Yes, no more questions to ask. A half day Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour can be done. It’s possible. That’s how was it when we finished the island hopping tour by 12 noon! While Sonny is convincing you to get a tour package for Lights Out! Let Them Shine: Ihawig Firefly Watching, Palawan, I am suggesting the opposite, a DIY trip for Honda Bay. Let me now convince you using this post.
This post is a part of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Walk-through to the City of Living God article. Go back to the main article to see more of Puerto Princesa.
Months before our visit to Puerto Princesa, I am convincing myself that Honda Bay Island Hopping can be done DIY (Do-It-Yourself) style. But every time that I get into something that will support this decision, people say that going into a tour package is the hassle free and sure thing. Yes, sure thing, getting a tour package will be the worry-free choice. But, I can’t deal with the tour starting around 9am and ends around 4pm. Some hours are wasted. So, we tried our luck to go DIY, and booked an afternoon trip going to Sabang, Puerto Princesa for our Underground River tour the next day.
Sta. Lourdes Wharf
It’s our very first morning in Puerto Princesa! However, we failed to follow our original time frame for this because we took a long time taking our breakfast in Matutina Pensionne, adding up to the miscommunication for the breakfast time. Anyway, we are able to charter a tricycle near Immaculate Conception Cathedral for P400. That’s for round trip. Quite cheap huh? (comparing it to the standard 600 – 700 pesos charge) That’s because we are only doing the Honda Bay tour as half-day.
Sta. Lourdes Wharf is the way/docking port of boats going for the Honda Bay Tour. It is roughly around 30-45mins away from Puerto Princesa down town, considering the usual traffic conditions in the city. When we get there, we then registered at the registration desk and ask for a boat. The officer will usually ask if you wanted to wait for a companion or other groups to share the boat with you. This is because the smallest boat can carry 6 passengers. Since we are doing this DIY and according to our time frame, we paid for the whole boat and listed the islands where we want to go to.
Rates as of this writing became higher and they are as follows:
Boat Rental and Fees:
3-cylinder boat – P1300 (good for 6)
Environmental Fee – P150/person (from 40 pesos before)
Snorkeling Gear – P100/set (optional)
Island Entrance Fees:
Starfish Island – P50/person
Pambato Reef – P50/person
Luli Island – P60/person
Cowrie Island – P75/person
Splash House – P50/person
Pandan Island – P800/person*
We have chosen 4 islands (or technically only 3 since Pambato Reef is not an island obviously). We wanted to go to Pandan Island too but the officer said that it isn’t possible if we should be back by noon. So, that’s fine. And oops, if you want to take your meal at Cowrie Island, just add P250/person for a buffet lunch. During our visit, the entrance fee for Cowrie is charged right there in the registration office. Entrance fees for other islands remains to be charge at the islands. Snake Island was not offered to us during that time. The reason for this isn’t clear.
*buffet lunch included
Honda Bay DIY Tour
We left the wharf by 8am. Our boatman, Kuya Joseph asked about the time that we need to be at the wharf. We said around 11am-12pm. He said “okay” then ask if it is okay for us that we are going to Starfish Island first since it is the farthest. We just agreed since he is the expert here! Come on Kuya, let’s start this because I am so excited!
We are lucky that we arrived early in the registration office. I saw that lots of tourists vans arrived during the time and the registration desk is now flooded by people. Tip: be there early to avoid delays and inconvenience.
Starfish island is our first stop, right after the boat docked, I am already looking for a starfish but I haven’t found any. Kuya Joseph said that starfishes can be found on the other side of the island. So, he first brought us to the registration booth for entrance fee payment then proceed to the said area.
We are lucky to have a boatman who is talented with camera tricks. Check out the pictures!
Sonny went on snorkeling. He was so happy and cheering when he came back. He said that there is so many fishes on the area. And he wasn’t lying. There is many, indeed! Well, during that time I’m busy posing for this starfish movie.
I never planned to do the snorkeling since I am afraid. That’s why we just rented only a set of snorkeling gear. However, when we arrived at Pambato Reef, the guy there insisted that I should try it and I’ll be missing half of my life if I will not. Kuya Joseph also assured me that I won’t drown since he will accompany me during the snorkeling.
So, here it is Raz. Face your fear of these large waters. So, I borrowed the snorkel of Kuya Joseph and tried it. But, I ended up unsatisfied because what I only saw are gray and dead corals (few are alive) beneath the surface, gloomy water, few fishes. I told Kuya Joseph that I’ll go back now since I have tasted enough salty water here. Haha. The experience in Pambato is a bit dissapointing, well, maybe because we did not went far to see more beautiful corals in the area. Sonny continued to explore for a few minutes more but he has almost the same opinion with me. There are few corals to see in the area. There are much more nice fishes in starfish island than here. Well, that’s good for my first time, at last I faced my fear!
Quick “wefie” after snorkeling.
Maybe when you decide to do Pambato, explore the area on the right part, because we went to the left-middle part and only saw few.
This island’s name came from its behavior. It is “Lulubog Lilitaw” in tagalog. Basically, the whole island is submerged in the water during high tide and comes back during low tide. Well, it is low tide during our visit so we can walk through the sand of colorful flag poles.
We had taken several failed jump shots in LuLi island (some are quite nice and funny though) and severely tanned our skin. The swimming area here is very good, water is so clear and blue. There are cottages available here that you can use when you opt to stay longer in the area.
This is our last stop. This island is the nearest from Sta. Lourdes Wharf and also, the most developed one among the islands we visited. There are many restaurants around and I guess time will come that you can also spend the night here like in Splash Island (though the area is quite small to accommodate many people). We spent the longest time exploring Cowrie, breathing the fresh air. And, I also took some time picking up plastics in the shore. Why should these plastics be here?
It’s saddening that we need to back to the wharf now but the time is well spent indeed. Here are some of the pictures we took in Cowrie:
We are able to follow the time frame, and Kuya Arman (our tricycle driver) brought us back to our accommodation. Initially I told you that we chartered the tricycle for P400. But, I added 50 pesos since we arrive in down town past 12pm and it is already out of the 11am-12pm deal. Not such a big thing since Kuya Arman is kind to us.
You can contact Kuya Arman through his mobile number: +639307602714
Guide: Package vs DIY Tour
We asked for rates of different travel agencies regarding the Honda Bay Tour. The package typically ranges from P1,200-1,300/person inclusive of van transfer, permit, boat rental and lunch. So, let us compare this when you do Honda Bay DIY Style. Prices below are quoted for sharing of 2 pax.
Tricycle (round trip, good for 5 hours) – P450
Environmental Fee – P300 (150 per peson x 2)
Boat Rental – P1,300 (already good for 6)
Entrance Fees – P470 (235 per person x 2, 4 islands)
Per head: P1,260
This proves that going into a package is the more economical choice when you are in a budget because lunch is already included for the P1,300 rate. However, consider these things:
- Usually, tours only include 3 islands. We made it 4. Though, some agencies are generous enough to make the tour to go to 4 islands max.
- Arranged tours start at around 9am and ends at 4pm. If this is okay with you, it’s a no big deal.
- Arranged tours will maximize the boat capacity (as well as van capacity, too!). Although this is quite good, this might be troublesome especially if you will be joined to people that are bored fast or want to stay longer than usual in one spot (you know, pictures, huh?)
For us, these three factors outweighed the economical choice, so we did Honda Bay as DIY (Do it Yourself) to maximize our time and to make the tour go with our own pace.
Tip: If you are coming as a large group (can occupy the maximum capacity of the boat), arranged tours will give you great convenience and you can somehow control the time spent throughout the island hopping tour.
We pinned the key islands of Honda Bay on the map below:
Below is the itinerary we followed for our half day Honda Bay Tour. To view our full itinerary for Puerto Princesa, visit the main article here.
Day 2: Honda Bay Tour/Crocodile Farm DIY
6:00AM – Wake-up Call
6:30AM – Breakfast
7:00AM – Off to Honda Bay
8:00AM – Honda Bay Tour (4hrs)
12:00PM – Back to Hotel, Rest, Check-out
1:00PM – Lunch (McDonald’s)
1:30PM – Off to Butterfly Garden
2:15 PM – Butterfly Garden
3:00PM – Crocodile Farm (Palawan Wildlife Conservation Center)
4:00PM – Departure, San Jose Common Terminal
5:30PM – Arrival, Sabang
5:45PM – Check-in Hotel, Rest
6:30PM – Dinner, Free Time @ Sabang Beach
10:00PM – Good Night Sleep
View Sample Puerto Princesa 3D/2N Itinerary.
Continuing Puerto Princesa City Tour, Day 2
We rested a bit after Honda Bay Island Hopping, packed our things, ate lunch and we found ourselves in city center chartering a tricycle for our next destination! It’s time to continue our Puerto Princesa City Tour. Go check the links below:
A Brief Tour: Palawan Butterfly Garden and Tribal Village
An Ex-Situ Adventure: Palawan Crocodile Farm
For other tourist destinations in Puerto Princesa City, check out DIY Travel Guide: Explore Puerto Princesa City Easily.