This morning we were being picked up early in order to go on the Island Hopping tour of Honda Bay which was a bit of a drive from the hotel. When I was researching Palawan I had read good reports about the snorkelling and diving in Honda Bay so we were hoping for good things from the trip but also this would be an ideal trip to try out the mighty GoPro as when you snorkel there is a lot less to think about and the depths are usually shallower as well. We were quite excited about the whole thing.
The bus soon got us to the boat mooring and it turned out at this point that we were not on the ‘exclusive’ island hopping tour that the tour operators would had us believe but as there are a good number of islands in the bay – we could not all be going to the same place, could we? The weather was also looking a bit threatening in the distance but we had been told that they were not expecting bad weather but you are never really sure what they mean when you talk to Filipinos about ‘bad’ weather!
It took a while for all the different tour operators to be assigned their vessels as there were so many but finally we got on board and set off to our first destination, Starfish Island. Just out from the mooring we saw a boat that had not made the trip and had sunk in the bay! Competition certainly must be fierce in these here parts. Our vessel too did not look one of the healthiest of seagoing craft but we had been assigned life jackets so what could go wrong?
Although all the boats that had been at the ‘port’ moved off and some in different directions a lot still seemed to be going to Starfish Island so it was going to be quite crowded for snorkelling. We reached the island along with five or six other boats and got changed. We needed a bit of help with the GoPro as the directions were perhaps not as clear as us old farts would have liked. The water, probably with all the people in it, was not at its clearest and although there were plenty of starfish, they were pretty much all of the same type and colour so after you saw one you had seen them all. It was still quite nice though and it was going to be interesting to later on see what we had taken using the new toy as ours did not have a screen attachment so you simply point it and shoot and cross your fingers. Even though there was not great deal to see snorkelling I still had to be called out of the water by Liz so we could get back to the boat – I do get a bit carried away.
We had about an hour on the island before boarding our boat and then chugging off to our next island, Lulli Island. This island had a small lagoon surrounded by mangrove trees and some huts for changing but once again the visibility for the snorkelling was not the best, also a couple of shots in and the camera actually ran out of juice so not the best first test run. We had been leaving it on in between shots and this seemed to have run the battery dry. Here there were a few fish but once again the numbers of people had both stirred up the sands and scared the fish off. At this point as well some of the darker clouds that had seemed so far away earlier were moving in our direction (Gulp!). The sea was also increasing in choppiness so we had to move on to the last island.
Cowrie Island was also the place we were to be eating lunch and huge tressle tables had been set up under canopies and loads of different foods were on offer. Really big Prawns, lots of Fried Chicken and all sorts of other stuff was on the menu and by the time we had finished we were full to bursting. Rather than exerting ourselves too much we simply lay on the fine sand and every once in a while I would go and have a dip and a snorkel. The weather was to have the last word though as we were called to go back to our ‘boat’ the odd thunderclap could be heard and a bit of lightening too so it appeared we would be chased by the coming storm. Our boat though it looked a bit iffy had quite a turn of speed when needed and we hot footed back to port just ahead of the rainclouds.
The rains came down but did not amount to much which was good as tomorrow we were to be visiting the island’s main attraction – The Underground Caves.