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Farm-hopping in Bohol

Farm-hopping in Bohol

Bernard Supetran

Bohol is synonymous to hopping around white sand beaches, and Spanish-era churches, and for a good reason. Along with the iconic Chocolate Hills, these are among the must-see attractions in this idyllic island province which have been luring visitors for decades.

But beyond these obligatory destinations, there is an emerging new category which will surely delight the plantitos and plantitas, and others who may have had enough of beaches and stone churches. These are the farm tourism sites which, aside from being an agricultural land, also present themselves in the form of a resort or recreational haven.

In the recent Philippine Farm Tourism Conference hosted by Bohol, the province unveiled some of its new countryside getaways which are worth driving for, and you can add to the all-too familiar itinerary.

Pit Stop 1: South Farm Panglao. Almost a stone’s throw away from the international airport, this 9-hectare property promotes a countryside nature-based family-oriented recreational activities.

Owned and managed by a home-grown business group, it has embraced environmental sustainability and promotes handmade, handcrafted, and hand-built in its premises.

It is the main source of fruits, vegetables, herbs and agricultural produce for the restaurants of its sister star-rated establishments— North Zen Villas and the newly-rebranded Oceanica Resort Panglao.

As its design statement, it made of use of discarded items and repurposed them into an artsy agrarian resort. Not-to-be missed is an impressive house mural done by the employees themselves at the Artisans’ Village during the pandemic’s quarantine days.

Aside from a showcase on crafts, guests can also watch demonstrations on how to make sukang pinakurat, a spiced vinegar or virgin coconut oil.

Guests can also plant, pick herbs, go horseback-riding, fishing or pet the animals at the Farmers’ Village, and wrap up the tour with a relaxing farm-to-table dinner at a lakeside gazebo.

Pit Stop 2: Bohol Farms. A 7-minute drive from the airport in Dauis town, this farm tourism pioneer is a favorite for day trips because of its best-selling fruit-flavored ice cream and organically-grown gourmet-tasting vegetable and meat dishes.

You can tour its vegetable garden, greenhouse, and shop till you drop at its souvenir store with its wide array of home-made food products and decorative items, most notably the exquisite raffia fabric.

Feast on Boholano specialties and house drinks at the cozy cliffside restaurant with a panoramic view of the sea and Pamilacan Island. For a consummate farm retreat, spend the night here and be mesmerized by the magical dusk and dawn in the balcony of your eclectic-themed room.

Popularly known as Bohol Bee Farm, its core attraction used to be its bee culture, but dropped it during the pandemic and rebranded to its current name.

Pit Stop 3: Tan Inong Asin Tibuok maker. Tucked in the interior of Alburquerque town is a non-descript warehouse where the rare and ancient artisanal sea salt is being revived by siblings who have become the gatekeepers of a lost art.

Asín tibuok, which literally means “whole salt,” is made through a long and taxing process from filtering seawater through ashes, and cooking in a furnace until it becomes the ostrich egg-size world-class finished product. It is best served shaved using a microplane to give dishes a salt dusting and distinct taste.

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It may not be the usual tourist spot as we know it, but the area has tickled our fancy because of the unique gem it has been producing.

Come and see why it is literally worth its salt with the prestigious Ark of Taste by The Slow Food recognition and the Lakbay Bukid Award 2024 from the International School for Sustainable Tourism.

An attraction in the vicinity is the Sta. Monica Church and Convent which are among the few heritage structures unscathed by the 2013 earthquake.

Pit Stop 4: Kinaiyahan Forest Park. A sprawling 17-hectare leisure farm which is inspired by the famed Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto, Japan. A roadside hub between the Bilar Man-made Forest and the Chocolate Hills, it has some 20,000 bamboos in the 5-hectare land which have been converted into a dining and recreation zone.

Literally meaning “nature,” Kinaiyahan is awash with bamboo structures and facilities such as arches, swings, benches, an al fresco pyramid lounge, and Instagrammable nooks which perfectly blend with the rural ambiance. Its centerpiece is the native-themed restaurant which serves homestyle gourmet dishes and bamboo shoot sidings, and offers a sweeping view of the property.

Cutting through the farm is a man-made island and river which guests can navigate aboard a coconut shell-shaped paddle boat.

It will soon open a family-style bamboo-themed riverside cottage for guests wishing to spend the night away from the madding crowd of the beach bars and resorts.