One Hundred Islands

Hundred Islands National Park, in the city of Alaminos, actually spans one hundred and twenty three limestone and coral islands. They're said to be at least 2 million years old, a coral reef under an ancient sea, that was later exposed as sea levels lowered. Centuries of erosion gave the islands their unique shapes, almost as if they're merely floating on water!

The dark-stone islands are blanketed in emerald greenery and surrounded by tranquil, turquoise waters. White sand beaches line the shores. Only 3 have been developed for tourist use, but even those were done minimally. Out here, my family and I were in a gorgeous, serene paradise.

Colorful outrigger boats brought us from the harbor in Alaminos to the main island, Quezon Island. For such a small-looking boat, the ride was extremely smooth and comfortable!

The first thing we had to do was claim our spot for the day. Here, the cost to rent a hut ranged anywhere from 350 pesos to upwards of 1,000 pesos, depending on the size you got. (That's approximately $9-$30, for the hut and a boat tour of the islands.) We went with a hut just big enough for all of us and one that had plenty of bench seating and a big table in the middle. In a funny twist of fate, it was pouring rain and thunder broke out just as we arrived, so we decided to eat first as a way to pass some time.

We brought a ton of food...not exactly typical of a beachside bbq or picnic. There was rice, chicken adobo, stewed oysters, paksiw (fish cooked in a vinegar-based garlic and ginger broth), hot dogs, and shrimp. On the side, we had steamed okra, steamed eggplant, and diced tomatoes. Everything we brought could withstand the warmer environment and go without refrigeration for a long time. We also had Piattos chips and pineapple Tang to snack on! (LOVED these!)

So, after eating and allowing time for our stomachs to was still raining. My cousin Sam, my Uncle Rio, and I decided that we were all going to end up wet anyway...why not swim in the rain? The water was warm, the rain was warm, the air was warm (no wind)...Swimming in the rain was great!

We also took a look around to see what was on the island. There was a small store, just up some stone steps a few feet away from our hut, and there were also kayaks for rent and a viewing area for the giant clams.

Then, finally, the rain stopped! Our luck definitely changed because most of the people on the island left while it was still raining. It felt like we had the entire place to ourselves. Sam and I thought this was a perfect chance to go exploring.

First, we found a bridge that led to a large hut meant for overnight stays. We attempted a slow-motion, running-in-a-meadow type picture, but we epically failed. I'm not even really sure why we were trying to in the first place...The bridge had small docks attached to it that were great for sunbathing and dipping your toes in the water. (Or, if you're my uncle, you use it as a launching pad to cannonball into the water!)

When the sun came out, the view was absolutely gorgeous. The water was crystal clear and a perfect blue. All you wanted to do was sit back and stare at it...then dive right in!


My Auntie Ofel was trying to take pictures around the island, but Sam and I couldn't help but crash a couple of her photo shoots. ;)

We ate...again...then we relaxed in the hut for a little while. We also went snorkeling...but I didn't see very many fish. Actually, I'm pretty sure I got stung by some tiny jelly fish. Ouch. :(

After spending a few hours in the water, we wanted to hike around some more and see what we could find. There were carved steps and pathways everywhere!

Sam and I went as high up as we could, and we definitely had our macho, I'm-on-top-of-the-world moment. Multiple high-fives were exchanged...

On our way back down to the beach, we came across the mermaid statues. Again, steps were carved into the rock and it was a blast trying to climb around. I wasn't exactly sure what the statues meant, but I thought their rough, aged appearance gave them an "ancient ruins" feel...Then I found out it may have to do with a mermaid movie that was filmed here before...But that's no fun, so I'm just going to stick with my mermaid ruins theory.

By the time we returned to the hut, the aunties were saying it was time to pack up and head out. After loading into the boat, our last activity of the day was to take the full circle tour. With the sunlight quickly fading, we made our way to a few of the surrounding islets.

Bat's Island!!!
Left: Half of an islet has collapsed, Top-right: A perfect photo depicting the mushroom shape of these ancient coral islands, Bottom-right: You can see how the erosion creates a floating-effect
An entrance to Cuenco Cave, perfect for spelunking

From the top of Governor's Island