Way back when, long before destinations like Boracay, Hundred Islands was one of the few typical popular tourist destinations frequented in tourists in the Philippines like Baguio and Pagsanjan Falls. In recent years I rarely heard of people actually going to Hundred Islands. So I wondered… “Is the place worth going to these days?” After all, if you don’t hear about a place, probably no one goes there.
It is with this curiosity that I decided to make the road trip to Hundred Islands.
Getting to Hundred Islands is fairly simple. Just make your way to Alaminos in Pangasinan and locate the Lucap Wharf. The whole trip from Manila should take around 4-5 hours depending on how fast you can go and how many funerals you encounter on the road which slow up traffic (yes… on the way there, we encountered 4 funerals along the small roads en route).
View Hundred Islands National Park in a larger map
While the whole trip wasn’t all planned out, I did manage top make a reservation for a boat when we get there.
Ok, there was one hitch to the whole trip. As luck would have it… it rained the whole time we were there. I did check the weather as a normally do before any road trip… but as is goes with unpredictable weather, the travel gods were not with us on this adventure. Earlier on during the drive, as it rained, I kept on saying that “well, if it is raining here, it does not mean its raining in Pangasinan.” Yeah, I told that to myself repeatedly but as we got to Alaminos and it was still raining, the gloom and doom dawned upon me.
Ten minutes away from our destination I was texting my contact saying that were probably cancelling the trip. But when we got there, I rationalized that, we did spend 5 hours on the road… we might as well go ahead with the boat trip… who knows?
We made our way to the end of the Lucap Wharf (past the sign that said “Do Not Enter”) and parked at the Tourist Information area.
We then boarded our boat… and we were off. Mind you… it was raining.
We made our way to the “Hundred Islands” in the distance.
It was raining so I brought an umbrella. Hey, you never know if it would come in handy.
Here is a panoramic view from the boat. What appeared to be a single land mass were individual islets.
We first landed on “Governor’s Island” a strange little island with a cement house on one end. “Boy” our boatman suggested we explore a cave. Naturally we said… “ok, sige.”
A few steps from the beach was the cave.. I stepped in…
And it wasn’t much…
After maybe at most 5 min, we left and told boy to go on with the Island Hopping tour.
Personally, despite the miserable weather, I was quite fascinated with Hundred Islands. One does get to see all sorts of islets of different shapes and sizes. Hence, despite everything, I was making the most of it and was enjoying myself.
This is supposedly a rock formation the call “Cathedral” for obvious reasons.
He brought us to a spot for snorkeling. I was a tad excited so I could test my new underwater camera. Sigh… the water was murky to begin with… so my camera did not fulfill its life’s mission. The camera was working fine. It was just not clear. The culprit… the rains.
It was already around noon, so we told the boatman to bring us to the lunch area. We were taken to a little island called “Quezon Island” where I rented a table and we had our packed lunch which came with the package.
Interestingly, the place did have its share of stores just in case you wanted to buy some food or drink.
In case you were so inclined, they even had rentals for masks/fins/snorkels, and other stuff.
Vests and Kayaks.
As one has come to expect from a Filipino Tourist Destination borne out from the 70s. There were a lot of cement structures on the island.
For Filipinos, the place is quite decent. But it is hardly a place foreigners would find comfortable… and that was sad. While we were there, despite the rains there were a few Americans and a hoard of Korean students. I can slightly imagine what was going on in their minds as they were looking around at the facilities.
After our lunch, Chris and I decided that the adventure was as much as we could accomplish in the rain and decided to go back to Manila. We asked our boatman to head back to the Wharf.
All things considered, I can’t say it was a total bust. Not knowing what to expect, I had no expectations which could be crushed. But it left me a little sad.
As I started out by saying, Hundred Islands used to be one of the select tourist destinations in the Philippines alongside Baguio, Pagsanjan Falls, Ati-Atihan and few beaches in Batangas. Long before Boracay… this was one of the destinations to see. But now, I no longer hear much about people going to Hundred Islands. And too bad… because the place has potential. I’ll say it… the place is kinda blah. It’s blah for locals, and it would be kinda blah to foreigners as well. Calling on the Deaprtment of Tourism! The place needs a make-over and modernization.
Facilities aside, I still was in awe with the place. The “Hundred Islands” so to speak. I am glad I came. Will I come back? Hmmm… maybe during the summer.
Note: Granted it was raining and not the most ideal of circumstances, Chris and I were wondering if despite all that, would it still be a worthwhile trip. We were on the fence… with Chris leaning more on the “not worth it.” All I could think again was “sayang.”