I thought that island hopping in Zambales would be our last summer's hurrah. Last Tuesday, we headed Pangasinan for another trip. In an instant, hundred islands out of 7,107 islands are now checked in my bucket list, as if I am going to hop all the islands in the Philippines. Whew.
I must agree when Joy posted her blog entry about Pangasinan trip with "against all odds in the title." With almost zero visibility caused by heavy rain halfway to Pangasinan, one would consider to make a u-turn and proceed to other destination instead. Not us.
Pangasinan is the gateway to Baguio but I could only see the highway and some few stops on bus terminals. Another thing that I know about the province is about their garlic longaniza, a frequent pasalubong from friends who live in Tayug, Pangasinan. Hundred Island, though really beautiful in the post cards has not been attractive to me before. Maybe because, I always thought that the place just makes it extra ordinary because of the many islands scattered in one place. But as we hopped from one island to another, I discovered that each of the islands has each own beauty and totally different from another.
Okey, enough for my wordy segue again. It was almost 8pm when we reached Pangasinan. We believed that we were bound to have a wonderful journey that day and did not worry at all even if we have no hotel booking. I knew it. The sign as we approached the province with no rain gave us smooth and instant itinerary for the whole trip. Spontaneous that is! Perfect weather and excellent accommodation joined together to welcome us in the province of wonderful beaches and coves.
We were able to book at Ed Transients House, just a few steps away from the harbor. The owner was so warm and made us feel safe and at home during our stay.
Before the sun was finally up at 6am the following day, the boatman fetched us and we then headed to register at the quay of Hundred Islands, the Lucas Wharf. Tourists and guests are required to register at the port and pay a minimal fee of P20 per head. After the registration, off we went island hopping.
The view as we walked to the wharf. What a beautiful morning, don't you agree?
What more could I say? The view on the boat ride was overwhelming. Seeing these wild ducks flew up in the sky was quite amazing. We just passed by at some small and big islands as there's no place to dock.
Our first stop was Governor's Island, the home of Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition. It is one of the most developed park aside from Quezon and Children's Islands.
There is a view deck where you can see a part of the hundred islands but you need to do a little trekking, around a hundred or more steps to reach the top.
An amazing sight awaits us on top of the view deck. It was awesome. A young couple from UK that we've met said a lot of good things about the Philippines. It's more fun in the Philippines, right?
A view on top of the deck, part of Hundred Islands. You can actually name the islands exactly just by looking at the shape, big and small islands, Turtle, Crocodile, Monkey, Paniqui Islands, oh well again, except for some islands named after dynasty, Marcos, Governor's, Imelda..
We stayed there for more than 30 minutes including the trekking up to the view deck and headed to our next destination, Marcos Island. I wanted to protest to stay for a few more minutes so at least we could swim in the beautiful island with water and sand so clear. Little did I know that more beautiful islands await us in our next stop, Marcos Island.
The clear water and fine white sand of Marcos Island was overwhelming. As soon as our boat landed, I saw a man afar coming from a cave swimming towards the open sea. The boatman said that there is a cave diving and we need to hike a few steps up to reach Imelda Cave and experience diving too.
At Imelda Cave
And this is the highlight of the trip! I had no plan to do cave diving no matter what as I told myself that I cannot risk my life this time thinking I would do an exhilarating jump and plunge myself into the deep. It gave me a goosebump just seeing a high cliff of about five meters. I was determined to just take photos of the kid but the thrill was calling me. Joy's husband was the first one to jump and I witnessed how he emerged from the water so quick. I was totally amazed when suddenly, Juan, a seven-year old boy jumped off the cave after a minute. So I thought, I should do this too. I secured my life vest and this time I was determined to jump off the cave. We were then all five girls left, my two children, Joy and Julia and me all lined up in the cliff finding the courage to jump. John gave us more encouraging words and said, "just do it. you will emerge above the water and float in few seconds." I was thinking I was too heavy for my weight and it would cause me to submerge deeper.
After about ten minutes of uncertainties whether to jump or not, I asked Jomes, Joy's nephew, who was already waiting down at the cave to get ready with the camera as I will jump at any moment. I know that if I jump first, I would give enough courage to them who knew about my fear. And there you go, with closed eyes, I jumped. I did not give myself a chance to think twice again. I just dived. I was in disbelief after a few minutes, oh, not a few minutes, a day, a week and still thinking about it by this time. Did I just do it?
It would be something very ordinary to others who love adventure, who know how to swim and love diving, but for someone who has fear and doesn't know how to swim, this kind of adventure is extraordinary!
This is my daughter's second cave diving. Because, we were not able to document her first try, she did it again to capture the adventure. There you go.
And the next thing that happened was a big splash!
One must swim out of the cave to go back to the sea. It's about 12 feet deep and about 30 meters away from the sea as I assumed because the trail going to the cave takes about the same distance away.
This is the view on top of Imelda Cave.
There are no cottages or store at Marcos Cave. You can just play with the sand and swim with the clear water. Among the hundred islands, this one is the coolest. This is where my heart jumped off first and I felt the ultimate adrenalin rush.
You can use the shaded part to keep yourself from the sun like these flip flops. Sure thing, they won't get burned.
Another photo op before leaving Marcos Island. I got hundreds of photos again in my camera and island hopping just began in this trip. The place is very picturesque and not photogenic. It's more beautiful when you're actually there.
After Marcos Island, we passed by more islands but we did not dock as there's no shoreline. After a few minutes, our boat stopped in the middle of the sea where a floating flat form awaits the snorkelers.
From the boat, you could actually see abundant fishes as we fed them with bread. There are no corals but you'll be amazed with colorful marine life underneath.
After a few minutes of snorkeling with my other hands holding on the boat, the fear took over me again when I asked the boatman how deep the water is and said that it's about 20 feet. I immediately went up at the raft and decided to just stay on the boat. I could still feel the intense of my cave diving and snorkeling in 20ft deep would be adrenalin overload. Geesh. Joy and her family proceeded into deep and snorkel where giant clams can be viewed.
This is the most developed island where guests can do kayaking, boating, swimming and rent a cottage. There is a small store in the island. This is so far the island with the biggest number of people swimming. You can do other activities here as the water is not to so deep and you'll go along far to reach the deep.
It is impossible to land here because there is no shoreline. Would you even dare to land in this island with all the bats hanging on the trees? I assume they were all sleeping and it was noon time when we passed by. Bats were hanging and the trees look like abundant of black fruits ready to harvest. They're actually fruit bats.
You could smell stinky odor when you pass by at the island. It is just amazing to see these rock formations and how these bats isolated themselves in this area, wonderful!
The view from afar. We just passed by encircling slowly to the Bat Island and headed to our next destination, Children's Island.
This is far the cleanest of all the islands and most ideal place to swim. One can go to another island by swimming or just walking into the water. Well, I guess if you're higher than my height or during low tide.
There are few cottages available for rent, day or night tour.
I was left at the picnic hut and took this shot as they crossed to the next island. I asked my older daughter if it's deeper than her height and she said yes but she was able to reach the island with no life vest.
And this is our last stop before we headed back to the mainland. We crossed the tunnel and reached the shoreline on the other side.
We only landed to five islands. Other islands have no shoreline but I've done visiting 100 islands in a day. Hurray! We finished island hopping by 1pm, stayed for about 20 minutes or more in every islands, except for Marcos Island where we stayed longer for our light snacking and cave diving.
Things to remember when you visit Hundred Islands.
Register at Lucas Wharf before you proceed to Hundred Island Park. A minimal fee of P20 for day tour and P40 for overnight is charged per head.
Bring a garbage bag and take the garbage with you as you leave the island.
You can do a day tour at the Hundred Islands. If you are going on a group, check transient homes or budget hotel nearby. I recommend Ed Transient Homes for overnight stay. There are rooms available good for 5, 10 people or more. I will provide the link of Ed Transients Home when I'm done with my post.
Accommodation at the Hundred Islands starts at P200 for tent and P2,500 for cottage.
Snorkel gears and Kayak are available for rent. You can bring your own snorkel gears if you want. Kayak rent is available for P250/hour and snorkel gear at P100/hour.
Only developed islands have CR. You need to pay P5 for the comfort room.
You can set up tenta only at undeveloped islands.
There are no fast food, so bring your own baon. You can buy food at Alaminos town or at Lucas Wharf food store.
Please check this out or visit website for more info.