A visit to Honday Bay is one of the things you shouldn’t miss when in Puerto Princesa City. The bay expands along the eastern coastline of Puerto Princesa and its one of the best and popular destinations for snorkeling and island hopping. Last summer of 2012 was my latest trip there and it was still as awesome as before.
One of the things you shouldn’t miss when going to Honda bay are your swimming gears. If you are a travel light person and cant afford to carry a separate bag for your gears, you can stop by at one of the shops along the way. I would suggest for you to rent at the last establishment before making a turn towards the Honda Bay wharf. They have the best affordable gears at 150 pesos and also have the necessary permits to do the business. You can request the tour guide to make a stop at these particular shops.
So finally, we reached the Honda Bay wharf. It was nearly 8 in the morning and it was sunny. I was a bit surprised for the many tourists scattered everywhere. Both the opposite side of the docks were filled with pump-boats waiting for their passengers for the day. Beside the waiting hall are lots of stalls and stores that sell different food, sunscreens and other beach accessories. You can also rent a waterproof digital camera cover at one of the stalls at 200 pesos and 600 for DSLRs. You might want the boat captain to take an underwater picture of you while snorkeling.
While our tour guide was arranging our trip and registration, I took some pictures around the wharf. It was about 9 when we finally boarded the pump-boat which was a bit small but can carry the 12 of us including the crew. I sat at the front where the sun partly hits my side. Fortunately, I brought my sarong and sunglass and one of my friends shared his sunblock. It’s a perfect day I thought.
We reached our first destination after about 30 minutes- the Pambato floating reef, which apparently is managed by abs-cbn. There were I guess a hundred of tourists when we came. The floating reef is made up of wood which is made afloat by empty large plastic tanks. We unboarded the boat that docked at the end of the floating bridge. We left our bags and everyone put on their swimming attire. At the end of the bridge is the floating shed that can accommodate I think about 40 people at once. There is also a secured area around the shed where snorkelers can swim, explore and enjoy looking at different live corals and various kinds of fish. Sadly, we were allowed to stay only for 40 minutes to let other tourists get in and besides, we still have 2 other islands to explore. It was a different experience to see live fish and corals not through a glass but in a near bottom part of the sea.
We left the Pambato reef after our allotted time and headed to the tiny Starfish Island. It was about a couple more hours before midnoon when we reached the Island. It was high tide and a portion of it was knee deep underwater which unfortunately might have been the reason why we haven’t seen any starfish. Anyway, it was the perfect time to have a swim and play frisbee at the almost white sand shore that stretches about a kilometer. Other things to do are starfish and jellyfish hunting, picture taking behind the giant sized frame that stands near the shore with the beachfront as your backdrop (There is a collection of Hawaiian-like accessories for anyone who wants to wear them) and a few outdoor sports.
The sun is exactly above us and after tiring ourselves, we finally had our lunch at the kiosk. Our tour guide served us with grilled pork, etc… It was more than enough to fill our hunger and almost brought us to nap.
A few minutes after lunch, we went to our next and last destination – at Pandan Island. I was surprised when we were nearing its shore. There must’ve been more than half a thousand people in the Island. And Seeing it a kilometer away from the shore, the beachfront looks similar to Dos Palmas without the “entrance”. Its sand and shore waters is clean and perfect for swimming and snorkeling. There are other amenities for rent such as the banana boat and kayaks. The island has several cottages and table sets for groups and the island is much bigger with a few hectares of land allowing all guests to have more space for other sports and recreational activities.
There is also a bar, a henna tattooist, playground and some stalls that sell various seafood and souvenir items. For beach lovers, Pandan island is a perfect place with unspoiled grounds to lurk and love.
So while the others went swimming, we enjoyed throwing and diving to the waters as we try to catch the frisbee. It was our idea of fun and excitement that day, especially that one of our friends is about to leave for good. Its indeed a blessing to enjoy this place with friends.
We finally left Pandan island at 3PM. It was already a bit cloudy and showers of rain started to make us hurry. Despite the not so troubling threat, we still had our last minute shoots. Who could resist capturing the scenes around us?
Seeing and experiencing the islands scattered all over the Honda bay is one of my best vacation experiences. Well, there is a lot more that my shallow words cant tell and describe – and its up for the wanting visitors to know and discover for themselves, that its more fun in Palawan.
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