March 13, 2011 – Schedule for the day was Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour. Going to the Sta. Lourdes Wharf took 30 minutes from our hotel, Kawayanan Resort or about 12kms east of the town proper. Honda Bay is also known as “The Last Frontier” but there’s no clear-cut reason why. Some say it is because of its untouched, innocent beauty others say something else.
What separates Puerto Princesa City to other cities offering island hopping tours (especially in Cebu) is that their government is on top of every situation. There were lots of “do’s and dont’s”. Unlike in Cebu or Mactan where a group will just rent a boat and off they go, Puerto Princesa officials implemented a strict policy as if you’re boarding a boat to Manila or anywhere else where coast guards are visible. Everyone is required to register their names in the manifest before being to able to board their boats.
First stop was the Pambato Floating Reef. It’s a structure built by ELAC – Palawan or Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Inc. – Palawan Chapter. It is a floating platform built near the coral reef they called Pambato (contender). What used to be just like a floating cabana now has been renovated to include a docking area for boats. The reef itself was abundant in live corals – a field of mushroom corals, a cluster of table corals, and branching corals everywhere.
Next stop, Snake Island. It’s not what you think it is. The island is called as such because of it’s shape. It’s a 2-3 km sandbar shaped like a snake. It slithers on the surface of the sea. This is where fish feeding was at its best, literally. All you need to do is go snorkeling and swim 30 meters from the shore (with your life jacket on because it gets deeper after 10 meters) and you’ll see schools of fish right underneath you. I’m talking of hundreds of them. I bought 6 pcs of bread for Php15.00 and brought it with me and fed them. And I actually regret doing that because one of them bit my foot that I had to swim back before others would follow suit.
The island was were we took our lunch, which was included in the package. We had grilled fish (Kitong), veggies and fruits with halo-halo to ease the burning heat. We stayed in the island for about an hour before heading to the next one, Isla Pandan.
Isla Pandan is named after its abundance in Pandan trees. It’s a private resort owned by a hotel in Puerto Princesa, I just can’t remember the name. The island also has a rich population of assorted fish roaming around the shore but not as good as Snake Island because of the sea plants. It was a great idea to make it our last stop because it was the only island on our iterinary with a fresh water shower facility where we can wash off before heading back to the wharf.
After the tiring tour, we got back to the hotel just enough for us to rest a bit and prepare ourselves to go to church and attend the 6PM Sunday mass at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral located along Rizal Ave. and just about 15mins by motorcycle from Kawayanan Resort. The Cathedral itself has its own history. They say that on March 10, 1872, six (6) days after the Spanish expidition arrived in Puerto Princesa, the first
mass was celebrated by the Rev. Fr. Exequiel Moreno in the same place where the cathedral now stands.
When the mass was over, we took a cab (motorcycle cab that is) and off we went to La Terrasse Restaurant Café where we had a dinner reservation. And we were greeted by Chito Cariño, the manager who was supposed to be taking his day off on that day. It’s a different experience. Before we can place our order, the Master Chef Mark Louie Magnaye introduced himself and explained what’s on the menu. Really one of a kind! We had their Golden Fry – a plate of breaded squid rings and fish fingers served with a choice of their own aioli garlic mayo or honey-mustard dip; Tropical Billy – goat meat braised with pineapple & spices then deep fried served with a sweet and spicy Thai relish; And their Menu of the Week as our main course (unlimited rice). To top it off, a chilled bottle of Colombelle Vin De Pays de Cotes de Gascogne Red was added into the mix.
What a night to celebrate our 15th anniversary. For the first time, I surprised Jeanneth with a bouquet of red roses! I thought she’d cry but turned out, I was the one who almost did when I got the bill: P2,329.09. But it was worth it. Total expense for the day: P2,918.09.