Tales From The Hundred Islands
I was born to love the seas, and my home is brimming with hidden beauty in its every nook and cranny.
The Philippines is an absolute gem and no matter what, I would always come back to it, wherever the Universe may take me on my next journey.
I'm proud to have spent my childhood in and out of the ocean, and to have been raised in the tropics made up of thousands and thousands of majestic islands. Even though I have yet to travel and see its magnificence in full light, I'm delighted to have a glimpse of what my home is made out of; more so to experience and create memories with the loveliest souls that made these unforgettable moments a million times more special.
A weekend in paradise — creating memories, sharing stories, spreading love, surrendering to laughters and experiencing life — is the perfect getaway before we part ways and continue on to start a new chapter.
It's been an epic getaway that consisted of spontaneous adventures, surrounded by amazing beings I consider as my second family: swimming from island to island, cliff diving in a cave full of bats, getting threatened by sea creatures from crabs to sea snakes to jumping fishes (okay the last one is not threatening at all but I'm still including it in the category), walking barefoot on rocky shores, exploring pitch black caves, hanging out in alcoves, picnicking on an island that we had all to ourselves, and basically spending our entire day in and out of the waters. It was magical, gorgeous and filled with laughter, sunshine, and incredible energy.
From Bolinao Falls to The Hundred Islands, it's been a remarkable moment for all of us. All these things published in the virtual Universe will never compare to the wonderful sensations and the reality of the memories we weaved together over the last three days. It was unbelievably phenomenal.
Self-Portraits by Tom Dalisay
Swimming In Waterfalls
Just as dawn broke, we hit the road to Pangasinan. When we reached the province, the first thing to cross on our bucket list was Bolinao Waterfalls. Our first agenda was to refuel and rest in the resort, but since the clock was ticking, we had to set aside our hunger if we were to push through with our plans. Since we wanted to make the most out of our stay, sacrifices were in order and our grumbling stomach was shoved aside to wait.
Even though we got a little lost driving to the waterfalls, it was all worth it in the end. The negative energy that was building up from the trip immediately got washed away once we got there. It was truly a sight to behold. We spent quite some time there swimming, replenishing and gathering the energy of the water to fuel our lacking ones after enduring half a day of traveling and being cramped in the car. One of our friends even braved to cliff dive on top of the falls which was estimated to be 30 feet high. I only wish I was half as brave as him that day.
Nonetheless, it was a great start to our trip and we ended our first night on a mellow note, filled with midnight conversations with my best friends, the boys playing half-naked in the rain.
Notes On Bolinao Falls
We were staying at Villa Soledad and it was a good 30-minute ride going to the falls.
We went to Bolinao Falls I and there's a second one too, but we didn't bother checking it out anymore.
You will be traversing on a dirt road and it's really bumpy, so if you're planning to bring a car make sure it's one that can handle being roughed up.
There are signs that point you to the right direction but they are evenly spread out so it's best to still ask locals for directions just to be sure, although it's mainly just a straight narrow road.
There's an environmental fee of about PHP20.
You won't be 'hiking' going to the waterfalls. You would only be traversing a flight of concrete stairs to get there. Initially, we thought we were still going to hike since most of the blogs I read mentioned something about it, and it was completely misleading for this particular place.
The rocks are sharp in the lagoon so it's best to wear beach shoes (although not necessary but most of my friends got scratches on their feet because of it). There are shallow, rocky areas and deep spots in the water where the locals can show you where to cliff dive if you're brave enough to face the 30 feet height of the falls.
Self-Portraits by Jazz Surema
Going On Island Adventures
Our second day was a more eventful exploration of The Hundred Islands. It was nestled in a town called Alaminos where we had to drive an hour to get there from our resort. The boat ride consisted of hopping on and off on the islands, some of which we visited was Governor's Island, Virgin Island, Scout Island, Marcos Island, and Romulo Island to name a few.
During the boat ride, me and two other friends stayed on the front edge to have a better glimpse of the looming islands. It was the perfect spot to witness the view: the waters were crystal blue and the islands themselves were magnificent. The closer we got to the islands, the more stunning they became. The next thing we knew, we were surrounded by these incredible landforms left and right.
The first island we docked on was filled with an epic adventure that we would never forget. When we were scouting the area of our first island, I asked the group if it was possible for us to swim to the neighboring island to simply check out what was there. It was a spontaneous decision that became one of the pinnacles of our day. For us to get to the other island, we had to leave all our belongings on the island that we docked on, so we had nothing with us; no phones to record the moment or call for help (if anything happened at all), no slippers to wear over the rocky shores (which was a really painful event for all of us). We had absolutely nothing but our enthusiasm and our lively souls on the little island, and we ended the day with one of the most glorious sunsets we've ever witnessed, which I'll be sharing in the second part of this post series.
Notes On Island Hopping
It's best to call beforehand and speak with a coordinator on the tourism center to direct you to the area and at the same time ask any inquiries and information you would want to gather. Here are the contact details for your reference: Lucap Wharf Tourism (Here's a contactnmber for you too: 0928-244-9011).
There's a range of activities on each island that you can do like snorkeling, helmet diving, zip lining, rappelling, and kayaking, parachuting to list a few aside from the usual exploring and swimming.
The costs for each activity varies from PHP250 - P2,000. Upon registering, they will give you a pamphlet of the list and costs to guide you. There's also a registration fee which you will need to pay up front along with the boat, snorkel, life vests and other extra for rental.
The boat day tour costs PHP1,800 for a regular boat which is good for 6-10 people (and it's also spacious). You can also opt for an overnight tour, where you can camp out in one of the islands, but would cost extra. If I remember correctly, they offer 3 types of boat sizes: the small one which has the capacity of 1-5 people; the regular one, which we took and a big one with the capacity of 11-15 people; and each one costs differently from one another.
Each island would also charge for tables, cottages and gazebos that ranges around PHP300 - PHP1,000 depending on what you would be getting.
There are convenience stores selling food, slippers and other knick-knacks on the major islands namely: Governor's Island, Children's Island and Quezon Island. Some islands have nothing at all, but there are locals who go around to make sure that the area is always clean and free of trash. They take cleanliness to the next level around here which is a wonderful thing.
There are no fresh water to clean off after swimming in the sea; and again, most islands don't have any wash area, just the major ones where most of the activities are offered.
You can coordinate with the boatman which islands you would like to hop on and off, there's no set itinerary for each tour, but they will most definitely show you around the major islands. Again, if you don't want to dock off a certain place, you can simply tell them not to. A few islands get overcrowded and others are deserted if you're lucky enough, the latter which is what we look for and prefer even though there aren't any activities offered on these minor islands. (There was an incident where our last stop was one of the major islands and we saw that there were a lot of boats docked and folks were milling around the place. We decided that it was too much for us, so we simply turned around and hopped off on a much less populated island to hang around.)