One of the most stunning natural attractions within a 3 or 4 hours’ drive from Manila, the Hundred Islands National Park in Pangasinan is a capital idea for a quick getaway from the Philippine capital without requiring much preparation or a huge budget. This seriesof 123 islets has long been on the roster of tourist attractions in Luzon but its accessibility has often led to it being overlooked in favor of other places such as Vigan or Banaue Rice Terraces.
How to go to Hundred Islands National Park
With gasoline at multi-year lows and with highway expansions now reaching the southern tip of the Ilocos region, the best way to visit the national park is via private car. Take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) which merges with the Sublic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and eventually with the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX). From here you have a few options. First is to exit at Paniqui, Tarlac and drive along the Romulo Highway which ends at Lingayen. From there, the Alaminos-Sual Road takes you to Alaminos itself where the national park is located. Second option is to exit TPLEX at Urdaneta City and take the Calasiao-Urdaneta road which takes you across several towns in Pangasinan such as Calasiao, Dagupan, Santa Barbara and Lingayen. Although it offers one a whirlwind tour of the province, there’s frequently heavy traffic on this route.
To avoid worrying about directions, you can also board a Victory Liner bus that stops directly at Alaminos. The bus fare is just under 400 pesos. Once in Alaminos, you can negotiate with any tricycle driver to take you to Lucap Wharf, the jumping point to the national park.
Php 40 for those on a day tour and Php 80 for those staying overnight.
Motorboats cost 1,000 / 1,300 / 1,500 for Small (up to 5 pax) / Medium (up to 10 pax) / Large (up to 15 pax) boats for day tours and 2,000 / 2,500 / 3,000 respectively for overnight charters. The price is standardized and centralized so there’s no need to worry about fixers. The standard tour covers Quezon Island, Governor’s Island and Children’s Island.
Things to do in Hundred Islands National Park
Governor’s Island – Widely considered to be the “main” islet, Governor’s Island is where the iconic panoramic view of the national park can be had. By climbing 123 steps, one can see dozens of the surrounding islets including a tadpole-shaped one called Virgin Island.
Marcos Island – Though not part of the standard tour, Marcos Island is an interesting sight for its underwater cave. If you’re adventurous enough, you can dive in. But it’s not for claustrophobic folks.
Quezon Island – While the national park as a whole pales in comparison with other places in the country for snorkeling and witnessing marine life, one of the best places within the park to do so is Quezon Island.
Children’s Island – It’s the customary stop for those taking a dip and especially popular with families.
Cuenco Island – Features some swimming space and a rather small and underwhelming cave.
Zipline – In some islands, such as in Governor’s Island, it is possible to take an exhilirating ride on a zipline to appreciate the majestic views. For just Php 250, you’ll be transported to nearby Virgin Island in a matter of minutes.
Staying Overnight – Being a national park, accommodation options are rather limited. That being said, it is possible to camp in some of the islands. Camping fee is Php 200 and tent rental is Php 400. In Governor’s Island, it is possible to stay in more comfortable cottages.