Sunday, September 19, 2010

Puerto Princesa: Honda Bay

It was rainy the previous two days. So we were really banking on what locals were telling us that because Honda Bay was on the side of Palawan facing Sulu Sea, a much smaller body of water than the South China Sea on the other side, Honda Bay gets little to no rain. Thankfully, local knowledge didn't fail us.

Port, Honda Bay

Again, tour operators in Puerto Princesa are sort of centralized. Your hotel reception will know the people to contact to get you into a tour group and the people in charge in the tour group will know the procedures, permits to get, etc. Puerto Princesa is well set up for tourism like that.

Port, Honda Bay

The tour group we were on picked us up by van from our hotel and took us to the Honda Bay Port. On the port, our guide registers at the tourism desk and orders us a boat. A few minutes later, we were off.

Honda Bay

Honda Bay is a relatively big body of water and the destinations, the islands we were hopping to, were sprawled around a wide area of sea. There were basically three destinations with one or two pit stops. The first, a pit stop, was Luli Island, named so because depending on the tides, it surfaces or it sinks. In Tagalog, lumulubog, lumilitaw. It was high tide when we got to Luli. Basically, we just passed through it.

Starfish Island, Honda Bay

Now, at this point, I may have already concluded that Puerto Princesa is a very touristy destination, which, I know, does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. It makes for a very easy-to-organize, safe family vacation. You would clearly feel that touristy air in this Honda Bay Island Hopping tour. More so, I think, in our next destination, Starfish Island.

View, Snake Island, Honda Bay

Being Starfish Island, I would have guessed that there would be a lot of starfish on the beach here. I did not find any. The boatmen had some with them and apparently, the popular activity here was the distorted perspective photo-op thing. The photographer holds the starfish close to the camera while you, standing at a distance, pose like you're holding a giant starfish above your head. Something the kids would enjoy, I think.

Sea Weed, Honda Bay

Starfish Island, Honda Bay

Starsfish Island makes for a good swim, though. The water is crystal-clear and calm. It does entice you to get in and enjoy. The sand is white and fine, too. And the island had a long, partly submerged sandbar, which I always like.

View, Snake Island, Honda Bay

We left Starfish Island at around 11:30 a.m., just in time for lunch at the next island destination, Snake Island. No, the island was not home to a huge population of snakes. Rather, the shape of it, the beach and the sandbar, snakes through the water.

Snake Island, Honda Bay

Our guide told us to do whatever we want (beach bum, swim, snorkel, whatever), while she prepares the lunch. Yes, lunch is included in the tour cost. And what was lunch? Fresh, freshly grilled fish, shrimps and liempo with adobo eggplant on the side. The kind of foods that tastes best when eaten on a beach.

Empty Bottle, Honda Bay

We stayed the longest on Snake Island, I think. Because after lunch, being full and all, nobody wanted to do anything, naturally. So, we walked further from the beach, settled on a sand bar away from the crowd, and had our this-is-the-life moment. It was sweet.

Pandan Island, Honda Bay

The last island we were to visit on this trip was Pandan Island. Our guide tells us that this is where a lot of colorful fish and coral reefs are located, the best site yet for snorkeling. Local knowledge succeeded again. At this point, I decided to put down my camera and enjoy the beach one last time. It would be a while before I go to another one. I am glad I made the right decision.


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