As planned, we started our DO-IT-YOURSELF tour on our second day in Palawan exploring the famous islands of Honda Bay. Since we decided not to have a package tour for this, we asked our landlord for any van-for-hire that will lead us to Honda Bay where we can arrange our island tour. Luckily, we got a mini-van (not the air-con one) that is more affordable than the usual ride you will get in the city.
We left our transient house early in the morning and go straight to Honda Bay to arrange our island tour (click for bigger picture and see tables of expenses above for your reference). Be advice that it is much better to do some research first about these islands so you will not waste your time planning where you will stop and what island is not that much good to drop. If you opt to visit all five islands in the list, then that will be fine but remember that every island have their own rate. Goggles, beach shoes and other diving paraphernalia are available in stores near the registration area.
We don’t have any idea about the islands and the ladies in Honda Bay who we are dealing advice us to visit Cowrie Island and so we did. They told us to pay the entrance fee for COWRIE ISLAND in the registration desk together with the payment of boat rental, environmental and terminal fees before giving us our receipts where the number of our rented boat is indicated. In no time, our boat came and as we advice our boatmen our island itinerary, they told us that COWRIE ISLAND is not the best island to do diving activities (grrrr for the ladies). According to our boatmen, best islands to visit are the PAMBATO REEF, STARFISH ISLAND and lastly, the PANDAN ISLAND where we can have our late lunch and stay longer exploring the beach. Since they are the natives and knows the best islands, we decided to follow their itinerary and just ask a refund for the COWRIE ISLAND fee when we get back to Honda Bay. Going to islands is in order of LULI, PAMBATO, STARFISH, PANDAN and COWRIE or you can do the other way around starting from COWRIE and last is LULI ISLAND. Once you passed the island and decide to go back, an additional fee will be charge by the boatmen. Entrance fee for islands is only applicable when you actually land in the island but when you just stay in the boat, no fee will be charged.
We first passed the LULI Island and the boatmen slow down our boat while discussing where LULI got its name. LULI is from two words “Lulubog-Lilitaw” since the island sometimes is nowhere to be seen during high tide. Natives build their houses in a high post above just enough not to be reached by water during high tides.
We first stopped in this floating structure where a giant “pawikan” can be seen known as the PAMBATO REEF AREA. After paying for the entrance fee, our group had a brief orientation about the do’s and don’ts and regulations during our snorkeling activities. Water here is amazingly clean that I really enjoyed watching colorful school of fishes everywhere. Variety of coral reefs and other sea creature is a lovely scene underwater that you can even touch them. Goggles and life vest is a must so don’t forget to bring a pair for you to really enjoy Pambato Reef.
Though we initially planned to drop in Starfish Island, our group decided to passed it because of the hot weather that time. Our boatmen just told us that Starfish Island, from the name itself, is known a home of various starfish specie but we can also see some of it in PANDAN ISLAND which is our next destination.
Pandan Island is our last stop that day. We had our late lunch in our rented table and chairs before we tour its powdery-white shoreline. Starfish is everywhere to be seen and we’re so happy that our boatmen offer his free service to take us in this spot, somewhere not far away to the coastline, where we had the chance to do fish feeding. It is really a great experience to swim and touch those colorful fishes around us.
It’s about five o’clock when we decided to head back to Honda Bay as what we had instructed our rented van. Bit tiring but I surely had so much fun touring those island. Bet that I will come back some other time. We ended our second day in market buying foods and other stuff for next day’s (the last day) stay in Palawan.