White sands, azure skies, crystal blue waters, palm trees filled with coconuts, and a starfish or two; not a bad way to spend a December holiday.
Honda Bay Island hopping in Palawan is one of the popular ways to experience the islands in the Philippines. There are 7,641 islands in the Philippines, and experiencing just a few of them made for a special family holiday.
We were staying at a small local resort in Puerta Princessa, which housed several European travelers looking for a quiet island stay. The hotel booked us a day of exploring three tiny islands in Honda Bay, which is located off the eastern shore of Puerta Princessa in Palawan. Since it was just the three of us, we hopped onto a small wooden banca boat early in the morning, with two guides, and a cooler of drinks and food. I believe it took us a couple of hours of crossing the ocean to get to the first island in Honda Bay, Pandan Island.
Pandan Island is a popular island with tourists and it is best to get their early to secure a private hut. The island was a bit of paradise with a beautiful shoreline, comfortable picnic huts, coconut trees, and a starfish filled beach. There is also a small church on the island with open slat walls to let in the tropical breeze.
If you decide on taking a private island hopping tour of Honda Bay, make sure that lunch is included. I had noticed many larger tour groups coming to the island but bringing snacks or a packed lunch. Our guides had prepared us a delicious lunch that was grilled and served to us inside our picnic hut.
The family enjoyed the grilled pork, fresh fish, salads, and rice that was prepared for us, although we passed on the eggplant. I know that our grilled lunch was a bonus for us because I am sure my family would of complained if we only had snacks and a simple lunch!
Pandan Island is a paradise for snorkeling, swimming, or just dipping your feet in the crystal clear water. What I enjoyed most from the beaches were the delicate starfishes that were scattered just inches below the water line. It was blissful!
Fresh coconut water straight from the tree was just another bit of tropical bliss that we had on Pandan Island. I had actually spied a young man climb up one of the trees, not sure what he was up to. When he got to the top, he started to cut and drop green coconuts to sell to the tourists. This coconut water was as fresh as you could get- from the tree to the table!
Out of the three islands that we spent our day at in Honda Bay, Pandan Island was our favorite and I am glad that we spend most of the day here. Between the sandy beaches with starfishes, the shaded picnic huts, and the crystal clear waters- Pandan Island was our family’s happy place.
Another popular island in Honda Bay for snorkeling is Starfish Island, or Tabuan Island, as it is called by the locals. This picturesque island is home to a variety of colorful starfish, hence the name “Starfish Island”. The shallow beaches and sandbars on the island are perfect to walk across and to cool off from the humid weather.
Starfish Island was another slice of tropical bliss, and small enough that I did not get lost when I decided to meander on my own. I was already sunbaked and waterlogged from Pandan Island that I decided to take a quiet walk along the shallow sandbars.
The island did not have as many picnic cottages to rent as Pandan Island, so I saw why we had not gone to this one first. It was still a blissful island to explore though.
There are many day tours on line that will take you island hopping in Honda Bay. I would recommend that you choose carefully or if possible, ask your hotel/ resort to set it up for you.
The best way to go is private, meaning just you plus your party, and not with a lot of strangers. When you go private, you can spend as long as you want on a certain island, and have your own private picnic hut. Also confirm that a hot lunch and drinks will be provided for the day – Mabuhay!
We all dream of far away…
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📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre