Snake Island

Snake Island is one of the most popular destinations in any Honda Bay island hopping tours. I have been here last year during my first visit in Puerto Princesa and the best I could remember about the place is that my left leg was bitten by an aggressive fish (or maybe it was hit by an aggressive fish’s fin) while I was feeding the smaller fishes with bread.

For this year’s visit to Puerto Princesa, Snake Island was our second destination. Right after having lunch in Pandan Island, our group headed to Snake Island. The island is a long stretch of sand bar with a small population of mangroves and patches of grasses. The entire island is shaped like a snake, hence it’s name. Getting to the Snake Island from Pandan Island didn’t take us long (approximately 10~15 minutes). Also, the waves weren’t as strong as it was on our way to Pandan.

Another part of the Snake Island that we weren’t able to explore the last time I was in Puerto Princesa is the mangrove areas. The mangroves are located on the side opposite to where tourists usually are. It was noticeable that Puerto Princesa is working on reviving the mangroves in the area. A large part of the island are planted with new mangrove trees.

Another thing we got excited about in going to Snake Island is halo-halo. The last time we were there, all of us bought a glass of halo-halo from the sari-sari store in the island. And we did the same thing on our most recent visit. Though the it’s not as good as the one’s you can buy from Razon’s, it’s still worth something specially when you’re under the heat of the sun.

 

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]This post is part of our trip to Puerto Princessa with AirPhil Express. This trip is a sampler of AirPhil Express’ Puerto Princesa AdvenTour packages which you can avail together with your MNL-PPS-MNL tickets. If you wish to avail the AdvenTour Package that we had, please click here.[/box]

Lunch at Pandan Island in Puerto Princesa

It was raining hard the night before we left for Puerto Princesa. The announcement of the typhoon Falcon in Metro Manila scared us that the trip to Palawan might not push through. The streets in Pasong Tamo and Buendia in Makati were already knee-high that night and another set of heavy rains might bring the capital another round of “Ondoy“. After having waited for the flood to subside, I only had enough time to attend a meeting with my client in the US and prepare my stuff afterwards.

The strong winds and rain already stopped when I left the house the following morning but there were still signs that the street leading to the highway was filled with flood waters the night before. It was a good sign though. No rains, no winds…our trip will push through. After completing all our check-in requirements, the rain started to pour again. The next thing we know, several flights going to Mindoro and other provinces were being cancelled. Good thing we were flying with AirPhil Express‘ Airbus 320. The bad weather that day was not much of a problem for all AirBus flights. The last I heard, no Airbus flights were cancelled that day.

I checked the weather maps and satellite images before we left Manila. Puerto Princesa and the rest of Palawan was clear from the big clusters of clouds. True enough, when we stepped out of our plane after arriving in Puerto Princesa International Airport, we were kissed by the sun. The weather was as warm as any average summer day.

Upon getting out of the airport, the members of Maple Palawan Travel & Tours, our travel agency, gave us these necklaces.  VIP boost FTW! The driver brought us to our hotel, Marianne Home Inn, which was just a few minute drive from the airport. I love our hotel. It’s affordable, clean, cozy and homey.

After we settled and fixed our stuff in the our hotel, Anne, the tour guide from Maple, oriented us with our Day 1 activities. For our first day in Puerto Princesa, we will be spending the whole day in Honday Bay. I have been to Honday Bay last year but I haven’t enjoyed it due to time constraints. Imagine touring the Honday Bay for only two or three hours ‘coz we had to be back in our hotel before lunch so we won’t miss our flight back to Manila.

Honday Bay is one of the most visited attractions in the island. It’s famous for diving, snorkeling and island hopping activities. One of the islands that I missed to visit last year is Pandan Island. According to Anne, we will be staying in Pandan Island for our lunch. Picnic!

Roch got excited when she learned we were going to Pandan Island. We thought the island was shaped like pandan or it’s abundant with pandan juice because of its name, similar to it’s neighboring snake-shaped island. However, we were wrong because after all, the island was named after the Pandan Tree which is quite abundant in the island.

We arrived in Pandan Island an hour before lunch, just enough time for us to explore the beach and for Anne to prepare our lunch. Few of the activities that you can do in Pandan Island is fish feed, snorkel, and kayak. Kayaks are available for rent while in the island.

The trees on the right are the Pandan Trees.

It didn’t take Anne too long to prepare our lunch, most of which had been prepared before we left the city. Most of the food served were classic Filipino food. The photo below is chicken adobo, perfect for my #adobofridays.

After lunch, we went for a dip in the clear cool waters of Pandan Island. We also fed the fishes with the bread we bought from the snorkel rental shop in the city. After getting the most of our stay in Pandan Island, Anne called us off to leave for our next destination, the Snake Island.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]This post is part of our trip to Puerto Princessa with AirPhil Express. This trip is a sampler of AirPhil Express’ Puerto Princesa AdvenTour packages which you can avail together with your MNL-PPS-MNL tickets. If you wish to avail the AdvenTour Package that we had, please click here.[/box]

Spending a SMART weekend in Boracay

Who could say no to a free all expense paid weekend in Boracay? No one, right? Last weekend, Smart flew us to Boracay to test their newest innovation, the Smart LTE (Smart Evolution). In the previous weeks, Smart had been sending batches of bloggers to Boracay to give Smart LTE (4G) a try. We were the last batch to be sent for the same reason.

The first thing I noticed upon arriving in Caticlan was the newly renovated and much bigger Caticlan Airport. The airport still uses its old runway but now sports a much bigger terminal area. Unfortunately, the terminal building was not finished yet when we got there and we had to pick up our stuff in a shed outside the main terminal.

Our travel agent booked each of us our own rooms in Real Maris Beach Resort. The hotel was nice and our rooms are super big. It’s twice the size of my room in Eriko’s House.

Since we were there for the testing of Smart LTE, we didn’t get to do much beach-ing. The only activity we got to try was the Paraw sailing during sunset.

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Enjoying the sunset and the smooth breeze.

If the purpose of your trip to Boracay is to relax and get away from the stress of the big city, June might be a perfect month to go there. The summer feel is still there but it’s not as crowded as March, April and May.

 

 

 

 

[1] Photo credit: JustWandering.org

Capones Island, Zambales

Capones Island is another beach destination in San Antonio, Zambales. If you’re not too adventurous or you’re not the type of person who would want to go through the hassle of going to Anawangin Cove or Nagsasa Cove, then Capones Island might just be right for you. Capones Island is around 15 to 20 minutes boat ride from the shores of Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales. I’m not sure how much it will cost to go there since Capones was just part of the Nagsasa trip that we had weeks ago.

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How to get to Nagsasa Cove, Zambales

Nagsasa Cove

Getting to Nagsasa Cove may be difficult for first time goers. I was lucky that my friend Benj, the one who organized the weekend trip to Nagsasa, has been there once and has already learned things on how to survive a weekend in the remote paradise.

Nagsasa Cove is located in Zambales. If you’re taking public transport, it is advised that you take a bus from the Caloocan terminal of Victory Liner. They have a regular schedule for buses leaving for Iba, Zambales.  It is also advised that you take the first trip (at around 4 a.m) going to Iba. This will bring you to the small town of San Antonio. You can ask the driver to drop you in front of the town’s municipal hall which is not so far from the town’s public market.  Alternately, you can also take a bus going to Olongapo City. From Olongapo City, take any of the buses headed for Iba, Zambales.  The entire bus trip will cost you around P250.00.

Once you get off from the bus in San Antonio, go to the public market and buy your food and supplies. Don’t forget to buy coal, matches and booze.

The jump-off point to Nagsasa is in Pundaquit. From the San Antonio public market, ask a tricycle to take you to Pundaquit. Trike fare is around P25.00 per person.

Since Benj is already experienced in dealing with the necessities of a trip to Nagsasa Cove, he already arranged us a boat that will take us to the cove. He also asked the boatman to have our rice and water prepared for us. We were also able to borrow knife, grill and a cooler for our drinks and meat. There were seven of us and each paid P350.00 for the 1-hour boat ride. This covers the round trip boat ride to and from Nagsasa.

Once you arrived in Nagsasa, the caretaker, Kuya Ador, will ask P100.00 from each person for setting up camp on the island. You should also arrange with the boatman your pick-up schedule.

The entire two-day trip cost us P1500.00 / person. It already covered everything from food to transportation.

Here’s a copy of our itinerary (courtesy of Benj):

DAY 1

04:00 Leave Caloocan for Iba, Zambales
06:30 Arrive at San Antonio, Zambales
06:45 Breakfast/ Palengke (for our meals)
07:45 Take a tricycle to Brgy Pundaquit
08:10 Arrive at Pundaquit
08:30 Take a boat to Nagsasa Cove
09:30 Arrive at Nagsasa Cove

Day 2
10:00 Leave for Pundaquit
11:30 Tricyle to San Antonio
11:45 Bus to Olongapo
12:30 Lunch
14:00 Bus to Manila
18:00 Arrive at Manila

For arrangements with boat services, you may contact the boatman at 09108162974[1].

[1] No cellular reception from all networks in Nagsasa Cove.

A day in Nagsasa, San Antonio, Zambales

I must have spent most of my time with my camera during our stay at Nagsasa Cove last weekend. After we have set our camp and have eaten our lunch, I immediately grabbed my camera and tripod and started exploring the place. There were not much people that day except for a small group near our camp. In my opinion, one advantage of Nagsasa Cove over Anawangin Cove is the density of tourists that visit the place. If you’re into a serene and laid back type of vacation, then Nagsasa Cove is just right for you.

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Nagsasa Cove

If you were to be asked for a good place to go for weekend holidays in Luzon, you would likely give Batangas, Tagaytay or Baguio for an answer. But after experiencing one of the hidden jewels of Luzon last weekend, if I’m asked, I’d probably give a Nagsasa Cove for an answer.
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Philippine Beaches: Samal, Davao City

Thanks to Byahilo’s DiscOVIry contest that forced me to explore the depths of my photo library for photos of Philippine Beaches. I’ll be posting in the coming days a few of the 7, 107 beach destinations in our country. I have always dreamed of visiting all of these but for now, let’s enjoy few of my lakwatsas (trips).

Angel Cove, Samal, Davao City

For the first photo, I present to you the Angel Cove in Samal, Davao City. This little paradise is among the hottest snorkeling and diving destinations in Samal Island. The last time I went there was during our December 2007 island hopping in Davao (Samal).  Whole day boat rental usually ranges from 5000 to 7000 pesos. It’s worth it especially if you share the expense with a group.

Samal Island, Davao City
One of the sceneries during our Island Hopping in Samal, Davao

Babu Santa, Samal, Davao City

The photo above is from Babu Santa in Samal, one of the drop-offs during our Island Hopping. I’ve only been here a couple of times and I fell in-love with this place. It’s an undeveloped white-sand beach resort. We have used this place before for our photo shoot. A few nipa cottages are available for rent for guests who wish to stay during the day.

Photoshoot at Babu Santa, Samal, Davao City
Fran during our photoshoot in Babu Santa

These are just a few of the beaches that can be seen in Samal, Davao City. Unlike in most places in the Philippines, the weather in Davao is typhoon-free with occasional  rain-showers at night. Thus, you can beach-hop all year round.