Palawan is one of the Philippines best island destinations! With the intermittent list of best island or beach destinations in and out of the region flooding newsfeeds, Coron and El Nido hoard the spots for top honors and best Palawan getaways. But if you are travelling to the capital, Puerto Princesa, consider an entire day cruising Honda Bay.
Honda Bay cradles in its clear azure waters several islands and sandbars, which makes it a perfect spot for those who just want to chill on the beach and those who like to snorkel or dive. There are five islands open to visitors – Pambato, Luli, Starfish, Pandan and Cowrie islands.
If you want to get to all these islands without feeling hurried, it pays to be on time. Usually trips start at 6:00 AM. As an established must-do, you have options of either taking a tour package or customizing your own. If you are gunning for less cost, more time on the islands, or choosing just which islands to go, do a DIY tour. Don’t worry about getting ripped off. Boat fees and entrances are standardized. For a DIY island hopping, you only pay for the boat rental, and fees starts at about $14.00. A boat usually can accommodate 6 people. Depending on how many islands you want to visit the boat fee increases. You also need to pay for the entrance fees for each island you want to visit. Fees range from $1.13 to $2.26. If ordering food at some of the restaurants on the islands sounds good to you, then a DIY arrangement is for you.
A package tour is also not a bad idea. Tours start at $29.39 per person and includes van transfer to the port, boat rental, entrance fees, lunch- normally a choice of sumptuous grilled fish, pork, shrimps or crabs, green mango with bagoong (shrimp paste), rice, and soft drinks. The fare would also include snorkeling gear rental. Remember the starting price for the tour package, which means you might visit only 2-3 islands.
Prioritize which islands you want. Pambato is for snorkeling enthusiasts. It is actually not an island…but a floating barge with a roof. But it is the drop off point to a marine sanctuary. Here, Angel fish have the most arched fin you will ever see; and the coral can compete with the colors of rainbow. As this is a popular stop and can get pretty crowded, so make sure to get here early.
If fish feeding is your thing, Luli Island is the best. It has the friendliest fish. Make sure you have enough bread or crackers and the fish will never leave you. Pandan Island is the most comfortable as it has a resort feel to it. The beach on this island is great for swimming. Other amenities offered here include cottages for day picnics, restrooms and restaurants. The Starfish Island boasts a nice stretch of white sand bar surrounded by crystal clear water, and as it is aptly called, it is studded with starfish.
Cowrie Island is like Pandan Island and it is ideal for a day picnic and just lounging around. Some visitors choose to play Frisbee on the beach or snorkel. Overall, the island has a very relaxed feel to it.
Whichever islands you can manage to visit in a day, know that they will all be certainly worth the travel!