Archive for the ‘Palawan’ Category

We woke up early as the van was to pick us up at 6:00 in the morning. I got the tour package from Kawayanan as I was too lazy to do some research on doing the tour ourselves. I could have just rented a van which would be far cheaper than getting the tour. Anyway, the trip from Puerto Princesa to Sabang was said to take 3 hours and then the boat ride from Sabang to the island where you have the Underground River another 30 minutes.

The road to Sabang was rough to say the least. You’ll notice a lot of children walking to school throughout the trip and we found out the there was no transportation system in place so people and even children would walk for miles just to get to school. They also plant their own crops as there was no market to speak of. The trip just took us about 2 hours instead of 3 probably because we had the van for ourselves and didn’t take any unnecessary stops or detours.

After registering, we went sent to our boats. We were divided into two as the boats can only accommodate 6 people. The ride to the island was almost unbelievable. The water is so clean that you can see the corals more than 10 feet underwater. We even got to get a glimpse of a Sea Turtle (Pawikan) swimming! The surrounding islands have cliffs and were postcard perfect. After landing on the beach and getting out photos taken, we took a minute walk to where you can ride the boat to the Underground River.

We were able to fit on the boat and one of those in front was to hold the light for us to see the natural rock formations in the cave. It was Den (My sister Lyn’s husband) who was holding the light at first but after missing out on some of the formations that our boatman was referring to, my sister Tin got the light from him. However, we had the same problem with her not being able to follow the boatman’s instructions on where to point the light so either we see the formation too late or not at all. The boatman kept saying “Ma’am, right po. Ma’am right, right, a little more to the right” and then she’d miss it altogether and the boatman would say “Ma’am left. Left. Left ma’am.”

After 45 minutes and going through the “fruit and vegetable” section, the religious section, and even the Edsa Flyover, the boat trip was over. Then we had lunch brought our tour guide. We were also able to see some monitor lizards and monkeys after we ate. After taking more photos, we were off and back to the bumpy road that leads us back to Puerto Prinsesa.

We arrived at Starfish Island at about 3 P.M. after visiting Snake Island. It is called Starfish Island because there are a lot of starfishes in its shallow waters (we later found out that the high tide and the low tide make a big difference on the island – see photos below).

Again, there were available huts to stay on. You are also warned about stepping on Stone Fishes and thus it’s safer to wear water shoes when swimming. We actually didn’t swim as we saw that the sand of the beach wasn’t that good for swimming. And we were already tired so we just took photos of us roaming the island. Of course, we also got photos of ourselves with the starfishes. We left after just 30 minutes so we could rest early as we were to go to the Underground River tomorrow and knowing that we’d be back in Honda Bay a day after tomorrow.

You do forget the time when you’re having fun so I don’t exactly know if it took us 5 or 15 minutes before we got to Snake Island from Pandan Island. The island is called Snake Island not because of the island having snakes but because of the shape of the long sand bar when the tide is low. As posted on the Honda Bay Island Fees, You don’t have to pay anything when you go to Snake Island. There are about 8-10 huts with a table and benches which you can use on a “first come, first stay” basis. You also have a small store where you can buy warm soda and other stuff. Prices on island stores are usually bloated so unless you didn’t come prepared, you have to shell out on these.

As with Pandan Island, fishes are also used to being fed bread here and so we did. However, one has to be careful about this island as there is a very, very steep drop off just after 4 1/2 feet from the shore. You should wear a life vest if you don’t know how to swim. If you do know how to swim and brave enough to go to the deep end (where you don’t see the bottom no matter how clear the water is), you might end up seeing a big school of Jacks; which we saw. What we saw were probably more than a thousand Jacks forming a moving wall and creates a scene that you only get to see on National Geo. You can actually swim with them and follow them around. I wasn’t bringing any bread with me so I didn’t get to feed them and thinking of it now, I probably wouldn’t dare to have that number of fishes trying to nip at the bread on the tip of my fingers. Still, just swimming with them is unforgettable!

Snorkeling on deep waters was also scary as every time I see the blackness of the deep and not knowing the direction I’m swimming (away or towards the shore), add to that the fear of not knowing everything under the ocean, I start to panic. Either I suddenly imagine a shark, a whale or an unknown sea creature coming out of the blackness to feed on me or get scared of the undersea currents that might take me to the depths of the ocean.

Anyway, going back to Snake Island itself, we didn’t get to explore the long island as we were really there for the fishes. There were some good coral formations on the shallower area but again, the drop off was scary. There were a lot of white fishes on the areas near the shore which were really aggressive to protect their turf. My sister Tin was actually nipped by one and Mavis too! I would advise you to stay away from those fishes!
We left after an hour and a half to visit Starfish Island.  

Our first stop in our Island hopping adventure in Honda Bay Palawan was Pandan Island. It probably took 20 minutes or more from the Wharf to Pandan Island itself but it didn’t matter as with the sun shining brightly and the skies clear, we were all giddy to set foot at Pandan Island. Although it was sunny, it wasn’t that hot and the wind was cool. The island is called Pandan Island because of the Pandan grass that grows in the island. The place was almost surreal as the clouds were all puffy and water so clear and peaceful. The place was idyllic.

After settling down, getting a tent (Php150) and getting our things off the boat, the kids went to the beach to gather some shells and dip in the cool waters. We joined after taking some photos and videos. After a while, the boatman asked if we had bread with us and showed us where the fishes usually come to feed. We were ready with 2 loaves of bread as we knew that fishes in Honda Bay are used to being fed bread. It was both scary yet exciting as groups of fishes would come to you and nip at the bread on your hands. You’d be amazed at how many different fishes would come even on parts where the water was just on my waist. You usually see the black fishes and the silver ones but at times you’d get blue fishes and red fishes dart to the bread. Xiane, who was snorkeling while feeding the fishes, couldn’t help but surface every time a fish took a bite off her bread to announce what color they were.

By 11 a.m., we were called to rest by my mom as the food was already ready. A lady on the island actually offered us some freshly caught fishes when we landed but told her that we were already bringing some sea food. However, you can also ask her to cook the food that you bought in the market if it needed frying or steaming. You can buy cooked rice from her. I’m not sure of the fees as it was my Mom and Dad who paid her. The boatmen grilled the food for us. The food was excellent! We brought our dips and sauces and brought with us rice we ordered from Kawayanan Resort.  We had a feast! It was our first time to eat lobster and we’re not that impressed. The lobsters were probably over steamed so they were dry. Still, our tummies were full once we finished.

After some rest, we went snorkeling some more and went to the deeper part of the sea. The water was calm so it was perfect for snorkeling. Also, the sea floor gradually deepens. We saw a lot more fishes, live corals, starfishes, sunstars, sea urchins and giant clams.

By 1 P.M., we decided to leave for Snake Island. We actually went to Pandan Island again on our 2nd trip to Honda Bay. I’ll have more stories of Pandan Island in the coming days as there’s just so much to tell. I’ll probably even post some wallpapers for you to download if you want to.

June 30, 2008 (Monday) – We woke up early at 5:30 a.m. on Monday (June 30) as we were to be fetched by the van at 6:30 in the morning. I already talked to the driver yesterday so that he’ll take us to the City Market before going to the wharf. This way, we could buy stuff we would take to Honda Bay. The drop off and pick up service (the van would be waiting for us at the Wharf when we return from Honda Bay) would cost you Php1500. Again, I decided that renting a van and renting a boat would be cheaper for us than getting the Honda Bay tour offered to tourists. Island Hopping would cost you Php1100 per person so by renting a van and the boat, plus paying for island fees and food, we got to save some money.

By 6:45 a.m., we were already in the wet market trying to decide what sea food to buy to take with us to our Honda Bay adventure. We were told that you can have somebody cook the food for you in Pandan Island for a fee or if it’s just grilling, the boatmen can even grill for you as there are grillers available in Pandan Island. You have to provide the charcoal though. My sisters went their own way to buy some tomatoes, eggplants, salted eggs, and other stuff. Mavis and I decided to buy some lobsters (Php650/kilo), blue fin tuna, shrimps, and crabs. A man asked us if we wanted to have the sea food boxed so they’ll remain fresh on our travel and we paid about Php90 for it.We bought a small ice box and bought some ice just across the market. After buying breakfast at Jollibee, we were off to the Wharf!

It took us probably 20 minutes from the City Center to get to the Wharf. You’ll see a big sign board that says “Welcome to Hunda Bay” once you turn right to the Wharf. You have to register at the Honda Bay Tourist Information and Assistance Center to get you a boat to the Islands and you can even rent snorkeling gear (snorkel and mask) with them for Php100/set. The Aqua shoes would cost the same. I’d rather bring my own snorkel and mask as we’ve tried their gear on our second time to go to the Islands and water comes in the masks no matter how I fix it. We were bringing our own water shoes so there was no need to rent them.

Since were 9, we rented a big boat for Php2500. That’s for island hopping to 3 islands but you have to pay extra for the island fees. If you want to save, you can ask other tourists to share with you the expenses. For a smaller boat, I think they charge you Php1500. The boatmen and his assistant would provide you with a swim vest which you need to wear every time you’re on the boat. They would also help you know where to find and feed fishes. Or if you’re going to Pambato Reef, one of the boatmen would help you go to where the corals are.

After registering and paying the boat fees, we slathered ourselves with more sun block and off we went!

About our blog

It's been 10 years since the San Juan Family started their blog documenting their lives in this little spot called Qatar. Follow Chris, Mavis and Xianelle as they share what Doha has to offer.

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