Hundred Islands is one of the easy island hopping trips to the North. You can take it on in one day! Here’s how.
He wanted to travel up North to show me the gigantic clam. I wanted somewhere inexpensive and chill.
Because our anniversary trip to Dumaguete was replaced in favor of my trip to Caramoan Islands, we were quick to schedule another trip. This time, in Pangasinan.
From the moment our boat left the dock, all we saw were round and tiny clusters of green and limestone rocks. Legend has it that these islands and islets were first part of seabed. As the tide receded, they appeared at surface and allowed for vegetation to grow. Today they resembled green turtles and alligators on top of the water.
It’s not called Hundred Islands for no reason.
#1 Our road to Hundred Islands first began in Lingayen
So maybe you have more than 24 hours. No problem!
I’ll remember Lingayen as the place where I learned how to do freestyle swimming! We booked accommodations with a swimming pool to practice my skills. We took the night bus to Lingayen before heading to Alaminos City. Here we saw the Pangasinan Provincial Capitol, which is designed by the same architect as Baguio‘s Burnham Park.
The capitol complex is situated near the historic Lingayen Gulf, once a battleground of Japanese, American and Filipino soldiers. As such, there is a park with tora-tora airplanes, army tanks and guns. You can enter the capitol museum, where extravagant chandeliers and antique furniture are found. Other attractions in Lingayen to be explored on foot are are Sison Auditorium, Urduja House, and Ramos House.
#2 It’s only 5 hours away from Manila
What’s great about a Hundred Islands trip is that while it’s quite some distant from Manila, it only takes 4 to 6 hours of travel. This makes it accessible for comfortable Friday night travel.
- How to go to Hundred Islands: From Manila, board an air-conditioned bus bound for Alaminos City. Some bus terminals in Cubao that offer this trip are Dagupan, Five Star and Victory. Fare is around PHP 400. The landmark at Alaminos City is a small plaza, the Nepo Market, and several fast food chains. Hail any tricycle to take you to Lucap Wharf, negotiating the fare at PHP 60 for two persons, and PHP 80-100 for more. At Lucap Wharf, head over to tourism to hire boats for your trip. Boat rentals are regulated and have official prices for the Hundred Islands tour.
#3 We met the Governor and the Virgin beside him, and skipped the Children
Not all 123 islands are accessible (124, during low tide!).
The three most popular of the Hundred Islands are are big enough shore for beach bummers. The rest are mainly viewed from the sea because they’re mostly composed of rocks, therefore uninhabitable.
One of the highest islands in terms of elevation is Governor’s Island, which gained popularity because of the reality TV series, Pinoy Big Brother. It is by no means owned by any governor. Atop this island is a flight of stairs leading to a view deck which lent us a panoramic view of some of the Hundred Islands. As someone who likes vantage points, it’s easily my favorite spot!
Across the buoy bridge from Governor’s Island is where our boatmen said there is a masthead of a mermaid on its top, and the island itself is shaped like the body of a woman. Thus it was called Virgin Island. It has a beach with coral rocks and a helmet diving site not very far. Because of the short shore, we only had time to ruminate on the cemented benches.
During the course of the island hopping, we chose to skip Children’s Island. There was nothing out of the usual there, except that it’s the smaller but also inhabitable island.
#4 We went cliff diving at Marcos Island
Marcos Island will be memorable to anyone who’s terrified of heigths. Like me.
Atop the short flight of steps is an opening to Imelda Cave. It’s where the more adventurous guests take the short drop to the cool, deep water below. It’s not a high jump at all, and it’s completely safe given the depth of the waters flowing from the sea. Add the fact that life vests are prerequisites to the cliff diving.
I’d like to ask you to not be afraid, but it took some time to convince me to take the plunge. Fifteen minutes to be exact!
#5 We finally located the Giant Clam!
The most happening of all Hundred Islands is Quezon Island.
Quezon Island is the more popular place to go frolicking with the family and camping with friends. This is owed to its shallow waters, a relatively wide shore, the nearby snorkeling site, the restaurants and cafés, and of course the water activities. Parked on its edges are kayaks and jet skis for rent.
Not far from the island is the place Josh has been dying to show me in detail: the Coral Garden. The area has been enclosed by ropes to make snorkeling safe from passing boats and to protect the coral reef. Just a few meters beneath are various rocks, clams and fishes on the seabed! For additional boost, we even brought a loaf of bread (all the way from Manila) to attract the fish.
Because of the low visibility, however, I only saw a ghost of the giant clam. It was bittersweet because we rode all the way to Pangasinan to see the thing.
Read my article about the best pitstops on a North Luzon Roadtrip!
Best of all, we spent only around PHP 1,700 each!
Even though we didn’t see the giant clam in its full glory, we were pretty stoked about our snorkeling adventure. Taken alone, anyone can accomplish the trip within one day.
Excluding our expenses in Lingayen, our highest estimate for the entire Hundred Islands on a daytrip is only PHP 1,700 per pax! Note that we are only two, so bigger groups will have less expenses. Here is a break down:
- Fees. It’s not only the boat rental that you’ll be spending on! In Hundred Islands there is an entrance fee, an environmental fee, and an optional insurance fee. I highly recommend you bring your own snorkeling gear to save money. Here is a break down, per pax:
|Entrance Fee||PHP 40|
|Environmental Fee||PHP 30|
|Insurance (optional)||PHP 10|
|Complete Snorkeling Gear (optional)||PHP 250|
- Boat and gear rental. Because of the rain during, smaller boats were discouraged from sailing during our trip. As such, we automatically had to avail of the medium-sized boat. That’s too big and too expensive for just the two of us! Good thing, another couple offered to share our boat so that we split expenses.
|BOAT SIZE||CAPACITY||PRICE PER BOAT|
|Small||1 to 5 pax||PHP 1,400|
|Medium||6 to 10 pax||PHP 1,800|
|Large||11 to 15 pax||PHP 2,000|
- Transient Homes. It’s best to reserve your accommodations prior to going to Hundred Islands. But should you go on a whim and decide to stay overnight, there are plenty of transient homes surrounding Lucap Wharf. There is also pay shower and restroom at Lucap Wharf where you can wash up after island hopping. It only costs around PHP 10 per shower.
- Island Facilities. For big groups and families who want to chill out right in the islands, you can rent various amenities that fit your needs and preferences. You can go from an all-out guest house stay, to camping out. Here are the rates:
|Guest House||–||PHP 5,000|
|Gazebo||PHP 600||PHP 1,000|
|Picnic Tables||PHP 200-500||PHP 300-700|
|Tent Space||–||PHP 200|
- Food. There are plenty of fast food restaurants in Alaminos City, so we mainly had a heavy lunch and dinner afterwards. You can go to a nearby convenience store to pack snacks or order takeout. There are also reasonably-priced sari-sari stores set up in Lucap Wharf, Governor Island and a restaurant and café at Quezon Island.
- Activities. For the adrenaline junkies who would be bored with just beach bumming, you can enjoy various adventure activities in the islands. Here are the rates:
|Zipline (Governor’s Island)||PHP 250|
|Zipline (Quezon Island)||PHP 100|
|Wall Climbing||PHP 50|
|Banana Boat (min. 6 pax)||PHP 250/pax|
|Helmet Diving (20 mins)||PHP 400|
|Kayaking (max. 2 pax)||PHP 250|
|Jet ski (solo ride, 15 mins)||PHP 2,000|
|Parasailing (2-3 pax)||PHP 1,500/pax|
Preparing for your Hundred Islands trip
- Best time to visit. The most important must-do is a weather check prior to your trip because rainy weather can make you rent bigger boats, which is more expensive. It may also lower the visibility during the snorkeling activity.
- What to Bring. To save money, bring your own snorkeling gear, snacks and toiletries for the island hopping trip. Because it will entail mostly water activities, bring plastic to carry your wet clothes afterwards. Don’t forget your underwater cameras!
- What to Wear. Ladies, you can wear your bikinis. But because it’s a family-friendly place, most people only wear rash guards and casual clothing. During rainy season, the weather may be colder so bring fabric to cover you up. Wear sturdy shoes too because Hundred Islands beaches are mostly made of coral rocks and not fine sands.
- Contact Details. Be sure to transact all your businesses a the City Tourism Office or the Tourism Information Center. For special concerns, contact their landline number (075) 205-0917, or mobile numbers (+63) 939-3352411, (+63) 928-2449011
Do you really need 100 reasons to visit Hundred Islands? We don’t think so. Happy two years to us!