ISLAND HOPPING ROUND HONDA BAY, PALAWAN
Palawan is simply beautiful. In fact, it has recently been given the well deserved title of ‘Best Island in the World’. Yet, I bet a lot of you haven’t even heard of it! Well, let me change that for you now and tell you about my trip island hopping round Honda Bay, the must-do trip while you’re here.
The trip stated from Puerto Princesa, the main city on the Island. In fact, most tours and trips start from here so this was a good place to be. I was picked up at 7.30am from outside my hotel by a minibus (early I know, but TRUST ME, it’s worth it!) and I was on my way to the fun stuff.
On route we stopped off at the rental shop to hire snorkelling equipment and swim shoes. There was also the chance to hire flippers and buy underwater cameras all at a reasonable price. Honda Bay is all about the underwater wildlife so this is totally worth it!
From here I got on the boat to start the trip to the Islands. The boats are so cute! All covered in flags and brightly painted; it just screamed paradise!
THE FIRST STOP – PAMBATO REEF
Or the Turtle Reef as I like to call it. Very simply because the floating platform has a giant turtle on it! This was a busy stop with the whole platform full of parked up boats. Pambato is a marine sanctuary and is home to tonnes of different fish and creatures. There was a short safety talk and everyone had to wear life vests to help stop the reefs being touched and damaged.
Well, the reef was busy as expected, but it really was full of sealife! The platform is located in one of the more shallow areas, so everything felt so close. Now, the water is a bit murky due to all the silt floating around from the swimmers, but once I moved away to a little bit of space I could see the beauty of the unspoiled reef and all the fish that make it their home. I had plenty of time here before heading on to the next stop.
THE SECOND STOP – STARFISH ISLAND
So guess what? This island might have a few starfish on it. By a few I mean it’s covered in them! Isn’t there just something so tropical about starfish! C’mon, you don’t see these every day, especially not in the UK where I’m from anyway. If this is a daily thing for you then I want your life!
The water here is crystal clear. This is really where I was thankful for the snorkel and mask. For me, doing anything near, in, on or under the sea is heaven and having these fascinating creatures so close to see and hold was lush. And the sand! OHMYGOODNESS it’s so white and so soft. Oh, and also, there are mountains in the background. Starfish Island really is a tropical paradise.
There was also a properly delish lunch served here that tasted fresh from the BBQ – chicken, shrimp and whole fish. Scoffing lots of seafood is a must while you’re in the Philippines!
THE FINAL STOP – LULI ISLAND
The island is actually a sandbar that gets partially submerged during high tide. This was the place to play, so was perfect for a big kid like myself. The shore is lined with massive multicoloured flags and theres a dive board and the chance to feed the fish. A playground on a beach. Perfect!
There were signs limiting where you can swim due to jelly fish and stonefish but other than that it was a fantastic place to get the final snorkelling for the day in. I bought crackers from one of the beach shacks to feed the fish so I was simply in my element.
After this it was sadly time for the boat ride back home. It truly is the tropical day out and a trip you must do. I mean, there’s only one place that wins ‘Best Island in the World’ so why on EARTH wouldn’t you???
So i didn’t this trip as an organised excursion and there are a whole bunch to choose from in Puerto Princessa. As this trip was now (somehow already) over 3 years ago, I have had a look online to find an estimate of prices for this.
An organised group day excursion usually includes:
Pick Up and return to/from hotel
Cost of the boat
Cost of access to each of the islands
Life vest hire (but annoyingly not snorkelling equipment. Why not throw that in as well is beyond me)
Cost: Around PHP 1200 -1450 (£20-25)
Of course, you can also do this trip yourself and if I were to revisit, I think that’s definitely the way i would go. I know nothing about boats and my sense of direction sucks beyond belief, but why not!!
Also, since I have travelled more and more I have found that doing trips yourself and not using a tour guide can often be cheaper and gives you more breathing space to chill. The Lonely Traveller (https://onelonelytraveler.com/2015/05/07/diy-trip-to-honda-bay-puerto-princesa/) has a wicked article about how to do this if this is more up your street.
Simply put, Honda Bay is one of the least disappointing places I have visited. It is exactly how it looks in the pictures and more! No trip to Palawan is complete without it so make sure you go!