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Visit the Philippines: Island-Hopping in Honda Bay, Palawan


See Several Islands in One Day

The adventure begins by boarding an outrigger filled with other tourists, nearly all of them Filipino, so expect a lot of smiles and happy talk that you won't understand unless you speak Tagalog or one of the many dialects of the province. If you are prone to motion sickness—as I am—I strongly recommend you sit in front and keep your eyes pointed at your destination island.

There are several different tours one can take, so I will only tell you of my personal experiences. Firstly, staring at our initial destination did prevent motion sickness, which was a very good thing as our first stop was a feast on Pandan Island.

Pandan Island

Pandan Island

One would expect a lot of seafood when feasting on a tiny island, and one would be right! We had crab, lobster, mussels (tahong in the Philippines), giant shrimp and so many other offerings it's impossible to remember them all. Each one was fresh and delicious. However, the best part was when they rolled out the lechon.

Lechon is something of a national dish in the Philippines for all special occasions, including Christmas (which is taken very seriously in the Philippines): a whole pig slowly roasted over a constantly fed bed of wood coals. Skewered on a long wooden pole, the pig slowly spins for hours on end before the arrival of guests. By the time we arrived, it had just finished cooking. The skin is the favorite part for most: very crispy yet thin enough that it won't cut you when it shatters to shards of delight in your mouth, and absolutely irresistible. The seasoning is delicate and the pork juicy and magnificent.

I should take a moment to point out that this is not a trip that most vegans would enjoy: they would be put off by all of the animal slaughter and they'd annoy everyone else, so they should go to the Underground River (a UNESCO site) instead.

I Feel Sorry for Anyone Whose Ideology Prevents Them from Enjoying This.

I Feel Sorry for Anyone Whose Ideology Prevents Them from Enjoying This.

While Recovering From the Feast...

Back on the water, we passed by a small island covered mostly with mangroves, and I asked the guide why we weren't stopping there.

"That's Snake Island," he replied. Enough said.

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It seems that a variety of snakes enjoy the shade of mangroves, making such groves a very dangerous place to tread, as most of the snakes are deadly. When we landed on Cowrie Island (only 100 feet from a mangrove swamp), the guide made a point of warning everyone to avoid the area unless they'd enjoy a nice helicopter ride to the nearest hospital for antivenom... if you made it, because there were no helicopters. We stayed on the sand.

The Cowrie Island Bar Serves a Delicious Mai Tai, but if You Ask for a Martini or Manhattan They Will Look at You Funny

The Cowrie Island Bar Serves a Delicious Mai Tai, but if You Ask for a Martini or Manhattan They Will Look at You Funny

The hourglass-shaped Cowrie Island consists of a bar and a thatched open-air massage parlor. Just for the novelty of getting to say that we walked around an entire island, my wife and I did, which took about 10 minutes. At its narrowest point, the isle is only about 50 feet wide.

We visited a third Island, but to be honest, I was so logy from all of the food and circumnavigating Cowrie that I can't remember a thing about it, other than chickens... lots and lots of chickens. Despite this, it was a good trip with nice scenery, warm sun (when it actually showed itself: the tropics are notoriously cloudy in July), cool breezes, great food and good company that I highly recommend to those visiting Puerto Princesa for more than a day or two.

There are so many local businesses that offer Island Hopping tours that it's pointless to list them all. If you go to Palawan as part of a tour, your tour company probably already included it in the package. If you just happen to wind up in Puerto Princesa by accident and want to take the tour, take a trike to the bay and ask around. A lot of businessmen on the island are freelance, to say the least. But keep in mind that it's always safer to travel in a group, even if it consists of two.



Liz Westwood from UK on August 08, 2018:

A very interesting trip with great photos.

Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on August 07, 2018:

Kumusta po! :P

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