COVID-19 Response

We are Ready for the NEW Normal!

We could only think “this isn’t happening…”

Emily, the center and resort owner, had this to say about the last two years.

“After almost a year of preparation and hard work, we just finished the first bungalows. We turned a dream into a freediving center and a dive center into a beautiful sports resort. Finally, we were ready to accommodate our guests.

But after exactly two days (!!!) of finishing the first bungalows, the Philippines went into lockdown. Having dealt with cancellations for weeks already, now the country was closed, no tourists could enter the Philippines anymore, and Panglao was running empty.

We couldn’t believe what was happening. After all this hard work, we had to send the staff home, and we wondered if it was all done for nothing…

Now almost two years later, the Philippines has re-opened its borders for international tourists, and the academy looks incredible! We’ve done a tremendous amount of work, life in Panglao and at the academy is quickly coming back, and we’re all getting super excited! The time we’ve been waiting for has arrived!”

Emily Smiling

Dear freedivers – and future freedivers!

We just wanted to answer some questions about how we are dealing with COVID-19. First of all;

Thank you for your messages and support, we are all healthy, the center and resort are still open, we’re still fulfilling orders, and we continue to assist our customers with questions.

Even though the global tourist and freediving industry took a severe beating, it’s important to note that we’ve worked incredibly hard during the entire pandemic. The Freedive Academy is open. We are running courses, have divers training daily, and come out of the pandemic financially healthy. In February 2022, the Philippines has re-opened its borders for international tourists, and we are more than ready to welcome you, our guests, back here in Panglao.

Furthermore, the National government of the Philippines and the local government of Panglao made a long set of new rules and regulations for businesses in the tourist industry – a 15-page document, to be exact. We had different inspections from different local government institutes. On July 19th 2020, the honorary mayor Leonila Montero gave us as the first freediving center in Panglao the official go-ahead for re-opening. We couldn’t go to the ocean for months. Still, ever since the go-ahead of the mayor, we have been open, running courses, working hard and dedicated for the moment the borders would open – and as expected – tourism has picked up quickly. We are having a great time here in beautiful Panglao.

Re Open Certificate Panglao

We understand that we have a crucial role in advising our guests on travel plans and travel restrictions to and from Panglao and the Philippines. Luckily for everyone travelling to the Philippines and travelling within the Philippines is again quite easy and very well doable with little to no restrictions – you do need to be vaccinated.

And because we have such an essential role in helping freedivers travel – and purchase gear, we have listed a few frequently asked questions.

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    Q: Can I travel to Panglao and the Philippines already?

A: YES. There are still some restrictions, like you have to be vaccinated and you have to get a travel pass, but it’s all quite easy. Please get in touch with us for the latest requirements.

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    Q: Do I need a special visa to enter the Philippines?

A: NO. Just as before the pandemic, citizens of most countries can just get a 30-day tourist visa on arrival. And also, just like before the pandemic, it is still very easy to extend your visa – no need for visa runs.

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    Q: Do you still accept bookings?

A: YES! Not only do we still accept bookings, if you want to come to Panglao for a freediving course, it is better that you book in advance. Booking course dates for Level 1, 2 and 3 courses is quite easy. For the freediving internships, zero to hero freediving programs and the different instructor courses for sure, you have to book in advance.

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    Q: What about date restricted courses?

A: NO WORRIES! The only real courses with date restrictions are Instructor Courses and Internships and we found a good way to go about the travel restrictions of some countries.

The only ‘problem’ is the instructor courses but since we run SSI and Molchanovs Instructor Courses almost every month and now the Remote Instructor Courses almost every two weeks it is very easy to reschedule if you can’t travel to the Philippines because of COVID restrictions.

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    Q: I had to postpone my travels, when can I come?

A: WHENEVER YOU WANT! Rescheduling the recreational courses isn’t a problem at all. Instructor courses we run every month, and for the freediving internships, we arranged something special. For the past two years, we have had to postpone a lot of internships. Normally we are limited in our staff and intern accommodation. However, we decided to rent extra accommodation this year so everyone who had to postpone their internship can still come when the travel restrictions are lifted. This means we’ll possibly have a big group of interns, but this will be double the fun.

Unlike the scheduled quarterly internships, the postponed internships don’t have approximate arrival dates but are still three months – extendable with three months of extra training.

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    Q: When will you start training and running courses?

A: WE ALREADY ARE! We had to train in the pool at the beginning of the lockdown, but now that we have the Mayor’s clearance for reopening, we can train in the ocean again. We finished the running courses that we started in the pool, and now we are running courses almost daily from Wave 1 until SSI and Molchanovs Instructor Courses.

Furthermore, almost every week, we have online freediving courses starting. If you plan on coming to Panglao for a recreational or professional freediving course, you can start from home. We’ll certify you as Theory Freediver for the recreational freediving courses so that you can access the free dry-training programs as preparation for your visit to Panglao. The remote instructor courses are mostly Wave 2 crossovers from other agencies, while some of the courses are Wave 3 instructor upgrades.

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    Q: Is there still someone to help me with my questions?

A: YES! Even though the center staff still hasn’t fully resumed work, we have staff answering emails, FB, Instagram, Whatsapp and phone questions.

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    Q: Are orders still shipped out?

A: YES! We have taken steps to ensure the safety of our staff (and customers) as we continue to ship out orders.

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    Q: Is there a delay in shipping and receiving orders?

A: POSSIBLY! Under normal circumstances, the orders will be fulfilled the same day. However, during COVID-19, we’ve seen a significant increase in online orders, and orders may be shipped out the next day.

IMPORTANT: We’ve also seen frequent delays in parcel processing by the different shipping companies and the various countries’ customs. We still expect a standard maximum delivery time of 2 to 3 weeks, but do note that we’ve regularly seen deliveries of 6 weeks too, with few exceptions of 2 and 3 months. If you need the item before a specific date, please get in touch with us before placing the order.

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    Q: How is the damage after Super Typhoon Odette?

A: THINGS ARE OKAY. On December 16, 2021, the province of Bohol with our island Panglao and the islands of Cebu and Siargao got hit by a typhoon with a devastating force. The damage was great. Some parts of the main island Bohol are still without power, but our island is fully recovered. Panglao has electricity back everywhere, the internet is back everywhere, and we repaired all the damage to the Academy – we improved the shop quite a bit actually. Tourism is back, and now that borders have re-opened the island is getting busy again.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us anytime. We will be more than happy to assist and help you out.

Stay safe and healthy!

Emily and Vincent and the Freedive Academy family!

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