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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hundred Islands National Park, Philippines! (^__^)

 For the Chinese New Year holiday, my boyfriend and I decided to go to a trip. 
So this post will be about the well-known Hundred Islands, including some tips to come in handy. :)


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WHERE: Alaminos, Pangasinan, Philippines
WHEN: We went here just this February 19, 2015

FIRST THINGS YOU WANT TO KNOW:
HOW TO GET HERE:



Our way from Manila is to ride a bus to Alaminos, particularly Victory Line in Cubao.
Their earliest trip is 4am, and the travel will last you for 6 hours.
The fare amounts to 390 pesos.

TIP No. 1 - If you are a student (like me!) bring your school ID to avail of the discount. It only costed me 315  pesos, neat, huh?! :)

   You do not have to worry about where to drop off, since the drop off point in Alaminos is where exactly you should be. :)
   From there, you can still buy some stuffs on the nearby market and grocery stores.
   Then proceeding to the tricycle terminal just nearby, you have to ride to Lucap wharf.
   A special ride will cost you 80 pesos (or 60 pesos if you can bargain-we did!); or 20 pesos each if the tricycle will wait for a total of 4 passengers before leaving.
   The entrance fee, which you'll have to pay in the Tourism Office in Lucap wharf, is 40 pesos for day tour, and 80 pesos if you'll stay overnight, children 5 years old and below are free of charge. (Note: You only pay one entrance fee to be anywhere on the islands, you do not pay every time you drop by an island)

Here are the boat rates:



WHAT DOES THE REGULAR/SERVICE MEAN?
- The Regular Boat will only tour you to the 3 developed islands - Governor's, Children's and Quezon. Those are the only islands where you can roam around. The boatman will drop you off and wait for you, depending on your agreed time, then bring you back to the wharf after the tour. The boats are only allowed to sail out to sea until 6pm, so that means that Day Tour is only until 6pm.
- The Service Boat will tour you to 'all' the islands, that consists of the developed and undeveloped islands. That way, you could also roam around the undeveloped islands.
- If you avail of the Day Tour, the tour will only last until around 5.30pm, because the boats have to be back at the wharf by 6pm.
- If you stay overnight, then the boatman will leave you at your desired island (we stayed on the undeveloped Marcos Island, and we're all alone!), and will fetch you the next day upon your agreed time.

A zoomed in pic of 'our island' with our tent. See, goin' solo, :)
IMPORTANT INFO No. 1 - Upon drop off, you may encounter somebody offering you the packages you could avail from them. They will show you the rates for the boat service, and tent rentals. They may seem strange (and sort of creepy, sorry), but they will inform you that through them, you could actually avail of discounts.

FUN FACT: Here's the rationale :D The Tourism Office of Pangasinan set the standard boat rates, and other rates, including, of course, the accommodations available on the developed islands. Now, if you transact 'inside', or that is, from the Tourism Office in Lucap wharf, the charges are strict, there is no chance for haggling. But if you transact 'outside', or that is, from the men I mentioned above, you could actually arrange some terms in case you want some modifications (like we did). The reason for this, as they claim, seems to be a bit controversial, so I rather not discuss it here, hehe. My point is, you can fairly trust them, just don't forget to be really cautious, and really inquisitive just to be sure you're dealing with the right persons.

TIP No. 2 - If you don't mind spending so much, you are really free to transact 'inside', so you feel more secure. :)

WHAT ABOUT THE ROOM RATES?
- I suggest you call these  numbers:

- (075) 551-2505
- (075) 205-0917
- 0928-2449011

WHAT IF WE HAVE A TENT?
- The fee for pitching a tent is 200 pesos per tent.

TIP No. 3 - If you want to pay nothing for pitching your tent, stay on the undeveloped islands (like we did, it's free!). Nobody is there to charge you. Hehe :)

DO THEY HAVE TENT RENTALS?
- Yes.
- Small (1-2) - 500 pesos
- Medium (3-4) - 750 pesos
- Large (5-10) - 1,000

WHAT TO SEE AND DO HERE:

#1 - First thing to see, of course, are the islands (or the sea? hehe). The main activity to do here is to go island hopping. They have what they call 'developed' and 'undeveloped' islands.

The developed islands include Governor's, Children's and Quezon Island. It is coined 'developed' because they already constructed some hotels with different room rates of course, it has electricity which I think is through solar panels (neat!), cottages and picnic tables. For inquiries as to the room rates, I suggest that you call the following numbers since their rates are subject to change without prior notice.
- (075) 551-2505
- (075) 205-0917
- 0928-2449011

The undeveloped islands include Marcos, Romulo, Lopez, Braganza, among others. They are coined undeveloped since they have not disturbed the islands too much, aside from putting solar-powered lights, and some cottages and picnic tables which you can also rent.

When island hopping, the boat can only drop you at the developed islands and some undeveloped islands above-mentioned, depending on the boat service you availed of.


IMPORTANT INFO No. 2 - If you plan to stay on the hotel rooms, then I suppose you have the luxury of freshwater for you to wash yourselves after swimming. BUT if you plan to avail only of the cottages, picnic tables, or just stay on your tents, their public bathrooms only have saltwater on the faucets as well. Hahaha!

IMPORTANT INFO No. 3: Only their developed islands have a public bathroom, on the undeveloped, there is none, you just have to wash yourselves on the beach, then dry yourselves thereafter. :D



TIP No. 4 - Here is the benefit of availing the 'outside' transaction, because they offered their transient house (for free) for us to take a bath in before heading home. I suggest you ask this to your boatman before finalizing your charges. :)

We stayed on Marcos' Island, therefore, we have no bathroom to clean ourselves after. Good thing our 'outside' accommodation gave us a container of freshwater for free! (See, they are nice! :))


Marcos Island at around 6pm. We have it all by ourselves. :)

#2 - Another thing you can do here is to avail of the zip lines.

In Governor's Island, they offer a 546m zip line for 250 pesos only! We wanted to avail of this one, but the first time we went, they already have 18 persons in cue (they can only accommodate 18 persons in a batch, then you have to wait for the paraphernalia to be returned. Haha). The second time we went here, their service boats left for an errand, sad. Good thing our boatman is so nice, he offered to bring us back to Quezon Island for the other zip line.

Here's the 546m zip line. Pangarap na naging bato. -_-
In Quezon Island, they offer a 120m zip line for only 100 pesos.

The best part on these zip lines is that you'll glide above the waters! :)


My boyfriend on the zip line, too bad I don't have a pic on my first zip line cause I glided first-excited. :D

#3 - Another thing to do is go wall climbing and rappelling.

For only 175 pesos, it includes wall climbing, rappelling, and the 120m zip line, all in Quezon Island.
We did not try rappelling and wall climbing though, we're not that athletic. :D

#4 - Next, kayaking!

Is there even a word such as 'kayaking'? Anyway, we also rented a boat for kayaking, for only 250 pesos for an hour rental. You are free to go anywhere you like, as long as you'll be able to return on time. Haha. As much as we want to go far, we couldn't, 'cause it stressed my arms too much, but it's really fun! :) Too bad we weren't able to take a pic, since I have to leave my camera with them for safety reasons.

#5 - Cliff diving/jumping!

The cave is only available in Marcos Island, an undeveloped island. So you could only go here if you availed of the Service Boat (unless you could haggle with your boatman). This is the Imelda Cave where you could go cliff diving. :)

Here's the view from above the cave - quite scary since there are lots of bats above.
But we managed to jump here twice! Yeey!


Note: Jumping here is for free, in case you're wondering. Hehe.. Just be really careful, a spot here has rocks.


#6 - Snorkel!

Pangasinan is also known for their bred giant clams. The boat will settle near the area where you could snorkel, and you have to swim going there. The view under the sea is quite nice, although it's not as diverse as the others, it is still something you do not want to miss. Again, it's for free, it's part of the tour. :)





#7 - Of course, swim and camp!

Need I say more?

We bought this tent for this outing for practical reasons, of course. This means we'll have more camping to come! :)
  
#8 - Hunt for rocks/pebbles/corals/shells. :D


#9 - Bury yourselves - and try to get up as fast as you can! :D


#10 -Go chick-hunting. :D


TIP No. 5 - Bring enough food and water! Anything edible here is expensive. :D I just ate the most expensive instant cup noodles here - for 50 pesos. :( Hahaha

TIP No. 6 - If you could haggle with your boatman, (or try with the Tourism Office - this I'm not sure), instead of paying 3,000 pesos for the Service Boat-Overnight, you could pay 1,400 Service Boat-Day Tour, and pay 1,000 Regular Boat-Day Tour to fetch you the next day, totaling to only 2,400 instead of the 3,000. :D (hahaha, this worked for us!)

SOME QUESTIONS:
DO THEY HAVE VEST/SNORKEL RENTAL?

Yes.
- Mask & Snorkel - 150
- Vest - 50

IS THERE AVAILABLE MARKETS TO BUY FRESH SEAFOOD FOR GRILLING?

- When you're on the islands, I don't think there is. There are only small eateries (which can be pretty expensive) on the developed islands. I suggest you buy first at the Alaminos town proper before riding the tricycle to Lucap wharf.

DO WE HAVE TO CONTACT THEM FOR RESERVATION?
- For the boats, you do not have to, you transact with them upon arrival.
- Although for the room accommodations on the islands, I suggest you first call the numbers above, specially during peak season.

DO YOU HAVE AN ISLAND TO RECOMMEND?
- Whatever floats your boat! :)
- If you prefer to feel more secure, you may opt for the developed islands, since they have their personnel there, and more tourists like you.
- If you prefer a more private, and more adventurous stay, I suggest you stay on the undeveloped islands. We have no regrets staying at Marcos' Island, the fact that nobody was with us during the night made it more special and exciting! The whole island was ours! :)
- If you prefer activities, I suggest to stay at Quezon Island since they have zip line, wall climbing, rappelling and kayaking.
- If you have kids, I suggest to stay at Children's Island, since the waters are more shallow as compared to the other islands. Although it has been under renovation, so you better ask your boatman if it is available by the time you visit.

HOW MUCH IS YOUR TOTAL EXPENSES?
Around 5,500 pesos.
Here's the breakdown:
390    - Regular bus fare to Alaminos (my boyfriend's fare)
315    - Discounted bus fare (I have my student ID :))
200    - McDo lunch upon our arrival at Alaminos town proper
60      - Tricycle to our transient house near Lucap wharf
100    - Vest rental (50 pesos each)
80      - Entrance fee (as I said, we 'modified' our payment, despite the fact that we stayed overnight! :D)
1,400 - Day Tour Service Boat on our first day (to drop us off at any island we prefer to stay the night)
1,000 - Day Tour Regular Boat to fetch us the next day. Not bad being practical, right? :D
250    - Kayaking
200    - Zip line
100    - Instant cup noodles (really expensive, and the water's not even that hot!)
300    - Tip
60      - Tricycle to Alaminos Town Proper
300    - Chowking lunch before boarding the bus
390    - My boyfriend's bus fare
315    - My discounted bus fare (I saved 150 pesos for the bus fare! :))
100    - Taxi on our way home
= 5,560*
*Expenses for packed meals are excluded.

- There you go! I know you could do away with the McDo and Chowking lunch if you brought packed meals, but we only brought some for dinner, breakfast and some snacks, then also with the 300 peso tip, so you could deduct a total of 800 pesos on that 5,560. :)



HOW OUR TRIP WENT:
Unforgettable! It was like a dream come true for me. We went kayaking, glided on a zip line, we snorkeled, we camped out. We settled on an island with nobody else, stayed on a tent, we watched the waves as the waters go higher, we savored the darkness of the night with unknown animals just around us, we watched the sunrise, we watched the stars twinkle at night, we watched people leave and arrive on 'our island'. It's the best thing that ever happened to me! I wonder what awaits me on our next trip!



So romantic watching the sunrise. :")
View from the top of Governor's Island :)

On the bus going home. :)
So there it is. Thanks for reading! I hope this post helps! Feel free to leave comments if this helped you, or if if you have queries, I'll try to answer them as much as I could! God bless! :)

Until next post! :)

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