Philippines: Visit the tropical archipelago with 7,641 islands

2 February 2022 - Euronews

You won’t find many more naturally diverse countries than the Philippines. Made up of a whopping 7,641 islands, the southeast asian archipelago sits near the equator in the Pacific Ocean.

Blessed with sublime sunshine and unique landscapes, around 2,000 of the islands are inhabited, with Luzon, the largest and northernmost island home to the Filipino capital of Manila.

The islands are due to reopen to fully vaccinated tourists from visa-free countries from 10 February. Passport holders that can travel visa-free to the Philippines include citizens from all EU countries and the UK. Visa-free travel is possible if you are staying for less than 30 days, you can see the full list of visa-free countries here.

“The Philippines has been one of the most conservative countries in the world in terms of its COVID-19 protections,” explains Gerard Panga, the Philippines tourism attaché to the UK.

“For over a year we have been preparing the destinations to make sure they are compliant with global standards in terms of health and safety protections.”.

What are the travel restrictions in the Philippines?

From 10 February, tourists will no longer be required to quarantine on arrival, as long as they are able to present a negative PCR test taken no more than 48 hours before departure from their country of origin.

Travellers from visa-free countries must show that they have a return ticket and that their passport is valid for at least another six months.

Tourists must also carry proof of vaccination in the form of a digital COVID-19 certificate.

The country’s stringent measures have meant they’ve been able to host some unique events, despite the pandemic.

“Even during the height of COVID-19 infection cases, we had the Survivor TV group from Israel. More than 100 people, the cast and crew of Survivor TV went to this remote island in Caramoan.”

Once described as a ‘hidden island’ the TV blockbuster is now so globally famous that the island is well known to travellers, though still difficult to reach. Isolated from the main Caramoan Peninsula, you may need to take several buses and boats to reach them.

Despite the isolation of some of its islands, the Philippines has suffered from overtourism in the past too. But special measures have meant that one of its most famous destinations, Boracay Island, has been able to transform itself for the better.

After gaining a reputation as a 24/7 party island, the authorities declared the closure of the 10.32km islet to holidaymakers to give the ecosystem (and the locals) a chance to recover.

“Now on the beach we don’t allow anymore smoking, drinking, loud parties or loud music, so it’s become a haven for relaxation, honeymooners, families, for communing with nature,” says Panga.

“We had to remove all the structures within the shoreline, so now it's all wild, the water is clear.”

If you’d rather have an adventure than lounge on the beach all day, there are plenty of activities for the wild at heart in the Philippines.

If underwater sports are your thing, then how about swimming with millions of sardines? The sardine run in the beachside town of Moalboal on Cebu island offers divers a truly unique experience.

Head to Panagsama beach at practically any time of year (though you’ll have a clearer view if you avoid the rainy season from June to October) and you’ll be able to swim with this incredible shoal of fish. The sardines rise close to the water’s surface to feed on plankton, so even snorkelers can enjoy the silver flashes of the swaying sardines.

“The underwater treasures of the Philippines are really beyond compare, in fact we are Asia’s diving capital,” says Panga.

“According to the WTA (World Travel Awards) in the last three years, 2019 to 2021, we have been voted the world’s leading diving destination.”

Source: Euronews

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