We went to Alaminos two times last year. The first one was last July during a long weekend. We failed to go to Hundred Islands because there was a typhoon. The other one was last November. Everyone in my family was able to come and we finally were able to tour the Hundred Islands National Park. Anyway, I'll be sharing some of the photos from both trips (using iPhone 4 camera and Nikon D5000) and travel tips when visiting Alaminos.
Travel to Alaminos takes about 4 to 5 hours drive from our place in Bulacan. I remember passing by NLEX, SCTEX, and TPLEX up until Paniqui Exit. We passed through several towns in Tarlac and Pangasinan before finally reaching Alaminos. There were was a bit of traffic when passing through busy towns, but other than that there was only beautiful scenery just like the photo above.
|With Zack, during our first visit|
There's nothing much to see in Alaminos aside from the Hundred Islands National Park and this mini lighthouse by the tourist center. There are no beaches around (unless you go the Hundred Islands) and I do not think any of the resorts here have their own pools.
Looking for a place to stay is really easy. But if you prefer to stay in nicer hotels, be sure to book beforehand especially during peak seasons. I think the best ones in the area are Maxine Restaurant and Lodge and Villa Antolin. We got a room for 5 at Maxine for only P3500. The additional bed (for my dad) was P600. The room rates include breakfast, by the way. During our previous visit, we stayed at a place near the tourist center called Villa Milagrosa. The room was cheap (around P1800 per night for a room for 4) but it wasn't child friendly because of the double deck beds and there was also no heater in the shower.
|Beautiful sunrise at Maxine|
If you are looking for awesome seafood dishes, Maxine By The Sea has yummy Seafood Karekare and Seafood Platter. I already forgot how much each costs but I could assure you that both are worth it! The Seafood Platter is my favorite because of the deep fried oysters. They were fresh and they definitely melt in your mouth.
There are also other food choices at the Tourist Center. You could find there different fried and grilled pork and seafood and other viands and also their famous Alaminos longganisa. Some establishments are open the entire day and they even offer packed lunch for those who would visit Hundred Islands.
For the Hundred Islands tour, hotels and lodges usually have their own boats. I think it's a policy that you should only rent a boat from the establishment where you are staying. Otherwise, there are tons of boat owners who would offer you their rates at the Tourist Center. The local tourist center also requires that everyone from each group register first before leaving for the Hundred Islands tour.
The boat we rented was a large sized boat. It costs P1800 for the whole day including the two boat operators whom also served as our tour guide. I am not sure how many it could carry but there were only 9 of us in the boat and there was still plenty of space. I think rates vary if you are only visiting the four main islands of the park or if you are to visit as many as you could. Of course, the former costs less.
|Off to Hundred Islands!|
By the way, be sure to allot some money for rentals. Apparently, they know everything that you'll need and you'll fail to bring with you. That includes the vest (cause the vest can only be worn in the boat and not while swimming), crocs-like shoes for swimming (cause there are lots of stones and corals all over), and diving masks and snorkels. Six shoes, seven vests, and five diving masks and snorkels costed us around P1000 more on top of the boat rental.
After 15 minutes or so of travelling via boat, we arrived at our first destination - the Governor's Island. It is one of the four main islands in the park. It has a view deck on top of it where you could see the rest of the islands. There were stairs for you to get to the top but the climb was exhausting. There's also zip line in the island for those who wants to see the Hundred Islands with a challenge.
|View from the deck|
We were supposed to have lunch at the Quezon Island but it was packed. The little sand area it has was filled with people and there were even some who were having lunch by the beach. When we were about to get a table at the building above, they told us that every single one of them was already reserved. By the way, tables are not for free and need to be rented.
We ended up going to Clave Island to have lunch. It was indeed an awesome decision because there were only few people there. They have cottage-like structures where you could eat and rest. We already have packed lunch with us since the person from whom we rented the boat also has a food stall by the tourist center. My sisters and I went swimming first while waiting for everything to be set. The sand is just awesome! It's powdery and white. It's hard to go far though because there are corals everywhere. Zack had the most fun because he likes being washed up by the beach.
One thing you should not miss when visiting Hundred Islands is snorkeling. There's this part in the park (by the Macapagal Island) where boats can dock and people can snorkel in the middle. Apparently, there are still fishes and live corals by that area. Zack also had the most fun during that time because he went swimming there and there were no other kids there! He was so brave and ended up crying when it was time for us to leave.
There were tons of other islands that we failed to visit, such as the Children's Island where there indeed were tons of kids swimming and that island below where a statue of Mama Mary is located. One day is indeed not enough to visit and enjoy everything in the park. If you opt to stay longer though, there are some establishments in the park where you could stay overnight. I think the one at Governor's Island costs around P10,000 per night. I am not sure if there's electricity or wi-fi (lol), but there's definitely cellphone signal.
Although it took us two visits before finally getting to the place, I could say that our Hundred Islands experience was definitely wonderful! It's always nice to experience something new and this one was very different from our beach experience in Baler. It was also such a delight seeing Zack enjoying the water and the boat. Hope this post helps you! And just message me on my Facebook page - LBD and Onesies - if you have more queries. :)
And hoping for more travels this 2016! :)