Puerto Princesa, Palawan: Honda Bay tour
I would not have made it to Honda Bay (HB) if not for a surprise birthday gift from a good friend. I actually crossed off HB from my budget-constrained itinerary in Puerto Princesa because I am not a beach person. My friend probably knew that too, but she figured that this tour could complete my experience to the Philippine’s Last Frontier. And she was right on that of course.
The jump-off for the HB tour is at Sta. Lourdes wharf which is 25-30 mins away from the city proper. At the port, there is a tourist information and assistance center where you hire bangkas (outrigger boats) and pay for the entrance fees to islands you intend to visit. Prices are fixed and uniform too so you need not worry if you were overcharged for the services. That also means that you could very well forgo of organized tours and make one of your own. If I was travelling with my ‘travel buddies,’ I would have taken this option anytime.
Our first stop was Pandan Island, aptly named for the pandan trees that grow in abundance all over the place.
We then had our buffet lunch before heading out for Snake Island. This was named for its sandbar that seemingly slithers far into the horizon. I would have wanted to walk the entire length but I decided against the idea halfway through as the scorching midday sun was already mocking my good intentions. The tide was also beginning to pick up at certain portions of the sandbar.
My other friends told me that on this island, large tropical fishes would approach you even if you’re just a few meters from the shore. You just need to bring morsels of bread to attract a feeding frenzy of aquatic colors around you.
Unfortunately, we were unable to go to our final stop. Our tour guide told us that the weather that afternoon prevents us from doing just that. The real reason, I surmise, was that there were guests on board that have to catch their afternoon flights back to Manila. If they missed their flights because of the HB tour, she would be paying for the next flights available. That would probably explain why she looked worried the entire time.
I understand her dilemma of course. But with that kind of information, I thought that we should have left earlier that morning to have a good headstart. The 8:00 AM call time was not followed since we had to fetch the remaining guests from three different hotels. The 2-hour time we spent doing just that could have been translated to a third island stop.
So I was not able to use my extra clothes that afternoon. I would have wanted to swim at Starfish or Pambato Reef based on online reviews and glowing recommendations from my friends. On our way back, I requested to be dropped off at Malko’s to buy some cashew nuts for pasalubongs or giveaways. It was still 2:30 PM that time and the weather was not as bad as our tour guide predicted.
With the extra time on my hands, I decided to explore the rest of Puerto Princesa City by myself. I then had an unforgettable dinner at KaLui after walking the entire length of Rizal Avenue. My last full day at PPS did not turn out to be uneventful after all.