Made up of 1,776 conical mounds scattered over the towns of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan, the almost uniform sizes and shape of the Chocolate Hills led some people to believe that they are not natural formations but man-made. One of the former World’s Eight Wonders, there are many legends attached to its origin. Experts believe they are karst hills formed long ago through the lifting of coral deposits and shaped as such by the effect of rain and erosion. The grass and shrubs covering them turn brown during dry season and gives them the color from whence their name was derived.
The knolls are concentrated in Carmen and it is there where the Chocolate Hills Complex was built. More than an hour’s drive from the City of Tagbilaran, the government-run facility comes with a restaurant, souvenir shops and hostel with swimming pool. They also have an observation deck which provides a 360 degree view of the surroundings covered by more than a thousand of those magnificent rises. At the top of the 214 steps leading to this deck is the bronze plaque describing how the famous hills came to be.
Another resort offering excellent view of these small mountains is the Sagbayan Peak found in the town of Sagbayan. This recently developed resort and recreation center, some 900 feet above sea level, is a 5 hectare marvel of landscaping. Their viewing platform equipped with a high-powered telescope, gives a full-circle vista of the hills, the distant blue sea separating Bohol from the Island of Cebu and of the island itself. The place has an enclosed tarsier sanctuary and a butterfly dome confining 18 species of the winged creatures and plants. Visitors who came meaning to unwind and de-stress have the grotto, chapel, wishing fountains and souvenier stalls to inspect. Children and adults alike would have a great time exploring the extensive playground, and their delightful water park. Food and a place to sleep in will not be a problem for travelers wanting to spend more time in this fantastic site because they also have rooms available and a restaurant.
Future projects include the construction of a golf course amid these hills. While plans to increase the tourist attraction are being made, the partially quarried area of the terrain in Carmen will remain a witness to man’s susceptibility to corruption and his power to ruin something as valuable as the famed Chocolate Hills.