The 'Chocolate Hills' Are a Mysterious Landscape Worthy of Any Bucket List

The 'Chocolate Hills' Are a Mysterious Landscape Worthy of Any Bucket List

Philippines, Chocolate Hills at sunrise
Getty Images
Philippines, Chocolate Hills at sunrise
Getty Images

Located on the island of Bohol in the Philippines, the Chocolate Hills are a slight mystery to locals and visitors alike. The attraction is exactly what it sounds like: a ground of rounded hills, chocolate brown in color during the dry season, located at the center of the tiny island. Geologists categorize the landforms as "conical karst topography." Layman's terms: these hills are leftover limestone deposits from a time when streams and rivers were far above sea level. Rainfall and other natural water sources slowly created the dips and valleys the island has become so famous for.

For the sake of folklore and everything fun, there are a few other ideas on how this area came to be. One local legend shares the thought that the hills are the aftermath from a fight between two giants who spent days hurling stones at each other before finally giving up. Another idea states that the hills are the tears of a giant grieving the death of a mortal woman he had fallen in love with.

There's no clear count as to how many hills there are exactly—some say 1,268, while others have counted as high as 1,776. Trees and shrubbery refuse to grow on these curious slopes, mostly due to a noxious weed called cogongrass that replaced much of the native vegetation on the hills. All of this being said, it's clear the Chocolate Hills are worth a spot on any world traveler's must-see list. Be warned: You won't be able to climb any of the hills. Instead, there's a viewing deck open to the public with hilly vistas as far as the eye can see.

Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.

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