Plan your own adventure!
This is one of the more well-known spots in the Philippines and for good reason. You will also find locals here taking in the blue waters and sandy beaches so don’t expect it to be packed with the usual flocks of tourists cramping your style! It’s a laid back of course as most island life locations are, the locals are, as ever in the Philippines extremely friendly. There is a variety of activities that you can do here throughout the islands from finding your own beach to kick back and have a well earnt shandy and BBQ to hitting up the more tourist orientated islands to take part in jet skiing, parasailing and zip lining.
Attractions – Obviously you’re here to see the Hundred Islands so a few tips to start. You can book at the Harbour to get a boat but it’s always better to book through the accommodation if possible, not only will it be slightly cheaper but you will go with a crew they know and trust. With most of the national parks you need to pay an environmental fee. This again can be purchased at the harbour, but is included in the price through accommodation organised trips usually.
The Islands – aweaverearthling video
Governor’s Island – No doubt this will be on the boatman’s agenda if you’re unsure as to what to see and for good reason. Climb the 123 stairs to the top and there is a lookout point that gives great views of the islands. You can’t get a bad picture from this vantage point! At the start of the stairs there is a cave that you can go into for a sneaky look and a small stall offering drinks and snacks. This island also offers a zip line over to the neighbouring island, there is a bridge that you can make your way back across to the island. This will set you back 250 Pesos.
Marcos Island – This Island has a small beach that is a good spot for a dip but the main thing to do here is the dive. A short walk to the top will lead you the entrance of a cavern that can be dived from into the blue water, it’s a short swim back around to the beach. This is free however you can’t do the jump without a life jacket no matter what your swimming experience is so bring one from your boat. The cave is also home to some cute little bats too, take a friend that will be too scared to jump to carry your camera back down! (Check the link to the video to see my jump)
Quezon Island – This is the main tourist spot and offers the most amount of activities including another zip line, parasailing, snorkelling, helmet dive to see the giant clams, jet skis and boat hire. There is white sand beach here for a swim too and some more permanent structures that are home to restaurants and a tourist information point. This is most certainly where the crowds will be so keep that in mind.
They are the three main islands, there is also monkey island and bat island named for their inhabitants. We did a drive by on both on our tour. Best advice is to plan out what you want to see and do and talk with your boatman to get the most out of your trip.
Things to bring – camera (underwater if you have it), sunscreen and water. For our trip we took an esky with food and water, it’s possible to BBQ out there so if you have this in mind come prepared!
At the Harbour – Watch the sunrise over the islands, you will not regret any time watching sunrises or sunsets in the Philippines but this one is special. The sun rises straight behind the islands and is a morning spent watching magical pastels splash across the sky. The harbour itself has been recently upgraded, and is a pleasant place to be. In the evening there are fairy lights around the trees, a popular spot for a nice dinner by the waterside. There are restaurants around and street food close by too, all of which you can score a cheap meal. There is also a small market where you can pick yourself up a souvenir, I spotted snorkelling kits there too for 500 Pesos which could be a sound investment if you are intending on snorkelling a few times through your trip and of course have room in your bag!
Alaminos – The city itself has everything that you will need, it has two shopping centres, CSI is the main one– stock up for the BBQ here, fast food outlets, transport, coffee shops and pharmacy to name a few. The people are friendly and always willing to help if you get stuck.
Getting here – (exchange rate at the time of my trip was 1 pound to 60 Pesos)
Busses – You get and pay for your ticket from the assistant that are on the bus when you’re underway, so don’t panic! The bus destination is on a sign in the front window of the bus and the staff are always willing to help you, as I found out many times, Australian accents are harder for them to understand!!
From Manila – Head to the bus terminal, I used Victory Liner (Five Star is the other main one). From the Air Port it was about 400 Peso’s. Busses don’t run on time tables rather when they are full they leave but this happens pretty quickly, so its luck of the draw which type you get. They offer air con busses with Wi-Fi or what I was beginning to become familiar with and refer to as the chicken bus, no air con or Wi-Fi with school type windows. (It’s possible to get a sneaky cigarette on these ones if you sit at the back, follow the locals lead!) It was 300 Peso’s (It’s about 100 more for the fancy buses though) for the 6-7 hour journey, so you can’t argue with that. Journey times here are very approximate and depend heavily on traffic which in Manila is constantly in peak hour so if you can avoid the capital, do!
From Clark – Duo, is where the bus terminal is located. From the airport you can get a shuttle bus for 150 Pesos, this normally runs in line with flight arrival and departure times, look for a white Jeepney that has air con this will take you straight there. If you get a trike you’re looking at about 500 Pesos and for drop off, they can’t take you all the way to the Terminal. At the bus terminal there are rest rooms and food outlets. A ticket to Alaminos was 150 Pesos and took me about 4 hours, I left at 5 am so obviously if you leave later expect a longer journey due to traffic.
In Alaminos – Take a trike (a motor bike with a side car usually obscurely decorated) to get to Lucap – the Bay area for the 100 islands costs 60 Pesos (they refer to this as a ‘special trip’, it’s cheaper if you share or they can be talked down if you want to haggle over a small amount!)
Accommodation – A lot of the accommodation in the Philippines is referred to as ‘Transient House’, don’t let this turn you off as there are bargains to be had and they offer all the usual amenities you will need. These can be walked in to straight off the street and booked right then and there, hot tip though, ask to see the room before you pay. Also, try your luck with a haggle you never know!
I stayed at JayDees Hundred Islands, you can get a Kubo (Bamboo Hut) with a fan, Wi-Fi and cable TV for 500 per night, they offer air con rooms in the main building and group bookings can be taken here for anything up to 3 rooms (5 persons per room) 6500 Pesos, you get the whole place including pool table! This is a short walk from Harbour and they can also organise your trip to the 100 Islands. Perfect location, friendly staff and comfortable rooms.
In conclusion, you won’t regret a trip here there is plenty to see and experience on and around the islands. Alaminos is near to Bolinao another popular spot, approximately 45 min away and a good next stop if you’re working your way north to the highlands of Sagada and Baguio which is what I did.