WATCH: What to see, do in Honda Bay, Palawan
Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo ( - April 23, 2018 - 6:21pm

PALAWAN, Philippines — For those who miss the island party life now that Boracay will be temporarily closed for rehabilitation, Honda Bay near Puerto Princesa, Palawan is a good alternative.

Situated around 45 minutes from the city, Honda Bay is not in any way related to Japanese car manufacturer Honda.

According to locals, instead of the Japanese, it is actually the Spanish that gave the bay its name. Honda, in Spanish, means “deep bay,” with the “H” traditionally pronounced as silent.

One can visit Honda Bay by booking a tour through mobile app Klook. Visitors will be picked up from their hotels and before going on island-hopping, they can drop by a rental shop near the port to rent snorkeling or diving gear for P150 per gear.

Bringing or renting your own snorkeling shoes and gear is advisable to avoid sea urchin thorns and to prevent damaging corals, but these are only useful in one of three islands in the tour.

From the port, guests will be transferred to medium-sized boats to tour the islands. Normally, the tour covers three main islands: Starfish Island, Luli Island, and Cowrie Island. En route to these islands, one can see other privately-owned ones.

Obviously, Starfish Island takes its name from the many starfish on the shore. The starfish come in different colors and sizes, great for taking pictures with, but guides always remind one to return the starfish immediately as they easily die when dried.

Starfish Island is the best of the three stops for snorkeling junkies as it offers giant colorful fish and corals near the shore. There is also an occasional jellyfish, so one should take precaution.

After an hour of enjoying the beaches and mangrove forest of Starfish Island, one will be taken to Luli Island for lunch. “Luli,” said a guide, stands for “Lulubog, lilitaw,” since the island disappears during high tide.

For guests though, “Luli” is better known as a lunch stopover serving Filipino-themed buffet lunch. It also has shallow waters for swimming, a patch of mangrove forest, and a liquor bar for those who drink even during broad daylight.

Finally, the third stop, Cowrie Island, derived its name from the many cowry shells found in the area; though there is hardly anything like that spotted there by this writer. It is rather a very crowded place with several jet skis, kayaks, and huts for rent. It also has several comfort rooms, shower rooms, restaurants, snack bars, and an al fresco massage and tattoo area.

On your way back to the city from Honda Bay, do not be surprised to see patrolling Philippine coast guard or a sunken foreign vessel that illegally fished in Palawan. — Video by Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo, editing by Kat Leandicho

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