There are thousands of beautiful places in the Philippines, so it’s no wonder it’s called The Pearl of the Orient. On our recent holiday to this amazing country, Jo, her sister, and I ventured about 5 hours north of Manila to Alaminos in Pangasinan Province. When traveling from Manila, you’ll need to either take a bus, private charter, or hire a car. Our destination was the famed Hundred Islands. Entry to this national park is only PHP20 per person (double it if you want to stay over night), so it doesn’t break your budget. Once on the docks we quickly secured our boat and driver for the day.
There are several options to choose from when getting a boat.
You can hire a boat and driver for a single destination (cheap). This will essentially take you to one island and then come pick you up at a designated time. For only PHP500 more, you can have the boat and driver all day, which we opted to do. Furthermore, there are several boat size options to choose from: small (3 persons), Medium (6-10 persons), and Large (10+ persons). We opted for the medium sized boat, which turned out to be the best option. It allowed us to spread out and really enjoy the day rather than be cramped together.
The Hundred Islands gets its name from the hundred plus small islands lining the coastal region of Alaminos (last count puts the total number of islands at 123, but some vanish during high tide). Most don’t have docking shores or are very small, but several are huge, sporting soft beaches, comfort rooms (toilet facilities charging PHP5), and snacks. We visited several on our day out, and it was a welcomed change from the cold weather of Seoul. While there are some snack stands on the developed islands, I recommend brining your own. Just remember, what every pack in… pack out.
Our first stop was Governor’s Island. It’s one of, if not the largest. It was densely populated by other tourists, but not as bad as on weekends. We walked around the island for about an hour before reaching the top. The view was amazing. There were soft, cool breezes drifting along the shores. From here you could peer into the crystal blue water below. This island also presented us with several quiet places to capture unique nature photos.
The second stop was Marcos Island, where we donned our swimming trunks and hopped into the water. It was cool and refreshing! Something I could really get used to this in late December. I believe this was my first time in the tropics during the winter, and I love it. We ventured out to a small cave; where I was all set to use my new GoPro camera… then I realized, I hadn’t charged the battery! D’OH! Never fear, Jo was there and I used her Fuji camera. Thank goodness for always-prepared wives!
The rest of the day was spent zipping around Quezon Island, Children’s Island, swimming while gazing at giant clams (which I saw, but was still on the hunt for giant crabs), and walking through caves. When traveling north of Manila, I highly recommend visiting Alaminos and the Hundred Islands. It’s worth the trip.