SUMMER is way far from over and it seems as if it has just started in making its presence felt with the heat index increasing every day soaring to as high as 43-degrees during the past week. In these times when the sun is not so nice and all, what you need is a refreshing moment by the beach sipping a nicely blended pinacolada and strutting your best summer bod clad in your trendy one piece and your best pair of sunnies. Mmmm. The thought is just so enticing… but you don’t have a summer break.
That’s right! You are unfortunately an office bum trapped within the walls of your cubicle with a boss who doesn’t seem to care whether you have a life or not as he/she is more concerned about you finishing that paperwork or meeting your deadline. (Laughs. I was just exaggerating!) But yeah. Most of us don’t have the luxury of time to fly to some paradise and relish the fun under the sun. Sadly, we only have our rest days to ourselves and if we aren’t too lucky, even rest days could pass without us doing what it really means to be alive! So how do you cool off this extremely hot weather with a quick fix to the beach? Let me share with you our day trip to the pride of Alaminos City, The Hundred Islands.
OUR HUNDRED ISLANDS SUMMER STORY
We began our journey to Alaminos late night Saturday at 11:50PM taking the last bus bound to the city from Victory Liner Cubao. Prior to meeting our travel buddies, I together with my boyfie (Ian) was trapped in a traffic jam which started in Edsa Buendia. We barely managed to make it on time and we almost missed the bus but thanks to our buddies who went against their ways, doing the unthinkable but somehow hilarious things to stall the departure until we make it to the bus. We were in Cubao Farmers when the bus (bound to Alaminos) finally made it to the U-turn slot to drive its way to the North. Afraid we might not make it, we alighted the bus we were in and ran to the 5-Star bus terminal where our friends have asked the VL bus driver to stop and wait for us. That was probably the fastest I’ve run in my entire life. Gladly. We made it to the bus but suffered some incredulous stares from other passengers who were not so forgiving about the slight delay even after we said “Sorry” and some even gave unfriendly remarks. Note: We just stalled the bus for 2 freaking minutes! But yeah it was our fault. So you guys better be on time always.
We spent the entire journey on the bus getting us some sleep to brace ourselves for the eventful day ahead. We reached Alaminos City a little past 5 in the morning and went to eat breakfast at Angie’s Bulalo Tapsy which was just a few walk from Victory Liner terminal. Whilst the food tasted okay, I didn’t like that it was oozing with MSG. Haha. We then walked to the market to get us everything that we would need for lunch. When we were finished, off we rode a trike going to the port where we could hire a boat to take us island hopping.
I haven’t really done my reading about Hundred Islands as I left the task to Joycie and Poleng but they too seemed to be surprised about the process being implemented by the local tourism office. It was barely 7AM but there were already countless people swarmed at the registration site. We managed to finish the registration process swiftly and in no time we were already afloat an outrigger boat bound to see the islands!
We went to see first Governor’s Island where the longest zipline is situated and where there is a floating bridge going to a nearby island. The most panoramic 360 view of the whole Hundred Islands can also be seen here through the viewing deck situated atop its highest point. We didn’t try the zipline. Instead we bought ourselves one of Filipino favorites, the Halo-Halo. It seemed more reasonable to get us a P30 Halo-Halo to fill us up for a couple of hours than pay for a P200 zipline ride which would only give us a rush of adrenaline for a few minutes.
We then head to see Marcos Island but didn’t bother to leave our boat and explore it as it was already too crowded. We wanted to find an island that isn’t too full of people and would enable us to cook our meal for lunch but the 2 teenage boys who were our boatmen didn’t seem to fall for our whims “saying there isn’t an island that has no people” and instead took us to the most crowded island that day, The Quezon Island. Having left with no other choice, we settled on that island, cooked our food, had a sumptuous lunch amidst the crazy crowd and went for a quick dip at the beach. I’ve seen other more beautiful islands with beaches of white sugary sands stretching for several kilometers. I would have let the fact that the place somehow fell short of my expectations pass but I found it hard to enjoy and appreciate its innate beauty due to the crowd that has limited my actions and the chance to explore it further.
A little bit disappointed, we didn’t bother to see the Scout and Children’s Islands that were supposedly part of the tour. Instead, we went back to Governor’s Island which we thought would be the best place to spend the rest of the hours away. We had until 4PM to get ourselves enough dose of this place and we wanted to make the most out of it. Upon reaching Governor’s Island, we saw a lot of people were still there but it was nothing compared to the island we came from. We looked for a spot where we can stay to drink some beers and have one heck of a conversation. Only the three of us were up for a drinking spree (Me, Ian and Kuya Julius) and the rest (Sir Teo, Joycie and Poleng) was on their search to explore and get some beach time.
We were left on a spot where we settled to sit on the sands watching the beach and the other tourists while drinking beers and talking about our sickly government and politics. Good thing the three of us pretty much were on the same frequency that the drinking beer over a talk about politics didn’t turn into an outrage. 😀 We had finished 3 bottles of Redhorse when Sir Teo, Poleng and Joycie went back few minutes before 4PM. We then headed back to the port to spare ourselves some time to wash up and catch the last bus bound for Manila.
Hundred Islands despite not making it to my standards is a pretty good place. It takes an open mind and a heart willing to explore its hidden corners to appreciate what this place is really about and what it can truly offer. I haven’t gone diving that I could not say for sure how rich and colorful were the waters underneath or how diverse were the lives living within it. I have not seen the rest of it that I cannot come to a conclusion as to whether it is worth seeing or not. But this gem in Alaminos is certainly a fun place to spend a day or two of your summer. Tons of things to do and if you aren’t as picky as me then you would probably have a wonderful time with these 100+ islands.
THINGS TO EXPECT
- There isn’t a decent place where you can have a toilet break anywhere in the island. You have to settle to what the islands can offer. There are no fancy shower rooms either. Just a room enough to wash yourself with clean water in a pale that you first would have to fill up and carry to your designated bathing bin cubicle.
- If you happen to have gone back to the city along with the other tourists, expect to join in the mass washing up (bathing) within the public T&B with the other females. You have to be quick with your hands to grab the dipper as there would only be a handful of them available and there are like 50 of you waiting to get the chance to use it. Once you have it, don’t ever let it go until you are finished bathing yourself.
- Summer has made it unbearable for anyone so if you happen to fancy a quick trip to the beach, by all means if you could, go there during weekdays. Going there during weekends is bloodbath. 😀
- Expect to run out of a place to stay like a gazebo or a cottage. There would be tables for rent but it comes with only 4 chairs so if you happen to be going with a group of 10 better get yourselves 2 tables. Other option is to bring your own tables and chairs to avoid the hassle. Picnic mats may be another useful option.
- Instead of bringing precooked food, bring instead packed lunches to save yourself the inconvenience of trying to find a place to cook with tons of other people having the same thing in mind. Or if you own a cook set bring it instead.
- Commodity prices in the islands are overwhelming. Beers, sodas and other beverages cost double than their normal prices so it is advisable to just bring your own.
HOW TO GO THERE
- Commute – Ride a bus in one of the terminals in Cubao (Victory Liner or 5-Star) going to Alaminos. Alight the bus at the terminal in Alaminos then ride a tricycle going to the port where you can register and hire a boat.
- Private – Drive North taking NLEX continuing to SCTEX taking the exit towards Ramos-Paniqui Road then follow the Tarlac-Pangasinan Road going to Alaminos. Upon reaching Alaminos, follow the Alaminos-Sual Road then turn right to S. Quimson street and drive straight to the Hundred Island National Park.
KNOW THE REGISTRATION PROCESS
- Completely fill out the manifesto form with the names of each person in your group including children and infants.
- Get a cue card at the information center. This would serve as cue to pay all the necessary fees.
- Submit manifesto form and pay the fees at the payment counter. Keep receipts.
- Show the boat dispatcher your receipts then board your designated boats. Start the trip. Have Fun.
LIST OF EQUIPMENT RENTALS AND OTHER FEES
|Mask and Snorkel|
Fishing Rod with bait
Cooler with ice
Tent Big (6-8pax)
Tent Med (4-5 pax)
Tent Small (2-3pax)
1 gallon mineral water
Small (5Pax Max)
Medium (10Pax Max)
Large (15Pax Max)
|PER ISLAND ACTIVITIES AND COST|
|PER ISLAND ACCOMMODATION RATES|
|PICNIC TABLES AND CHAIRS||P200||P300|
For inquiries and other information, you may contact Alaminos Local Tourism Office through the following channels:
- Landline: (075) 551-2505 or (075) 205-0917
- Mobile: 0928-244-9011
- Website: www.alaminoscity.gov.ph
BUDGET, ITINERARY AND ESSENTIALS
|2-Way Bus Fare|
Tables and Chairs
Food (Breakfast & Dinner)
Toilet and Bath
P40 (P60 per way for 3)
|SAMPLE ITINERARY||Day 0
23:30 Meet up
23:50 ETD Alaminos
05:00 ETA Alaminos/Breakfast
06:00 Market (Buy Supplies)
07:00 ETD Registration
07:30 Start Island Hopping
08:00 Governor's Island
09:30 Marcos Island
11:00 Quezon Island. Cook Lunch
13:00 Beach time
14:00 Scout Island
15:00 Children Island
16:00 Back at the port/Wash Up
17:00 Victory Liner Terminal/Dinner
18:00 ETD Manila
23:00 ETA Manila
|THINGS TO BRING (Day Tour)||-Water
KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER
- Leave No Trace and Take Nothing but photos and memories. Dispose off your garbage properly. Avoid littering the shores, worse the oceans. Leave the wildlife in their natural habitat.
- Observe cleanliness. Practice toilet etiquette. Flush and clean them after use.
- Save some food for your boatmen. They might not have anything to eat for lunch.
There you go lovelies. If you need further information, just shoot your questions on the comments box and I promise to answer as promptly as I possibly can. Until next time. Enjoy the sun. Ciao.