Whenever I think of Pandan, an image of leaves placed in rice while cooking it comes to mind. So when our guide told us that the second island in our Honda Bay tour will be Pandan Island, an image of hot, sweet smelling rice popped in to my head.
And while Pandan Island isn’t the same as freshly cooked rice, it does have the same result of making you feel satisfied after visiting the place.
Among the three islands of Snake Island, Pandan Island, and Starfish Island, Pandan Island appears to be the biggest and most developed.
I was big enough that if you wanted a little privacy, all you had to do was walk a bit and you'd have enough space to be with yourself. That's not to say you won't hear the sound of adults laughing or kids playing, though. It just means that the you will be far enough from the sound to make it soft and you won't have to contend with wild splashing.
As far as the development is concerned, it starts right on the line of grass on the shore, where a series of cabaňas allow people to relax, sleep, and eat under the cool shade. Of coconut and other trees.
Though the rental rates are quite reasonable, you don’t have to worry about the entrance fee or the cabaňa rent because it will already be included in the tour package you paid for.
[With 7,107 island, I wonder if I could get one of these for myself...]
Speaking about lunch, since we arrived at Pandan Island a bit before noon, our stomachs were beginning to make noises. Thankfully our Honda Bay tour included a native lunch.
Our guide brought big plastic containers of Adobong Manok, Pancit, soup, and rice. And while this was enough to satiate our hunger, other people in our tour group ordered Crabs, Lobster, Squid, and Prawns from one of the locals.
As tempting as the additional food was, we didn’t want to be rude by getting portions because we didn't want to assume it was for everyone. But after being invited to partake of the orders, we sampled a few of the dishes. They were delicious not only because they were very fresh but also because they were full of flavor after coming off the grill.
There must be something about eating the fresh catch of the day by the beach that makes you forget about the cares of the world. After eating to our heart's content, many of us could not resting taking a quick nap to the sound of the gentle lapping of the waves.
And since the cabaňa did a perfect job of keeping out the hot rays of the sun but letting the cool breeze pass through, it actually became difficult to pick ourselves up after being told it was time to go.
[If only all my days could be like this...]
“But wait,” you say, “what about the beach? Is it any good?” Well, the answer to those questions are that it is definitely good.
The sand was whiter than Snake Island's and it was not as coarse, which meant you could kick off your Aqua Shoes if you wanted. The water was just as clear just as lightly salted. And since there was less plant material in the sand, you could see much deeper down and much further out.
Being high noon by the time we hit the beach, the water temperature was just right; not too cool and not too warm. In fact, it was perfect. And since there was a sand bar near our cabaňa, it was the first beach that allowed me to lie in the water without having to float. Yup, it was the perfect place to try a little meditation. But instead to listening to the prerecorded sound of the sea, you get to hear the real thing. You also get the added benefit of a gentle massage from the water.
Off all the three islands, this was the one I wanted to spend the whole day in. And like I mentioned earlier, I had to tear myself off the beach when it was time to go.
[If I were to come back, this is the place I'd spend the most time in...]
Other than swimming in the water and sleeping on a sandbar, it was feeding the fish that was the most memorable part of this trip.
Sure, as a kid I remember feeding fish in aquariums or even in fish ponds, but it's different when a ton of colorful fish come at you to gently nibble that piece of bread you are holding in your hand.
The only place I've seen this many colorful fish is on television, and even that was just limited to a small screen in the middle of my living room. But this time I was literally in the middle of it all.
I started out by dripping the food from above the water. And when I noticed that the fish weren't shy by bumping me, brought my hand underwater so they could nibble the food off my fingers. They were so hungry that some of them would nip my finger as they jockeyed for the bread.
Don't worry about it being painful though, after several bites, the only thing I can say about it is that they feel like a very light pinch. There was no blood or pain involved.
[Also, no fish were harmed in the making of the video...]
We've run out of bread and the others in our tour group who took a nap after lunch are now wide awake. With the afternoon rolling on, it was time for us to head out to Starfish Island, the next place on our island hopping tour.
Till next time, keep your cameras ready, your eyes peeled, and your minds open. You never know where your next adventure will take you!