Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I have always wanted to travel to other places in the Philippines, however, several factors such as family responsibilities, work schedules, and financial constraints played a big factor and limited my travel escapades to nearby provinces in Luzon.

After a decade of working in the BPO industry, I was able to get a much deserved weekend in one of the world’s best islands – Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

The beautiful island of Puerto Princesa, is located 591 kilometers (367 miles) from Manila. Flight time is approximately 75-90 minutes. Getting there by plane is faster than traveling from Quezon City to Makati by car! 

Planning for this trip was done months before, and we were fortunate enough to avail of discounted air fare. We chose a reasonably priced hotel in Palawan, close to the airport and made reservations too. Can you imagine the thrill we had as we counted the days to this memorable vacation? I just can’t describe how giddy with excitement we were when that day finally came.

We planned on maximizing our three day vacation. All of us agreed to go island hopping in Honda Bay. Starfish Island, Luli Island and Cowrie Island were on our list. We also planned on visiting popular restaurants to sample the local cuisine. Of course, a trip to Palawan won’t be complete without a visit to the Palawan Subterranean River National Park . That was on our itinerary too! 

Day 1

First leg of the trip was the moment we boarded the Cebu Pacific plane at NAIA Terminal 3 to the time we landed at the Puerto Princesa Airport. It took us an hour and 15 minutes. A short walk took us to the hotel where we unloaded our bags, showered and checked out the hotel amenities.

We asked the concierge if they could recommend some tour packages for our Honda Bay island hopping adventure, and they did provide us with a good deal. We paid for the tour package and secured our trip for the next day. Since we arrived mid-afternoon in Puerto Princesa, we decided to take a walk around the city and check out the restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. We came across this nice, cozy place called Kinabuch Grill and Bar. We checked out the menu and found lots of options to satisfy hungry tourists for a reasonable price. We had our dinner here. We got back to the hotel stuffed to our throats with delicious seafood, grilled pork and tuna belly!

Day 2

We are not really morning persons  but this day was different. We were all up early, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Amazing what a trip to Palawan can do! We met up with our tour guide in the hotel lobby. We boarded their van, together with other tourists. The drive from the hotel to the boat station in Honda Bay  took around an hour or so. The tour guides were very courteous. We were briefed about safety measures and before we boarded the boat, they checked if our life vests were properly secured. 

The tour took us to Cowrie Island first. This island has huts with thatched roofs for tourists to rest or to shield themselves from the bright sun. There are “bars” too where you can get refreshments. Of course, my children were not interested in those things. They dove into the clear water and had a great time swimming! 

Next stop was Starfish Island. How can I describe it? One word. Beautiful. I’ve never seen so many starfish before! My children had a great time. The waters were unbelievably clear and the beach was pristine! I enjoyed taking photos of the kids! We had our lunch here and we were served a buffet of grilled fish, seafood and pork belly. I loved the eggplant, mango and tomato salad, although I was not courageous enough to try the “Tamilok” or wood worm. My sons did, and they said it was a little gritty and tasted just like wood. 

The last island we visited was Luli Island. The name of the island, according to locals, is short for “Lulubog-Lilitaw,” (Sink and Rise). Visible only during low tide, this island is actually composed of sandbars. Huts have been built on these sandbars where tourists can take a rest and enjoy the view which is nothing else but stunning!

Weary from swimming, diving, and snorkeling, we boarded our boat at the end of the day to take us station. Our tour van was waiting for us there to take us back to the hotel. What an awesome experience we had!

Day 3

Our last full day in this beautiful Palawan. This was the day my children took a trip to the Palawan Subterranean National Park. I wanted to go to, but I have slight agoraphobia. Being in a dark, underground river, no matter how beautiful it may be is something I would rather leave to the more adventurous soul. Thank goodness my children are so brave. They came back with lots of photos and loads of stories to tell. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping in souvenir shops, taking pictures, and of course, eating! We just can’t get enough of the fresh seafood! 

That evening, we started packing our bags for our early 9am flight back to Manila.
This has been the best vacation I’ve had in a long time and I am happy that it was worth every penny.
Here's our vacation video:

If I had the chance to travel to any destination in the Philippines, I’d choose Palawan again!
Hope to see you again, Palawan. You are our very own little slice of paradise.


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