Saturday, February 23, 2008

Puerto Princessa and Honda Bay in Palawan


Palawan Trip, First day

Palawan is a truly amazing place to go to not just because of its beautiful beaches but especially because of the diversity of marine life that seems to be ubiquitous in that area. I remember going on a 5 day live aboard dive on the Tubbataha Reefs and TO THIS DAY the memory of the hoards of marine life that mobbed us, as well as their extreme diversity stays fresh in my mind.
But thats for another blog... now its just the landlubber's adventure...
(photo: left to right, cebu pacific check in counter, PuertoPrincessa airport, welcome band)

The plane fare to Palawan costs anywhere from 3.2k to 5k depending on airline promotions. We were able to get a moderately cheap fare since this was October and not the peak season yet. When we arrived at the Puerto Princessa Airport in Palawan, we went to this row of tricycles and was lucky enough to get an all-in-one guide/tricycle driver. He agreed to both drive us around and be our guide for 300pesos a day. He was very friendly and informative so we decided to raise this to 400 inclusive of tip na.

(photo: Audissie pension room 1.2k for 2pax/night)

his suggestion, we went to the TOPSTAR TRAVEL AGENCY and booked a trip to the underground river. It costed 1.2k per head inclusive of (heavy)buffet lunch by the beach. We then proceeded to our hotel called Audissie Pension House (don't ask about the name...) in the city and checked in. Afterwhich we immediately left for the amazing Honda Bay!
(photo:left to right-honda bay wharf with bogs in center, bangka transport, tindahan ni manang)

The name "Honda Bay" is not in any way connected to the japanese car maker. I can't remember the story or history now so if someone knows it please tell me.

The tricycle ride to Honda Bay Wharf took a mere 30 to 35minutes so we arrived at about 10:30am. Walang masyadong tao sa pier kasi hindi naman peak season. They have now organized boat rentals on the wharf. My friend said the going rate used to be around 800pesos per boat for the round trip beach hopping. However, we now ended up paying twice that for the same trip.

Before going onboard the bangka I suggest you buy some hopia and water from the nearby sari sari stores. The drinks on the various islands are quite expensive. We didn't bother stopping at Pandan Island but proceeded straight to the bigger Snake Island just in time for lunch.
(photo:weird looking room-like boat, pandan island)

It took about 20minutes to get to Snake Island from the wharf. On the island, we swam on the beach while waiting for our lunch to cook. You can buy fish from the lone establishment and they will cook it for you, rice included. Beware because though the fish is fresh its a bit pricey.
(photo: left to right- snake island dock, swimming area, long stretch of beach)

Little did I know when I stepped into the water that I would see something so amazing it left me breathless. While swimming around, our bankero brought my attention to a school of fish. What I saw was hundreds of these HUGE jacks about 3 to 5kilos each forming a huge wall! It was so amazing that I had to shout and motion for everyone to come and share this wonderful sight with me quickly. The wall of jacks kept going around us sometimes forming a huge ball into which I sometimes playfully penetrated with excitement.
Wow!.. only in palawan could this even be possible...
(photo: fishermen abode on snake island, walking on the beach with eman and allan)

After all the exercise we were really famished and feasted on fresh crabs and fish which was cooked and ready when we came ashore. Having eaten so much so fast we decided to walk around the long stretch of sand.

On the way back to the wharf we passed by an island full of bats aptly called Bat Island then made a brief stop at this floating house marking the Pambato Coral Reef. The corals that can be seen in this area are beautiful and diverse! Possible more beatiful than those in Anilao, Batangas! With hundreds of coral fishes as well as big trigger fish.
(photo:leaving snake island, Pambato Coral Reef guardhouse - pay 50/head)

This coral reef is located just in front of LuLi Island (Lubog-Litaw Island: An island that comes and goes with the tide).

(photo: Ka Louie's entrance, allanbarredo checking equipment, Ka Louie's front)

We finished early so we decided to go to Ka Louie's (a little after 5pm) just to make sure we get a table since we had no reservations. The place had great ambience but too many mosquitoes lang which ruined the culinary experience for me. They make you remove your slippers but the floor was not clean so you end up getting dirty feet.


Dennis said...

palawan is truly one of the must-visit destinations in the philippines. have you been to coron?

demeter said...

thanks for visiting dennis. I agree, truly. The site of hundreds of jacks just a hundred meters from shore is enough to make your heart stop. Yes, I've been to coron a few times. Mostly to do wreck dives. I have not really explored its many splendid beaches yet. Gunther's Cathedral remains my most memorable spot there. Its an underwater cave with both fresh and saltwater with a single pillar of light in the center filtering through a hole in the cave. Awesome!

gezelle said...

thanks for posting this! im going to puerto princesa next month and very excited already because of what i have read here :)

demeter said...

Good luck gezelle! Be sure to visit Honda bay ha!? I hope that huge school of jacks visit you too.

Anonymous said...

hello...can you give me some feedback about audissie pension??
we're planning to book there this june.. is it okay there? thanks! =)

demeter said...

hello anonymous, maliit pero malinis naman ang audissie pension. aircon,tv lang plus table. malapit sa market(walk or take a tricycle) so you can buy food there and eat sa room nalang. off peak ngayon so puwede rin kayo tumawad sa price. baka makuha mo 1k lang yung twin room. cheers

Anonymous said...

thank you sir, i've been browsing for almost 2weeks na on where to stay in palawan...we've already booked our flight coming june24 and we havn't find a place yet. A travel agent quoted us for P4100/pax for a 4d/3n at D lucky garden inn with honda bay and underground river tour. I've inquired at audissie earlier and said that they have available rooms too. Kaya ang problem ko is the location, kc first time namin dun so we're all depending on the travel blogs and reviews lang...
sabi nila malayo daw sa bayan ang D lucky garden...can u comment on this??? thank you thank you!! =)

demeter said...

not really sure which is better with respect to location.I can only say that I found audissie pension convenient kasi malapit lang yung market.if you hire a tricycle/guide naman then location would not be that much of a problem. You can go to honda bay on the first day after arriving, then hit the underground river and mitra's ranch on the second day, then the crocodile farm on the 3rd day. On the fourth day , while waiting for your flight, why don't you rest at the nearby kamarikutan coffee house.

Anonymous said...

thanks very much sir... ur a big help =)
nga pala, i saw trip in zambales, i've been in anawangin a few times and to my dismay the last time i was there, hndi na sya ganun kaganda...may mga colored flags na which, for me, nakabawas sa beauty ng island...but i like the views in Nagsasa...and the hidden fresh water pool..wowww.....very beautiful! thank God for giving us such wonderful creation.

demeter said...

You are welcome of course! though it would be nice if you left a name?
And, of course you are right about Anawangin cove. Medyo di na maganda. But Nagsasa cove is really a LOT more beautiful, believe me. If you want to relax, try it. Mang Ador takes good care of his guests there. Meron pang snorkling sites.

Anonymous said...

Hi thanks for the very informative friends and I will be going to palawan on 5th of dec..would like to ask what places of interest is a must-see..and is it cheaper if we book a package tour or just we can go on our own and fix everyhting..thanks so much---lala

demeter said...

sorry for the late reply lala. must see is of course honda bay. pretty much all that i featured in the two blogs i put up about palawan are really MUST SEE ;). If you follow our itinerary as layed out here then you can hit all the spots within 3days. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

hi, i was reading through your blog and it seemed you were very gracious in giving valuable information.. my partner and i will be going to puerto prinsesa next month and part of our tour includes honda bay and underground river. i would just like to ask, how safe it is to join the said tours for someone who doesnt know how to swim at all? im plannin to join the tour but just for the sake of sight-seeing.. i've seen you were wearing life jackets but im still kinda scared.. sorry, but im really concerned.. please advise.. thnx!

demeter said...

@anonymous --sorry again for the super late reply. Don't be scared as there are life jackets and you will float if you go overboard, just don't panic. The tours are very safe because the water is very calm and cool. Also, you don't go near the rocks anyway. If you are afraid of the water and don't know how to swim then i suggest you stay on the shore or on the boat during your honda bay trip. Or rent a floatation device and wear mask,snorkel fins when you go around the waters of the beach. You should not miss it kasi ang DAMI talagang isda and corals! This is what you pay to see talaga. The varied and plentiful marine life. It something to behold.

Diosa said...

Hi there! We are planning to visit palawan this May, with my 6 yrs old and 2 yrs old kids? You think we can do the honda bay and underground tour with them? Thanks!

demeter said...

@diosa - I don't think you will have a problem enjoying Honda Bay. The boat or banka that will take you to the different beaches are very big. The same goes for the boat that takes you to the jump point of the river tour. However, although I have not heard of an age limit at the underground river, I believe your kids must be old enough to don a lifejacket? If so, you should take turns to watch over your kid(s)? One can go on the boat while the other stays behind, and then takes the next boat.