by Lena Santos
Snake Island – Where Did Everyone Go!
The Philippines is a country in South East Asia. It is composed of more than 7,000 islands with the three largest islands, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao serving as the significant points of geographic division.
Manila and Quezon City are in Luzon. Cebu City is in the Visayas and Davao City is in Mindanao. It would take a few lessons in geography to familiarize yourself with all the Philippine Islands!.
Filipino is the national language of the Philippines. Filipino is actually the “Tagalog” dialect but for the sake of eliminating discrimination it was changed to Filipino.
Why discrimination? Since the Philippines has many regions, it follows that each region has its own dialect. It is not uncommon for some native Tagalogs (the ones living in the National Capital Region, Regions IV A and IV B in Luzon) not to understand what someone from Region I or Region IX is saying.
Puerto Princesa is the capital city of Palawan, an island belonging to Region IV B which makes the island a part of greater Luzon. However, geographically it is nearer the Visayan group of islands.
Access to the island is either by boat or plane. It is an hour away from Manila by plane. If you choose to ride a ship that plies the island from the port of Manila, travel time is 22 to 24 hours.
If you decide to drive to Palawan, you could probably drive to Batangas at the southwestern tip of Luzon and wait for a ferry to transport you to Palawan. Travel and waiting time would probably take you 2 days.
What is there to see in Puerto Princesa? Plenty!.
It is so situated that in the East is the inner Sulu Sea of the Philippines and in the West is the open China Sea. Puerto Princesa exudes tranquility and a sense of peacefulness.
There are no loud girly bars or night spots in the city. The only ‘nightlife’ so to speak is the handful of restaurants that offer dishes that would titilate your tastebuds.
The restaurants are made of indigenous materials like bamboo and nipa huts and are so designed to reflect the old Filipino huts centuries ago. One restaurant is strategically built partly in Hunda Bay, and you can just imagine the cool sea breeze fanning your face as you sample its fare of seafood, lobsters included. If you don’t like sea food, you can order hamburger and fries that are to die for.
Island Hopping in Hunda Bay. The marina in Hunda Bay is about a 20 minute ride from the city proper. Puerto Princesa is environment conscious that proper care of its natural land and water resources is implemented.
It is recommended that you get a tour for your island hopping. First, the tour company will take care of all the permits necessary for the tour. Second, you will be fetched from your hotel or inn by an air conditioned van and taken to the marina. The tour guide will take care of renting the boat for the island hopping.
Your first stop will be in the middle of the bay where you have the option to go snorkeling and see the beautiful coral reefs below. You are not allowed to swim without a life vest though. The coral reef formations are incredible. The sea, gloriously clear and warm. There are floating bamboo rafts with sheds to serve as your base. Get your snorkels and jump! After about an hour or so, your guide will urge you to come up for the boat ride to Snake Island.
No, there are no snakes in Snake Island. It is named as such because the island is shaped like a snake. The ride from the reef to Snake Island is about 20 minutes. The beach of Snake Island is white glittering sand, water as clear and as blue as the skies. The main attraction here is fish feeding. Get some bread, put on your snorkels and swim into the water.
The fish will automatically be drawn to you. Fishes of all kinds and sizes will swarm on you for the feed. No, there are now sharks as the water around the small islands in Hunda Bay are constantly monitored for such.
Next and last stop for the day is Pandan Island. The island’s pristine beach is just wonderful. There are huts in the island where you can eat lunch and rest before you swim.
This is where your tourist guide brings out her packed lunch and starts grilling tuna or blue marlin, pork and some vegetables, and serves native salad of salted eggs and tomatoes to you.
The food is part of the package. The package tour is inclusive of everything: van, boat, tour guide and food. The two boatmen are also part of the tour as they would swim with you (or tow you in a rubber tube) if you prefer to have company.
If you are in luck, the island’s caretaker might just have some freshly caught lobster for you. What is in abundant though are freshly picked coconut. For 45 cents, the coconut is yours to enjoy. The tour package is no more than $32.00 per person. Great huh?