After our Epic Trip in Bolinao, we felt unsatisfied because we didn’t get a chance to do what we really wanted, to swim and also to lie down on the beach. Non-IG-husband suggested that we visit Hundred Islands since it is just an hour drive from Bolinao.
We arrived at the Tourism office around 1:30 in the afternoon and we found out that we had to register and hire a boat etc. and we felt that by the time we finish registering, changing clothes, having lunch etc., we will then be too late as all the day trips finishes at 5:30 pm. So we decided to stay overnight and come back for the island hopping trip early the next day.
We then looked for a place to stay overnight. We didn’t want to stay at the inns infront of the Tourism office as we thought they might charge high prices since they are conveniently located there so we searched for the hotel with the lowest rate in the area through booking.com.
And when it comes to hotels, here comes my rant, again.
We found a hotel that charges Php 2300 for a night and it is the lowest price out of all the hotels in the area. We went to the hotel directly and didn’t check any other places because they have a secured parking area which is one of the things that we always consider.
The staff were nice and accommodating. The room size was ok and they showed us different options so we were able to choose the room with big windows where natural light can come in.
The room seemed clean at first glance, but it wasn’t, actually. There was a used soap in the bathroom, maybe the soap of the last guests who stayed in that room.
There was a small flying ipis in the room, no we didn’t bring the ipis with us just to get a free meal (this is actually a joke, you’ll get this if you’ve seen some of the old Vic Sotto movies).
There was a TV with very bad reception, we can’t watch a single channel.
There were only 2 glasses in the room, no water provided and no kettle nor coffee but they were kind enough to lend us kettle and mugs as we like to drink coffee at random times of the day (or night).
The good part is they serve dinner as well (unlike the hotel in Bolinao which only served breakfast) so we don’t have to go out in the night, searching for a place to eat, and in all fairness, they have a beautiful bar. They also provided free wifi.
Just a question though, do people in this region cook everything with Ginger? I’ve seen them cooking Adobo and Afritada with ginger. Is this normal?
What shocked me the next day was that our breakfast wasn’t included in the room rate. We had to pay Php 150 each for a Silog meal with Instant Coffee. So the Php 2300 that we paid for was just for the bed and the parking. Isn’t this too much?
Ok now, maybe I’m just being too critical again so lets move forward to the island hopping trip.
I used to just read about the Hundred Islands in history books and I was quite excited to finally be able to visit the place. Just looking at it from the wharf (the place where the boats park, and load and unload), I was already stunned.
We registered in the tourism office and paid Php 1400 rent for the boat, that’s a whole day rent until 5:30pm. The price of the rent can also be shared by up to 4 persons. The boatman will serve as the guide for the day. In our case, it’s the boatman and his daughter.
Our first stop was Governors Island.
The view from the top was just amazing! This island also had a zipline and I bet the experience and the view would be even better but ziplining is just not my thing. So after taking some photos we went down and checked what else was there on the island.
After walking up and down, and crossing the bridge to the next island. I felt so tired already and I started getting annoyed and just want to head to an island with white sand where I can just lie down and relax. Thoughts came running in my mind as to why I have to get tired by walking up and down and around unpaved pathways. A vacation for me means relaxation and not getting tired by walking around and getting dizzy with so much people around.
I was already thinking of asking Kuya (the boatman) to just take us directly to a place where there is a beach but I thought maybe there’s something else to see in the other islands.
We headed to the next island and when I asked Kuya what can be done on the island, he said we can swim and snorkel there. We hopped of the boat and came back in less than 30mins. The swimming area was too small and it was too crowded. The water isn’t very clean and it was too rocky. The water was rough and when I tried to snorkel, I only saw seaweeds.
There were two restaurants and a small sari sari store in the area and the smell of the grilled seafood was very inviting. However, we were saddened to see a baby shark lined up along with the fish and squid ready to be grilled.
We left the area after 5 minutes as we were not interested in jumping and swimming back and climbing up only to jump again so we asked Kuya if he can take us to the area where we can do the Helmet Diving.
He took us to a floating cottage where the instructors gave a short briefing about how this Helmet Diving works and how to equalize while under water.
The Helmet is heavy and they put it on top of your shoulders. Since it is open, the water comes up to your shoulder level. they supply you with oxygen from the tubes.
As soon as I got down, hundreds of fish swarmed me and I actually panicked when they started biting my hands. As soon as the next person went down, the fish immediately moved to him and swam around him. I thought that it was very strange.
In the Maldives, I swim everyday and I see a lot of fishes and other creatures but never did they come near me (except the Trigger Fish that followed me once). Usually, they swim away at the sight of a bigger creature.
I then found out the reason for this strange behavior. The guide gave hubby a piece of bread. And as soon as he got a hold of he bread, all the fish went to him. He threw the bread down as he was getting bitten by all the fish. And then the guide was giving me a piece of bread and I waved it off, telling him I don’t want to hold the bread.
For whatever reasons and idea that this guy had in his head, he held the bread right in front of my helmet. I was trying to walk away as I didn’t want all these fishes coming near me but he was walking towards me. Did he think I am blind not to see what’s happening that he had to put the bread on my face?
If I wasn’t in the water, I could have smacked him in the head already, luckily we were underwater.
I am not a Marine Biologist or something but all I know is that it is not a good practice for human beings to feed the fish. These fishes was so used to being fed by humans that they bit my hands even though I wasn’t carrying a bread or maybe my hand looked like a bread to them?
Sorry but again, I would have to complain about something. Underneath that floating cottage was a barricaded area where some giant clams and corals were chucked in together as if they were pieces of art, placed in the middle of the museum for the human beings to see. Do you see something wrong here? I just feel that this is so unnatural.
After this Helmet Diving experience, I don’t want to do anything else stressful so I asked Kuya’s daughter if they can take us to an island with a bigger beach with white sand.
They took us to Mayors Island where finally I saw white sand. The beach was still small but she said this was the biggest and we said we’ll just stay there. When we arrived at the island, a boat just left so we got the whole beach to ourselves. The water was clear and we got to snorkel as well and saw a baby Black Tip Shark, some sword fish and others.
After spending about almost 2 hours in Mayors Island, we then had to leave when 3 boats with more or less 10 passengers each arrived. Luckily we arrived earlier and were able to enjoy the whole beach to ourselves.
Even though the boat is ours until 5:30pm, we decided to head back to the Wharf at around 12noon as we still have to drive back to Pampanga and we don’t want to still be on the road till evening.
Upon returning to the Wharf, we collected our Garbage Bag deposit of Php 200. I like this idea of giving garbage bag to the tourists and bringing it back with their garbage so they can collect back their deposit. You can see the result of this program in the islands as I did not find floating plastics and bottles anywhere.
Another thing I liked about the place was it felt safe. We left our things on the boat without having to worry about it. In places like the Wharf and the souvenir shops we didn’t get that feeling of getting robbed or mugged. Also, the people who were selling souvenirs were not very pushy and some kids were even shy.
Mayors Island was really the saving grace of this trip and we were so happy to end this trip on a positive note. I hope you guys don’t mind my rants, I am not really a negative person but I just have a lot to say about some things.
PS: I don’t understand why people keep on vandalizing anything that has space, like, even Indian Mangoes?