What you need to know about Chocolate Hills

Lorenz Pasion

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What you need to know about Chocolate Hills
The Chocolate Hills Natural Monument is a National Geological Monument, a part of the Bohol Island UNESCO Global Geopark, and nominated as a UNESCO Heritage Site

MANILA, Philippines – On March 6, social media content creator Ren The Adventurer posted an aerial video of Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, famed for its 1,776 hills that are almost identical in size and shape.

Ren The Adventurer’s video, with a caption in Filipino that says, “Resort in the middle of the Chocolate Hills,” shows a resort – complete with a pool, slides, and two cottages – right smack in a space between three of the famed hills.

What you need to know about Chocolate Hills

The story about the resort – identified by Ren The Adventurer as Captain’s Peak Resort in the municipality of Sagbayan, Bohol – went viral after netizens shared the video. One netizen said the resort was an “eyesore,” while another said the resort was “destroying” the Chocolate Hills. (READ: DENR says viral Chocolate Hills resort continued operating without ECC)

Julieta Sablas, Captain’s Peak Resort administrator, told Rappler that they “did not touch the Chocolate Hills” and their measurement of the plane where the resort was located was “within regulation.” However, Sablas admitted that they were still in the process of obtaining an environmental compliance certificate.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the controversial resort was built within the protected zone of the Chocolate Hills and was slapped with a closure order in 2023 but it continued operating. Sablas confirmed that they had received the order but that they were appealing the decision.

On July 1, 1997, former president Fidel V. Ramos declared the Chocolate Hills Natural Monument a protected area by designating it a National Geological Monument and a Protected Landscape for its unique geological formations.

Here’s what you need to know about these famed hills in Bohol.

Unique geological formation

The Chocolate Hills are kegelkarsts (cone karst), according to research by Peter Urich published in the Geographical Journal

The United States National Parks Service describes karsts as a type of landscape where sinkholes, sinking streams, caves, springs, and other characteristic features are created by the dissolution of the bedrock, often composed of soluble rocks like limestone, marble, and gypsum.

An academic paper by Richard Aquino of the University of Canterbury describes the Chocolate Hills as
“conical marine limestone hills.”

The book, “Geoheritage of East and South East Asia,” published by the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said that the hills are composed of sandy to rubbly limestone containing “fossils of foraminifera, corals, mollusks, and algae” that accumulated in a shallow sea during the Late Pliocene to Early Pleistocene era, about two million years ago. The area was eventually lifted from the sea, and erosion and dissolution of the limestones by acid rain carved the limestone formations into their current cone shape.

Each mound varies from 30 to 50 meters in height, with the highest reaching up to 120 meters, the book said. Besides the hills, the Chocolate Hills Natural Monument also hosts other interesting features like plains in between the hills, caves, springs, and tunnels.

These features make the Chocolate Hills Natural Monument one of the primary drivers of tourism in Bohol, which recorded over 1 million visitors in 2023.

According to the provincial government of Bohol, visitors to the island generated P75.6 billion in tourism receipts in 2023.

Wide area

Since Ren The Adventurer’s video went viral, several netizens have gone to the Chocolate Hills to see the controversial resort with their own eyes, with some netizens saying that they didn’t find it.

But these netizens were likely in the wrong area to spot it, as the Chocolate Hills Natural Monument is huge.

Proclamation No. 1037, signed by Ramos in 1997 to protect the Chocolate Hills Natural Monument, states that the monument consists of 1,776 hills.

These hills are found in clusters spread over an area of more than 14,435 hectares (144.35 square kilometers) across the barangays of Carmen, Batuan, and Sagbayan, according to the websites of Bohol Island Geopark and UNESCO.

Sablas said Captain’s Peak Resort is located in Sagbayan. There are viewing decks to see the hills in Sagbayan and at the Chocolate Hills Complex atop the highest hill in Carmen, an article by Travel + Leisure said.


In recognition of its scientific value and geomorphic uniqueness, the Philippine government, according to the UNESCO website, declared the Chocolate Hills as a National Geological Monument on July 18, 1988.

The DENR said geological monuments are sites that “show outstanding features or processes” considered by geologists and other scientists as worthy of conservation. (READ: DENR declares uplifted coastal areas in Bohol as ‘geological monument’)

Ramos issued Proclamation No. 1037 declaring the Chocolate Hills as a Natural Monument to “protect and maintain its natural beauty and to provide restraining mechanisms for inappropriate exploitation.”

The proclamation specifically says that it covers the areas “within, around, and surrounding” the geological formations.

On February 26, 2003, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation No. 333, amending the proclamation that Ramos signed. Proclamation No. 333 excluded “alienable and disposable flat lands” between the hills that were covered by the previous proclamation.

The Chocolate Hills National Monument is also covered by Republic Act No. 11038, also known as the Expanded National Integrated Areas Protected System (NIPAS) Act.

The DENR also submitted the Chocolate Hills for consideration as a possible UNESCO Heritage Site on May 16, 2006, and it is currently in the organization’s Tentative List – an inventory of properties that a country intends to nominate as a UNESCO Heritage Site.

The Chocolate Hills National Monument, as well as the entire Bohol Island, is also the only UNESCO Global Geopark in the country. 

According to UNESCO, these global geoparks are “single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education, and sustainable development.”

Bohol Island is one of only 195 UNESCO Global Geoparks worldwide. –


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Lorenz Pasion

Lorenz Pasion is a researcher at Rappler and a member of its fact-check team that debunks false claims that spread on social media.