Saturday, April 13, 2024

Hundred Islands National Park: A One-Stop Vacation Hub

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Hundred Islands National Park: A One-Stop Vacation Hub

27

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The Hundred Islands National Park (HINP), which has 17 islands that are open to public, is a place for a dynamic family, group, or solo vacation for its sceneries and activities that are tailored-fit for the needs of every tourist.

The city government of Alaminos has been constantly innovating and improving the facilities as well as services in the famous national park to hit or even exceed the 520,000 pre-pandemic tourist arrivals, City Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office assistant head Rose Aruelo said in an interview on Tuesday.

 

ADVENTURE RIDES

Among the latest offerings are water bike, water trike, hurricane boat ride and crystal kayaking. These activities are on top of the banana boat ride and the 120-meter zipline at Quezon Island.

Fees for these rides range from PHP300 to PHP1,000.

The water bikes allow people to cycle underwater while the hurricane boat ride is somehow similar to the banana boat ride but with a literal twist since the boat is not a long one but a round rubber boat that spins when pulled by a boat at high speed.

Crystal kayaking, in turn, allows tourists to ride transparent kayaks that enable them to see the underwater scene.

Aside from the 120-meter zipline at Quezon Island, tourists may also choose the 546-meter zipline from Governor’s Island to Virgin Island, where the aerial view of the islands can be seen at 360-degree.

The climb going to the zipline area, however, is challenging but worth it, according to Melanie Episcope of Calasiao town, Pangasinan.

Jenrei del Rosario, a tourist from Sta. Barbara town, Pangasinan, enjoyed the helmet diving experience.

He, along with other friends, were submerged into the 12 feet deep ocean in between two islands with a helmet diving gear, which allowed them to swim with the fishes and see with their very own eyes the giant clams, locally known as taclobo, and other marine life for a maximum time of 15 minutes.

“It was, at first, scary especially when we were going down the ocean floor but eventually, it became wonderful seeing the underwater life,” he said in Filipino.

Cliff jumping or diving is another activity for the brave at the Imelda’s Cave in Marcos Island.

 

FUN AND CHILL

HINP also caters to those who just want to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Tourists may swim at the Quezon Island or at the other islands such as the Scout, Lopez, Virgin, or Children’s islands.

The beaches of the islands have white sand and crystal clear water since the management of the HINP and the city government of Alaminos ensure that they protect and preserve the famous national park through different measures such as the Scubasurero program (from the words scuba diving and “basurero” or garbage collector), which started in 2016.

Under this program, volunteer scuba divers conduct quarterly sea clean-up drives.

Another program is the “Basura Mo, Iuwi Mo” (Your Garbage, Bring it Home), where guests deposit PHP200 and are provided with two trash bags where they need to put their biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes. The PHP200 will be refunded once the visitors surrender their trash before they get out of the park.

Another attraction in the park is the fish feeding activity at Ramos Island as well as the snorkeling activity or spelunking at the Cathedral Cave or caves at Cuenco Island.

Wendy Fernandez, a Filipino who is now residing in Canada, said even her children enjoy island hopping and swimming at the HINP while she enjoys the picturesque view.

 

PILGRIMAGE SITE

Among the most visited islands in the HINP is the Pilgrimage Island, where the 56-foot Christ the Savior statue and the Stations of the Cross are located.

“We again advise tourists to please be in your decent clothes while visiting Pilgrimage Island. Decent means not too fleshy. If you are wearing swimwear that is revealing, at least cover it while on the island. Visitors should also observe silence since many are there to pray and meditate,” city tourism officer Miguel Sison said.

Sison said they also recently opened the Bonsai Garden at Ramos Island to serve as another attraction.

Meanwhile, HINP is now offering an island exclusivity package from PHP80,000 to PHP150,000, depending on the island and the schedule. The fee includes security personnel, first aider and an assistant.

For one, visitors may exclusively rent Mayor’s Island, which can accommodate up to 10 guests, for PHP25,000 overnight.

Sison said tourist arrivals in the HINP reached 438,619 last year, higher by 12 percent compared to the 389,006 visitors in 2022.

Of the total, 140,970 were tourists from Pangasinan, 289,413 from other areas of the country, while the balance was accounted for by foreign tourists.

Sison attributed the increase in tourist arrivals to the easing of travel restrictions, the natural scenery at the famous national park, and the activities it offers.

Last year, tourism receipts reached PHP44 million, up from PHP33.3 million in 2022.

For this week, the Alaminos City government will implement the “drop and pick up” policy for tourists visiting HINP from Holy Wednesday until Easter Sunday to accommodate the expected 10,000 tourists daily during the five-day period.

“Visitors will visit only three islands in a day. From the three islands, they will identify where they will stay longer and agree with the boatman on the time of pickup,” she said.

Aruelo said the boatmen must honor the arranged pickup schedule or they will be penalized.

She said rental fees for the around 1,000 boats that have different passenger capacities will be reduced in line with the policy.

Pangasinan Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office head Maria Luisa Amor-Elduayan said Alaminos City is the third most visited tourist site in Pangasinan.

The towns of Manaoag, Bolinao, Lingayen, and Binalonan are the first, second, fourth and fifth placers.

She said declaration of long weekends “favors cost-effectiveness of traveling – notwithstanding the viability of travel expenses, and the increase in the number of facilities and enterprises in destination areas that provide added values, and activities.” (PNA)