Decades ago, the sleepy town of Alaminos in Pangasinan rose to fame for its cluster of mushroom-shaped coral formations carved by pummeling ocean waves. Today, local and foreign tourists continue to flock to this unique destination that has come to be known as the Hundred Islands.
Despite its popularity, this attraction remains unspoilt and inviting. In 2008, it landed on the cover of the book “501 Must-Visit Islands” published in the United Kingdom.
And for good reason—scattered like beautifully cut emerald stones upon the blue-green waters of the Lingayen Gulf are 123 coral islands, with abundant inland and underwater flora and fauna, cream-colored fine sand that yields to every step, and friendly local islanders.
The Hundred Islands now offers active nature experiences such as zipline, wall climbing and rappelling. These are perfect activities for the weekend adventurer who wants a change of scenery—and exercise.
The outdoor adventure package is only P175—the cost of fast-food value meal.
You reach the 120-meter zipline ride by climbing a tower on one end of Quezon Island, one of the more developed islands in the national park. Highly skilled zipline operators, trained by Outland Adventure of Davao, secure the rider with a harness and protective headgear. One glides above the clear waters and sees the island from a rare bird’s eye view.
This island also has a 546-meter zipline that connects to the Virgin Island—for only P250 fee.
In the same tower as the zipline take-off point is a safe and uncomplicated man-made rock climbing wall perfect for beginners. The rappelling portion requires a descent from the tower to a bed of soft sand, quite easy and enjoyable, especially for beginners.
There are also cliff jumping and swimming in the underwater cave of Marcos Island, snorkeling in Coral Garden, communing with the wildlife in Bat Island and Monkey Island, and exploring the tiny, secluded coves of Cuenco, Old Scouts and Lopez islands.
There’s also swimming or kayaking in the shallow waters of Children’s Island. Or one can simply enjoy the breathtaking sight from the view deck of Governor’s Island.
Stores in the mainland sell souvenirs.
In Quezon Island, there are simple picnic tables for P200 each or a spacious pavilion for P4,000.
For bigger groups, there’s a guesthouse for 15 persons for around P5,000. The famous “Pinoy Big Brother” house in Governor’s Island can also be rented for the same amount.
Nature lovers can camp out on the shores of Quezon Island for P200. Tents can be rented for P400.
Dining and lounging in the sea aboard a floating cottage, which can accommodate more than a dozen persons, will cost around P1,000. Those on a tighter budget can bring their own food and drinks to enjoy anywhere in the islands or buy from the food stalls in the area.
The Hundred Islands is accessible by bus bound for Alaminos or Bolinao. The trip will take five hours. In Alaminos, charter a tricycle to the Lucap Wharf and get off in the local tourism office where visitors must register and can rent an outrigger boat.
The fee ranges from P1,000 to P4,500 depending on the size and type of the boat and length of stay. A day tour on a regular boat allows 20-minute visits each to Quezon Island, Governor’s Island and Children’s Island.
Victory Liner plies the Alaminos and Bolinao routes daily, every hour from 4 a.m. to 11:50 p.m. It has well-cushioned seats, fully functional air-conditioning system, strong WiFi connection, and courteous, highly trained personnel.
Log on to victorliner.com.