For Holy Week 2016, me and my husband wanted to go someplace that's close to nature. Summer last year was a bit boring for us as we only stayed home, mainly because I had so many work deadlines and he was scheduled for a surgery last May. Our helper also went on a month-long vacation and we both felt overwhelmed by the tasks at hand.
Anyway, this year our helper had left for good but surprisingly, we felt more able to do more. Haha! Going on an out of town trip including. I first considered Puerto Galera while my husband suggested the Hundred Islands. It's been years since I last went to Galera; and the same goes for him with regards to Hundred Islands. To cut my usual long introduction short, I researched on Alaminos hotels and found Casa Del Camba. I immediately liked what I saw and read, though I was close to booking another place that's a bit cheaper yet less enticing in the photos.
Anyway, here are my personal tips/take-aways about our 3 day Pangasinan trip:
1. Don't go during the Holy Week. Traffic in NLEX is horrible. SCTEX and TPLEX are amazingly fast though.
2. Have your private vehicle checked-up for the long drive.
3. If commuting, check the schedules of major bus companies like Victory Liner. If I'm not mistaken, they have hourly trips to Alaminos.
4. Take the Camiling, Tarlac route. It's a lot easier to get to Alaminos if you take this route. We had to pass by my husband's ancestral home and visit my in laws in Calasiao, thus making our travel time a lot longer.
5. If taking private vehicle, make sure you have allocation for toll fees. Ours was around P500+ one way!
6. Gas up while in Manila. We noticed the diesel price were more expensive in Pangasinan.
7. As much as possible, book a room in Casa Del Camba. The hospitality of the staff and the owners are amazing. They just opened in December last year thus the rooms are all very clean and without the usual foul smell of old and dusty lodges and inns.
8. Sit back, relax and just have Casa Del Camba arrange your Island Tour for you. Their staff will be the one to line up and register for you.
9. Food in Hundred Islands are expensive so better arrange for take-out food in Casa Del Camba's restaurant. We realized this too late, that's why we had to buy groceries down town as baon for our boat tour on Day 2.
10. If you have kids, the Children's Island, they say, is more kid-friendly when it comes to shoreline and depth of the water.
11. We stayed in Quezon Island as we wanted to be "where the crowd and the activities are," thus it took us quite a while to find a spot to spread our mat and our stuff. Cottages and tables for rent are limited.
13. There are other islands where you can stay, like the Governor's Island, Braganza Island, Cuenco Island, among others. You may ask your boat man for the differences between these islands. Though a lot would agree with me when I say that they're all just the same.
14. Souvenirs are a bit more expensive in Quezon Island than on Lucap Wharf (where you will be starting and ending your boat tour). I got a set of 5 keychains in Quezon island which costs P100.00 but when we docked in Lucap Wharf, the same kind and design was only P70.00. A shell paper weight costs P150 but I was able to haggle to P100, and a set of 3 ref magnets cost me P150 though original price was P200.
15. On our way home, we took the Dagupan route again as it is really part of our itinerary to buy boneless Bangus, fresh oysters, shrimps and crabs. Since my husband is from Calasiao and he missed the Puto Calasiao so much, he also bought bags of those as well and packs of sampaloc candies (P10 each) and bukayo (P12 each).
16. All in all, it was a fun and blessed trip. Everything, except for the NLEX traffic was smooth. We will always cherish this memory of our Pangasinan trip, as much as we do our other travels as a family.