Friday, January 23, 2009

Philippines: 100 Islands

100 Islands National Park is another place I give a lukewarm recommendation for. The islands are nice, but it feels more like a tourist trap than a park. As soon as we arrived there was a middle aged woman trying to rent her house to us, rent us a boat, rent us a cabin on the island, sell us water, etc. And everywhere you went there were more people trying to rent us a boat, rent us a room, sell us trinkets, etc.

When you arrive in Alaminos, stock up on some picnic food. There are no grocery stores around the park itself. As an alternative, there is an open market by the main pier where you can be some food. From Alaminos, there is no bus to the 100 Islands Park. The motorized tricycle rate should be around 50 pesos. At least that's what people told us. There might be an organized conspiracy to charge tourists more though. Once there, walk around to the various hotels and check out the prices. You shouldn't spend more than one night there.

When renting a boat, just get the basic 800 peso boat package. The "service boat" for 1200 pesos doesn't really cover much else. We negotiated a service boat for 1000 pesos, but we only stopped at a couple additional islands. And there's really no need to spend an extra hour or two checking out every single island. They all look pretty much the same.

They do have "cabins" on a few of the islands where you can spend the night. But we didn't like the pushy sales pitch and the ever escalating costs. It starts off with the price of the cabin. And then you have to pay for a boat there. And then a boat the next day to pick you up. And then water. And then a lantern. And then food. It just wasn't worth the hassle to us. And when we saw the actual cabins (see picture below) we were relieved we didn't make that choice.

Overall, it's just one of those places that is going to burn a little time and a little money off your trip. I suppose there are worse places, but why bother with this one?

Some of the islands

Boats at one of the islands

A closer look at the islands

One of the "cabins" you can spend the night at

A collection of stranded toilets

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