06 OCTOBER, 2020


Good news, beach lovers! Boracay will open its doors to tourists nationwide after months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The world-class vacation destination was opened to tourists from Western Visayas last June 16.

Starting October, more people can travel to the island. “Boracay Island will further open its doors to more local tourists on October 1, and signals the continued resurgence of domestic tourism nationwide,” the Department of Tourism (DOT) said in a statement.

In 2019, travel publication Condé Nast Traveler named Boracay as the top island in Asia, beating other equally beautiful destinations including Bali in Indonesia and Palawan. Boracay is best known for its powdery white sands, clear waters, picturesque sunsets, and outdoor activities.

Before its rehabilitation in 2018, the island had a notoriously wild nightlife that attracted partygoers across the globe. Today, you will get to enjoy a less crowded and more laid-back idyll – perfect for that much-deserved R&R and me-time amid this pandemic.

Make your first Boracay adventure one for the books and avoidcommon mistakes that first-time travelers often commit. These mishaps can make or break your vacation. The key is in the right preparations, especially during this time of strict health and safety protocols.

Here is a beginner’s guide for Boracay vacationers considering the current COVID-19 protocols.

1. Forgetting to observe the “Test Before Travel” rule and other requirements to enter Boracay amid the pandemic.

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The DOT has announced the implementation of a “Test Before Travel” rule before traveling to Boracay. This rule requires all visitors to test negative in a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) 48 to 72 hours before traveling to the island.

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat added that all visitors must undergo ‘strict quarantine immediately after a test and until the time of travel to the island’.

Are you traveling with others aged below 21 and above 60 years old? They are only allowed to visit Boracay if they have no comorbidities or serious medical conditions.

2. Forgetting to sync your flight with other public transport.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has limited the availability of public transportation, including domestic flights. Check the schedule of flights to and from Kalibo International Airport or Caticlan Airport.

If you’re arriving at Kalibo, you will have to travel by land for about 2 hours to the Jetty Port, the gateway to Boracay. You may rent a van or a taxi as your transport options.

If you are coming from Caticlan, you may rent a tricycle to the Jetty Port. A ferry or boat will take you to Boracay from the port. You may walk to your hotel or ride a tricycle if your hotel doesn't provide hotel transfer services.

Always check if any changes were made in the normal operations of vans, taxis, tricycles, and boats. Synchronize your flight schedule with the availability of land and sea transportation.

3. Not booking your hotel accommodation ahead of time.

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Traveling without an advance booking is no longer allowed, following the “No Hotel Booking, No Entry” policy implemented since after the rehabilitation of Boracay.

Regional Director Atty. Helen Catalbas, in a statement, urged the public to book their accommodations ahead of time to avoid inconvenience. She added further that tourists can visit the Facebook pages of the Department of Tourism-Philippines and Department of Tourism-Boracay Field Office for the list of accredited hotels.

The DOT has accredited 130+ hotels and resorts to operate during the pandemic. These accommodations are required to establish health and safety guidelines to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the well-being of their staff and guests.

4. Overspending and incurring debt.

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First-time Boracay tourists tend to spend more than they should. They take on Boracay side trips, visit restaurants and clubs beyond their budget and splurge on items that do not need or want. Many rack up credit card debt that leaves them in financial distress for months. This is mainly because of poor or no planning.

Your vacation doesn't (and shouldn't) need to ruin your finances. Budget your trip well. Research on your options for transportation, accommodation, dining, leisure activities, and shopping. Go for the choices that fit your budget and schedule. This can also help you avoid the travel frustration of wanting to see, eat, and try everything.

Another budgeting tip is to withdraw your pocket money before traveling to Boracay and leaving your credit card at home. This will keep you away from the temptation of swiping your card for spur-of-the-moment expenses. Just remember to safeguard your cash well.

5. Overpacking for a weekend vacation.

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You're staying in Boracay for a week. Pack light! First-time tourists are tempted to bring more clothes than needed, making it more challenging to move around. Remember that you will be taking public transportation to and from the island. Make traveling easier with light luggage. However, packing too little can be problematic. Not having enough clothes can lead to unplanned shopping.

The key to avoiding the mistake of packing too much or too little is to map out your itinerary well. Match your trendy beach outfits with your activities, and as much as possible, stick to basic colors that work with everything else.

Help the local community recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19. Instead of bringing your toiletries, consider buying these from local stores. Get your stock of shampoo, sunscreen lotion, and other essentials from sellers in Boracay.

6. Neglecting updates on local laws and regulations.

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Ignorance of the law excuses no one. Avoid the mistake of violating strictly imposed laws and regulations in Boracay. You should know that aside from COVID-19 protocols, Boracay also has new do’s and don’ts to sustain the rehabilitation of the island. Failure to observe these, regardless of your lack of knowledge or intent, may lead to legal consequences.

Here is a quick list for your reference:

  • Smoke tobacco products and consume alcohol only in designated areas
  • Avoid littering and dispose of your trash at designated disposal areas
  • Don't take your pets by the beach
  • Don't set up your own umbrellas and chairs by the beach (you may bring a picnic mat instead)
  • Pee and defecate in proper restroom
  • Secure a special permit for your drone
  • Never bring home sand and pebbles

In light of the pandemic, you are also required to wear face masks and observe physical distancing in public places. Always bring a hand sanitizer or isopropyl alcohol with you, and wash your hands thoroughly whenever you can.

Final notes, and bon voyage

Tourism is slowly opening up in Boracay. Soon, you will be able to experience your own unforgettable island adventure. Just make sure that you avoid common mistakes first-time Boracay travelers make to fully enjoy your vacation. These errors can ruin your time for rest, and may even cost you a lot of money.

Do your research, plan your itinerary, map out your budget, and observe rules and regulations. And don't forget to have fun!