The Bohol Province of the Philippines has a breath taking, amazing geographical formation. Over 1,500 grass-covered limestone hills, called The Chocolate Hills, are a sight to behold. Don’t get too excited- these hills are not made of chocolate. This natural phenomenon is covered in grass, which turns to a chocolate like color, which is where the name comes from. (Note- the chocolate hills are only a chocolate color during the dry season, otherwise they are lush and green).
The Chocolate Hills are a very popular tourist attraction. Who wouldn’t want to see this gorgeous site? Some of these magnificent mounds are up to 400 feet high. The hills reach the towns of Carmen, Batuan, and Sagbayan. Because of their popularity, there are many accommodations for visitors to choose from. They are considered a national treasure, and are even featured in the Bohol provincial flag.
Sadly, due to quarrying of the limestone, the mounds are slowly diminishing. In the areas in between the hills, people use the land to cultivate rice. The local government is in the process of applying for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Luckily the hills are protected under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS). Governor Erico Aumentado (of Bohol) has ordered all mining activities to stop. He has joined the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), which will refuse all mining permit applications or renewals for mining the Chocolate Hills and surrounding areas.
As far as explanation of how the hills formed, there are several legends. One tells of a giant who falls in love with a young woman who dies. In his grief, he shed many tears and when they dried, the hills formed. There’s a story of two giants who fought for days, throwing anything they could find at each other- rocks, trees, and dirt. The fighting made them so exhausted, that they decided to make peace with each other. Leaving their mess behind, the hills formed. There are other stories, all of which include, you guessed it… giants! More scientifically, most likely the uplift or coral deposits, rain, and erosion formed the hills.
The Chocolate Hills are a beautiful, amazing piece of nature. The next time you’re looking to travel somewhere unique, consider visiting the Philippines to take in this exquisite landscape.