In search of fireflies

Fireflies or “lightning bugs” are magical and the one place you're guaranteed to see them is in Bohol

By Oggie Ramos. Photos by Ferdz Decena

Time your kayak across Abatan River at about 9pm to catch the fireflies flashing their lights in a spectacular display
The best way to go searching for fireflies is to kayak your way across the Abatan River in the town of Marijoboc in northern Bohol, following a route that leads to the eastern side of town.

I was with professional paddler Buzzy Budlong on a three-day adventure trip for Inflight Traveller when I first caught sight of these magical glowing insects, also known as "lightning bugs".

“We rode onboard a small motorized boat for five people, with Buzzy trailing behind us on his paddle board, towing a kayak for our photo shoot. Midway through our eight-kilometer ride, the full moon rose above the forest cover. We stopped to watch. The trees were suddenly bathed in light and the moon was glistening on the river. Close to the end of our boat ride, near the eight-kilometer point, we were greeted by a spectacular light display — fireflies, thousands of them, covering the trees. We got out of the boat to kayak under the trees for a closer look. And for what seemed like an hour, we just sat there, watching the fireflies blink, mesmerized. Going back midstream, we see more trees dotted with fireflies.

Science explains that male fireflies are known to flash in unison in order to attract females, who respond with a single flash if they like what they see.

I made a mental note to kayak across the river after 8:30pm when motorized boats are no longer allowed in. Then I’ll have the quiet and the river all to myself.

Fireflies and a great big full moon compete for our attention


Professional paddler Buzzy Budlong organizes firefly tours along Abatan River

Book your firefly tour now. Paddler Buzzy Budlong operates kayaking and standup paddling (SUP) expeditions, which include firefly tours along Abatan River. The tour, which costs about P2,100 (about US$130) per person, includes a guided tour for up to four hours and up to four kilometers. Tel +63927 568 3799,

How to get there Air Asia Zest has direct flights from Manila to Tagbilaran in Bohol.

Stay at Bohol Beach Club with rooms facing a white-sand beach. The resort, a 15-minute drive from the airport, also offers whale shark tours to the town of Oslob. 

Originally published in InFlight Traveller April to June 2014. Updated July 2015