4 activities you shouldn’t miss at Hundred Islands

I succumbed to limitless exhilaration at Hundred Islands national Park, Alaminos City.

View of the islands from the Governor’s Island View Deck.

It wasn’t my first time at the tourist destination, but since my recent trip to Hundred Islands with my office buddies wasn’t work-related, I surrendered to blissful adventures and felt like I was a newcomer. The mesmerizing islands still captured me in awe and the stunning view from the view deck of Governor’s Island still made my heart race.

All of the activities are must-tries, but the level of thrill varies. As for me, here’s how I rank the activities my friends and I tried out.

Rank 4: Snorkeling
Price: P150/head for goggles rental

Seeing the giant clams, corals and fish was supposedly exciting. But, I didn’t enjoy snorkeling that much, perhaps, because I’m not a good swimmer. Being a good swimmer is not a requirement, because there’s a life vest to help you float, but you’ll surely get the most out of it if you are. It gets boring if you’re just floating around on the surface. Plus, you’ll get to see more of the living things underneath if you can swim like a fish.

Rank 3: Helmet Diving
Price: P300/head

Before the trip, I didn’t do any research about helmet diving, so I was totally clueless about how it felt.

It was the first activity we did after our sumptuous lunch aboard the boat. After having our fill and taking some rest, we stepped onto the floating hut where the helmets and oxygen tanks sat waiting.

We were oriented about what to do and how to do it properly, and were taught hand signals, which were essential in our underwater adventure. As we stood and prepared for our descent, we tried lifting the helmets and whoa! It was surprisingly heavy! I was able to lift it up to only an inch.

The instructor told us that the pressure would get higher every two feet. To remove it, he advised us to shut our mouth tight, pinch our nose with one hand while the other holds the helmet’s handle (never loosen the grip on the helmet, or it would slip off the head), then blow through it, so the pressure would pop out. Jaw exercise could also be done.

The diving area’s depth is 12-15 feet. The pressure was ringing in my ears as I descended. It was painful. But, it lasted for only a minute or two. Few more minutes and I was marveling at the scene unfolding before me.

Beneath the water’s surface, there were schools of fish that came rushing to us as the divers sprinkled rice grains. The divers took numerous photos of us touching the corals and the giant clams that would shut their shells upon detecting our proximity and presence.

That’s me touching the mushy membrane of a giant clam.

Helmet diving lasted for about 10-15 minutes.

Rank 2: Zipline
Price: P250/head

Zipline isn’t new to me, as I tried it twice before at the Balungao Hilltop Adventure. But zooming away from Governor’s Island towards another island, which was about half a kilometer away, was a whole new experience.

It was nerve-wracking before the flight, because of the fact that I would be flying over the deep sea. But it was enticing at the same time, because of the fulfillment waiting on the other side. We were eight, but only two of us took the challenge.

Nervousness came only before the release. But, the exhilaration and fun took over as I zipped away through the sturdy cable with the wind touching my sun-soaked skin. I savored the marvelous scene around me before reaching the other end in less than a minute. It was great and I’m craving for another ride.

Rank 1: Cliff Diving
Price: Free

I’ve been high above the sea, speeding with the wind, and way under it, interacting with its inhabitants. But, what tops my list is cliff diving. Nothing beats the thrill of a 20-foot drop into the 8 feet deep clear water on the Marcos Island.

The trail towards the cliff diving site.

Waiting for my turn. Photo by Kim Montano.

The nervousness I felt upon seeing the others jump off the edge was like an avalanche. But, I was certain I wanted to jump. When my turn came, I set myself in position, counted to three in my mind and jumped off the edge without allowing myself to have second thoughts. I let my hands fly in the air as I braced for the impact. A surge of relief flooded my mind upon touching the water’s surface after waiting for a full second.

Here’s a tip: Upon stepping on the edge, don’t stare too long at the water; it will only give you doubts. Just jump after counting to three without thinking about how it feels like when you reach the destination. Just jump and take in all the action.

To date, cliff diving is the most exhilarating adventure I experienced and the most unforgettable moment of my life as a traveler. Too bad, though, my friends didn’t catch it on video. But, the moment is on loop-play in my mind.

Budget Breakdown:
Tour package voucher purchased through Ensogo – P700/head
Van rental (Manila to Lucap Wharf and vice versa) – P8,000
Hotel Accommodation – Rooms start at P1,000. We got ours (Family room for 6 persons) for P2,600 at Island Tropic Hotel.
Food: Prices of viands at the Lucap Wharf range from P40 to P70 per order. Rice is priced at P15 per cup.

Other moments:

En route to the Hundred Islands National Park.
Quezon Island.
Quezon Island.
Quezon Island. Photo by Kim Montano.
Posing at the foot of Manuel L. Quezon’s statue on Quezon Island.

View from the Marcos Island.
Turtle Island.
Crocodile Island.
Taken at the Governor’s Island View Deck.

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Still feels like the first time

I’m not sure how long I haven’t traveled, but my hiatus from adventure seeking will soon be over. Two days more and I’ll be marveling (again) at the scenic and mesmerizing Hundred Islands.

It’s been one full year after my first time at the national park and it was all for work that was why I didn’t get to fully enjoy the tourist site. The thought of riding the boat as we go from an island to another island comes to mind as the date comes near. What makes me ecstatic is the added fun that I’ll experience this time, that is helmet diving (getting up close and personal with scores of fish under the clear water…Woohoo!)

Last year’s trip to the Hundred Islands was all for work. I enjoyed the marvelous views towering around me while I was on the boat, but I really want to explore more of the islands.
Island hopping with a large group divided into several boats is another twist to the thrill.

My calendar is marked and the traveler in me has been reawakened. Hundred Islands, I give you the permission to take my breath away.

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