May 12, 2014

PUERTO PRINCESA TRAVEL DIARY: Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour Part 1

Weeks before our flight to Puerto Princesa, I have been deciding what to include in our itinerary for our third day; we were choosing between going to the Underground River or doing the Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour; days before our trip, we decided to forgo visiting  the Underground River. I don’t know why, I was not so enthusiastic about going to the Underground River; probably because of the steep price of the tour and the 2-3 hours travel time to get to the site.

We woke up very early that morning to prepare for our Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour. Unfortunately, our van service was late. We were supposed to be picked up by 7:00 am but the service arrived at around 8:00am and the driver told us that the rest of the group that we will go with is already at the port.

On this Honday Bay Island Hopping Trip, we visited 3 destinations:  Luli IslandPambato Reef and Cowrie Island. The waters was kinda rough that day and the wind is strong which made the boat ride kinda scary, but the boats were cleared to travel by the Coast Guards. The state of the waters in Honda Bay is already that way the day before when we were traveled to and from Dos Palmas Island Resort.

These 3 stops are what was included in our itinerary because they are the 3 nearest ones, going further to Pandan Island, Starfish Island and Snake Island (the island that I really wished we would visit) might get difficult because of the sea condition. This is the downside of availing a tour with an agency, you will not have the luxury of deciding where you want to go, unlike if you’re travelling with a large group, you can rent the entire boat and ask the boatmen to take you where you want to go, stay until you want to move on to the next island and it is much cheaper. To rent one boat is equivalent to a little over the price of what you’ll pay per person when you avail of tours offered by travel agencies. Btw, if you don't own snorkeling gears you can rent them in one of the stores at the port and don't worry they're sanitized.

Our first stop was Luli Island, it was given this name because the island’s visible sandbar gets submerged when the tide is high and fully visible when it is low tide. It was taken after the phrase Lulubog, Lilitaw”. The sand here is brownish but fine. There are lots of cottages where you can stay if you’re thinking of eating your lunch here and of course they come with a fee (though in our case it is already included in the tour fee).

When we arrived, a large part of the island and the sand bar was still visible and after just 10 minutes it is almost completely submerged.

There is also a floating cottage where you can stay and feed the fishes or snorkel near it. The fishes that we saw here are bigger than what we saw in Coron; but we couldn’t enjoyed it that much because of the strong current that made the water murky.

After a few hours, our tour guide called us and told us that we will be transferring to our next destination which is Pambato Reef. This large reef was accidentally discovered by a fisherman and was called “pambato” because this reef is really huge and boasts with very alive marine life.

They made a huge floating platform shaped like a sea turtle which serves as the docking area and jump off point. unfortunately, when we were there the waves were strong and that are boat man handed me a buoy where I cling to it while  he lead me to the corals. But the water was so murky (due to strong currents or waves) that we all can’t really appreciate the beauty of the reef.

Although I saw some large fishes, how big the corals were, how deep this side of the bay is, I still didn’t enjoy Pambato Reef. But I’ve seen photos online of how beautiful this reef is, too bad that during our visit, he weather won't just cooperate. We didn’t stay here longer  and transferred to our third and last stop, Cowrie Island.

All in all, if I am to rate our whole Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour, I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars. My reasons would be:
-The beaches that we visited are not as pristine or the sand is not as fine as the ones we’ve visited like Boracay, Panglao and Coron.
- Food was good but not much seafood (sorry but I can’t help but compare it with the food that was served to us during  island hopping in Coron, and I was expecting a little more because of what I saw from other blog posts)
- I didn't find any locals selling their fresh catch of the day that I wanted to eat, which I read from other bloggers' experiences during their visit to Cowrie or Pandan islands
- The group we were with was kinda unaccommodating, we tried several times to be-friend them but they were snob.
- We weren't able to see the beauty of the corals and fishes at Pambato Reef because of the murky water and strong waves.

Since we were not able to see the Underground River and didn't enjoy much our Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour, then this gives us a reason to go back, yeah?

Btw, I've learned from one blogger that the boatmen only receive 10% of the boat fees and she vouched to encourage everyone who's going and planning to go to Puerto Princesa to give a tip to the boatmen. They're job is not easy and I don't think that fee is not enough, they have families to feed too and I know it' was not easy for the boatman who helped me see snorkel by dragging me over the wavy waters while I hold on to the buoy. So please give them a tip, any amount will be definitely greatly appreciated them.


Read about my Puerto Princesa Travel Diary blog posts here:
Go & See:
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Kuyba Almoneca, Your Alternative to the Palawan Underground River
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Plaza Cuartel, & - Puerto Princesa Baywalk
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Palawan Special Battalion WWII Memorial Museum
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Emerald Playa Beach & Nature Park
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Dos Palmas Island Resort
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Where to Buy Souvenirs
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour Part 1
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour Part 2
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Irawan Eco Park and Zipline
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Crocodile Farm and A Peacock I've Never Seen Before
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Mitra's Ranch & Baker's Hill
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Binuatan Creations Handloom Weaving 

Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Badjao Seafront Restaurant
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: KaLui Restaurant
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Bona's Chaolong
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Kinabuchs Bar & Grill
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Rene Saigon Vietnamese Specialties
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: White Fence Country Cafe

What I wore:

Puerto Princesa Travel Diary:  The Legend Hotel Palawan
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Purple Fountain Courtyard Inn

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