A popular gateway for trips to El Nido and the Underground River, Puerto Princesa in the Philippines has plenty of attractions of its own – not least, the idyllic Honda Bay. Explore them using one of these hotels as your base.
Honda Bay, extending several kilometres from the city’s east side, is a collection of palm-fringed islands and sandbars home to orange rock starfish and coral gardens. The city itself has interesting sites, such as the prisoner of war memorial at Plaza Cuartel and the gallery of local artists at the Palawan Heritage Center.
This flower-filled boutique is in Bancao-Bancao, just minutes from Puerto Princesa International Airport. A cobbled path through a lush garden leads to a tiled terrace hung with rattan hammocks; inside are Filipino-style rooms with handmade wood furnishings, a minibar and refrigerator. Guests can book Underground River and Honda Bay tours with staff. Don’t leave without trying the wood-fired pizza piled with prawns and clams at Hibiscus Pizzeria.
With rattan hammocks, a fern-filled courtyard and a bar serving the first craft beer in Palawan – Ayahay IPA by Palaweño Brewery – Matutina Pensionne is for the laid-back traveller. Spend a relaxed afternoon strolling the Baywalk promenade or reflecting on the World War II history of Palawan at Plaza Cuartel. Enjoy Filipino homestyle cooking at the restaurant before retreating to your simply furnished, air-conditioned room.
The moody, dark-wood rooms of this San Pedro boutique set up a perfect weekend of romance. Head to the spa for a 90-minute Balai Signature treatment: a combination of Filipino hilot massage, reflexology and cupping therapy. There’s also a sauna and jacuzzi to wash off the seawater after a day of island-hopping booked through the concierge. There aren’t many restaurants in this area, but Lilim Café will keep you filled up with mountains of adobo.
Edging a road of Korean restaurants and videoke bars in San Pedro, these self-contained villas are simple and refined. All are perched on a koi-filled pond and come with cable TV, a private bathroom and outdoor seating area. There’s also a car rental service on site, so you can take a self-guided tour around Honda Bay. For breakfast, choose from silog meals – rice, a fried egg, and your choice of meat – or a Western-style fry-up.
On the east side of Bancao-Bancao and a four-minute drive from the Palawan WWII Memorial Museum, this bed and breakfast rings a serene pool flanked by palm trees. Two rooms feature air conditioning, blackout curtains and a terrace, and some have views over Honda Bay. Feast on baguettes with homemade mango jam for breakfast – cooked morning meals are available for an additional fee.
This colourful guesthouse sits on the southern edge of Puerto Princesa, a five-minute ride from the Palawan Heritage Center and 12 minutes from the airport. Large family rooms include a balcony, a seating and dining area and a kitchenette with refrigerator; if you have a big party, there’s even a room for 14. Feast on huge Filipino breakfasts with mountains of rice and hot coffee – there’s also a barbecue available for your group.