Chocolate Hills, Philippines

Photo: mendhak [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: mendhak [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
It’s late afternoon, and the sun is beginning to creep toward the horizon. You’re standing on a viewing platform overlooking hundreds of oversized Hershey’s Kisses. Or maybe they’re gumdrops. Either way, they look delicious.

Unfortunately, the bubbles in front of you aren’t candy. You can’t even eat them, despite their sweet-sounding name. The Chocolate Hills are actually grass-covered, limestone mounds. During the dry season, the green grass turns brown, making them look like cocoa. More than 1,000 of them cover a 20-square-mile area. Legends—most having to do with giants—abound regarding their creation. They’re actually the result of tectonic plates shifting, though. They still contain fossils, corals, and mollusk shells, since they originated under the sea. While rice paddies fill the flat land in between the hills.

The Chocolate Hills are in the center of Bohol Island, one of the largest islands in the Philippines. The island was discovered by the Spanish, later became a guerrilla stronghold during World War II, and now welcomes tourists in search of beauty and adventure. Besides the distinctive geological formations, tarsiers—tiny primates—call the island home. Plus, the island is full of pine forests, mangrove swamps, caves, waterfalls, and beaches.

You’re supposed to be returning to one of those gorgeous beaches along the southern shore right now. But you’re still mesmerized. The farther the sun disappears, the more it looks like the hills are floating above the rice paddies. If only you could reach out, grab one, and eat it.

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