We decided to visit Honda Bay in Palawan as we were spending a week on the island and when you go island hopping from Honda Bay, you might visit a place called Starfish Island on your trip so I was dying to go there! We were picked up by our tour guide at 7am and collected other couples and groups around the area who were to join us on the trip and in total we ended up with 11 people on our boat. Unfortunately this meant over an hour of driving on bumpy roads/dirt tracks before we were even heading towards Honda Bay from Puerto Princesa where we were staying. We stopped en route to hire snorkels and aqua shoes for PHP300 each and then continued driving about another 15/20 minutes to the wharf. By the time we arrived at 9am I was feeling so sick from the drive I didn’t think I could get on the boat but ultimately decided I didn’t want to miss out on seeing Starfish Island.
Our first stop was Starfish Island and it was around 30 minutes away on the boat and as soon as we arrived we could already see starfish around the boat. On our way we admired the blue sky and all the islands we pass, a welcome change from Manila which was very grey. When we reach Starfish Island we have almost 2 hours to wander the island, snorkel and try to hold a starfish before we’ll have our lunch. We swim and snorkel around the coral and despite the water not being that clear here we do manage to see a lot of fish and after a few attempts are able to pick up a starfish. We were both surprised to find that starfish are hard and don’t move when you’re holding them. After snorkelling we wander along the long sandbank where it feels like we’re standing on the edge of the world.
After lunch in a hut we head for our next stop, Luli Island, which is around 20 minutes away, also known as the “floating island” as when the water level increases it pretty much disappears as it seems to be just one long narrow sandbar. We try snorkelling again but can’t see anything. Although we were disappointed not to see any more fish they do have a diving board which Rhys enjoyed throwing himself off.
We spend around an hour relaxing on Luli Island before moving on to our final stop which is Cowrie Island, this was the biggest of the 3 islands, was much busier and had many activities including banana-boating as well as a bar, restaurant and massage area. We hoped to spot a few more fish or coral but again there was nothing to see here. We left here around 3:30pm and made the 20 minute boat trip back to Honda Bay wharf.
All in all we enjoyed the island hopping tour and the highlight was by far seeing and holding starfish but island hopping tours in El Nido were much better in terms of scenery and nature and with much clearer water.