May 13, 2014

PUERTO PRINCESA TRAVEL DIARY: Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour Part 2

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 8:00 am 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.

Cowrie Island is one of the nearest island destination from Sta. Lourdes Wharf that  tourists can visit in Honda Bay. It is named as such because it is shaped like a Cowrie shell or “Sigay” in local terms. You wouldn’t miss it because there is a ala-Hollywood sign at the tip of the beach where the boats dock before they park on the other side of the island.

Our tour guide said that we will have our lunch here and that we can first  go around and check the entire island while she’s preparing our meal. Our meal was great but I was expecting that there are more seafood dishes aside from the squid, but it was ok because I really loved the eggplant that was included in the feast, plus it was buffet style. There were 10 of us in that tour group but the food was so abundant that our tour guide even invited the boatmen to eat with us. I was also looking forward about locals selling their fresh catch of the day, like sea urchins, lobsters, crabs and prawns, which I read from other blogs, unfortunately I spotted none.

The group we were with was kinda unaccommodating, we were 3 groups combined into one tour group. While we were having lunch, we tried to start a conversation with them but they weren’t that accommodating and were quite snobbish. We tried several times to somehow make friends with them just for this trip, but we guess they’re not up for it, so we just gave up.. hehehe...

Cowrie Island has a bar where you can order both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, a massage areabeach volleyball areacomfort roomsopen shower rooms and banana boat ride.

We decided to swim a bit in the part of the beach where most tourist swim and when it got crowded we ventured out to the other parts of the island. We ended up on the beach on the right side of the island where boats dock while waiting for the time when the tour ends.

This part of the island is quieter and less crowded (except for the boats), but is less ideal for swimming because of there are a lot of sea weeds just a few steps from the shoreline. I love the part of the beach here where there is a boat/ship ruins, it just looks eerie but in a beautiful way and gives you that castaway vibe. For the rest of the afternoon, we just relaxed until it was 3:00 and it was time to go back to the city.

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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