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Thinking of visiting the Philippines? I’m so jealous! With so many islands in the Philippines, it can be hard to know where to start but a trip around Honda Bay island hopping is an absolute must! Located on Palawan, you get the chance to experience not only the culture of this beautiful province but also white beaches, crystal clear waters, tonnes to sea life and some delicious food along the way.
Palawan means ‘land of the beautiful safe harbour’ and after going on a Honda Bay island hopping tour, you will completely see why. It’s also previously been voted Best Island in the world by Conde Naste Traveller. So trust me, this day trip will be unforgettable. Let me take you through my Honda Bay Island hopping tour itinerary to give you a taster of what you have to come.
The Tour Details
Costs of full tours are generally around PHP 1200-1500 (£20-£30) making it perfect for budget-minded travellers. The tour starts about 7.30 am and takes 6 hours. Depending on your tour, there may be some different inclusions and exclusions, but this was what was included in the tour I took:
- Pick Up and return to/from hotel
- Cost of the boat
- Cost of access to each of the islands
- Life vest hire
- A delicious BBQ style lunch
The only thing excluded in the main cost for me was snorkel hire. Right at the start of the tour, we stopped off at a shop to hire this equipment close to the water. Items such as waterproof cameras can also be bought here which is so worth it to capture the underwater wonderland that Honda Bay has.
After being picked up from your hotel, there will be about an hours drive to Honda Bay where you will then get on a really cute boat to start island hopping.
The Philippines can be incredibly hot and when you’re island hopping, you also need to take extra care as you’re going to be in and out of the ocean. You don’t want to take too many things as you will be spending a lot of your day on a boat and on the beach. Here’s a list of essentials to pack:
- High SPF Reef Safe Suncream – As the Philippines can be extremely hot and you’re going to be dipping in and out of the ocean all day, it’s so important to have a good suncream. This suncream here not only offers this but also doesn’t harm the reef and sea life as it’s chemical free. It’s also gentle on the skin so perfect for all the family.
- Sunscreen Lip Balm in SPF 30 – Honda Bay is a snorkelling lovers paradise so it’s a good idea to have a decent lip balm to save your lips. The saltwater and the sun combined with snorkelling can be drying so having a delicious lip balm that also protects them is a must!
- Lightweight Beach Towel – Compact, fast drying and super pretty, these microfibre beach towels are perfect. They’ll look pretty good for your Instagram Photos too.
- Beach Bag – The last thing you want to see is your stuff rolling around a boat so a decent size beach ba is a must. This handy canvas bag is light and also folds down really small when you’re not using it.
- Sunhat – Help keep the beating sun off your face with this cute beach hat. It’s even foldable so can be shoved in your bag when you’re in the water.
- Swimwear – An obvious one for a day island hopping! I would recommend wearing your swimmers under your clothes right from the start so you’re ready to dive straight in.
- Sunglasses – Don’t forget your favourite sunnies for the trip as you’re going to be outside for the whole thing.
- GoPro HERO 8 – Honda Bay is stunning both above and underwater and there’s no better way to capture it than on a GoPro. It’s the perfect camera to take with you on the trip and totally worth the investment.
- Floating Waterproof Phone Case – If a GoPro is not in your budget, this bargain gadget will still enable you to get those dreamy underwater shots Honda Bay offers. This case fits most phones and also floats so you don’t have to worry about dropping it and watching your prized possession sink to the ocean floor.
Stop 1: Pambato Reef
Or the Turtle Reef as I like to call it. Very simply because the floating platform has a giant turtle on it! This was a busy stop with the whole platform full of parked up boats. Pambato is a marine sanctuary and is home to tonnes of different fish and creatures. There was a short safety talk and everyone had to wear life vests to help stop the reefs being touched and damaged.
Well, the reef was busy as expected, but it really was full of sea life! The platform is located in one of the more shallow areas, so everything felt so close. Now, the water is a bit murky due to all the silt floating around from the swimmers, but once I moved away to a little bit of space I could see the beauty of the unspoiled reef and all the fish that make it their home. I had plenty of time here before heading on to the next stop.
Stop 2: Starfish Island
So guess what? This island might have a few starfish on it. By a few I mean it’s covered in them! Isn’t there just something so tropical about starfish! C’mon, you don’t see these every day, especially not in the UK where I’m from anyway. If this is a daily thing for you then I want your life!
The water here is crystal clear. This is really where I was thankful for the snorkel and mask. For me, doing anything near, in, on or under the sea is heaven and having these fascinating creatures so close to see and hold was lush. And the sand! OHMYGOODNESS it’s so white and so soft. Oh, and also, there are mountains in the background. Starfish Island really is a tropical paradise.
There was also a properly delish lunch served here that tasted fresh from the BBQ – chicken, shrimp and whole fish. Scoffing lots of seafood is a must while you’re in the Philippines!
Stop 3: Luli Island
The island is actually a sandbar that gets partially submerged during high tide. This was the place to play, so was perfect for a big kid like me. The shore is lined with massive multicoloured flags and there’s a diving board and the chance to feed the fish. A playground on a beach. Perfect!
There were signs limiting where you can swim due to jellyfish and stonefish but other than that it was a fantastic place to get the final snorkelling for the day in. I bought crackers from one of the beach shacks to feed the fish so I was simply in my element, and I think you will be too.