Updated as of July 2019
Summary: This blog details a budget travel guide for the two primary destinations in Pangasinan: Hundred Islands and Bolinao, which includes a DIY itinerary good for 3 to 5 days, top tourist attractions, options on how to get there and a list of accommodations to stay. Further, this Pangasinan blog is intended for budget travelers either solo, family or group travelers.
PANGASINAN AT A GLANCE
Where the salt is made, PANGASINAN. Salt or “asin” in vernacular where its name was based from, Pangasinan is a major salt producing province at the western area of Luzon, 3 hours away from Manila. It is the third biggest province in the Philippines and is famous for the natural bounties that its waterfront brings. It is rich in salt beds, abundant with fish making it a top supplier in the whole of Luzon and endowed with refined seascape attractions that have engrossed tourists to visit year after year.
Much of these attractions are concentrated at its top 2 tourist destinations: the Hundred Islands of Alaminos City and the town of Bolinao.
Hundred Islands is a protected national park composed of 123 uninhabited islets each harboring with unique properties – from white sandy beaches, brimming underwater life scenes, and beautiful rock formations. The islets vary in size – some are too small to land on, others are big enough to enable exploration.
On the other hand, Bolinao, a first class municipality of roughly 70,000 people is widely known among tourists for its land attractions – from underdeveloped caves, glorious waterfalls, historical sites and tropical beaches. It is easygoing and laid back, definitely some years away from a bustling city setting. The main mode of transport in getting to its land attractions is tricycle, a three-wheeled vehicle that is common in provinces in the Philippines.
In a quick look, these two major tourist spots may seem similar to most of the attractions in the Philippines. But try to immerse deeply into its territory and be surprised for the unique experience it can offer.
QUICK FACTS AND TIPS ABOUT PANGASINAN
Here are few facts and tips to consider when traveling to Pangasinan.
Specific for Hundred Islands
- To get the most of Hundred Islands, visit during the dry season of March through May, on a weekday, preferably early in the morning. Weekend on a summer is a major drawback in visiting the islands as it gets crowded and disorderly.
- The tours around Hundred Islands are regulated by the local government. Upon arrival, go straight ahead to the tourism office near Lucap wharf to be guided on the available tours and services and standard fees. Tour starts as early as 6:00AM.
- Camping is allowed in Quezon and Children’s island, two of the 4 major islets. Camping fee is P200 per night. Bring your tent or rent one for P400. When you decide to camp, make sure to leave Lucap wharf (where all boats depart) not later than 6:00PM. Shower and toilet areas are available in both islets 24 hours.
- There are no fancy restaurants around Hundred Islands. Bring your own food and pack enough water.
- Mobile signal is available in most of the islets.
- ATM is available at the tourism office.
Specific for Bolinao
- The attractions in Bolinao are available all year round. However, it is highly discouraged to visit Bolinao falls and Patar beach during Holy Week when it is jam-packed with locals.
- Mobile or internet connectivity is weak in most of the areas in Bolinao, except at Poblacion.
- Stack up some cash while traveling around Bolinao. There is only one ATM in the area at Poblacion, near the bus terminal.
HOW TO GET TO PANGASINAN
There are no direct flights serving Pangasinan. To get to the place, you would have to fly to the nearby airport in Clark, Pampanga or in Manila, then go on a land trip.
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- To Hundred Islands – Take a bus at Cubao terminal in Manila to Alaminos City, the gateway to Hundred Islands. Travel time is close to 5 hours, bus fare is around P400. At Alaminos, ride a tricycle to barangay Lucap where you can find the tourism office which arranges all tours around Hundred Islands. Travel time is 20 minutes, fare is P15 per person, P100 if chartered. The tricycle can hold up 4 persons.
- To Bolinao – There is a direct bus route from Manila to Bolinao, at the bus terminals in Cubao and Pasay, which makes commute easy. Bus trips are available from 6:00AM to 11:00PM in an hourly basis for all buses except for Five Star bus which trip starts as early as 12:00AM in Pasay terminal. Travel time is about 6 hours, bus fare ranges from P370 to P460.
Via Clark, Pampanga
From Clark International airport, take the shuttle service to Dau terminal. Fare is P100, travel time is around 20 minutes. At the terminal, ride a bus to Bolinao or to Alaminos City if you are bound for Hundred Islands. Travel time is close to 4 hours, fare is around P350. From Alaminos, ride a tricycle to Lucap where the tourism office is situated. Travel time is around 20 minutes, fare is P15 per person, P100 if chartered.
TOP ATTRACTIONS IN PANGASINAN
Here are few top tourist spots that you can cover in a day tour or with an itinerary for 2 to 3 days while in Pangasinan, specifically at Hundred Islands and Bolinao.
HUNDRED ISLANDS TOP ATTRACTIONS
The Hundred Islands is a protected area composed of 123 islets, (124 during a low tide) at Lingayen Gulf stretching for about 17 square kilometers. The most popular and visited among the 123 islets are the following:
Considerably the recreational center in Hundred Islands as it provides the right amenities for different fun activities like kayaking, rappelling, wall climbing, banana boat riding, helmet diving, and snorkeling. The island has an over-the-water zip-line which connects to the nearby foot bridge. It also has restaurants, cottages and picnic tables; aside from the campground for campers who prefer to stay in the island overnight.
Most known for its viewing deck which offers a 360-degree view of the Hundred Islands. Getting to the viewing deck would require going up a hundred drawn-out steps which can be challenging but definitely worth a try. The island is also the location of the already concluded Pinoy Big Brother reality TV show. The Big Brother house has been turned into a lodge that can be rented for P10,000 per night good for 10 persons. Apart from it, the island also possesses a white sandbar at the docking area and a rich marine life suitable for scuba diving.
One of the best places in Hundred Islands for beach bumming as it owns a wide stretch of white, coarse to powdery sand beach. At the elevated area in the island, a few-minute ascent from the beach is the Imelda cave with a big hole at its top that makes for a perfect jump-off point 20-feet to its natural pool at the bottom.
The latest attraction in Hundred Islands is a 56-feet statue of Christ, the Savior standing comfortably at the top of Pilgrimage Island. To get to the statue, travelers would have to climb up the 263-step concrete stairs. Aside from the Christ statue, the island also features life-sized figures of the Holy Family and the Last Supper.
BOLINAO TOP ATTRACTIONS
Patar Beach is undeniably the single most important attraction that made Bolinao popular to tourists. The public beach is endowed with beautiful rock formations at the one side, and a fine white sandy beach on the other. The waves at the coast swells large enough for surfers to enjoy especially during the month of August.
ROCK VIEW RESORT & ROCK FORMATION
A unique private beach resort that holds together a stunning view of scattered rock formations. Stay here during sundown and enjoy a fascinating view of the sun as it sets. Entrance to the beach is P75.
BOLINAO FALLS 1
Bolinao falls 1 drops a cascade of about 20 feet to a clear, blue green catch basin. It’s high altitude and light water downfall create a good mix for visitors to enjoy. You can jump off from its top and swim around its natural swimming pool with or without a life vest. Entrance fee is P20 while parking fee is P50.
BOLINAO FALLS 2
Bolinao Falls 2 has a 3-tier overflow creating natural pools. The first two pools are small suitable for children and family, while the third one is deep and large perfect for adults and the exhibitionist. Entrance fee is P20, parking fee is P50.
CAPE BOLINAO LIGHTHOUSE
The 250-feet, towering, old lighthouse is the second tallest in the country, next to Cape Bojeador lighthouse in Ilocos Norte. It was built in 1905 and has been considered as a cultural heritage. Get to the top of the lighthouse and find yourself looking at the vast, blue ocean of the West Philippine Sea. Entrance is for free.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN PANGASINAN
Here are top things to do and activities that are worth a try in Hundred Islands and Bolinao, Pangasinan.
- Go around the beautiful Hundred islands on a boat, kayak, or a jetski.
- Helmet dive and see the giant clams of Silaki Island closely.
- Jump off the 20-feet high cliff of Imelda Cave at Marcos Island.
- Climb up to the peak of Governor’s Island and check out an unobstructed view of the Hundred Islands.
- Catch the sunrise at the Hundred Islands and the sunset at Patar beach.
- Munch on some of Pangasinan’s best delicacies.
- Go chasing waterfalls in Bolinao.
PANGASINAN DIY ITINERARY
Here is a suggested 3-day Pangasinan DIY itinerary which covers the top attractions in Hundred Islands and Bolinao. The itinerary assumes a party of two and will set back with an estimated budget of P3,865+ per person, excluding expenses for accommodations, souvenir and other incidentals.
Things to consider for this Pangasinan: Bolinao + Hundred Island sample itinerary:
- Start the trip with Hundred Islands then to Bolinao. Leave as early as 12:00AM from Manila to arrive in Hundred Island early in the morning to catch the sunrise and avoid the crowd, especially on a weekend.
- You may camp out or stay in any available accommodation in Hundred Islands or proceed to Bolinao to your chosen accommodation in the afternoon on the first day.
- The easiest way to go around the top attractions in Bolinao is through a tricycle which costs for about P1,000 to P1,500 for a whole day tour. Tricycle drivers in Bolinao double as tour guide, feel free to approach them.
- The estimated budget can be reduced by joining or inviting other travelers on your tour around Hundred Islands and in Bolinao.
- Boat rates and service fees in Hundred Islands are regulated by the tourism office, as it appears below:
Hundred Island Standard Tour Rate
Day Tour (Entrance Fee: P30 per person, Environmental Fee: P40 per person)
Small Boat (with a capacity of 1 to 5 persons) – P1,400
Medium Boat (with a capacity of 6 to 10 persons) – P1,800
Big Boat (with a capacity of 11 to 15 persons) – P2,000
Overnight (Entrance Fee: P30 per person / Environmental Fee: P80 per person)
Small Boat (with a capacity of 1 to 5 persons) – P3,000
Medium Boat (with a capacity of 6 to 10 persons) – P3,800
Big Boat (with a capacity of 11 to 15 persons) – P4,500
Look for discounted deals from Klook from the major destinations in Asia, including the Philippines.
Hundred Island Standard Activity or Service Fee
Helmet Diving: P400 for 15 minutes
Banana Boat Ride: P250 per person, maximum of 7 persons per boat
Kayaking : P250 per hour, maximum of 2 persons
Snorkeling Gear Rental: P250 per set: mask, snorkel, aqua shoes and life vest
JetSki: P1,000 for 15 mins
Parasailing: P2,000 for solo ride, P3,000 for 2 persons
Zipline (546 m): P250 per jump in Governor’s Island, P100 per jump in Quezon Island
Wall Climbing: P50
|Depart to Alaminos City||12:00AM||P400|
|Trike to Lucap Wharf||5:00AM||P15|
|Avail tour at Tourism Office||6:00AM||P700|
|Hundred Island tour||7:00AM||–|
|Back to Wharf for Lunch||12:00PM||P200|
|To Bolinao via van at Alaminos terminal||1:00PM||P50|
|Visit Bolinao Church||2:00PM||–|
|To Rock View Beach Resort via tricycle||2:30PM||P100|
|Bolinao Falls 1||–||P20|
|Bolinao Falls 2||–||P20|
|Lunch at Balingasay River||12:00PM||P200|
|Bolinao Light House||2:00PM||–|
|Sunset at Patar Beach||6:00PM||–|
|Back to Rock View Resort||7:00PM||–|
|Enjoy Rock View Resort||9:00AM||–|
|To Bolinao Town||12:00PM||P100|
|Depart from Bolinao||2:00PM||P460|
WHERE TO STAY IN PANGASINAN
Here are the best rated and the most popular accommodations in Hundred Islands (Alaminos) and Bolinao (Patar)
Near Lucap wharf for Hundred Islands
- Kylah Transient House Check rate and availability here
- Casa del Camba Hotel Check rate and availability here
- Nautilus Islands View Lodge Check rate and availability here
- Island Tropic Guest House Check rate and availability here
In Bolinao (near Patar Beach)
- Traditional Filipino Cottages Check rate and availability here
- Casa Almarenzo Beach Check rate and availability here
- Traditional Filipino Private Villa (Beachfront) Check rate and availability here
- Villa Soledad Beach Resort Check rate and availability here
- Puerto Del Sol Resort Check rate and availability here
English is widely understood in Pangasinan. But in case you want to speak the local tongue, here are phrases that proved to be useful.
English to Binu-Bolinao
Thank You – Salamat
Good Morning – Maabig a buklas
Good Afternoon – Maabig a awro
Good Evening – Maabig a yabi
How Much? – Sinano?
Where is… – Adti…
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