HONDA BAY --- LESS VISITED OR PRIVATE ISLANDS
There are some less visited islands in Honda Bay, some i have heard of and some i have not but these are the names with some details that i know.
Barlas or Buguias Island, This island is west of Arrecife Island and has pockets of white sandy beach. On the east side of the island it is safe for swimming as it is shallow, and sometimes boats shelter there during storms. It is also a breeding place for Lapu-Lapu, and you can even walk to Snake Island during low tide. The island is deserted and i see that it is up for sale for 70,000,000 pesos.
Fraser Island A 15,000 m island with lagoons on each side. This island is also for sale.
Seahorse Islet A very small islet NE part of Honda Bay
Puting Bahungan Island A privately owned island but has the whitest sand you will ever see.
Senorita Island A breeding place for fish and seaweed farming
Bat Island As you would have guessed this island is home for 10s of thousands of fruit bats that come out in the evening to search for food. I used to live 10 kms away from here but several times i saw 1000's of bats flying over our house at sundown.
HONDA BAY --- PAMBATO REEF
At Pambato Reef you will find a floating cottage to rest in after snorkeling (150 pesos). The water is around 40 m deep so make sure that you have your camera attached to your body. The boatman will supply you with a life vest as it is forbidden to snorkel without one. You can also rent snorkels and goggles here if you don't have any.
The reef is in a marine sanctuary and there are many fish, clams and coral to see. There is a walkway over the water where the boatmen moor their bangkas.
Boats to ireef 700-800 pesos, entrance fee 50, environmental fee 40 and terminal fee 3 pesos.
HONDA BAY --- PANDAN ISLAND
Pandan trees grow in abundance on the island, hence its name. A pandan tree grows 3-5 m high and has small branches with grassy type leaves. There is an entrance fee to the island and cottages for rent, as well as tables, chairs, tents, paddle boats, and kayaks. Also to my surprise you can rent a frisbee for 50 pesos an hour, sandcastle building tools too, and volleyballs, all at 50 pesos too. In fact you can just about do anything as long as you have money in your pocket. Tourists crowd the island and there is also a massage center with 6 beds. You can buy your own seafood and it will be cooked for you right there----lobsters, fish, urchins, shells and squid. You can buy halo-halo, lumpia, coconuts after you have been snorkeling (not too many fish by the way).
Boats to the island are 1,200- 1,400 , entrance fee 100, environmental fee 40 and terminal fee 3 pesos
HONDA BAY --- LULI ( LULIBOG LILITAW )
Thank goodness the locals have shortened the name to Luli or we would have had difficulty pronouncing it. This island has golden sand and is possibly the most beautiful beach in Honda Bay, but unfortunately the beach disappears at high tide. There are a couple of bungalows on stilts and some small floating huts to provide shelter from the sun.
Boats to the island are 700-800 pesos and an entrance fee 60 pesos, an environmental fee of 40 pesos, terminal fee 3 pesos
HONDA BAY --- SNAKE ISLAND
Snake Island used to be my favorite island to visit, ten or fifteen years ago, and is shaped like a snake as a long sandbar stretches from one end. There was some snorkeling there and a few fish to see. Nowadays there are a few huts on the beach that will sell drinks and other snacks. On one side of the island mangroves were planted 20 years ago so there is now a breeding place for fish.
HONDA BAY --- ARRECIFE ISLAND
Arrecife Island was made famous back in 2001 when the Abu Sayyaf Group landed at Dos Palmas Resort on the early morning of May 27th and proceeded to 20 hostages, some of whom were guests and the others staff. Five hostages were killed during the next year, but during a bungled operation the kidnapping came to an end in June 2002. Dos Palmas remains a luxury resort, but visitors can take day trips there where lunch is provided, but it has two prices for these trips. Foreigners will pay around 2,500 while locals pay less than 2,000 poesos. ---a good reason not to go!
- Spa and Resort
ISLAND HOPPING IN HONDA BAY
Take a trike or jeepney to Santa Lourdes where you can hire boats to the islands in Honda Bay. There is a booking office there with a list of the prices to various islands, it is well organised so that the boatmen take their turn so the money is spread fairly. Reasonable snorkeling at Snake Island. Arrecife island has up-market accommodation (Dos Palmos) on it, rather expensive and some of the other islands (Starfish Island and Meara Island) have more reasonable accommodation. All the islands have sandy beaches and are good for swimming. If the weather is bad and the sea is choppy head for one of the nearer islands such as Pandan as more than one tourist has dropped their camera in the sea.
UPDATE 14 Sep 2014
If you look at the second photo you will see the latest fees for island hopping, entrance fees and other important information. In the coming month i hope to write tips about each individual island so please look at these for the latest information.
BUY DRAGON FRUIT
In the Puerto Princesa area there are dragon fruit farms sprouting up here and there, and this is due to the Vietnamese Refugee Camp, and later the Vietville Village being in the area. The Vietnamese came here as boat people, mostly from Nha trang to escape the communists and lived in the refugee camp until it was closed down around 1996. The government allocated some land around 12 kms from town and the village of Vietville was established. The Vietnamese really kept nice gardens and grew dragon fruit which grow on a cactus, and many of the local residents got cuttings from the Vietnamese (including myself) and grew the cactus that produces the fruit. Some locals decided to grow them for profit, rather than pleasure so now there are quite a few farms and you can buy the fruit at the market from 100-150 pesos a kilo, but this will only get you 2 or sometimes 3 fruit.
THERE ARE 3 TYPES OF FRUIT, ONE WITH PINKISH SKIN AND WHITE FLESH, ONE WITH RED SKIN AND RED FLESH WHICH I THINK IS THE BEST , AND ONE WITH YELLOW SKIN AND WHITE FLESH WHICH IS QUITE UNCOMMON.
Ugong Rock Adventures
One of our most memorable activity in PPS was at Ugong rock. This was where we went spelunking for the first time! What's most exciting is the last part of the spelunking. Once you reached the top, you can either choose to go back by climbing back all the way down as have you entered OR you can go down by zipline. Of course we were dead tired and coming back down was already torture so we opted for the fastest way down even if it meant coming down from a 50 foot mountain in 3mins tops. It was fun after you catch your breath and tried to hold your pee haha!
Quick fact, it was named "Ugong rock" because of the stalactites that make up the mountain that when you hit it, it will reverberate and will make a sound. Ugong is a tagalog word which means shake.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Take it underground--Underground River Tour
This site put Palawan on the International map as the Underground river became one of the Seven wonders of Nature, so a trip to Puerto Princesa is a waste if you were not able to visit here. As I can remember, this was a 4hr drive from the City to Sabang where you will take a boat for 20-30 min and then hike a little to get to the river at the other side. A boat will then take you inside the cave where you will see amazing stalagmites and stalactite formations.
Our visit was made extra special because of the guide that we were assigned to. He was hilarious!
- National/State Park
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Join the city tour
Some people opt to skip this portion of the tour package but believe me,don't skip out on this. The city tour in Puerto Princesa is highly recommended because of the variety of the sights in the city. Included in the city tour are the following:
1. Walk around Plaza Cuartel--As per our guide this was once an American camp during the Japanese era. As the story goes, there was a tunnel at the gate of the cuartel were American soldiers took refuge when the Japanese attacked. However, the soldiers that were hiding there were burned alive when they were discovered. A memorial now stands to remember the soldiers.
2. Visit to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral--This was just a few steps away from Plaza Cuartel. A white and blue Gothic building towering the city was once a small chapel during the 1800s. We were fortunate enough to attend a mass here during their city fiesta.
3. A tour around the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center--You don't only get to see crocodiles here but also other animals such as the Mintorong and different species of birds. A great tour for the kids.
4. The Mitra's Ranch--one of the beloved politicians in Palawan is Ramon Mitra who has opened his expansive house to tourist so you could enjoy the view from his hill.
5.Have a snack at Baker's Hill--I'm not sure if the area was a park or a subdivison because there were houses around, anyways, I think it was called Baker's hill because of the famous bakery at the entrance . We were lucky because we visited during the Christmas season so the houses were decked in Christmas decors. It was a nice place to have a light snack and take pictures.
6. Try out local weaving
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
ENJOY A MASSAGE
Thai Nuat recently opened up a second branch in town that is located at One Manalo Place, Manalo Extension. The company have branches all over the country and are known for their excellent massage and spa service. My wife has been here 3 times since it opened its doors last December, and she finds it a cosy place with outstanding ambiance with soft music, soft lights and the scent of eucalyptus. She has the Swedish massage which takes just over an hour, but many other services are available such as hot oil massage, Thai Massage, Ventosa massage, foot spa , manicures and other alternatives.
Prices are quite reasonable
NBI, NOT THE FBI
The National Bureau of Investigation has it's office next to Plaza Quartel behind the Cathedral in Taft Street, but there should be no reason to go here unless you need a clearance for something or other. The NBI deals with high profile cases that are in the interest of the nation and was formed in 1947, the same day as the Republic Act 157 was approved.
Here are the functions of the NBI
FUNCTIONS OF THE NBI which i have copied from another website.
A. Under R.A. No. 157
1. Undertake investigation of crimes and other offenses against the laws of the Philippines, upon its own initiative and as public interest may require;
2. To render assistance, whenever properly requested in the investigation or detection of crimes and other offenses;
3. To act as a national clearing house of criminal and other information for the benefit use of all prosecuting and law enforcement entities of the Philippines; identification records of identifying marks, characteristics, and ownership or possession of all firearms as well as of test bullets fired therefrom;
4. To give technical aid to all prosecuting and law enforcement officers and entities of the government as well as the courts that may request its services;
5. To extend its services, whenever properly requested in the investigation of cases of administrative or civil in nature in which the government is interested;
6. To establish and maintain an up-to-date scientific crime laboratory and to conduct researches in furtherance of scientific knowledge in criminal investigation;
7. To perform such other related functions as the Minister of Justice may assign from time to time.
A HOUSE MADE FROM CORAL
I used to jog past this house everyday and even today i still gaze at the building, wondering who built it. It looks really strange but i guess the owner saved money on construction materials, as in that area of town there are many corals just lying a few feet below ground level. The house is located on Mabini Extension between Liberty Road and Lacao Street.
HEADING SOUTH--A BEAUTIFUL DIVERSION
If you are heading south on the National Highway you may wish to branch off on the old road when you reach km 32. You will see the old road winds up the hill through a beautiful forest and at the top you will have a good view of the surrounding countryside. It will join the new road 3-4 kms later.
There used to be so many accidents on this road the government built a new road 5 or 6 years ago which bypasses the hill, and winds its way around it, but unfortunately there have been many fatal accidents on the new road which has some deadly curves, the authorities just re-opened the old road and trucks are asked to use this one, so be careful of crazy truck drivers.