Guide: Traveling Safely and Responsibly to Boracay in 2021

I can’t describe exactly how traveling again after a whole year feels like—but the closest word is probably “surreal”.

After 10 months of staying at home, I finally decided to end my hermitage in Quezon City (I went out of QC literally only 4 times since March) and booked a trip to Boracay Island. I know, I know—you’re probably thinking YOU DON’T EVEN WANT TO DINE IN RESTAURANTS IN MANILA AND NOW YOU’RE IN BORACAY. I don’t blame you if you want to shake me by the shoulders or something. I was surprised at myself too. But I really felt like I needed a break, as I’m sure you’re feeling too. And so I clicked “book”—but without throwing any caution to the wind, let me assure you.

Why Boracay? For me, it was a very easy decision. Boracay is my favorite island—a place that feels like home. I have many memories and made a lot of friends there. It’s a place I know by heart, very familiar and comforting. Not to mention that the beaches are pristine and breathtaking, which I’m sure the world already knows.

2021 Boracay Travel Guide
But on top of all these things, Boracay felt to me life a safe place to visit during the pandemic. I’ve asked a couple of friends who have visited over the past few months how the island was, and they all told me the same thing. After stepping foot on Boracay again, I understood what they meant.

2021 Boracay Travel Guide

How to Get to Boracay

Currently, the only entry point to Boracay for tourists is Caticlan Airport. Since October 2020, the island has been accepting visitors from people residing in areas under GCQ and MGQC, except those in Western Visayas.

2021 Boracay Travel Guide
The requirements for entering Boracay depends also on your classification (Aklanon, non-Aklanon tourist, Authorized Person Outside of Residence, Locally Stranded Individual, etc.) and for non-Aklanon tourists (you are most likely one if you’re reading this post), here are the travel requirements:
  • A negative RT-PCR test result with 72 hours validity (i.e. taken at most 72 hours prior to your flight)
  • Confirmed booking at a DOT-accredited accommodation (see list here
  • Round trip flight tickets
  • At least one valid ID
  • A filled out Health Declaration Form (click here) and a Tourist QR Code to be secured from the Aklan Tourism Office

How to Secure Boracay’s Travel Requirements

1 | Book your flights.

2021 Boracay Travel Guide
Decide on a date and book roundtrip flights. I flew via Philippine Airlines—they have affordable rates nowadays (I got mine for only PhP1,669, round trip). Plus, PAL offers a one-time free rebooking—which is very useful in case you want to extend your stay in the island. However, rebooking must be done at least 7 days in advance. So, for example, if your return flight is March 8 and you want to change that (let’s say, extend your stay for a few more days), then you must rebook by March 1.

2 | Book your accommodations.

You need to book at DOT-accredited establishments in order for you to enter the island. I stayed at Villa Caemilla Beach Boutique Hotel in Station 3—I have stayed at this beachfront property in 2017 and I absolutely loved its chill vibe. Station 3 in White Beach is quieter than the other 2 stations even before the pandemic (and island closure in 2018), so if you’re looking to relax and be lazy in most parts of your trip, this is the place to stay in. Of course, if you would rather stay in Station 2, there’s Henann Crystal Sands, which I also tried during this trip.

It is also important to check how your preferred hotel is implementing protocols to ensure safety for every guest. Email them to ask directly, or stalk them in social media. For me, the stricter the hotel is, the better.

2021 Boracay Travel Guide
More about my individual experiences in these hotels in separate blog posts.

For my full review of Villa Caemilla Beach Boutique Hotel, click here.

3 | Register your flyer profile and health declaration form.

If you’re flying via PAL, you need to fill out a travel profile and health declaration form (click here) as early as 5 days prior to your flight. Make sure you put in all the correct details. This will be your “passport” into being allowed to board the plane.

This registration is actually a two-step process. After the first part, which is filling out and submitting the online form, you will receive an email that would direct you to the second part. Once the 2nd part is also complete, you will receive a unique PAL QR Code—which is required for taking a swab test (if you’re taking one via PAL’s partner centers) and would be also presented to the airport staff upon check-in.

4 | Register you visit with the Aklan Tourism Office.

Go to this link to fill out Boracay’s Health Declaration Form. Make sure you take a screenshot of the form before (just in case) and after you submit.

5 | Schedule your swab test.

First things first: if you’re someone who even thinks of faking your swab test result, then GO TO HELL. You’re not only putting other people at risk, you’re also endangering Boracay of being closed again by DOT if another outbreak happens. The locals are struggling enough with their livelihood—don’t make it worse for them. Also, if can't be bothered to pay for and take a swab test, then just stay home.

I got my swab test with PAL’s partner center, Detoxicare Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, at the PAL Learning Center itself in Padre Faura—2 days before my flight. It costs PhP3,300 and the results are out by 12 hours. You may do walk-in or drive-thru, and the facility is open from 8AM to 8PM daily.

What you need to bring: your PAL QR Code, your round-trip tickets, and a valid ID. Print/scan everything.

I know that there have been cheaper options recently but I didn’t want to stress myself out too much.

Detoxicare will send you an SMS notification as well as an email with the actual result once it’s ready. I got tested around 8:30AM and received an email at about 9:00PM the same day.

6 | Submit the results to the Aklan Tourism Office.

Immediately upon getting the (negative) results, send an email to with the subject “OHDC - <LAST NAME>, <FIRST NAME>”, with the following attached:
  • Health Declaration Form
  • RT-PCR Result
  • Flight Details
  • Confirmed Hotel Booking
  • A valid ID
Wait for them to validate your documents and reply with your unique Boracay Tourist QR Code. Since my swab test result came out pretty fast, I was able to submit my documents 2 days prior to the flight too. I received my QR code the next day.

7 | Download the Traze app.

This is the official nationwide and unified contact-tracing app in the Philippines, and you must download (Android | iOS) AND use it. It has the same QR scanning capabilities as the other apps you probably already have on your phone, except that it automatically saves your travel history.

Here’s a cheat sheet/summary that you might find useful:

On the Flight

I was a little surprised that our flight to Caticlan was almost full—not 100% full, but almost. To be honest, I don’t know what the current restrictions for airlines are. As a safety precaution, the plane is being disinfected every after flight. However, the paranoid in me still wanted to wipe down every available surface next to me, to be honest. HAHA. Anyway, make sure to keep those masks and face shields on all the time. Just wear them properly. Period.

2021 Boracay Travel Guide

Arriving on the Island

2021 Boracay Travel Guide
In Caticlan, you will be greeted by strong gusts of wind that would hurl away your face shield. LOL. On a serious note, you simply need to present your QR Code and ID to the airport personnel and off you go!

2021 Boracay Travel Guide
If you didn’t book hotel transfers prior to your flight, don’t worry because you can still do so once you arrive. However, I would suggest arranging them in advance to avoid any hassles. Our hotel, Villa Caemilla, graciously arranged ours via My Boracay Guide (for regular room rates, the transfers are included already in your booking). My friend and I had a whole van all to ourselves from the airport to the jetty, and another one from the Boracay port to the hotel. Lovely!

2021 Boracay Travel Guide

Enjoying Boracay (+ Safety Tips)

2021 Boracay Travel Guide
As always, pandemic or not, responsible travel is of utmost importance. Make sure you follow these guidelines and tips in order to have a hassle-free, worry-free, Boracay stay.

1 | Wear masks in public spaces. That includes the beachfront—when you’re NOT swimming. The only time you can remove those masks is when you’re dining or when you’re in the water (ocean/pool).

2021 Boracay Travel Guide
2 | Wear face shields in public transportation (boats/e-trikes). If you can arrange for private transportation, better.

3 | Maintain social distancing. Just because everybody coming to the island got swabbed doesn't mean you can go ahead and start hugging everyone else. Unfortunately, as much as I love meeting new awesome people, now is not the time to make new friends as well.

4 | Bring your essentials all the time. This includes alcohol, antibacterial wipes, tissue paper, your own pens, extra masks, containers for your masks, and face shield.

5 | Stay hydrated. Bring your own water bottle.

6 | Smoking anywhere is absolutely banned. Especially in the beachfront. In restaurants and hotels, there are designated smoking areas only.

7 | Don’t eat and drink on the beachfront—these are not allowed.

8 | Give tips when you can. Be generous when you can.

9 | Most shops and restaurants are closed, and those that are open have limited manpower and reduced menus. Don’t be that bitch asking for things that are not available and going berserk when they can’t give it to you. Be patient and understanding—Boracay is still struggling. (Note: thankfully, I didn’t experience bad service in any of the places I dined in.)

2021 Boracay Travel Guide
10 | Be thankful for this break and take time to enjoy nature, fresh air, fine sand, and amazing waters!

Have a safe and happy vacation!

2021 Boracay Travel Guide

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