One of the best things that I did in the Philippines was the Honda Bay tour in Palawan which is an island hopping tour that will pick you up from Puerta Princessa, the capital city of the island. Several times over Palawan has been voted as the world’s best island for tourism and it’s easy to see why.
This Honda Bay tour is just one day and will take you to see three amazing islands – Luli Island, Star Fish Island and Cowrie Island. There are opportunities to try Philippines seafood cooked on a Barbeque on the beach and the chance to go snorkelling in the reefs. Some of the tours swap Starfish Island for Pambato Reef so check with the tour operator that you go with if you have a particular preference, but you can snorkel at both sites.
Getting to Puerta Princesa
The Honda Bay tour goes from Puerta Princesa which is the capital of Palawan. You are likely to be flying into Manila and the taking internal flights to the islands. Take a flight from Manila to Puerta Princesa with Cebu Pacific or Air Asia. Both are cheap and comfortable. You can stay in Puerta Princesa and book your Honda Bay tour through your hotel or book it online here.
Preparing for your Honda Bay Trip
Make sure that you pack all of the beach essentials. It’s a good idea to travel with your swimming shorts or bathing suit on underneath your clothes so that you are ready for swimming and snorkelling straight away. You will need a towel and sun screen (which you will need to reapply after swimming otherwise you may risk getting burnt). If you want to film or do any photography a waterproof phone case or waterproof case for your camera or Go Pro is a good idea.
Aqua shoes are essential to stop your feet from getting stung, bitten, or hurt on any rocks. Take your goggles and snorkelling equipment if you have your own. However, the guides are used to un-prepared tourists and so there are opportunities to rent aqua shoes and snorkelling equipment on the way to the Wharf.
Honda Bay Trip – Luli Island, Star Fish Island and Cowrie Island
It’s about 30 minutes from Puerta Princesa to the Wharf where you will board the boat to the islands. You will need to wear a life jacket. The boat trip to the islands is smooth.
Star Fish Island
Star Fish Island is a magical island where you will find beautiful orange starfish bigger than your hand! Remember to practice eco-tourism. Always look where you are treading. You can pick star fish up, but it’s not recommended and if you do take them out of the water they will need to go straight back in after one minute otherwise they will die. You can go snorkelling off Starfish island and you will find Clown Fish (Nemo!) and Regal Blue Tangs (Dory).
There’s a nice stilted beach bar on Starfish island where you can enjoy a cool drink looking over the ocean. There’s also photographers on the island that will take pictures of you appearing to be inside giant clam shells and hanging off mangos!
Luli Island is a great place to visit for the stilted bars and meeting other travellers. You cannot star overnight here as the island literally almost disappears in high tide! It got it’s name from the Filipino ‘Lulubog at LIlitaw’, which means to appear and disappear on water.
Cowri Island gets it’s name from the Cowrie shell that seem to be in abundance around these shores. Get your picture taken with the Cowrie Island sign and then check out some of the bars and beaches on this tiny island. There are a lot of coconut trees on the island to admire, but look out for the danger of falling coconuts! Again remember to practice eco-tourism and do not take any of the shells (they are homes to creaturs). Leave only footprints!
As I mentioned, Pambato Reef is included in some (though not all) Honday Bay tours. Pambato Reef is in the middle of the ocean and only accessible by a small jetty. You swim off the jetty for snorkelling with the fish. However, be aware that currents can be strong and be careful not to injure or cut yourself on the rocks and barnacles. You will be required to wear a life vest and swim within the parimetres. Do not touch any of the coral or sealife.
I hope that you enjoy your Honda Bay tour and if you have any feedback, please comment on my blog below!