Joining a group tour or paying a ridiculous amount of money for travel and tours has not been my cup of tea since I started traveling alone. Although, an arranged trip would save you time and lots of hassle, it is not a great idea to explore a new place with a limited amount of time while shelling out more than what you have to. Group tours however are relatively cheaper than private group tours as you just fill in a slot with other people who want to visit the same place. The only problem is that you don’t hold your time. You might not feel comfortable of the call time. The rest of the members of the group might want to stay when you already want to leave or worse, the other way around.
The solution is taking extra time to sit in front of your computer screen to look for alternatives. Tons of useful information can be found online nowadays. Look for public transportation instead of a hired van. Be aware of the route and interesting places to see to save on tour guides.
Anyway, this is how we did our DIY trip to Honda Bay. Take a group tour if you’re alone. You’ll save more by doing so. If you’re with a group, check this out.
Hail a jeepney from the city center going to Sta. Lourdes. Fare is P15. If you rent a tricycle, it will cost you P600 back and forth. I managed to haggle and brought it down to P500. Your driver will most likely advise you to rent snorkels for P150 and shoes for P150 somewhere along the way before heading to the port but these gears are optional if you won’t go snorkeling.
Upon arrival go to the registration booth and pay the environmental fee of P80. You have an option to purchase tickets for lunch in the terminal if you plan to eat. Lunch is served in different islands but we had ours in Cowrie Island that cost P200.
There are two types of boats you can hire. One is the 3 cylinder boat that costs P1,300 and a 4 cylinder (bigger boat) that costs P1,500 per day. You will visit four islands but it’s up to you if you want to visit the Pambato Reef (during high tide) that has an entrance fee of P50 for those who will snorkel. FYI, Snake Island is no longer open to the public as it was already bought by a private individual. The boat is rented for the whole day so you can stay for as long as you want in any island.
First stop was Lu-Li Island which means “Lulubog-Lilitaw” during high and low tide. Entrance is P60. Don’t forget to bring bread crumbs to feed the fish when you snorkel.
Next stop was Starfish Island where you will see not just a lot of starfish but a lot of mangroves and other marine life during low tide. Entrance fee is P50.
From there, travel to Pandan Island where a lot of pandan trees give shade to tourists and locals. You can buy fresh buko juice and seafood. Mind the prices. They could get quite expensive. Entrance is P100.
Last stop was Cowrie Island. It is a distinct island due to a huge signage that says “Cowrie”. You cannot go wrong. We had lunch here – a buffet of sumptuous seafood overload that was basically unlimited. Boy was I so bloated (with high blood pressure) after. We spent almost the entire afternoon here lazily. Take pictures as much as you want. Swim as long as you want. Have a massage in one of the huts while sipping a refreshing glass of buko juice. Entrance fee is P75.
Your boatman will wait for you and will take you back to the port whenever you’re ready.
Renting boats alone is not ideal for solo travelers, yes. I was with my mom so I paid everything for two. The good thing was we owned our time. We’re not pressured to rush everything due to time constraints. Catch is that it was more expensive than joining a group tour. However, if you belong to a group, doing a DIY trip is more favorable.
Here is a breakdown of expenses compared to a group tour for your reference.
|Jeepney||15||You save almost 200 and you create your own pace! (snorkeling gears not included)|
|3 cylinder boat (4 pax)||325|
|Lu-Li Island Entrance||60|
|Starfish Island Entrance||50|
|Pandan Island Entrance||100|
|Cowrie Island Entrance||75|
|Lunch at Cowrie Island||200|