I’d been told by a friend that island hopping in Honda Bay is one of the most under-rated things to do in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. To be honest, I’d been to Puerto Princesa a few times now but I mostly just pass thru on my way to other destinations like El Nido, Port Barton or Balabac.
On my last trip, I decided to stay for 3 days in the city and booked for an island hopping tour in Honda Bay.
Here is my experience
I booked a joiner tour via Travelicious Tours Palawan. As with the Puerto Princesa Underground River, a service van picked me up in the morning from my accommodation, along with other tourists.
The tour consists of 3 stops: Starfish Island, Luli Island and Cowrie Island.
First things first: we stopped by a rental shop for rash guards and aqua shoes. If you already have these, bring them so you won’t have to rent. Our guide said the aqua shoes are necessary because there are stone fishes in Starfish Island. If you aren’t familiar with stone fishes, well, they resemble stones and they blend in with the sand so they are fairly hard to see underwater unless you’re wearing snorkels.
I rented a pair of aqua shoes but skipped the rash guard.
We continued our way to the harbor. Here there are stores selling various equipment, food and water, as well as bread for fish feeding. We bought some items and then rode a boat for 20 minutes before reaching our first island.
Starfish Island is named as such because it houses the greatest population of star fishes in Palawan. Locals call it Tabuan Island.
Funnily enough, I didn’t a single one during the tour so I’m guessing their appearance is seasonal.
The sand here is ordinary. There are designated swimming and snorkeling areas. There are cottages where groups can have lunch.
I wore my mask and short fins and proceeded to snorkel. There are lots of brown corals. Because I’d been to a few great snorkeling areas already, it seemed unimpressive to me. However, I liked that there’s a variety of fishes including swordfish. Fish feeding is allowed so you can see them swarm to you.
After about an hour, we had our buffet lunch. The buffet lunch isn’t as grand as that in El Nido or Coron tours, but it was okay. The fish was fresh and the grilled liempo was delicious. There’s also an option to order ala carte items not included in the tour package, including seafood such as crabs. Fresh coconuts are also for sale for P50 each.
Luli Island is short for “lulubog/lilitaw” which pertains to how the island is only visible during low tide. There’s a huge restaurant here, platforms for jumping and a designation area for swimming. Unlike Starfish Island and Cowrie Island, fish feeding is not allowed here.
I actually just swam a little, watched other people jumping on the platform and snorkeled a bit. The water here wasn’t that clear and the waves were strong, but again there are schools of fishes you can see underwater.
Cowrie Island is named after cowrie shells. The island has lots of cabanas and cottages. There’s a snack bar in the center.
Again, I swam a little and snorkel around the area. This is my favorite snorkeling spot during the tour. It’s easy to get lost in the ocean. Once or twice I seemed to be swimming in a void of green until I’d find myself alongside a small school of fishes. It was really nice.
Overall, the Honda Bay island hopping tour was decent but it wasn’t spectacular. I guess how you experience it depends on your background. Because island hopping is one of my favorite activities and I’d been to great island hopping destinations in the Philippines, my bar is quite high and I have many options to compare with Honda Bay.
On the other hand, I met foreign tourists during the tour who were content with the experience.
Like I said, it’s a matter of opinion.
If you have spare time in Puerto Princesa, this is a decent activity to do for a day. However, if you’re on a tight schedule or if you’re a foreigner who’s only here for a limited time, I suggest visiting other spots in Puerto Princesa such as the Puerto Princesa Underground River or other tourist attractions in Palawan such as El Nido.
How to get here
Take a flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
Once you avail of a Honda Bay island hopping tour, a service van will pick you up at your accommodation in the city.
Honda Bay island hopping tours
There are many travel agencies offering Honda Bay island hopping tour. Regular rate is P1500. Discounted rates may also be given depending on the season (P1200). For exclusive tours, the itinerary may include Pandan Island for an additional fee of P900 per person.
The package includes:
- Round-trip van transfer from/to your accommodation in Puerto Princesa City
- Buffet lunch
- Motorized boat transfer to the islands
- Entrance fees to the islands
- Environmental fee – P150
- Snorkeling gear/fins/rash guard
- Bread/fish feed (can be bought at stores in the port before island hopping)
If you’ve already been to Puerto Princesa Underground River, just show them the environmental fee receipt you already paid for.
Pick-up time is usually 7AM and 8AM. Drop-off time at Puerto Princesa City is 4-4:30PM.
Book via Travelicious Tours Palawan
I joined a tour via Travelicious Tours Palawan. Ms. Rain offers good service to the guests. This is the same agency I coordinated with for my tour to the Puerto Princesa Underground River.
Travelicious Tours Palawan also offers discount for group bookings.
What you need to know
- From Puerto Princesa, it takes 45 minutes – 1 hour to reach the jump-off point for Honda Bay island hopping tour.
- Wash-up can be done back at your hotel.
Things to bring
- Water bottle
- Rash guard
- Aqua shoes/fins
- Dry bag for your essential items
- Towel/change of clothes
There is water provided during buffet lunch but it’s still best if you bring your own for the rest of the island hopping tour.
Where to stay in Puerto Princesa
If you’re staying overnight in Puerto Princesa, you can book discounted rooms in Puerto Princesa here.
Disclaimer: Thanks to Travelicious Tours Palawan for the complimentary tour! As always, thoughts and opinions are my own.
Has this post on island hopping in Honda Bay been helpful to you? Let us know in the comments below!