Honda Bay Island Hopping, Palawan, Philippines

Honda Bay tour: do it yourself complete guide – 2020 UPDATE

Honda Bay is one of Puerto Princesa’s main attraction thanks to the many beautiful islands present in the bay. Island hopping in Honda Bay is on most tourists’ bucket list when visiting Palawan and makes a perfect day trip from Puerto Princesa. Many tour operators offer the tour but it’s cheaper to organize a Honda Bay tour “do it yourself” and it’s not so complicated.

 At a glance – How to organize your DIY Honda Bay Tour:

  • Step 1: From Puerto Princesa, take a jeepney or tricycle bound for Santa Lourdes Pier.
  • Step 2: From the pier register at the local association.
  • Step 3: Pay for the boat, and the fees for each island you plan to visit.
  • Step 4: Rent snorkeling gear.
  • Step 5: Get on the boat and enjoy your day.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on any links and make a purchase,  I’ll get a small commission, at no cost to you.

Honda Bay tour do it yourself

Honda Bay Tour: Do it yourself – Step by step

Step 1: Take a jeepney or tricycle to Santa Lourdes Pier

Organizing your Honda Bay tour is super easy. In the morning, to get to Honda Hay from Puerto Princesa, take a jeepney bound for Santa Lourdes Pier, the jeepney passes the main road in Puerto Princesa. It will be written “Santa Lourdes Pier” on it so you’ll know which one to stop. It’s the cheapest option, the fare is only 50 pesos each way.

On your way back you might have to wait a little for a jeepney to arrive, but don’t worry they run until late. If you don’t want to wait, you can walk to the main road from the pier, from there you’ll easily find another jeepney going back to Puerto Princesa.

The ride takes around 30 minutes.

You can also hire a tricycle for the day for around 700 pesos. The driver will come to pick you up at your hotel, wait for you at the pier, and drive you back to Puerto Princesa.

Step 2: Register at the wharf

From Santa Lourdes Pier, register at the local tourist association to rent the boat.

Contrary to many island hopping in the Philippines where you negotiate directly with the boat owner, island hopping in Honda Bay is a tad different. The boat owners organized themselves and created a cooperative so they can all benefit equally from tourism. So when you register they will assign a boat to your group and the prices and packages are fixed.

If you’re alone or in a small group you can easily find people to share a boat with and split the coast. The Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour is a popular attraction, there are always a lot of people at the wharf.

Step 3: Pay the fees

The next step, once you have registered, is to pay for the boat, the islands’ entrance fees, and the environmental fee (the same as the one for the underground river, you only have to pay it once, so don’t forget to keep the receipt). You’ll also need to decide which islands to visit, as prices are not the same depending on which island you visit.

The boat rental costs 1300 pesos good for 6 persons, inclusive of 3 islands and 1 snorkeling spot. Check out the total cost breakdown at the end of the article. They also have bigger boats for up to 20 people.

4 – Rent snorkeling near

If you don’t have your own equipment, you’ll find everything you need at the wharf. You’ll only need a mask and snorkel, it costs 150 pesos. If you want you can also rent fins and a life vest.

5 – Get on the boat and have fun

The Honda Bay island hopping tour is a lot of fun, be prepared to see beautiful beaches and crystal clear water. Do some snorkeling, lounge on the beach sipping on a coconut, maybe eat some fresh seafood, and come back with one more great experience.

Here are the islands you’ll visit on your Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour :

Starfish Island – 50 pesos

Starfish Island - Honda Bay tour do it yourself

Starfish Island is by far the most beautiful island in Honda Bay. The water is crystal clear and full of huge starfishes, hence the name and the sand is white and thin. The island is shaped like a horse-shoe and basically is a big sandbar. In the middle is a lush mangrove and at the tip, there are some nippa huts and many trees to cool down in the shade, sipping on a fresh buko (coconut). There you can also get some ice candy, red horse or fresh seafood and just relax on the beach.

Entrance fee: 50 pesos

Lulli Island – 70 pesos

Lulli Island - Honda Bay tour do it yourself

This one is also a big sandbar with a big restaurant right in the middle. It’s really crowded, the area where you can swim is really small and there’s absolutely zero shade. So not the best island for me.

Entrance fee: 70 pesos

Cowrie Island – 100 pesos

Cowrie Island - Honda Bay tour do it yourself

Cowrie Island was my favorite island during my Honda Bay Tour. It’s relatively big, with enough space to find some quiet spots. There are a bar and restaurant serving buffet lunch and you can do some water activities (jet ski, banana boat, kayaking…).

Entrance fee: 100 pesos

Isla Pandan – 1250 pesos

This privately owned island offers a beautiful white-sand beach, sparkled with nippa huts. There, you can get a massage on the beach, fresh seafood sold by local fishermen and indulge in some water activities.

Entrance fee: 1250 pesos

 

Budget breakdown // Honda Bay tour do it yourself:

Jeepney from downtown PP to Santa Lourdes pier: 50 pesos

Mask and snorkel rental: 150 pesos

Boat: 1300 pesos good for 6 – 3 islands and 1 snorkeling point

Lunch buffet: 150 to 200 pesos per head, depending on the island – There are cheaper options for lunch on Starfish Island.

Entrance fees: 320 (total) per person for Starfish, Lulli and Cowrie Island, and for the reef. Add 1250 pesos per person if you want to go to Pandan Island.

Environmental fee: 150 (it’s the same as for the underground river, you just pay once for both)

If you’re not a group of 6 you can easily find another small group to share the boat, to reduce the cost.

As you can see, it’s much cheaper to visit Honda Bay on your own rather than via a tour operator, and it’s not much more complicated. Once you’re at the pier it’s the same. It’s even better to not do a Honda Bay tour and to do it yourself, as you get to choose how long you stay at each place.

Honda Bay tour do it yourself

Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour – What to pack

  • Sunscreen and a hat
  • Swimsuit and beach towel
  • Water shoes (or shoes you can wet)
  • Water and snacks
  • Camera
  • Waterproof cellphone case

Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour – My honest opinion:

Overall, Honda Bay is really, really, really crowded and the snorkeling is not that great. The visibility is bad and 80% of the reef is dead. So, in my opinion, when visiting Palawan, you can skip Honda Bay and spend more time in Port Barton or Taytay. The island hopping there is much better and way less crowded, especially in Taytay. Palawan has so many deserted and amazing beaches that visiting Honda Bay is just a waste of time.

Don’t get me wrong, island hopping in Honda Bay is a nice thing to do. The islands are pretty and the beaches paradise-like, but if you’re short on time, there are many better options in Palawan for island hopping.

Related articles to help you plan your trip to Palawan and the Philippines:

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16 Comments

    • Hi Mylene, the boat owners work as a cooperative, you can’t book in advance, you just have to show up at the pier where the office is, pay the fees and they’ll assign a boat to your group.

      Reply
  • Hi! Thank you so much for this post. I find it really helpful most especially for budget conscious travelers. Regarding the boat however, is it possible to add payment from the 1,300 if there are 8 of us on the tour? Just like us all to be on the same boat po sana. Salamat po!

    Reply
    • Hi Loren, I’m not sure about that, I think they try to make everyone work, that’s why the boats are only for 6 persons, you can still try to negotiate…

      Reply
  • Hi.. Is is true that tranpostation back to city is very hard.. I read on 1 blog that you have to walk 1km and that public vehicles going back are very rare..

    Reply
    • Hi, I didn’t have any problems finding a jeepney going back, there are frequent jeepneys going back and forth between PP and Santa Lourdes pier. Maybe if you stay late, there won’t be any jeepneys. Anyway, there are tons of people doing the tour from Santa Lourdes pier, I’m sure you can hitch a ride with someone with a car back to the main road or all the way to PP. Enjoy your holidays!

      Reply
  • Can you tell me more about the lunch buffet in the area? So there restaurants there?

    Reply
    • Hi Krissy, there are lunch buffet options on Lulli Island and Cowry Island, the cost is around 150 to 200 pesos, they don’t offer an à-la-carte menu, it’s the buffet or nothing. On Starfish, you can buy some snacks, cup noodles and some fishermen can cook seafood for you. You can also bring your own food and picnic on any of the islands.

      Reply
  • Are you sure that the boat cost is only 1,300 good for 6 persons? Or 1,300 per person? Please let me know because we are heading to palawan and try the honda bay. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi, yes I’m sure, 1300 pesos for the whole boat. Have fun there!

      Reply
  • Thank you! This is very helpful. Do you have any contact for the boat?

    Reply
    • Hi, no there’s no contact info, but you just go there in the morning and you’ll have no problem finding a boat or other people to share a boat with. It gets really busy there, it’s super touristy,

      Reply
  • Thank you for your advise, will visit Puerto Princesa soon, and it has made me decide to skip Honda Bay Tour.

    Reply

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