I’ve never been island hopping at Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa City. Boats require quite a number of people, and I’ve heard people say that it’s underwhelming. We did finally go, however, the morning after our inaugural flight with AirAsia Philippines. Read more…
Honda Bay, which lies on the eastern shore of Palawan, is a popular destination promoted by Puerto Princesa City and is likewise a source of food and livelihood for the locals. Sta. Lourdes Wharf, the jump-off point for Honda Bay, is within the city and is easily accessible.
I would later find out that a boat costs 1500 PHP for a whole day island hopping tour that can cover three or four stops for six people. That rate excludes snorkeling gear rent, entrance fees, and an environmental fee, but it still isn’t bad compared to other destinations.
At the wharf, we rented a bigger boat, as we’re a much larger group. With us were AirAsia Philippines CEO, Ms. Maan Hontiveros; her friend, Ms. Carmita Francisco; the nice people from AirAsia Philippines; and of course, friends from various media outlets.
Our first stop was a snorkeling spot called Pambato Reef, which comes with 50 PHP entrance fee. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the mood to go snorkeling that day, so I just watched my companions swim with the fish. Even Ms. Maan, an avid traveler and lover of the seas herself, gamely jumped and went underwater.
The second stop was the ever-so-famous Isla Pandan, an island maintained by the group behind The Legend Palawan. Entrance fee from what I heard is 100 PHP. Surprised, I was. It was a nice, quaint island, that perhaps with a some tweaking, could be a top white beach.
We had our lunch at the island consisting of fresh catch from the sea—samaral, soran, squid, and lato (seaweed). The wonderful spread was accompanied by fresh buko (young coconut) that we drank straight from the shell. Our island hop couldn’t have gotten any better.
It was also at the same island that I had a rather passionate conversation about Philippine destinations, aviation, and AirAsia Philippines with Ms. Maan and Ms. Carmita. We casually discussed about their operations and what’s next for the awesome new carrier. Plus, she actually asked me what I think should be their next red hot destinations.
It was already 2:00 PM, and we had to get back to the hotel, as scheduled. Some of our companions had to catch the night flight of AirAsia Philippines to Clark at 7:35 PM.
But on our way back to wharf, we did make a quick stop at Starfish Island, which is a less hectic version of Isla Pandan’s beach. As made apparent by the name, there are lots of starfish that visitors can pick up then put back into the water.
It was a great day out. I was pleasantly surprised by our island hop, and definitely, what I have been hearing about Honda Bay is not true at all. Aside from being conveniently located within the city, the islands have their charm to make me come back.
To close this, I have to express my admiration for Ms. Maan. She was game and adventurous, and she was warm and engaging when I talked to her. I learned that she’s not only a dedicated top-rank official, but she’s also a passionate traveler who thus understands how to run a promising airline. AirAsia Philippines has a bright, awesome future ahead.