After two years of living and working in Manila, my sister finally decided to visit me and was keen to check out the outskirts of the city for a change. We packed our bikinis and a couple of summer outfits and left the city for the long weekend.
The choice of destination, Hundred Islands in Pangasinan. The Hundred Islands, which consists of 123 islands during high-tide (124 during low-tide) is one of the wonders of the Philippines and is believed to be over 2 million years old.
Aside from island hopping, Pangasinan is a great tourist destination where you can do a range of activities such as kayaking, spelunking, scuba diving, camping, snorkeling, hiking, parasailing and many more. It is a place with a rich history, great food, and warm people. The 123 islands are more than a hundred reasons to visit this place. It’s a must-visit place for locals and expats as it has a different charm of its own.
How To Get There
Sual in Pangasinan was a breezy 5-hour drive (it could have been 4-hours if it wasn’t for all the tricycles in the last leg of the trip). Many tourists opt to stay in Alaminos – that is where you can start the tour to the Hundred Islands, but for tourists who prefer a dose of quiet time away from the crowd, Sual offers a wide range of beachfront hotels with miles of empty beaches. It’s one of those places where it would be fun to drive along the shore if you owned a 4WD or ATV.
If you don’t have a vehicle, you can ride a bus from Cubao. Victory Liner, Dagupan Bus, and Five Star Bus all have regular trips to Alaminos and come in aircon and non-aircon options. Bus rides cost approximately $10 for 1-way.
If you don’t want to plan your own itinerary, you can avail of tour packages. It could be quite pricey if you are a solo traveler but ideal if you are a large group.
Hundred Islands Tour
We started our trip by leaving our hotel in Sual at 9AM. It wasn’t peak season when we visited (August), so there weren’t crowds of tourists in the area. My sister and I are over-reliant on Waze, and we just typed in Lucap Wharf in the application.
For bus riders, you will need to take a tricycle ride from the bus terminal of Alaminos to Lucap Wharf. It will take around 10-15 minutes.
It is not necessary to pre-book a banka (local boat) prior to island hopping. There are several bankas waiting by the dock ready to take tourists. Depending on how big your group is, you can take the Small Boat for 5pax (Php800 / $16), Medium Boat for 10pax (Php1,400 / $28), or the Large Boat for 15pax (1,800 / $36). Prices listed are for standard day tours, if you plan an overnight stay in the islands, the costs will be different.
Standard day tours only allow you to visit three islands, but if you have time and want to explore the whole national park, get a private banka instead (cost will vary) so you get to visit more islands.
The Three Islands
Quezon Island – Named after the former President Manuel L. Quezon, this is the biggest island in Hundred Islands and is catered for overnight campers. There are grilling areas for visitors to cook. Kayaks can also be rented.
Governor Island – If you want to do an overnight trip but not camp out, Governor’s Island has rooms with facilities, including picnic tables. This island gives the best view of the Hundred Islands. There is also a zipline which you can ride to go to Virgin Island!
Children’s Island – For people who don’t know how to swim, or families who bring their children, this island is the safest place for swimming. It is called Children’s Island because of the calm and shallow waters which is safe for children to enjoy. There are cottages for rent, cooking facilities and comfort rooms.
Hundred Islands is one of those places where you need to pay for many small things – entrance fees, use of toilets, picnic tables, cottages, snorkeling gear, etc. There are also vendors selling local snacks and souvenirs, so it is always good to bring loose change!
If you have any questions about this trip, feel free to leave a comment below!