Pambato Reef is a marine sanctuary in the middle of Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa, and is home to countless species of exotic fish.
While it isn’t an island, Pambato may be included in the island hopping tour packages offered in the area. It is about twenty minutes away from Cowrie Island by boat.
The entire reef is about 16.49 hectares and has an average depth of 13 meters. A platform with a replica of a giant pawikan or sea turtle that serves as its roof was built in the lowest section of the reef for swimmers, snorkelers, and divers. This floating platform is locally known as Dalubkaragatan. Pambato Reef is named as such because it’s a vernacular word for “best bet.” And true to its name, it is Puerto Princesa’s contender to be the best reef in Palawan.
Pambato Reef has a fantastic underwater view and well-preserved coral reefs. The reef is perfect for snorkeling and diving. It has a rich marine life composed of different corals such as branch, staghorn, brain, and ear corals that are home to barracudas and thousands of fish species. Snorkelers feast their eyes on the abundant and colorful life underwater with giant clams, lapu- lapu, parrotfish, sergeant major, and spadefish among others.
It is sometimes dubbed as the mini-Tubbataha Reef, a sanctuary in Sulu known for its high density of marine life.
Photos of different fish with short descriptions are displayed in one area of the platform. It serves as a mini-exhibit of sorts that showcases the richness of the site. This effort familiarizes the tourists on what to expect when they go underwater.
Fortunately, Pambato Reef has been declared a marine sanctuary so it is protected from the rampant illegal fishing using cyanide and dynamite. The concerted efforts from the government and the locals make Pambato Reef a safe home for a rich eco-marine life.
There is a minimal fee to avail of the Pambato Reef tour. Fish feeding is strictly prohibited in the reef. Life vests must be worn at all times.