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Fully Vaxxed? You Can Now Travel To These Beach Destinations Without An RT-PCR Test

You still gotta follow safety protocols, of course.
Guide: Beach Destinations That Don't Require An RT-PCR Test
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
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Tourism in the Philippines is slowly reopening after more than a year of closure due to the pandemic. But while people are excited to travel again to satisfy their wanderlust, cities and provinces are still implementing health and safety protocols and requiring travel documents to somehow curb the spread of the virus. It can be confusing, especially since policies differ from one local government unit to another.

If you're looking to hit the beach ASAP, a number of local destinations have waived their RT-PCR test requirement—as long as you're fully vaccinated, of course. A few others have allowed the cheaper antigen test, which also has a faster turnaround.

Check out these Philippine beach destinations you can travel to without having to take an RT-PCR test:

Bantayan Island, Cebu

Bantayan Island in Cebu is known for its white-sand beaches, natural caves with crystal-clear waters, and beautiful sandbars and islets. Located on the northern part of the island province, it is accessible by a four-hour bus ride and a ferry from Cebu City; both of which are worth the time and effort, especially after you've basked in the sun, sand, and surf. There are also some great places to stay on Bantayan Island, including Kota Beach—the filming location of breakup-themed 2016 indie movie Camp Sawi.

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bantayan
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Moalboal, Cebu

Moalboal, another Cebu hotspot, is famous for its underwater paradise, especially when you get to dive into its turquoise waters and witness the famous sardine run. Aside from snorkeling and diving, island-hopping and turtle watching are also famous activities in this town. If you want to stay in a small resort tucked behind coconut trees, Archery-Asia Nipa Huts and Camping in Barangay Tuble has bamboo cabins that can be rented at P690 per night.

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moalboal
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Cebu travel requirements (as of October 29):

  • Vaccination card or vaccination certificate (VaxCertPH by the Department of Information and Communications Technology)
  • Unvaccinated individuals only need to present a medical certificate issued within 24 hours before arrival. No need for any COVID-19 test.

Boracay Island, Aklan

Boracay Island is always top of mind when it comes to beach getaways. It boasts powdery white-sand beaches like no other in the country, after all. The island went through a six-month rehabilitation and cleanup in 2018; and while it's no longer the party island we got used to, it's still the tropical paradise that we've always known it to be.

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boracay
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Boracay travel requirements (effective November 16):

  • Vaccination card with QR code from the local government unit or vaccination certificate from VaxCertPH or vaccination certificate from the local government unit (LGU)
  • Hotel reservation from a Department of Tourism-accredited establishment
  • Valid I.D.
  • Travel itinerary
  • S-PaSS registration
  • Health declaration through touristboracay.com
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Panglao Island, Bohol

Think of Bohol and what usually comes to mind are the Chocolate Hills, tarsiers, white-sand beaches, and crystal-clear waters. But this island province also boasts a number of attractions for exciting weekend adventures, including scuba diving amid beautiful coral reefs in Panglao. The island also boasts a rich flora and fauna, including endemic species of crustaceans and mollusks; interesting geological features, such as the Hinagdanan Cave and its underground water source; and nearby Pamalican, which is popular for dolphin-watching.

Bohol travel requirements (as of October 30):

  • Vaccination card
  • Valid I.D.
  • S-PaSS registration (approved or pending approval)
panglao
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Subic Bay

Subic, formerly a U.S. naval base, is now a popular weekend destination because of its beaches, theme parks, and duty-free shopping centers. It's just two hours away from Manila, making it a go-to choice for impromptu long drives especially on weekends.

Subic travel requirements (as of November 12):

  • Valid I.D.
  • Vaccination card
subic bay
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Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro

Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro is a popular weekend getaway option given its proximity to Metro Manila. It's easily accessible by public bus and ferry, has a whole strip of budget hotels and resorts, and is where you can chill at no-frills bars and restaurants. Fully vaccinated travelers only need to present their vaccination cards. Unvaccinated travelers still need to undergo a rapid antigen test, which is given free of charge in Batangas port on the way to Puerto Galera.

Puerto Galera travel requirements (as of October 27):

  • Valid I.D.
  • Vaccination card
puerto galera travel requirements
PHOTO BY Jerome Ascano
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Apo Island, Negros Oriental

The marine reserve surrounding this volcanic island is home to coral gardens, schools of fish, and humphead wrasse. Sea turtles (a.k.a. pawikan) are more popular since they sometimes photobomb prized vacation snapshots even above water. UK-based Sport Diver Magazine included Apo Island in the top 100 diving spots in the world in their 2008 issue.

Negros Oriental travel requirements (as of November 3):

  • Vaccination card or vaccination certificate
  • Valid I.D.
  • Photocopy of the above requirements
apo
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Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

Tourists from Luzon are permitted to travel to Ilocos Norte, including the province's beautiful beaches in Pagudpud. Aside from its surf spots, this coastal town boasts lesser-known white-sand beaches such as Saud Beach and Maira-ira Beach, interesting geological formations such as the Kapurpurawan Rocks, and Kabigan Falls on the eastern side of the municipality. 

Ilocos Norte travel requirements (as of September 24):

  • IlocosNorte.ph registration
  • Valid I.D.
  • Hotel reservation from Department of Tourism (DOT)-accredited establishment
  • S-PaSS registration
  • Antigen test taken within 24 hours or upon arrival (as an alternative to RT-PCR test)
pagudpud
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Santiago Cove, Ilocos Sur

Santiago Cove (a.k.a. Sabangan Cove) is also dubbed as the "Boracay of Ilocos Sur" because of its 900-meter stretch of white sand surrounded by hectares of verdant land. It was declared a tourist destination in August 2019 through Republic Act or RA 11407, which means that it's one of the priorities not only in tourism promotion, but also in development and protection.

Ilocos Sur travel requirements (as of November 5):

  • Valid I.D.
  • Tara Na! Registration
  • Hotel reservation from DOT-accredited establishment
  • Antigen test taken within 24 hours

Zambales

Zambales, a province north of Metro Manila, is home to one of the Philippines' longest and most beautiful coastlines. The towns of Liwliwa and San Felipe are known for overhead waves where surfers can practice their tricks, while Anawangin and Nagsasa Coves are popular for their lagoons where pine trees grow in sand.

Zambales travel requirements (as of November 4):

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  • Visita Zambales registration
  • Valid I.D.
  • Hotel reservation from DOT-accredited establishment
  • Antigen test taken within 24 hours
zambales
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