Type : Provincial, Beach Holiday
Best Date : November – January (warm weather), March-May (hot weather)
Expense : Cheap
Things to do : Island Hopping, Cliff Jumping, Water sports
Points of Interest: 100 islands, Patar beach, Cape Bolinao Lighthouse, Manaoag Church, Surip, Antong Falls.
Pangasinan is a province of the Philippines, it is around 3-4 hours from Metro Manila. It is the 3rd biggest province in the Philippines, and is mostly famous for its Bangus fish, mango production and the famous fish sauce called (Bagoong). As a tourist destination, Pangasinan is widely known for the 100 islands, various Bolinao beaches, the Manaoag church, Enchanted caves and various waterfalls. I will only write about my area of Pangasinan and our neighbouring regions as there is much too many cities in Pangasinan.
As I mentioned, every Filipino has his/ her province to go home to, everyone seems to come from the country side to the city to find work or study. “Bani” Pangasinan is our families go to province, and its not a bad one for a break away from the city for some fresh air, food and even a vacation. Most notable in Bani is Surip Beach known for the Redeemers Cross and for the huge “Bani” tree which is said to have worked miracles. This area is usually used for local pilgrimage as you walk down/ up the mountain you will see a few religious stations. Newly discovered Nalsoc cave is considered to be the hidden wonders of Bani, however not open to the masses of locals and tourists, usually with permission professional caveneer or canyoneer may be able to enter with permits.
Bani’s neighbouring city Alaminos is arguably the most tourist attracted city in Pangasinan, notably for the Hundred Islands national park. I remember in my younger years when Hundred islands was just a haven for the locals unknown to the outer world, it was just local fisherman’s boats and the beaches we were allowed to go. However now perfectly timed, tourist population has rose and ever growing, the boats stayed traditional but more in quantity, more hotels were built but not yet to the scale of Boracay. The islands themselves are now more interesting, with activities mimicking those of major beaches, cliff jumping, jet skiing, parasailing, glass bottom boats, snorkelling and even scuba diving are now available in Hundred islands. Camping is now also a popular choice, one of which I’ve tried with my cousins, tent rentals are 600php (£10) however if you own your own you just pay £3 for tent space. Camping was a good experience, barbequing in the night with some beers and alcohol, only to sleep with the sound of the seas waves was unlike anything I could explain. Morning as a camper in Hundred islands though is not as pleasing in the morning as staff will wake you up at around 7am as you’ll need to pack your tents away as other visitors will arrive, understandable but tiring. Non the less the morning view was terrific.
Also neighbouring “Bani” Bolinao is known for its white sand beaches. Here you would find the more finer hotels and resorts in the region. The likes of Puerto Del Sol, Villa Solidad, Casa Almarenzo, El Piscador and Punta Rivera are just some of the resorts that have been built there. These resorts are the go to places for vacation makers which is also next to Patar beach, the Enchanted Cave and the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse which prove to be popular for tourism. However Bolinao is best enjoyed on the day swimming, and in the resorts as when night comes, there is very little to do as we found out the hard way.
It is advisable if visiting Pangasinan, you should have your own vehicle, as you will be moving around the place. There is no Taxis or Jeepneys, tricycles will only take you from village to village unless you pay a hefty fare. There are buses costing about 40php (60pence) from one city to the other, however times can vary. After taking a bus, tricycles can be taken to the desired resort or beach, but it is tough to do. I advise to get your own vehicle or join a tour.