Honda Bay Island Hopping is a “must do” tour when you are in Puerto Princesa especially for first time visitors. This day tour is a 3-island leisurely beach hopping activity designed for the entire family.
I have done this tour when I first visited the place way back in 2012 so I know what’s in store for me in this trip – it’s a full day of relaxing banca rides, swimming /snorkeling in crystal clear waters and having a nice time with friends at the beach.
In my previous visit, my activities in Puerto Princesa was more of a DIY vacation but this time, Northern Hope Tours facilitated the entire trip from van transfers, the tours and the accommodation for both Puerto Princesa and El Nido leg. The Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour is part of several packaged tours I availed that includes Underground River, Firefly Watching and the City Tour. Although it’s a little more expensive compared to DIY tours, but it frees me from the hassle of making a lot of arrangements to different service providers.
On the day of the Honday Bay island hopping tour , the van came to pick us up on the agreed time. As we settled in the van, the tour guide gave us a short briefing on the day’s activities and then off we go!
On our way to the port, we passed by a snorkel rental. Snorkels and aqua shores are not part of the inclusions so if you want to enjoy the beauty of Honda Bay, which is under water, rent one. You also need the aqua shoes to protect yourself against the poisonous stone fish.
The first stop of our day tour is a small sandbar with mangroves planted on it. It was named Starfish Island because of the abundance of starfish in the area ( That’s a no brainer! ) . Didn’t see one though when I was there or maybe the starfish were on the other side of the sand bar.
Our tour guide said that among the 3 islands in the itinerary this is the best place to snorkel. So as soon as we settled in our designated nipa hut we took out our gears and headed out to the snorkeling area.
We stayed there for more than an hour and then we headed to our next stop.
The name Luli is a derivative word of “lulubog lilitaw”. It is basically a sand bar that dissappears on high tide and becomes visible on low tide.
Compared to Starfish Island, this one has better facilities. I guess maybe because this is where most Honda Bay tours serve their lunch. The lunch is already included when you sign up for the tour. Aside from the main dining area, there’s also a “bar” that sell cold soda, beer and “buko” where you can have a drink by the beach.
The main swimming area is a long thin stretch of cream colored sandbar surrounded by clear emerald waters . The beach here is clean – no washed out seaweeds or drift woods and the colorful flags waving on the beach gives it a fiesta atmosphere.
After we had lunch, I took time to explore . I saw signs warning people to wear their aqua shoes when swimming and there’s actually a net that enclosed the designated swimming area. I guess the tourism industry in Palawan is now taking precautionary measures after that incident a years back where a tourist stepped on a stone fish and died.
Finally, its time to move on to the last island for the day.
Cowrie Island is way bigger and more of a resort with lots of facilities compared to the “isolated island feel” of Starfish and Luli. They also have more activities to offer – jetskiing, kayaking, banana boating, and snorkeling.
And if you get tired of staying out in the sun, there are plenty of cottages here and trees that can provide shade to cool you off. There’s also a big restaurant where you can order a variety of pinoy food and cool drinks. There’s even an area where you can have a good massage after a day of swimming.
My Thoughts on the Honda Bay Tour
After two days of “adventurous” island hopping in El Nido, the Honday Bay exprience is more like a “park and go” activity – very relaxing and leisurely. I love it. I also find it amazing that there’s 4G signal ( Smart ) during the entire tour even when we are at sea. Going live on Facebook and posting real time updates on my feed made it more fun. Well at least for me!
Overall the experience is very good. It could have been better if our tour guide made more effort to engage with us and provided us updated information on the places we visited and the Honda Bay in particular. As I’ve said, this was my second time, and I can see that there’s a lot of changes that’s happening around. Other than that, I’d say good job Northern Hope Tours for showing me the beauty of Honda Bay.
If you are interested to book a tour with Northern Hope Tours, you can visit their facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/northernhopetours/ .
And if you mention my blog, they might give you a discount!