Layover: Hundred Islands

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Time for a beach getaway during the long weekend
Let me begin my post by saying that I needed a vacation! I haven’t had one since my Ilocos trip last December and to be honest I really needed one. For one I have been carrying a whole lot of work related stress since then plus I have add the stress of having to transfer from one work place to another with no break in between. In effect, I need some rest and relaxation to unwind and juice me up till the next break. Besides work I also miss the feeling of going to the beach, the sun and the sand toasting me to fine perfection. I miss the fresh air and also the feeling of the sand between my toes, I miss the way I could just lounge around enjoying some fruit shake and wait for the world to pass me by. All of these feelings were validated when I went to Alamitos’s Hundred Islands National Park and had one of the grandest times I’ve ever had in the beach.

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Looking for a serene and quiet place to relax and rest
Pangasinan’s Hundred Islands National Park is a beautiful environmental sanctuary and haven plus it’s also a wonderful place for adventurist, backpackers and casual tourists to enjoy and have fun. The islands are located 30 minutes away from the coast and are stunning land forms that took my breathe away. Each island jots the horizon and has certainly a lot of formations to excite and tickle my imagination. But this isn’t just a place where one can just hop on the boat and enjoy the rock formations, there are some islands where locals have turned it into resorts or amusement places for the enjoyment of everyone.

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Beautiful views worth the hike
The first island we visited was Governor’s Island, this islet’s interesting feature was the view deck and the zip line from Governor’s to Virgin just a few meters away. The view deck was one way of seeing most of the islands in their beauty, it’s a bit of a hike and for the not so fit can be quite a challenge, but the hike and the panting were certainly worth it. Apart from the hike there was also the zip line and for Php. 250, the zip line gave me another view of Governor’s and Virgin island.

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Facing my fears
To be honest I’ve never done a zip line that was high and long, in fact my only zip line experience was the week before during the team building in school and I wouldn’t exactly consider that as a true zip line since it was small and didn’t have any great views of the surrounding area. But the zip line in Governor’s was something else, taking the same route going up to the view deck except for that slight detour, the zip line was a vertigo-inducing nightmare and I am not exactly a fan of heights. Stretching over 200 meters long, the zip line is probably the fastest way to get to the next island. However at such a height it was more than enough to get my heart racing (as if it wasn’t already after having climbed the same set of stairs). The moment they cast you off the mountain, the whole panic attack mode makes up for the crystal blue-gree water below, the sound of the wind, and thrill of just seeing the whole landscape pass you by.

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After diving off a cliff
Our next stop was Marcos Island, this island is a great place for casual tourists to get their adrenaline high, most especially if they just came from the whole zip line thing in Governor’s. The chance to cliff dive inside a bat cave is most definitely appealing, people line up just for this. As for me, being the newbie in a whole lot of experiences, this was also going to be the first time I would be diving into a pool of water. In the past I was always afraid of diving because of my fear of hitting rocks and those fears were there when it was my turn to jump. If I turned back, I would have probably been goaded on by the people lined up and they were quite unforgiving with their remarks.

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Mouth of the cave
The last stop in our Hundred Islands tour was the snorkeling part and Quezon island. Truth be told the snorkeling part was a bit of a let down since it only showed how much degradation the whole park is undergoing. Dead corals litter the floor and there isn’t much to see. It also didn’t help that the goggles that I rented weren’t in tip-top shape. But if you were to go a little farther from the platform, the sea will reward you with a daunting view of large clams that might just swallow you whole if you were to venture close to it. As for Quezon island, this is where many people establish their “home base”. It has all the amenities of an inland resort: food and restroom stations. We didn’t really stay too long in this place, the whole island was overcrowded and there weren’t a lot of quiet places to enjoy the beach in its entirety.
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Hundred Islands National Park is a great experience for those wishing to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. It’s not too far from the city and there are certainly a lot of things to do while island hopping. Just a word of caution: start your day early to beat the crowd, zip lines and cliff diving parts can get crowded very easily and those might already take the better part of the day or the tour.
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