymology was a no-brainer. It is an innovative multi-role vehicle which can perform a personal, family, business, government, corporate, or leisure function, not to mention as a police car.

More than a decade and several generations later, the Innova continues to be an obiquitous vehicle across the archipelago with its practical, robust, comfortable, and modern features, as well as its blend of form and function.

One place where the popular MPV is a common sight is Bohol, a top domestic destination and home to Toyota Tagbilaran City which has been experience brisk sales despite the pandemic. As the province’s Covid-19 Alert Level gets downgraded, more people are flying to this island getaway to dive, drive, and go beach bumming and nature tripping.

But beyond the worn-out Chocolate Hills circuit, Bohol’s countryside packs a wide array of innovative go-to places which live up to the lifestyle offered by the Innova, particularly with its latest 2021 edition.

Pit Stop 1: LOON

This bucolic town on the westerncoast is getting noticed for scuba diving, farm tourism and eco-cultural activities. A must-visit is Vita Isola Leisure Farm, a sprawling vegetable garden, and poultry, livestock and fishery farm, where its gourmet dishes are sourced.

A dining and events place, the resort also advocates wholistic wellness, environmental and agricultural sustainability which it imparts to its guests. Perched on a seaside cliff, it overlooks the placid bay and Cabilao island which takes you back to the basics of tropical living.

There’s never a dull and boring moment as guests can paddle a kayak, tour the farms and gardens, or admire the assortment of antiques and native crafts on display.

Loon also boasts of a new cruise ship-ready port and a new upland bypass road which connects to the most-visited spots in Bohol’s central portion.

Pit Stop 2: DAUIS

The smaller half of the famed Panglao Island, this municipality has some of the best-kept beaches, quaint resorts, and spots which are often bypassed by travelers.

Tucked at an interior road is Bohol Bee Farm which takes pride in its healthy dishes, ice cream, baked goodies, honey, and chips, as well as exquisite raffia fiber decorative items. Arguably the most iconic home-grown brand, it also boasts of spacious and Filipino-themed suites which is a notch higher that a typical hotel room. You can wake up in the middle of gardens, trees and stingless bee colonies, with the sight of the tranquil seas and powdery coves.

You can also swing by Hinagdanan Cave Pool, the posh Mithi Resort which touts itself as a private paradise, and the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption which underwent restoration after the 2013 earthquake.

Pit Stop 3: ANDA

Situated some 100 kms Tagbilaran City, this is the beach and diving capital of eastern Bohol minus the crowd of sun worshippers and party goers. In the heart of town is Quinale Beach, a 2-km unspoilt talcum sand which is the longest stretch in the province.

For an exclusive retreat in a secluded cove, there is Balinese-themed Amun Ini Resort and Spa, a boutique accommodation perched on a jagged cliff overlooking the sea amidst the greeneries. Scuba divers will be delighted with its world-class diving sites just a few minutes away by speedboat.

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The resort also trumpets its famed house reef which it has painstakingly planted with corals, laid clams and free-standing installations over the past 7 years to restore the diversity and sustainability of marine life.

Amun Ini was also recently named by the UK-based Dive Magazine as among the top dive centers in the Philippines, and has forged an alliance with a partnership with Bali Villa Dive Resort in Indonesia for a seamless exchange between the two famed beach hideaways.

If you’re not a diver, you can simply laze by the infinity pool or the sleepy shores and watch the world go by.

Pit Stop 4: MABINI

Named after the paralytic revolutionary hero, this municipality can also be “sublime” in its own right despite its many handicaps in terms of tourist facilities.

Located 42 kms north of Anda, this obscure town is home to under-the-radar beaches, marine sanctuaries, promontories, Coron-like rocky cliffs, and mesmerizing sandbars which glisten on a sunny day. Not to be missed is Lumayag sandbar, a 150-meter stretch of fine sand and crystalline water just 15 minutes away from the Mabini fishport.

TSEDI Highlands and Bayview Park, a hilltop restaurant and viewdeck, is a favorite among locals for watching the kaleidoscopic sunset and the mangrove forests below while feasting on home-cooked short orders and halo-halo.

With the new Innova’s signature fuel economy, onboard amenities, and safety features, the options for innova-tive trips around Bohol’s off-the-beaten-path are infinite.