Revisiting Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa, Palawan


This is rather a long overdue post. So sorry travelistas! Been balancing many hats for the past few months and thank god for long weekends, I was able to catch up.

Yearly, I see to it to organize an out of town trip for my whole family, including my mom, aunt, brother, husband, and Akisha. Two years ago, it was in Bohol. Last year, it was Boracay. This year, it was the final frontier -- Palawan.

Of course, I never go to Puerto Princesa, Palawan without seeking the help of my dear friend Charisse of La Tiara Tours. Since time immemorial, she's the one handling our tours each time we were in Puerto Princesa or El Nido. For this trip, since we were with the not-so-young set, I decided to just tour them around the city and Honda Bay.

La Tiara's whole day Honda Bay island hopping package is priced at Php 1,350 including lunch, but for those who would rather try it DIY style, here's a step by step guide:

1. Rent a tricycle or van to Sta. Lourdes Wharf (about 20-30 minutes from the city proper). Price usually starts at Php 300 for a tricycle that can fit up to five pax, and Php 1,300 for a van that can fit around 10-12 pax.

2. At the wharf, the driver will assist you in getting a boat and paying the fees. Sta. Lourdes Wharf is one of the most organized wharves I've been to. Also, prices of boat rentals and entrance fees are standard so you don't have to roam around haggling for the best price.

3. Choose a boat that will suit your needs. You have two options: three-cylinder engine or four-cylinder engine. I asked them what's the difference and the lady at the counter said the four-cylinder boat is faster and can better withstand rough seas than the three-cylinder. Hmm, for some reason, I was actually not convinced. We got the three-cylinder engine. Here are the rates:

Three-cylinder engine boat (island hopping in any three islands) - Php 1,300 for six pax, additional pax is Php 216.67.

Four-cylinder engine boat (island hopping in any three islands) - Php 1,500 for six pax, additional pax is Php 250.

Entrance fees are as follows:
Pandan Island - Php 125
Luli Island - Php 60
Cowrie Island - Php 75 (there is a booth at the wharf where you can pay your fees at this resort)
Pambato Reef - Php 50 (closed during our visit)
Starfish Island - Php 50

We opted to go to Luli Island, Starfish Island, and Pandan Island since we haven't been to the first two islands yet. During our last trip in Puerto Princesa way back 2010, we explored Pandan Island, Snake Island (now closed to the public), and Pambato Reef.

4. Pay the other fees, as follows:
Environmental fee - Php 40/pax
Terminal fee - Php 3/pax
Vehicle fee (for your van) - Php 12/vehicle

5. Proceed to your assigned boat, wear your lifevest and enjoy the views!

Note: If you're doing it DIY-style, you should bring your own lunch, or you can eat at the restaurant of Pandan Island (prices are overrated though).

From the wharf, we cruised towards our first destination: Luli Island. The name of the island was coined after "lulubog-lilitaw" a Filipino word that means the island sinks at high tide and shows up at low tide. Way back 2010, the island was still at its bare form. Now, three years after, development on the island is in full swing.

The reception at Luli Island
Luli Island boasts fine off-white sandbar, a marine sanctuary, a floating cottage, and a plunge board for the more adventurous. You can also rent a cottage here and have your lunch.

The sandbar
The marine sanctuary at Luli Island is shallow and is just a few steps from the shore. There were a lot of colorful fishes and corals there but the visibility underwater is not too clear. This must be due to fish-feeding.
The marine sanctuary
A kayak for rent at Luli Island
For the adventurous at heart, there is a plunge board at Luli island where you can jump out into the sea. The board is at an elevated mini cottage near the sandbar.

At the other end is where the plunge board is
Our second stop was supposedly Starfish Island, but since it was already past lunch time and we were all starving, we told the boatman that we will just go sightseeing around the island and proceed to our last destination: Pandan Island.

Approaching Pandan Island

Pandan Island is one of the first developed islands in Honda Bay. Hubby, Akisha and I were able to check this island out three years ago and nothing much had changed since then.

Upon arrival, we paid the necessary fees at the restaurant (Php 125/pax entrance and Php 600 for the cottage). Good thing, my aunt, who is a senior citizen, was able to haggle the price and make her entrance fee free of charge. Mind you, if I remember it right, entrance fee to this island three years ago was only Php 50/pax.

Rates at Pandan Island 
Of all the islands in Honda Bay, Pandan Island is one of my three favorites (Dos Palmas in Arreceffi Island and Snake Island, which is now closed to the public, are the other two) because of its pristine beachfront and rich marine life. This is where I first fell in love with snorkeling.

The beachfront at Pandan Island
Our cottage was huge enough to fit a family of 10. There is a separate grilling station at the back of the island, so don't attempt to grill your food near cottages as it is not allowed. All cottages don't have a garbage can, simply because you have to bring you trash with you when you leave to keep the island clean.

Cottage @Php 600
Umbrellas with tables and chairs at Php 400
The beach again
Aside from beach bumming, there are tons of activities that you can do within the island. You can bask under the scorching heat of the sun on their beach beds, snorkel, go fish feeding, kayaking, paddle boarding, drink and eat fresh buko juice (priced at Php 20 each), have a massage, or simply build sand castles at the shore. The island is also open for camping/overnight stays but the caretaker said it'll be at your own risk since the guards will be out of the island in the evening.

Beach beds by the shore
After eating lunch, we started to snorkel around the marine sanctuary. At knee-deep water, we could already see big fishes in different colors swimming around. There were a few corals at waist-deep, and more varieties of fish further from where we initially stood.

Fishiesss

A coral from down under
Selfie?




At around 3:00 pm, we started our journey back to Sta. Lourdes Wharf where the van we rented c/o Charisse was waiting for us. It was a journey we will never forget. Palawan is indeed teeming with natural beauty up or down the surface. Here's to our next Palawan trip! Cheers!


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La Tiara Tours

+63917 809 4509
http://twitter.com/charyz18



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