Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pangasinan Road Trip: Bolinao and Hundred Islands in 24 hours

Internet deals and coupons are becoming popular nowadays.  Since I have been receiving Groupon  updates on my email and also downloaded the application, I have been lured into buying the Puerto del sol Package good for 4 paying only 2500.

Imagine a day tour, with the use of all the resort amenities including lunch valued at 7,800 for only 2,500.  Also, this would be my opportunity to discover Bolinao and Pangasinan.
We bought the coupon during the height of summer, but because of our busy schedule, it was only in June that we had the time to take on the adventure.  I was hesitant at first to pursue the trip since it was raining hard days before.  I need to be sure since the voucher states that failure to appear on the scheduled dates would mean forfeiture.  I checked the weather forecast for Pangasinan, and fortunately, its going to be sunny.

I made arrangement to go on a Sunday, and made sure that it was coordinated with the reservation numbers on the voucher.  The next day, I received my confirmation voucher.  This is it!

I was so excited that I cant get myself to sleep inspite of knowing that I'll be driving for 5-6 hours.

At 2:30AM, Sunday, we were alreday up and prepared our things.  An hour later, we were on the road to EDSA, to meet one of our companion at the MRT Station in Magallanes.  By 4:00am, we were north bound.  We made a quick stop at the Petron Nlex Station to gas up and loaded ourselves with caffeine and have breakfast.  This is actually the best time to go on a road trip since, gas prices have been rolling back to less than 50php that my full tank would only cost me 1500php.

We headed straight along NLEX and took the SCTEX exit right after Dau.  We then headed to the direction of Tarlac and took the Hacienda Luisita exit.  We turned right along MacArthur Highway and turned left on the signboard pointing to the direction of Alaminos. I was guided by my GPS app on my Iphone.

By 7:00am, we made another stop at Camiling, the last major town of Tarlac before entering Pangasinan.
It took us another two hours to reach the City of Alaminos, the gateway to the Hundred Islands.  In that instant, I changed our itinerary to just stay in Bolinao until lunch so we can still explore the Hundred Islands on the way back.  Upon reaching the town of Bani, we made a wrong turn.  The map on my phone shows a shorter alternate route to Patar Beach.  But as we move forward, the road becomes rougher and the grass more dense.  I don't think my car can handle that torture and decided to turn back and take the bus route to Bolinao.  Apparently, the application only detects the road but not the road condition.

Around 9:30 am, we reached the town of Bolinao.  I decided to gas up again, since it might take us an entire day to explore the resort, and might not be able to find an open gas station at night.  It's always better to be safe than sorry.  It is still another 12 Kilometers from Bolinao to Puerto del Sol, but the scenic road along Patar, kept us excited!  We arrived at the resort Just before 10am.

We went straight to the front desk and checked in ourselves.  We were given meal stubs and was guided to our Nipa Hut along the Beach.  True enough, it was a bright and sunny weather, so sunny that we left the beach after a few minutes of swimming and kayaking.  The beach was beautiful with with fine white sand and the water calm and clear.  You cannot really swim since the water is too shallow, but basking in the water and enjoying the sun and the ocean of Bolinao made the trip so worthwhile.

We transferred to the pool and settled ourselves on one of the Cabanas around it.  By 11:30, we went to the restaurant to have lunch.

The restaurant provided an amazing view of Patar Beach, not to mention the cool breeze coming in all direction.  It was one memorable lunch.  We were made to choose between their chicken and fish menu.  The chicken was served with buttered mix vegetables, and the Bangus was complemented with Pinakbet.

Puerto del Sol provided backdrops for quite a number of pictures in our album.

We secured our things right after lunch and prepped for our next destination, the Lighthouse on Cape Bolinao.  It took us another 30 minutes to reach the lighthouse, on an inconsistent rough road.  Inconsistent meaning that it has a few paved intervals.  The view from the top was beautiful, which i think is more dramatic during sunset.  But since it was lunch time, we rushed on taking pictures and admiring the scenery before being scorched by the sun.

Right after the Lighthouse, we headed straight to Lucap Port in Alaminos for the Hundred Island adventure.  The Hundred Islands is operated by the Philippine Tourism Authority and was surprisingly organized.  Boat rentals are centralized, and you wouldn't get harassed by peddlers. We arrived at their desk around 2:00 PM, booked a small boat for 1400php that's good for 5-6.  My advice is to bring y.our own snorkeling equipment if you don't want to shell out an additional 250php/head for the complete gear.  An option is to just rent the snorkel for an additional 100php/head.

It's our first time to explore the hundred islands and were surprised on the many things included on the tour.  Our first stop was the Governors Island where we climbed quite a number of steps to reach the view deck to admire  an expansive view of the other Islands.  Next, we went to Marcos Island.  There's a beach where you can swim, but there's also a cave where you can cliff jump and swim your way out to the ocean and back to the beach.  It was relatively safe, and wearing your life jacket is an advantage, especially for the long swim to the shore.  My regret is that we left the camera on the boat to capture this momentous event of overcoming our fear of heights diving into the unknown depths of the cave and swimming into the open sea.

Our boatman then motored us past the other island till we reach the dive spot for the giant clams.  Good thing we rented the snorkel, but did not use the fins since we are guided with the rope that leads to the where they culture these creature down below.  The spot was teeming with fish, and although the visibility was not that clear, we were able to come close to these giants and see them in their natural habitat.

Since it was getting late in the afternoon, we headed for our last stop, which is Quezon Island.  It's a place for campers, we you can pitch a tent for the night for a fee.  It also has a store where you can take a break for refreshments.  The sandbar connects two island and another was connected with a wooden bridge.

We had so much fun during he island adventure that we gave our boatman an additional 200php for giving us those experiences.

We left Alaminos just before 7:00PM, right after freshening up and eating at the many food stalls o Lucap Port.

Just when we thought our adventure was over, we stopped at Camiling to try the Goat's meat dishes on the many roadside eatery.  It took us another hour to reach San Fernando, Pampanga where we decided to stay for the night, since my feet are killing after driving for almost 10 hours.

Truly, nothing beats exploring a new destination with friends and be surprised with the activities along the way.  Inspite of the long travel time, Bolinao, and the Hundred islands in Alaminos is among my favorite place to visit in the Philippines.

1 comment:

  1. hi,

    if I may please post, or please feel free to delete.

    just in case anyone is interested, we are doing a fund raising event for BOHOL called #stroll4BOHOL. It will be a trip to Pangasinan on Nov 16-17. Cost is P2500 iniclusive of food, transpo to and from manila, accomodation, boat, and entrance charges.

    For details, pls go to the ff event, or txt 09186625987 or msg me in fb: Ian Limbonis

    we have climb events too apart from this; just google #stroll4Bohol.
    Story here of our previous outreach activity:


    see you


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