The Hundred Islands, that part of the Philippine archipelago that shares the same prominent spot on textbooks alongside Mayon Volcano and Banaue Rice Terraces, can be found in Alaminos, Pangasinan. The name is a nod to over 124 islands dispersed over the Lingayen Gulf, covering a total area of 16.76 square kilometers. Sometime in June this year, I took the grueling 6-hour trip with 2 others to discover this well-known national park that is the pride of the Pangasinense. So here’s the itinerary guide to the Hundred Islands including information on getting to the area, finding a place to stay in Alaminos City, as well as the cost and expenses. Also, I will give you a quick glimpse of some of the islands that you might see during the island-hopping tour.
How to Get There
If you are not bringing your own car, get ready to experience the hassle of constant traveling. If we weren’t riding a bus, we were on a jeep, then we’d transfer to a tricycle. Never in my life have I experienced so much traveling on the road than on this trip.
From Manila there are two ways you can get to Alaminos.
Pasay > Dagupan > Alaminos
- From Pasay take the Five-Star bus that goes to Dagupan; fare is PHP 371 (USD 7.70). Click here to see the complete fare matrix.
- From Dagupan, take another bus that goes to Alaminos, fare is PHP 68 (USD 1.41).
- Take a tricycle to Lucap Wharf for PHP 15 (USD 0.31) per head.
Cubao > Alaminos
From Cubao, Five-Star’s rate is PHP 361 (USD 7.49) then follow steps 2-3 written above.
All in all, travel time takes 5 to 6 hours, with consideration to the traffic. Victory Liner also offers trips to Dagupan. Click here to see the fare matrix.
Where to Stay?
We didn’t have to rent an accommodation because one of my companions is from Pangasinan; therefore, we stayed in the house of her family. But there are a number of accommodation in Alaminos and Lingayen to choose from, hotels, inns, and guesthouse, some even offer breakfast. If you are on a budget, I’m happy to report that you can find accommodation for as low as PHP 144 (USD 3).
You may choose to stay in Dagupan, it’s only an hour away from Alaminos. But for this post let us focus on finding a place to stay in Alaminos. Depending on your budget, here are some accommodation to choose from:
Nautilus Islands’ View Lodge
Brgy. Lucap, Alaminos City
+63 (75) 551-4838
Marcos Ave., Brgy. Palamis, Alaminos City
+63 (75) 205-0024
Rate: Starts at PHP 18,000 (USD 37.16)
Island Tropic Hotel
Boulevard St., Brgy. Lucap, Alaminos City
+63 (75) 551-4913
Rate: Starts at PHP 1,600 (USD 33.03)
Treasure Isle Guest House
Rate: Starts at PHP 200 (USD 4.13)
But if you are feeling adventurous, why not bring a tent and set up camp on one of the islands? You can do this specifically on the Governor’s Island, Quezon Island, and Scout Island. Camping rate is PHP 200 (USD 4.15). If you want to spend the night over on an island but you don’t want to camp, you can stay at the Big Brothers lodge on the Governor’s Island, rate is PHP 10,000 per night (USD 206.42).
How’s the Weather?
Now that you’re in Pangasinan, what should you expect when it comes to the weather? Pangasinan has an average monthly temperature of 27.91ºC. It is dry from November to April and wet from May to October. Just like in most parts of the Philippines, maximum rainfall can be expected in August. In our case, we went in June and experienced the province in arid conditions. It was so hot and dry that it hurts the skin. So be sure to bring sunscreen, shades, and maybe a hat.
This is not even a matter of vanity (I know some of you are afraid to grow a shade darker or two) but a matter of health. You want to enjoy the province and the island hopping, but you shouldn’t get sunburned in the process.
How much is the Island-hopping Tours?
When you reach Lucap Wharf, go straight to the Tourism Office. This is where you can arrange the boat tours to the islands. The boat rental is steep, so unless you have lots of money to spare, I recommend you go with a group. You may opt to share a boat with other tourists just like what we did. There were 4 of us in our group then we met 4 other tourists and agreed to share one medium-sized boat with them.
For a one-day tour, that’s PHP 1,800 (USD 37.36) or PHP 225 (USD 4.67) per head. See the snippet below for the complete list of rates.
And that’s not the only thing you have to pay. There’s also the environmental fee PHP 30 (USD 0.62) and entrance fee PHP 40 (USD 0.83) for day tour and PHP 80 (USD 1.66) for overnight rate.
Estimated budget for the entire trip is around 2,000 to 3,000 pesos (USD 41.46 – 62.19) including accommodation and food.
What are the Islands to See?
There are 124 islands (123 when it’s high-tide) so do not expect to see them all in a day. Some of them are so small (more like giant rocks protruding from the water) you wouldn’t mistake them for an island. I remember joking that these “rocks” are included in the hundred islands count, which made someone from our boat snicker. Turns out it wasn’t a joke, those giant rocks are in fact islets according to our boatman.
It’s interesting to note that some of the islands are named after the former presidents of the Philippines; Romulo Island, Marcos Island, Macapagal Island, and Quezon Island. Some islands were also named based on how they are shaped. So what islands are you most likely to see and visit? Check the following list:
Not all islands are accessible to the public and can only be appreciated from afar. One such island is Cathedral Island. It has a huge triangle-shaped crack right in the middle. This hollow space has a grotto inside where you can find a figure of the Virgin Mary.
I wanted us to have a closer look, I think our boat could fit inside the cave but according to the boatman, it is forbidden to enter it. Not sure if he was telling the truth because I’d seen some photos of people going inside the cave on the Internet.
Crocodile Island and Turtle Island
Some islands were named based on how they appear like the Crocodile Island and the Turtle Islands, which from afar looked like the reptiles they were named after.
As the name implies, is home to millions of fruit bats. The bats, which were unusually big, can be seen hanging from the rocks and trees. This is one of those islands where people are not allowed to dock. No problem with me because as much as I was fascinated looking at the bats, I was also a little bit crept out at the sight of them.
People usually stop by Quezon Island for lunch because it has a restaurant, cottages, and picnic tables. Food here is pricey so it’s recommended to bring your own meal and utensils. Quezon Island is crowded so I do not recommend staying here for long if you are not too keen on dealing with so many people. But this island has a zip line so if you are looking to do some interesting activity, you might want to give it a try.
Governor’s Island and Virgin Island
I have never watched Pinoy Big Brothers (PBB), but based on my research, the Governor’s Island became well-known because of the said TV show. The yellow house used by the housemates remains and is turned into a lodge that people can rent for PHP10,000 a night (USD 207.31).
Governor’s has a view deck that offers a spectacular view of the other islands. It requires going up the hill, which in itself was not taxing, but the heat of the midday sun sure made it challenging. Just push through with it because this is where you can find a perfect spot for those Instagram-worthy pictures.
Another unique feature of this island is the floating bridge that connects to the Virgin Island. We did cross the bridge but upon reaching the other side, I realized that it wasn’t even half of the trek to get to the Virgin Island.
The sun was beating on us, quickly depleting my energy let alone my patience, so I decided to just go back.
Another island made famous by a TV show (Marina) is Cuenco Tunnel also known as Dugong Island. You enter a cave that opens to an area perched on stilts. From the looks of it, it seems to have a restaurant, or maybe it used to have one, I can’t be too sure.
When we saw this place, we felt sorry that we didn’t go picnic there instead. It had a few people, the view of the sea is beautiful, and the wind was cool. It would have been a perfect place to go on a picnic.
Old Scout Island
We were supposed to spend the rest of our free time on Old Scout Island, but the bright skies turned to gray and we didn’t want to risk sailing under the pouring rain, not especially on a boat as small as ours. Our tour began at around 10:00 in the morning and officially ended at around 4:00 p.m. By the way, we didn’t go to Alaminos on the same day that we traveled to Pangasinan. Our tour was scheduled the next day.
The Hundred Islands reminded me of the islands and the surrounding islets in Coron, Palawan. If you haven’t been to both, I recommend that you begin with the Hundred Islands. Having been to Coron, where the islands and the sea are a thing of sweet dreams, I was not as amazed by the view of the Hundred Islands. But this opinion is of my own and may not necessarily reflect those who have also been to these two provinces. [Travel Guide to Coron, Palawan].
But I am not going to deny that Hundred Islands hold a certain charm. There is something fascinating about seeing a place in the flesh that was once upon a time just an image on a book.
You may download the PDF version of this guide here.
What about you? Have you been to the Hundred Islands? Which island is your favorite?