Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Pangasinan Wanderings: Alaminos' Hundred Charms

It would be impossible to wander the whole 7,107 islands of the Philippines at the same time. But seeing  100 islands of those 7,107 is an opportunity I will surely wouldn’t miss. So when I crave to explore a nearby province in Luzon with friends, I immediately thought of exploring one of the region’s famed destination in the north – The Hundred Islands of Pangasinan. 

Pangasinan is located on the west central and peripheral area of the island of Luzon along the Lingayen Gulf. The name Pangasinan means "land of salt" or "place of salt-making"; it is derived from the words "Pang", meaning for and "asin", meaning salt, or "For Salt" in the Pangasinan language and other related languages, owing to the rich and fine salt beds which were the prime source of livelihood for the province’s coastal towns. The province of Pangasinan is composed of 44 municipalities, 4 cities and 1,364 barangays.

100 of 7,107 islands of the Philippines
The jumping point is Alaminos City – home of the Hundred Islands. I embarked on a 6 hour bus trip on the road that started in the early hours of the morning to reach Alaminos.  Some travellers will find it a grueling road trip as the long hours of seating in the bus is tiring and boring.  But the scenic roads of Pangasinan will definitely not bore your eyes as I myself find it an indulgence to the sense of sight.

The Hundred Islands from Lucap Wharf
Alaminos is a coastal city in western Pangasinan. Covering an area of 1,844 hectares, the islands are believed to be 2 million years old. There are actually 123 islands, only 25 of them are named, only three have been developed for tourism, and many are still unexplored. All of the 25 islands can be visited, provided that the boatman agrees.  So its better to plan your plan your itinerary to the islands and see the island route of the boatman first before jumping on an island tour.

The Hundred Islands National Park is located in Alaminos City. The islands are actually ancient corals that extend well inland, in an area previously comprising the seabed of an ancient sea. Lowering sea levels have exposed them to the surface and the peculiar "mushroom"-like shapes of some of the islands have been caused by the eroding action of the ocean waves.

Island-bound banca...
1 of the 123 islands of Hundred Islands National Park.
The beauty of nature in Hundred Islands.
Lucap Wharf is the jumpoint of the island hopping tour where all the arrangement, registration and price rates availment are made. It is accessible via tricycle and 15 minutes from Alaminos town proper. Around the wharf are numerous transient houses, inns and hotels for those who opts to stay in Alaminos. Me and my colleagues choose to do a day trip to the Hundred Islands.

From Lucap Wharp, we sailed for 15 minutes to reach Hundred Islands National Park. Seeing the islands much nearer is an explosion of beauty of nature in my eyesight! The lush greens, gray rock formations and white sand beach cove set against the bluest water is a marvelous beauty of nature that can only be found in Pangasinan.  The scattered islands seemed to be formed millions of years ago with a purpose of being a natural beauty that the province can be prouf of. Each frame of view of the islands in my sight are so scenic that all I can do is marvel and appreciate it. It is Alaminos’ hundred charms worth to explore.

Welcome to Governor's Island!
Meeting the real house of "Kuya"
Majestic views of Hundred Islands in front PBB House.
Beautiful beach of Governor's Island.
A few minutes of sail, we reach our first island stop – Governor’s Island. It is one of the three most developed islands in the national park.  This is where I met the real house of “Kuya.” The house was purposely built as the finale setting of the reality TV series Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition in 2006.  The front of the house has a majestic view of the Hundred Islands. The view is perfect backdrop for photoshoots. I wouldn’t mind staying in an island house if every morning I get this kind of majestic views. The house now serves as a popular landmark in Governor’s Island. It can be rented for an overnight stay in the island as well complete with all the amenities of a transient house.  We explored the island and in doing so we discovered more than about Kuya’s house.

There are coves in Governor’s Island that has fine white sand beaches which are ideal for swimming. The island’s beach seems enticing to swim but our guide led us to a hiking trail atop a hill-like rock formation to see a 360 degree view of the Hundred Islands National Park.  The view of the islands atop is more majestic than the front view of the Pinoy Big Brother house.  I can almost see the entire hundred islands in one whole sight or shall I say I entirely see the 100 of 7,107 islands of the Philippines! It was a beautiful view of the Hundred Islands that lingers long in my mind and worth the tiring hike.  

I love Hundred Islands!!!
A 360 degree view of the national park awaits at the hill-top view of Governor's Island.
Can I name this my island?
The famous view of Hundred Islands.
Our visit to Governor’s Island ended with a sightseeing of a cave at the back of the island. The cave is big enough for people to enter and has a narrow body but there is nothing to see inside, just appreciation of the cave itself.

The next stop is supposed to be Ramos Island but its cove is small that only 2 bancas can dock at the same time. There were already visitors in the island so we just passed by on it.  Ramos Island is famous for being the site location of TV series, Marina. 

The trail down the viewing deck at Governor's Island.
Governor's Island's cave.
A simple reminder of Going Green in Marcos Island.
The next island we explored first greeted us with its nice beach cove and named after the most popular politcal family in the country - Marcos Island. The beach cove of Marcos Island is ideal for swimming but the main feature of the island is the jump challenge at Marcos Cave. You need to do a little hike within the island to see the cave. Marcos Cave has a very wide cavern where visitors can jump from a platform and fall directly to an inland pool connected to the sea. I find it a real challenge because the jumping point is so high that I chicken out jumping into the cave pool! While my travelmates, dare to try it, I just opt to take their photos and later I explored the sightseeing point of the island while waitig for them to swam back to the beach cove. 

Pristine beach cove at Marcos Island.
The challenging Marcos Cave where I chicken out!
Girls are brave, I concluded. Enjoying a swim in pool lagoon of Marcos Cave.
Home sweet home - Bats in Bat Island.
Bat Island is our fourth stop.  The main feature of the island are the bats themselves who inhabiting the islands’ tree branches.  All of them were making a squeking sound as we approach the island adjoined by their distinct smell. I wonder how they resist staying under the sun as the heat rays are strong that morning. Bancas can’t dock at Bat Island are there are no docking area in the island.
Quezon Island from our boat.
Quezon Island's developed amenities for tourists and visitors.
We sail next to Quezon Island – the island where we stayed the longest among the islands of Hundred Islands. This is where you can do many activities that you shouldn’t miss as Quezon Island is a playground to water sports and adventure-seekers.   There is kayaking, sports fishing, snorkeling and swimming of course! Arriving in Quezon Island, we were greeted by a wonderful beach cove where beside it is an enclosed Clam Garden where live Giant Clams are being taken care of.  I would like to do a closer look of the giant clams but the garden prohibits diving in the garden, thus I just contented of looking at it for the first time.  My tavelmates explore further the island and we discover rock formation grottoes facing a beautiful view of the islands perfect for photoshoot, coral reef garden which are ideal for snorkeling and Quezon Island’s second beach cove which is good for play, swim and relaxation.  Quezon Island also has beautiful cabanas and nipa huts to rent for day trip visitors.  It is very ideal for family outings, lunch with friends and other gatherings. 

The Giant Clam Garden at Quezon Island.
A closer look at the Giant Clam and friends!
Another island near Quezon Island.
White sand beach of Quezon Island.
Magazine-cover worthy picture of Quezon Island.

We love Hundred Islands!!! - Swim like no other in Quezon Island.
This scene of Hundred Islands makes you forget all your stress and worries.
I spent most my time swimming with my travelmates in Quezon Islands’ second beach cove because of its secluded aura. There were almost no people except us who were at the beach.  I felf as if we own the beach by ourselves to enjoy. Half part of the cove it shaded by tall trees so no worry about having a sun-kissed skin! (sunburn).  It was here we swim, swim and swim like no other! Also here in Quezon Island, I find it unique that while swimming in its beach, I get a spectacular view of the islands from afar.  It was so scenic that it lingers in my mind and at times I just find myself half submerged in the shallow water of the beach, relaxing and admiring the beauty of the islands from afar.

Just relax all day long...
Cove of pure bliss at Quezon Island.
Children's Island.
Famed for its shallow waters, ideal for swimming with kids, we hop next to Children’s Island. It is the last of the most developed islands in the national park that we visited. There were also cabanas and nipa huts for rent while staying in Children’s Island. The island were crowded by groups of families when we visited so we just opt not to swim in its beach and proceed to our next island stop.

Alaminos' hundred charms - The Hundred Islands from Cuenco Cave viewing area.
Cuenco Cave is the last stop of our island hopping in Hundred Islands. I believe the cave belongs to Cuenco Island. The cave is hidden in between three islands. Cuenco Cave has a wide entrance and large in structure that make me think it is the lair of monster Kraken from Clash of the Titans movie.  Once we enter the cave we were greeted by the cool breeze of the sea which was so good when it damped on my skin.  As I walked inside, I admire t1he fascinating unique rock formations and limestones surrounding the caverns, and ceilings of Cuenco Cave. When we reached the other end of the cave, it was an exit to a stunning view of Hundred Islands. After having souvinir photos of Cuenco Cave, we returned to the entrance again.  This time a different but another stunning view of the Hundred Islands can be seen.  The view was made more stunning with the outline frame of Cuenco Cave entrance. 

Release the Kraken!!! - Cuenco Cave entrance.
Inside Cuenco Cave.
The other side opening of Cuenco Cave has an equally beautiful view.
Cuenco Cave memories...
The beauty of Hundred Islands.
It was the end of our island hopping tour of the Hundred Islands. We returned to Lucap Wharf by 2 in the afternoon. Then, we shop for sourvenirs at Pantalan just near the wharf before going to a local mall to have our late lunch.

It would be really impossible to see all of the 7,107 islands of the Philippines at the same time. But in Alaminos, seeing 100 of them is possible! You just have to widely stretch your eyes in Hundred Islands to see it. I’m proud to have seen these hundred gems of Pangasinan whom the province highly prided. I get to have an exceptional island hopping adventure and I never experience these kind of hundred natural beauties in one trip! Alaminos’ hundred charms is truly the Hundred Islands and when you say its hundred, it  also means hundred gateaways to hundred beaches, hundred coves, hundred snorkeling sights, hundred sport activities, hundred scenic seascapes, hundred caves, hundred sightseeings and hundred adventures!

Alaminos' Hundred Charms is part of my Pangasinan Wanderings two series story happened last July 3-4. Please also do read the second part of the series - Treasures of Bolinao.


  1. Special thanks to Ca de Ramos of Adventurous Feet for the most helpful guide in wandering in Pangasinan. =)

  2. yan ang hometown ko!!!proud!!hope you enjoyed your stay sa 100 mukhang diko na kailangang marinig ang sagot actually kasi kung hidni wala nang part 2. masarap dyan lalo pag fun yung mga kasama 100 islands, Bolinao ba next> Hope you got the chance to visit Bolinao too.:D

  3. @Anton: Nag-enjoy ako ng 100% todo sa Hundred Islands, sa sobrang enjoy ko na sunburn ako! Pero onti lang naman... Masaya nga sya if marami kayo on a trip para super fun. Yup, may part 2 ang Pangasinan Wanderings ko... abangan if that will be the Bolinao surprise =)

  4. Mukhang tinodo nyo ng bongga ang gala sa Pangasinan, sulit sa dami ng napuntahan :)

  5. Gagawin ko na talagang goal tong Hundred Islands next year. Those giant clams are amazing!

  6. @Claire: yup I definitely enjoy it kahit na sunburn na naman ako... konti pa nga yan sa mga islands na pwedeng puntahan at least 25 islands ang pwede pang bisitahin kaso it will take a literally a one whole day to all of it or 2 days for maximum.

    @Christian: Go for it! Sayang nga hindi pwedeng magdive sa Giant Clam Garden baka kagatin nila ko pagginambala ko sila, lol. =)

  7. favorite ko yung cave sa marcos Island, nag-enjoy ako lumangoy dun kahet walang isda. hehe

    an dame nyong nalibot na islands ah. galeng ng clams! wala kameng nakitang ganyan. toinks!

  8. Wow! ^_^ Nakapunta na ako ng Pangasinan dati pero hindi pa sa Hundred Islands. Sayang kasi ang ganda talaga! :D

    Ian, gaano daw kalalim ang lagoon sa Marcos Cave? Parang exciting siyang itry kaso siguro matatakot din ako, hehe. Ang ganda din ng Cuenco Cave. Parang naiimagine ko nga din ang sa Clash of the Titans movie! :D

  9. Hello po,,,
    Ang ganda naman..
    Okay yung Marcos Cave...:)

  10. @PinaySolo: marami pang islands ang pwede puntahan kaso time constraint kaya hindi lahat. Kontento naman ako sa mga napuntahan namin. Maganda lahat. Nakaka-freak out tumalon sa Marcos Cave.

    @Karla: Exciting yung Marcos Cave pero nakakaduwag talaga cya. Ung Cuenco Cave talagang parang bahay ni Kraken sa Clash of the Titans movie. Ang ganda ng mga views dun.

    @Tripper10: Pasyalan mo cya if given a chance. Truly pride of Pangasinan ang Hundred Islands!

  11. my hometown is Pangasinan. Yet, i haven't been to Hundred islands. wow! Thanks for taking me on a tour here on this blog.

  12. @Pinoy Boy: next time visit this Hundred charms of your home province... it's a lifetime opportunity to see the 100 of the 7,107 islands of the Philippines!

  13. @Dee: yup, one can endure it especially with the scenic places of Pangasinan. thanks for visiting.Come back again for the part 2 of my Pangasinan Wanderings.

  14. sure pal! as long as i'm enjoying the posts.

  15. hi ian! just wna ask if u this trip is DIY or u hv guide?how much did u spnd if u dnt mind^_^ how about the rent of bnca? bec im plnning to go this June^_^

  16. @Jehn: this is a DIY trip but we have a guide as part of banca rental to the islands. Rates on island tour depends on how many islands you want to visit or how many islands does the boatman package offer. As for our 7 islands visits it cost us 1,100PHP.

  17. Thank you for sharing your great adventure Ian. I really really like it. The images and your write ups were amazing. :D
    I wish I can go there too. :)
    That would be 7,007 islands more to go..

    1. Thank you, hope you read my past travel stories.


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