Hundred Islands National Park is protected by the state to preserve its pristine landscape. // © Nila Do
To say that the sun shines differently in the Philippines, and specifically at Hundred Islands, is an understatement. Visitors should make a point to watch the Filipino sunrise during their visit.
Hundred Islands is a group of 124 tiny, verdant isles located about five hours north of Manila. The islands — which fortunately were not affected by Typhoon Haiyan — are largely deserted, which can be a welcome change from the 1.6 million residents in metro Manila. Touted by Filipinos as an easy getaway from the hectic and bustling city life of Manila, Hundred Islands is to the capital city what the laid-back Key West is to Miami.
Every vantage point in Hundred Islands is a panoramic shot more picturesque than the last. Each island seems to rise out of the blue-green South China Sea like a small floating city. Time slows down a bit here — but the adventures do not.
To reach Hundred Islands, clients can take a short “bangka” boat ride from Alaminos City, Pangasinan, departing from Lucap wharf. Hundred Islands itself is protected by the state and serves as a national park, ensuring the plant and sea life remain pristine for centuries to come.
To begin your island-hopping experience, know that out of the 100-plus islands, only three are developed enough for tourists: Governor’s Island, Quezon Island and Children’s Island, all of which offer overnight stays as well. Governor’s Island is an ideal spot for a casual hike, and a lookout point with breathtaking 360-degree views of Hundred Islands awaits at its highest point. Governor’s Island is also where the Filipino teen version of “Big Brother” was filmed, in a house that can now be rented out.
Quezon Island is perhaps the most developed of all the islands. Named after former President Manuel Quezon, glistening green waters rush onto the island’s beautiful white sandy beach. It is an absolutely majestic backdrop for a swim.
Covered picnic tables are prevalent on Quezon Island, and a traditional Filipino lunch of grilled stuffed milkfish (bangus) and rice is served around the island. Island locals also offer manicures and pedicures by the sea and sell T-shirts and sundries to travelers.
A few hundred yards from Quezon Island is a reef where hundreds of colorful and wild sea creatures abound, making it an ideal location for snorkeling. Be sure your clients look out for the impossibly large giant clams, sitting at the bottom of the sea. The native clams were in danger of becoming extinct, but thanks to conservation efforts by the University of the Philippines, the species’ population is rebounding.
For your more adventurous clients, Hundred Islands offers some of the world’s best cave diving and spelunking experiences. Marco Island is a particularly great spot for cave diving. Some of the islands even have caves inhabited by bats.
It is just as important for visitors to witness a local sunset before the end of their vacation as it is to watch a sunrise. With vibrant reds and purples, it is the ideal way to conclude a vacation in Hundred Islands.