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How to Get into Samal Island During the Pandemic

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Travel in the Philippines has become almost nonexistent when the COVID-19 pandemic hit a year ago. Popular attractions closed down and foreign visitors were banned from the country. But now that restrictions have eased up, tourism in the Philippines is starting to get back up on its feet. We recently went to the beach and here’s how we got into Samal Island during the pandemic.

But before we dive into the details on how to get into Samal Island, keep in mind that Local Government Units (LGUs) have different regulations on who and how they allow entry into their borders. In the case of Samal Island, only those who have confirmed reservations and QR codes are allowed in.

Here’s a step by step guide on how to travel to Samal Island during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Step 1 – Contact the resort you plan to go to.

We decided to go to Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort. It’s one of the closest resorts to Davao City (just right across) and we don’t have to drive the car to the island. The first step is to contact the resort to reserve a date. The reservations officer will ask for your email address where they will send the form for registration.

Registration is required because the resort will then submit the names to the Samal Island LGU for QR codes. The codes are required for entry and exit. More on this later.

Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort’s numbers are posted on their Facebook page.

Step 2 – Complete the registration form.

You will receive an email from the resort with a registration form attached. You need to complete this with information of all expected guests age 6 and above. Children age 5 and younger do not need a QR code to enter Samal Island.

I had to complete the form by hand then printed it and scanned the forms. I then emailed the completed form and scanned photo IDs to Paradise Island. Minors may use their school IDs or birth certificates. There is at least a 24-hour wait time before the Samal LGU sends you the codes by email.

Keep in mind that you need to get the form through the resort. Or else, your reservation will not be confirmed. Once you receive the QR codes from the Samal Island tourism office, save them on your phone. There will be no need to print those out.

Step 3 – Get the Tourist QR codes.

Samal Island Tourist QR codes are for one-time use only. The Samal Island tourism board issues a unique code for each guest. You cannot use this to enter any other resort. They will scan the code upon entry into the resort and upon departure. Your QR code will look like this:

Step 4 – Present QR codes.

Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort has two points of entry: their jetty and their inland entrance. You can go through their boat terminal on Km. 9, Sasa and take the 10-minute boat ride to the resort or take the Mae Wess ferry and ride a tricycle to the resort’s inland entrance.

Fares are as follow:

  • Boat: 25 pesos per head
  • Ferry: 10 pesos per head

If you’re taking a private car on the ferry, fare is P200 with persons free and P10 per excess person.

We opted to just leave our car in the resort’s Davao-side parking lot and ride the boat.

A resort staff member will scan each QR code when you enter the resort. And then you will pay the entrance fees at the concierge. Everyone must wear face covering and temperatures will be checked.

Resort security will scan the code again when you leave the resort. Once scanned out, you can no longer use the code to enter Samal Island. You will need to secure another QR code for your next visit.

Watch out for our post about our recent Paradise Island experience.