Secret leave: Island hopping in a day! written by Marina Labastida

Thinking of what to do on a long weekend, but short in budget? Alaminos, Pangasinan Hundred Islands National Park is the best destination to make. Roughly 4-6 hours away from Manila, people will not be worried to spend time to relax because it is near and easier to go.

It is located in Lingayen Gulf and is composed of 123 islands and islets. There are three developed islands namely Governor’s island, Quezon Island and Children’s island. Beach lovers can explore as many islands they want in a day tour. These entire islands have a white-sand beach but stretched shorter and some are rocky beach. There are two choices on how you will tour the island using motor boats, either day tour regular boat, wherein the boatman will take you to three developed islands with time limit and will leave you on the last island and will fetch you to your desired time, or the service boat, you all have the time to take tour in any island without time limit. This is more expensive than the regular boat but if you plan your itinerary wisely you will be in an advantage.

Island Hopping
Governor’s island has their 123-step to get to the sight deck which views the astonishing beautiful islands and a miniscule cave. You can have your skin tanned like what some tourists do. If you want to overcome your fear, you will need to go and jump off to 70-foot drop and swim to the emerald colored waters in underwater cave called “Imelda” in Marcos Island, named after former President Ferdinand Marcos. You can also set up camp in some camping sites like Quezon Island, Scout and Lopez Island. Snorkeling is a must in your island hopping itinerary. You can view giant clams and vibrant coral reef which is home to rare school of fish. Bring snorkel goggles or you can rent for 200 pesos. You can also take a picture in Quezon Island Bridge for a remembrance of the alluring background and scene.
Children’s island is a family-friendly beach because of the shallow waters, it is safe for children. Kayaking is also a must, to explore and witness the breath taking view of islands like turtle and crocodile islands these islands are shaped like the amphibian animal. Bird and bat watching in Paniki islands and some of the islets is essential to complete your island hopping experience bats are flying everywhere but don’t be afraid because it will not harm you. Lastly, always wear your life vest to have a safe tour all the way it will be provided by the boatman.
Why go and how?
To experience a part of an archipelagic country like Philippines, you should visit the Hundred Islands because it is all worth it. Alaminos, Pangasinan is 4 hours away from manila if you will take a private car, you will have to take NLEX extended to Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. If you will take public bus, 6 hours approximately through Victory Liner Inc., Dagupan Bus, Five Star Bus or Philippine Rabbit bus, 400 pesos for bus fare and take tricycle to Lucap Wharf the jump-off point to the islands, it will cost you 50 pesos; shared tricycles will only cost 15 pesos per person. Register and pay your entrance and parking fees (when in car) in Tourism office. They also have environmental fee, 40 pesos for day tour and 80 pesos for overnight.
Like what is mentioned above, there are 2 options on how you will tour the island, Regular boat for 1-5 person it will cost 800 pesos, for 6-10 persons 1,000 pesos and 11-15 persons is 1,100. Service boat and for overnight boats you will add 800 pesos. Some boatmen may take shortcuts to save fuel, it is necessary to consult tourism staff for your itinerary and discuss it with the boatman before going.
It is best to visit Hundred Islands from November to April or anytime of the year but make sure that there is no typhoon. Leave Manila around 12 midnight to catch the sunrise in Lucap Wharf. Imagine how romantic it will be if you will catch sunrise before doing activities in islands.
Camping
If you plan to stay overnight, it is best to sleep in a tent on the beach. Quezon Island is the main camping site because it is complete with basic facilities for tourists. There is a fee of 200 pesos to camp on the islands. You will need to bring your own food and water during your stay because there are limited stores in some islands and it is expensive.
The experience in Hundred Islands is very unique, sublime and it will be worth it to spend your weekend and capture moments that will lasts a lifetime. Always remember, when you visit the site show respect and do not throw garbage anywhere for it to grow and be more known to the world.
“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed … We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.”
― Wallace Stegner, The Sound of Mountain Water

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