Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The Chocolate Hills

with 42 comments

As you recently heard, on December 20th of 2019 we finally got to make the two-hour crossing from Cebu City to Tagbilaran at the southwestern corner of Bohol. The final stop on our tour that day was a place where by climbing a long stairway to an observation platform we could look out over the Chocolate Hills. In the summer the hills are more chocolaty, which is to say drier and therefore browner, but all I can show you is how they looked in December; what they lacked in chocolatiness they made up for in mist and overcast. Some of the hills are rounder and others pointier, as a comparison of the two photographs makes clear.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 6, 2020 at 4:38 AM

42 Responses

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  1. What a fascinating landform. Do you know how they were formed? I suppose they could be a cluster of volcanoes…


    February 6, 2020 at 7:38 AM

    • No, not volcanic: if you go to the article linked in the text and scroll down to the Origin section, you’ll have your answer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2020 at 9:55 AM

      • Oh I missed that.


        February 7, 2020 at 10:02 AM

        • It’s easy to do in a barrage of information.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 7, 2020 at 10:08 AM

          • I just read it~fascinating. The shape of these cones reminds me of the smaller, but similar-shaped Mima Mounds in Washington State. Scientists don’t seem to really know what caused them, but believe it has to glaciation.


            February 7, 2020 at 10:13 AM

            • They’ve generated various theories about their origin:


              I’ve notice that some sources capitalize mima and others don’t. I’d expect a capital if the mounds were named after a person or place. The article at


              says the name is “derived from a Native American language meaning ‘a little further along’ or ‘downstream,’ so I’m puzzled by the capitalization.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 7, 2020 at 2:00 PM

              • Me too. I assumed it was an Indian name, and so I capitalized it.


                February 7, 2020 at 5:12 PM

                • There’s been a tendency in recent years to capitalize names that weren’t previously capitalized. I get the impression it started with birders, who now capitalize the name of every bird.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 7, 2020 at 6:01 PM

                • I’ve seen it pass through my circles of plant lovers and butterfly enthusiasts as well.


                  February 9, 2020 at 9:49 AM

  2. Most interesting shots of these chocolate hills, Steve! I wonder about their geological history.

    Peter Klopp

    February 6, 2020 at 7:46 AM

    • Yay, chocolate. If you check out the article linked in the text and scroll down to the Origin section, you can find out about the geology.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2020 at 9:56 AM

  3. I’ve got my fingers crossed that you’re out photographing snow, sleet, graupel, or frost flowers this morning. When I was watching the snow fall on KVUE last night, I thought, “This is it — the big chance of the winter.”
    It’s appropriate that you posted these photos this morning. It may not have been all that hot, given your mention of mist and overcast, but even more-or-less hot chocolate is a good image for the morning.

    The contrast between the rounded and pointed hills is interesting. I especially enjoyed the silhouettes on the horizon in the second photo. Also in that image, the rounded hills remind me of traditional ovens, and the misty fog over them seems like smoke.


    February 6, 2020 at 8:14 AM

    • Your crossed fingers got it right. The weather forecast yesterday predicted an overnight low of 32°, so I planned to go out. At our house this morning the thermometer got down to 34°, which might have been cold enough for frostweed ice (turns out there wasn’t any), but the big surprise was looking out my computer room window and seeing a thin covering of white on the neighboring roof. As soon as there was enough light, off I went to Great Hills (not Chocolate Hills) Park to see what rarities I might find before the rising sun melted the stuff. The pictures just finished downloading as I’m typing this sentence.

      As for the Chocolate Hills, I also had the impression I was seeing smoke even though I knew it was mist.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2020 at 10:07 AM

  4. What an interesting formation of the landscape.


    February 6, 2020 at 9:00 AM

  5. Ah, the variety this planet has to offer!

    Michael Scandling

    February 6, 2020 at 9:40 AM

  6. They look like Hershey’s Kisses drops! Unusual landform. Nice catch, Steve!

    Lavinia Ross

    February 6, 2020 at 9:47 AM

    • And a nice concept from you: Hershey’s Kisses are indeed appropriate for the Chocolate Hills.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2020 at 10:30 AM

  7. These are fun to see, Steve….when you think about all the various geologically interesting places in the world, it’s so impressive.


    February 6, 2020 at 10:56 AM

    • I got to check off several types on our trip to the Philippines. Several down and a zillion to go.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2020 at 2:24 PM

  8. The mist is lovely. I read the legends about them and like the first two, but the third is just gross!


    February 6, 2020 at 1:14 PM

    • I’m with you in preferring the first two legends. And yes, the mist was a nice and unexpected touch.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2020 at 2:37 PM

  9. I’ve seen a number of fascinating karst formations, but cockpit karst? This is certainly a new one. So strikingly unusual!


    February 6, 2020 at 8:10 PM

    • These formations and that kind of karst were both new to me, too. Cockfights are big in the Philippines, so that may have something to do with the name.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2020 at 8:58 PM

  10. Those mounds are so very cool. Conical hills are not anything I’ve seen here in New England, but there isn’t much evidence of coral seas here.

    Steve Gingold

    February 7, 2020 at 6:29 PM

    • You see why the Chocolate Hills draw lots of tourists. Likewise for coral seas. Too bad you can’t import some of each to New England.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2020 at 8:06 PM

      • Only a matter of time, Steve. More than we have but the planet’s always evolving.

        Steve Gingold

        February 8, 2020 at 3:25 AM

  11. The Chocolate Hills look delicious. Thanks for sharing.


    February 9, 2020 at 5:02 AM

  12. Fascinating geology – thanks for the links to the information. Love the form descriptions. Another place of enchantment and wonder.

    Nature on the Edge

    March 13, 2020 at 1:29 AM

  13. Wow, your photos are stunning! I suddenly miss Home…Kris and I love everything about Bohol. I live near the port area in Tagbilaran facing Cebu and my family enjoy the best sunsets everyday. 🙂 I am happy that you enjoyed your stay. Kris and I will always be a proud Boholano wherever we go.

    • I remember quite well the port area in Tagbilaran, as it’s been only six months since we were there. Because previous visits to the Philippines were almost wholly taken up with family matters, this time we made sure we arranged for some time in nature. The visit to Bohol was part of that, and the highlight was our stay in Coron:


      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2020 at 9:12 AM

      • Wow, we haven’t been to Coron just yet but we would love to visit the place as it is getting famous. 🙂 Yeah, it’s always the case of reconnecting and spending time with families back home which is fun and a good thing but it’s always good to just spend time alone with your spouse and just enjoy the place without the pressure of everyone else. It helps with relaxation and marital bliss. Right? 🙂

        • Right. Neither of us had ever been to any part of Palawan, so Coron was a first. You’re right that it’s becoming well known, as confirmed by the many foreign tourists who were there. I still recommend it the next time you go home.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 21, 2020 at 10:01 PM

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