The Lingayen Gulf, on the Western coast of the Luzon Island, Philippines, is the home of Hundred Island National Park, the first National Park of the Philippines (according to the sign).
What I found special about this place is that, contrary to the beautiful resorts the Philippines are famous for, this gorgeous place is affordable and accessible to the average Filipinos as well as international tourists. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
How to get there: The access to the Park is through the city of Alaminos, reachable by car or public transportation from Manila (about a five-hour drive factoring in a couple stops, traffic and slowing down at toll booths).
How much it will cost: Just to give you an idea of how much cash to bring (cash, no credit cards accepted here): Park entrance fee for a day: 20.00 PHP (Philippine Pesos) or US $0.50 (Yep, 50 cents. Double that for overnight stay); snorkeling gear, a pair of fins and a vest: 350.00 PHP or US $8.5; full day rate for a small motor boat and boatman for up to five people: 1400.00 PHP or US $34.00.
Where to stay: A day is plenty to enjoy the Park so, if you have a free weekend, you may want to combine a day on the water with another day in the mountains. I drove back to Tarlac for the night so as to start very early the next day on hike to the crater of Mount Pinatubo. The Asiaten Pension House in Tarlac was an adequate place to rest for only US $27.00 (per person), breakfast included. Their address is #18 Don Gregorio Ave. San Sebastian Village, Gate III Tarlac City. Telephone: (045) 982-0355.
More images of this and other trips can be found here.