Philippines- Day 7, Honda Bay

We had told a couple people the day before that we were going to Honda Bay the next day according to Marcus and Ami's schedule for us (the most amazing schedule ever).  Each person we told said "oooh, island hopping", which we didn't understand, but said "sure!".

We got picked up by Marcus after he had worked for a couple hours, and he took us to Honda Bay!  I bet it's not what you're picturing at all, haha.
We got to this like, little wharf/ dock area and chartered a boat that would take us wherever we picked!  There was a list of islands up on a huge board, and you could pay a certain amount to get to 3 islands, 5 islands, or probably pick some other sort of combination...  With Marcus' help, we picked Starfish Island, an area between islands for good snorkeling, and Cowrie Island.  You even pick what order you want to visit them in (we saw them in the order I just listed).  Also, you pay a little to each island you visit (it was never more than like $2.50).
So off we went!  Marcus said this boat (above) was probably illegally fishing or something, and it was being "put on display" as a warning to others breaking the rules.
Lots of huts/ tents set up on this Island (don't know the name, we didn't visit it!).
And this island only has one little hut!
We made it to Starfish Island!  So named for the hundreds of (fake looking) starfish!  More on that later...  But Marcus had told us there was good snorkeling here, so we were down!

Here's our boat- #22
 He also suggested we walk to the end of the beach area and then snorkel back to our boat instead of the other direction.  That was fantastic advice- it was very easy to get into the water at the end of the beach area, instead of closer to the boats!
Matt had the smart idea of testing out the snorkels and masks in the shallow still water instead of the more wave-y other side of the beach.  It does take a bit to get used to breathing only through your mouth, and just floating face down in water, haha.
Since I was just using goggles, I took the time to take some selfies...
 ...and find some sand dollars
 This.  This was the "end of the beach" that Marcus spoke of.  Like, hold me.  I can't even deal.
 We jumped on in!  Matt and Beth are already floating around, and Dan is getting his mask on :-)

I kept taking pictures, it was just so gorgeous!
Reef from above!
Reef from below!
The coral wasn't crazy beautiful, but the fish were really awesome!  We saw a lot of fish I could name if you have seen Finding Nemo (nemo-fish, dorie-fish, fish that says "oh my gosh! nemo's swimming out to sea!", etc...)

After a quick lunch on the boat (again, packed for us in advance!- more pasta with veggies and cheese, and a different kind of egg curry), we headed to the between-islands snorkeling area!

This was a bit tricky.  Our guide jumped in when we got close to a buoy, so that when they anchored the boat, it was tied to the same place many have used before, and that way they weren't damaging the reef.  When swimming around, he detected a strong current, so told us to stay in front of the boat, since if we got pulled back, it would be towards the boat, not further away.  Matt jumped in off the boat, then Dan.  Dan immediately lost his mask and snorkel, and got pulled behind the boat by the current in his hesitation of losing those.  He grabbed onto the side bamboo things, and Matt dove down and got the mask and snorkel.  I jumped in and followed our guide, since I figured he was so far ahead, he was waiting for us, and I didn't want to make him annoyed.  Beth jumped in after me and was swimming around near Matt.  Each time I looked back, Dan was still on the side of the boat.  I thought maybe he wasn't really interested in snorkeling, and again, I went to catch up to our guide.  I slowly realized that Matt was staying with Beth and Dan, and that I should go back to hang out, and not worry about our guide.  Turns out Matt and I were doing fine in the current, and Beth was doing fine, but each time she stopped for a bit to empty water out of her mask, or defog it, she was swept back to the boat.  And Dan was worried about getting swept out to sea, so he was just sticking by the boat, haha.  It was a bit of a workout, this part of the trip!  I was glad I didn't bring my phone into the water this time, since the current made things that much more interesting.
After that adventure, we headed to Cowrie Island, our last stop for island hopping!
 Matt and Dan swam out to this floating dock while Beth and I watched and hung out at a picnic table.
These are the starfish that were all over Starfish Island.  Dan had seen one there and went "ha, looks fake!" and cast it aside.  Turns out, Beth and I were both skeptical of why there would be hundreds of fake starfish placed there, but didn't say anything.  So when Matt, after swimming to that dock and back, came back with one saying "hey! someone brought this from Starfish Island!" Beth said, "can you bring that here please?".  And we inspected it.  It does look rather fake and plastic-y, or at least different from the ones I have seen before, but turns out, Beth's and my instincts were correct, these were real.
To be fair, it does look rather like a plastic mold.  But yes, totally real.

Since it started raining while we were here, we found a table with some protection overhead after a bit!
And a game was invented.  Flick a bottle cap and try to hit the other persons drink.  If they hit it, you drink.  Simple game, hours of fun!
We were home by about 5:30pm after calling Marcus to come pick us up at the wharf again, and that evening was a birthday party for him!  Ami had planned a fantastic event at a local restaurant that they love- an Italian place run by two Italians (go figure!) who cooked and served the entire thing themselves.  There were arancini, eggplant fritter things, two types of bread, baked spaghetti pie, gnocchi, whole fish, and three kinds of pizzas.  All brought out throughout the night so that there was always something new and exciting to discover!  Oh, and plenty of wine, obvs.  There were so many people there to celebrate!  And from so many different countries!  There was a guy playing guitar and harmonica to provide some background music, and everyone just mingled and ate and had a great time. 

It was our last night in Palawan, and Marcus and Ami had shown us a fantastic time all week.  There will be one more short post to cover our last day of the trip.  Phew, we had an amazing adventure all together!

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