Archive for the 'Cynthia' category

Our Island Hopping Trip Part 1

October 4, 2008 1:01 am

Just came back from our  “island hopping”  trip, consisting of  Palawan, Bohol, Camiguin. Backpack lang kami ni Romy, as we  did a lot of transfers between islands. We saw a little bit of Cebu too , as it is our connection point for Palawan and Bohol.  We have Hilton Honors points so we were able to stay at the HIlton in Cebu for two nights.  It would have cost us 7,000.00 pesos per night with out the points. We actually braved Typhoon Nina as we crossed Bohol Strait with giant waves.

Palawan: Visited Puerto Princesa City, Underground River, Pandan Island, Snake Island, Starfish Island, Pambato Reef, Dos Palmas (The Highlight of the Palawan Trip), Butterfly Farm, Wildlife Sanctuary, Mitra Ranch.

We left on the 16th, arrive in Cebu at noon, checked in at HIlton, deposited our bags and rode the Hotel shuttle to downtown.  Baba lang kami sa SM, were starved didn’t have lunch yet and it was 2:00 pm!.  We saw a buffet merienda offered by Barrio Fiesta – for 110.00 pesos, they served arroz caldo, pansit lomi, dinuguan, pansit palabok, puto, puto bungbung, palitaw. We were happy about our bargain lunch. We  walked around afterwards, comparing the place with SM Davao.  Cebu’s is better.  They have stores not in Davao, like Aldo’s, one of my favorite store in Los Angeles.We caught the hotel shuttle again at 6 pm.  Beer at the hotel lobby with entertainment was 120.00 pesos each, so Romy opted to drink the beer in the bar of our room at 60.00 each.  We  bought some apples and bread for our late dinner at the hotel as dinner at Hilton is 1,200 per head at their buffet.  Am sure the food is good, but we refuse to spend and eat  that much for dinner!

Early morning the following day, we still had time to explore as our flight to Palawan won’t be until 5:00 pm. We went to the Shangrila Hotel – soooo beautiful!  soooooo expensive!  We also went to the Lapu Lapu Shrine – the place where he killed Magellan.  All this, a walking distance from HIlton.  We ate lunch at a nearby restaurant that cooks the fresh seafood  you choose from their display. We picked one whole maya-maya, the head part for sinigang and grilled the rest. The price was ok.

At the Cebu airport, daming mabiling pagkain, as in Otap, chicharon, calamares. Lahat naubos namin during the duration of the island hopping.  I befriended a nun who was travelling alone, named Sr. Erlinda.  She is from Davao too but assigned in Palawan.  She gave us a lot of advice re places to see.  When we arrived in Palawan, she took us to our hotel.  We just walked in and luckily they have room for us at 780.00 per night, with aircon.  It is close to Kalui Restaurant, Palawan’s best.  Another good restaurant thats also next door is the Kinabutz. We immediately explored downtown, but not much to see.  We saw their cathedral and went in. We prayed and thank the Lord for our safe arrival.  OUr flight was kinda bumpy. the winds quite strong. It started to rain so we hurried back to the hotel.  We had our dinner at Kalui, which incidentally reseved for us by the hotel staff. Yup, Kalui is too popular that it requires reservation.

Entry to the underground river

Our first tour was the Underground River.  The hotel made the arrangement for us. For 1,500. each, we get picked up at the hotel by a van at 7 am, take us to the 2 hour drive to St. Paul Island, take the boat to the opening of the cave, ride a smaller boat for the actual tour, then back to the main island  to the  cottages along the beach where they served   buffet lunch consisting of pork bbq, kangkong, grilled fish, chicken adobo. For soup they served the—— chicken soup made from coconut juice with grated coconut meat. Interesting and tasty! They served one whole coco. Some German tourist were very excited being their first time to have coco drink direct from the nut! After lunch, we were given time to relax, some napped, while others swam. The two hour trip back was quiet as everybody was tired. We arrived at the hotel and had dinner there.  We also needed to decide where to go the following day: El NIdo perhaps? But its been raining and hotel staff adviced us against it.  We decided to do local island hopping and a day tour at Dos Palmas.  Someday in the future, we can access El Nido via Manila.

The tour to the underground river was about 3 miles long and 45 minutes long.The guide used flashlights to highlight scenes.

The tour to the underground river was about 3 miles long and 45 minutes long.The guide used flashlights to highlight scenes.

After the tour, we rode the boat again to go back to the main island. Lunch

After the tour, we rode the boat again to go back to the main island. Lunch

So the  second day we did 3-island hopping namely Pandan Island, Snake Island and Starfish Island. Again, for 1,100 per head, we were picked up by a van, took us to the pier. Our first stop was the Pandan  Island, about 45 minutes boat ride from the main Island. This island I will ranked 3rd for  my best snorkling experience in this trip.  Smaller fishes, but plenty and colorful, and beautifu corrals.  The rest of the people that came in our group tour were at first  content with taking pictures and posing! I enticed them to snorkel and see the underwater world of Palawan. Duh!

Lovely swim! This was taken at Pandan Island. Great snorkling experience!

Lovely swim! This was taken at Pandan Island. Great snorkling experience!

The second island, the Snake Island, about 30 minutes ride from Pandan Island, as named because of its shape.  We snorkled  the clean, and very clear waters again, and saw bigger fishes that are super-people-friendly!  They follow you around when you feed them with bread! They are not afraid to get close to you to get their bite of bread! My first time ever!   Snorkeled a lot here as I was enjoying the sight of the fishes!  We were served lunch here.  there were vendors selling live  crabs for 200.00 per kilo. They will steam it for us. We bought some, ate a little bit as there were a lot of food served , so we  brought the rest of the  crabs  to our hotel for dinner.

Snake Island Shore. Colorful fishes swimming very close to the shore. The fishes are very people friendly -specially if you have bread!

Snake Island Shore. Colorful fishes swimming very close to the shore. The fishes are very people friendly -specially if you have bread! Called Snake Island - not because there's plenty of snakes but because the island's shape is like that of a big snake.

The 3rd island was dissapointing, and although the island has plenty of shells and starfish, there wasn’t much to do, not much fishes to watch or feed and corrals to see.

OUr boatman tipped us that the best corrals in the area is in Pambato Reef which is along our way back. I asked our tour guide to take us there.  Good thing she agreed, but we have to pay the entrance fees. And so, there at Pambato Reef I found my best snorkeling experience ever.  The best marine life I’ve seen. The fishes and ohhhh, the corrals in different shapes, colors and size!  So overwhelmingly beautiful!

Our 4th day was the  day tour for Dos Palmas.  For 1,800 per head.  A tourist bus waits downtown to take us to the pier for about an hour ride to the island. Upon arrival you’re welcomed by singers while the fishes are being fed so you can see colorful fishes scrambling for the bread.  It was a wonderful sight.  As you go up the landing, you see the beautiful bay huts that cost a lot of money per night per head, depending on the season. Peak season vs slow season.  We walked around to see the manicured and landscaped lawns, lushy gardens, colorfol flowers.  With native ambience, an entire island owned by Dos Palmas.  For the price, you have buffet lunch, bottomless coffee and tea, all water craft except diving.  We were very excited abou the snorkling as we heard about the beauty of Helen’s Corral Garden in the Island. the speed boat took us to the launching area and jumped!  The Helen’s Corral Garden is my second best.  The Dos Palmas staff claims  theirs is better than Pambato reef but I don’t agree. We spend the entire day enjoying the island.  It is very surprising to learn that Dos Palmas uses solar power for water heating, grows their own veggies, hog farm,  their own desalinazation plant so they can use sea water, waste management and recycling program.  Am very impressed! They’ve created a sustainable community all its own!

Day 4 -Honda Bay Launching Area. This is where we catch the boat for our Dos Palmas day tour at 1,800.00 per head.

Day 4 -Honda Bay Launching Area. This is where we catch the boat for our Dos Palmas day tour at 1,800.00 per head.

Welcome At Dos Palmas

Welcome At Dos Palmas

Link to album