The Hundred Islands National Park is in the province of Pangasinan in northern Philippines. It is located in Alaminos City, Pangasinan. The islands 124 are scattered in Lingayen Gulf and covers an area of 18.44 square kilometers . Of the124 islands, only have been developed for tourists: Governor Island, Quezon Island, and Children’s Island. 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.
A part of the diverse marine ecosystem that was largely affected by the depletion of the coral reefs in the Hundred Islands National Park was the Giant Clams, locally known as taklobos. This marine resource regarded as the world’s largest bivalve mollusks, their shell length extending over a meter and can weigh over 225 kg, is the faithful ally of the coral reef in supporting the marine life in the Park. Its massive size and interesting hues that gleamed underwater proved to be a magnificent attraction, marveled at by visiting tourists who either dive or snorkel in the area. Within the park these giant clams can be seen within a protective area with numerous other fish and sea life. This area is accessible by banca boat, and contains a platform which is your starting point for a snorkeling or diving adventure.
If you are coming from Manila or passing through Manila on the way to Capones Island, take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Toll Road. The actual travel time is approximately 30 to 45 minutes once you have cleared the Metro Manila area . Traffic in Manila can be heavy depending on the time of the day, and time of year. A early morning passage through Manila is highly recommended to avoid traffic. The approximate cost from Manila to the Spur NLEX Interchange is P174.00. Take the Spur Interchange to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), and then take the south exit towards Subic Freeport.
You will be somewhat surprised by the lack of traffic on the SCTEX during the week. On weekends and holidays the traffic can be extremely heavy. My travel on the SCTEX during Easter Week in April indicated how much the traffic can increase. The approximate cost from the Spur NLEX Interchange towards Subic bay is P112.00. Stay on the toll road until you reach the Barrio Tipo Hermosa Bataan Segment, then proceed towards Subic Bay Freeport. There is a small toll of P18.00 from the Tipo Segment to the Freeport entrance.
Once inside the Subic Bay Free Port, you can spent a night, stop at one of restaurants, shop at one of the duty free stores such as Pure Gold (side note) or visit one of the tourist attractions. You will need to exit the Subic Freeport at the Kalaklan gate. Once you exit the gate, proceed across the bridge and proceed left (North) onto the National Highway. Continue along the National Highway through the towns of Subic, Castillejos, San Marcelino (see trip to Capones Island, create a link), San Narciso, San Felipe, Cababgan, and then Botolan.
Side Note: South of the city of Botolan, the road and a bridge were being repaired during our trip in April 2010. Traffic really slowed down. This area of Zambales province still contains a large amount of lahar from Mt Pinatubo. Major typhoons that move over the central portion of Luzon, produce large amounts of rainfall that cause the lahar to begin to flow. This massive movement of lahar continues to create problems with the roads and bridges almost t 20 years after the eruption. Mt Pinatubo erupted in June 1991 and the eruption produced the second largest eruption of the 20th century. If you want to read more about the amount of lahar that Mt Pinatubo created, check Wikipedia or the http://earthquake.usgs.gov/.
After making it through the Botolan area, continue your drive north through Iba.
Continue north after departing IBA to Masinloc, Candelaria, Sta. Cruz, Equia, Dasol, then East towards Mambira, then North towards Alaminos. (Our group stayed at the Covelandia Du Labrador in Brgy Tobuan, Labrador). So before entering the city of Alaminos, we turned southeast towards Soal and then into Labrador.
Hundred Islands Trip
Our trip to Hundred islands was taken 06 to 08 April 2010. Our group departed Bo. Barretto, Olongapo Cit at 07 am on 06 April 2010. The drive took approximately 5 hours. We stayed at the Covelandia Du Labrador Family Beach Resort for two days.
Our group stayed in a two story room with a full kitchen and living room on the first floor and two bedrooms on the second floor. Both rooms on the second floor had access to a balcony. The cost for the room was P8,000.00 per night. Our stove was replaced during our visit. Members of our group that stayed at the Covelandia Du Labrador in the past, indicated they had seen it in better shape. The resort is in a good location and the security is on top of everything. The resort did have many day visitors to the pool complex. Very quiet area in the morning.
If anyone has a recommendation for another resort in the Hundred Islands area, please let me know. The internet does not indicate a large numbers of hotels around Alaminos City.
We brought all of our own food; cooked in the room and BBQ outside the second night. Our party picked up all of our meats at Pure Gold in Subic Freeport before the start of the trip. The room at the hotel were very clean, but the pool was not very clear. The first afternoon into the evening our group swim at the pool and cooked dinner inside the room.
The next day, we eat breakfast in our room at the hotel and then packed up food and essentials for a BBQ at Hundred Islands National Park. The drive from Covelandia to Alaminos City proper is approximately 30 to 45 minutes. Having an experienced driver like Daniel really helped, the city of Alaminos is very crowded in the daytime. To rent a banca boat, drive down to the seafront area of the city, then negotiate with one of the local banca boat drivers. Our banca driver was accompanied by his young son. The cost was P2000.00 to P3000.00; included life vests and some snorkeling equipment. The landing area where the banca boats come and go has a little open air tourist market if you need some souvenirs. There are bathroom and shower facilities near the landing. To use the bathroom is P5.00 and P10.00 for a shower.
Side Note: The Banca is of Balinese origin, the single/double outrigger jukung (banca) is one of many types of Pacific/Asian outrigger canoes that use a sail. The modern day banca comes in various sizes and is outfitted with a motor engine for faster transportation. The banca can be used to fish, transport people, or goods.
We headed out to the national park around 09 am and toured Quezon Island. We had a BBQ/picnic on Children’s Island and went swimming and snorkeling. Children’s Island is an excellent location for children and young adults to go swimming.
After departing Children’s Island we went out to the snorkeling and diving area. that contains the Giant Clams . The area is setup with ropes and buoys so that beginning snorkelers can experience the adventure. More advanced snorkelers can swim freely within the roped area. The current combined with the winds in the afternoon can make a free snorkel a challenge, recommend stay along the ropes if you are not a strong swimmer. In the center of protected area the sea life is very active and you will experience fish swimming very close to you. I saw 12 to 15 of the Giant Clams during the snorkeling. I highly recommended a visit to this area.
After snorkeling for one hour, we departed the protected snorkeling area, and then were given a banca tour around One Hundred Islands. We saw Marcos Island, and “Bat Island” on the tour. Yes there is one island filled with bats that are nesting on the trees. Looks funny when you take a photo, comes out a little dark with all the bats. The bats are only on one island. We did a visit to Quinco Island (see photo), can walk through the island via the cave to the other side.
After the banca tour, our group headed back to Covelandia Du Labrador, we arrived early in the evening. More time was spent in the pool complex by the younger members of the group. Oh, the pool complex contains slides that look like dragons. There is a pool for the younger kids and toddlers. We BBQ outside the room into the evening and consumed a few beers. The next day after having a large breakfast in the room, we departed around 10 am back down the coast of Zambales to Bo. Barretto.
Along the way we stopped at Potipot Gateway Resort, well another snorkeling adventure for the future. Saying good bye for now.
I wrote this about three years ago, so some the information has most likely changed as for prices. Please verify before travel.
Jim “The Kano”