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Fully Vaccinated? What You Should Know Before Planning to Join a Surfing Holiday

by Cris Puscas

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Will you be fully vaccinated soon? Or have you taken your COVID-19 vaccination and are looking to travel sometime in the near future?

As vaccines are being rolled out across the world, it brings the promise of a return to our pre-pandemic life, or, at the very least, something close to it.

That said, it’s important to keep in mind that while these shots do come with some protection against the virus, some regulations, such as lifting the mandated use of masks, may not be happening as soon as we’d hoped.

You’re probably wondering, under these circumstances, how to best plan and pack for a vacation – say for a much-awaited surfing camp?

In this article, we’re sharing useful information that may just help you plan your surfing trip with an added peace of mind. You’ll find insights on:

  • How COVID-19 vaccines work;
  • The types of vacations that are “safer” to take;
  • The entry requirements for the top surfing destinations favored by our customers.


What Should a Vaccinated Traveler Keep in Mind?

From what we’ve gathered from authoritative sources, all of the available COVID-19 vaccines are quite effective at reducing the risk of serious symptoms or death from contracting the virus. (source)

However, you can still get infected, and there’s not enough data yet available regarding transmission.

The good news is that recent studies have shown the vaccines likely reduce virus transmission to other people in addition to protecting the person who received the shot. (source: Reuters ; Forbes

Should you choose to travel sometime soon, it’s highly advisable to continue to take health & safety precautions, such as wearing a mask, washing your hands often, and maintaining the practice of physical distancing.

While it’s not mandatory, you should also consider getting tested 3 to 5 days after arrival and self-isolate for 7 days, even though you are fully vaccinated. We are still unsure as to how much protection the vaccines offer against the new variants of the virus (and the strains continue to emerge), so, it’s always better to be safe.

In short, being fully vaccinated does give you more ‘freedom’ and peace of mind when it comes to travel but it’s in you & your fellow travelers’ best interest to maintain precautions when traveling.

Not only is it crucial for us to ‘adhere’ to local rules but also to keep personal consideration and precaution for the sake of your and others’ health and safety.


What Type of Travel Is Recommended for a Surfing Holiday?

Even if you are fully vaccinated, these days, the type of travel you choose to take matters more than ever.

Domestic travel has been returning slowly but steadily starting last summer. With the rollout of vaccines, countries that are likely to reach herd immunity faster may be a ‘safer’ choice for locals and non-locals alike.

Many travelers are now choosing destinations that are off-the-beaten-path and away from condensed cities. Thankfully, there are a lot of surfing destinations that offer the perfect setting not only away from the hustle & bustle of cities, but also to be fully immersed in nature.

Also, it is easy to combine other outdoor activities such as yoga, diving, or kayaking, with surfing.

»Read more: The Best Off-the-Grid Surf Spots You Need to Check Out

a guy arranging surf boards on a car

To get to your travel destination, road trips are recommended as non-public transportation is ‘safer’ than using public transportation. In fact, according to the CDC, fully vaccinated travelers who go on a road trip and are moderately careful at the destination, would have a relatively ‘safe trip’.  

Another way to lower risk is to choose to visit a country that is waiving restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers. At the time this article was written, only a handful of countries have gone this route, but, as summer approaches and the vaccine passports are likely to become a reality, more and more countries would consider this option to open for travel.

Many travelers are eager for this to happen, too. According to a survey by The Points Guy & YouGov, 49% of Americans would prefer to visit a destination requiring COVID-19 vaccination. (source)

Lastly, should you choose to travel internationally, it’s better to focus on visiting one country, rather than opting for a multi-country itinerary. Now is the perfect time to focus on slowing down, taking longer to explore a country, immerse in its culture and traditions, and discover local gems.

»Read more: Traveling Safely - Your Guide to Surf Camps in the COVID-19 Era


What a Vaccinated Traveler Should Expect When Planning a Surfing Holiday in Top Destinations?

While countries across the globe are starting to slowly ease restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers, we strongly advise those who decide to travel to seek out local resources before they take any decision to book a yoga retreat or holiday.

Currently, there are no standard recommendations across the countries and the information constantly changes.

That said, across the world, “vaccine passports” are already used as a standard way to prove a traveler’s COVID-19 status.

The European Union is implementing, as of July 2021, the EU Digital COVID Certificate. Residents of the member states, as well as residents of Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway, can download an app that contains proof of their status: have been vaccinated, have recovered from the illness, or have a negative test. The app generates a QR code to be scanned upon entry into the country and to various events, etc. The app is free, and the document is issued in the native language of the country and English. More details here.

Likewise, IATA (International Air Transport Association) has already implemented the IATA Travel Pass Initiative. Only passengers flying on airlines that are part of the trail can use it, though. More details and a list of those airlines can be found here.

Elsewhere in the world, countries are also looking into opening borders for travelers who can prove their status. Do expect that the requirement to get tested might still linger for a while, especially with the emergence of new variants of concern.

It’s also important to keep in mind that while the entry requirements into a certain country might not include showing a negative test, the airline might require one to board the plane. Do your due diligence and check the requirements ahead of time so that you can plan accordingly.

Disclosure: Please be aware that the information below is valid at the time this article was published and changes in travel requirements & restrictions can occur at any time.





surfing in portugal

Travelers from the European Union, Schengen Associated countries (Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland), Albania, Australia, China, South Korea, United States of America, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Republic of Northern Macedonia, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, Thailand, and Taiwan are allowed to enter mainland Portugal for both essential and non-essential travel.

Starting on July 1, 2021, they may present the EU Digital COVID Certificate upon entry or a PCR negative test (taken 72 hours before boarding), or a rapid antigen test (taken 48 hours before boarding). They must also fill a Passenger Locator Card before boarding.

Passengers from the UK are allowed for both essential and non-essential travel. All UK passengers (aged 12 and older) arriving in mainland Portugal must show a negative PCR test result taken no longer than 72 hours before departure or a lateral flow test taken 48 hours prior to departure. To avoid the 14 days quarantine, proof of vaccination is required. It’s also required to fill in the Passenger Locator Card.

Passengers from Brazil, India, Nepal, and South Africa are allowed only for essential travel.

Passengers flying into the Azores and Madeira should provide either a PCR negative test result (72 hours before boarding) or an immunity declaration (if they’ve had the disease), or the EU Digital COVID Certificate. They also must fill a questionnaire if they fly into the Azores; and register here if they fly into Madeira. Free tests need to be performed on arrival into both archipelagos to avoid quarantine.

It is mandatory to present EU COVID Digital Certificate at major cultural and sporting events, bars and clubs, when visiting health facilities, as well as when you travel by air or sea.

»Read more details from official resources



surfing in Lanzarote, Spain

Photo credit: Lanzasurf

All passengers arriving in Spain by air or sea, including those arriving in transit to other countries, must complete a Health Control Form before departure and obtain their QR to present it at boarding and health controls on arrival in Spain.

Residents of European Union (EU), Schengen Associated States, Andorra, Monaco, The Vatican (Holy See) or San Marino, holders of a long-term visa issued by the EU or Schengen Associated State who are going to that country, as well as residents of third countries listed in this annex are allowed entry.

All travelers must have a negative rapid antigen test (taken 48 hours before arrival); or a negative NAAT test (nucleic acid amplification tests, e.g.: RT-PCR, taken 72 hours before arrival); or a vaccination certificate; or a recovery certificate issued at least 11 days after a positive test result.

For residents of the UK coming directly from the country, in addition to the vaccinate certificate, diagnostic certificates of NAAT tests are also be considered valid.

Passengers younger than 12 years are exempt from showing any of the above documents.

While Spain as a whole hasn’t introduced the COVID Digital Certificate, the region of Galicia and the Canary Islands have. But neither government has confirmed what tourists have to show to be granted access to indoor bars, restaurants, and cafes.

»Read more details from official resources





a group of surfers in morocco

International flights to Morocco have been resumed since June 15, 2021. Travelers may enter Morocco under certain conditions, depending on their country of departure.

The countries have been classified under two lists (A & B) under the recommendation of the Ministry of Health.

For travelers from list A countries, a vaccination pass or certificate attesting that the person is fully vaccinated is required. Those who are not vaccinated, must present a negative PCR test result at boarding (taken no longer than 48 hours before departure). Children under 11 are exempt from the requirements.

Travelers from list B countries, must present a negative PCR test result (taken no longer than 48 hours before departure) and a signed declaration of where they’d undergo the 10 days mandatory quarantine.

The list of countries can be found in the official link below.

»Read more details from official resources


Asia & Oceania


Sri Lanka

surfing in sri lanka

Photo credit: Surfers Paradise Weligama

The paradise island of Sri Lanka is open for travelers from all over the world.

All travelers should carry a negative test report in English, taken within 96 hours before arrival, and should submit a Health Declaration Form.

Upon arrival, all travelers (12 years or older) should undergo an RT-PCR COVID-19 test.

No minimum days is required for the stay; however, tourists must stay at a certified ‘Safe & Secure’ Level 1 hotel for up to 13 nights/14 days of their stay. This is waved if the traveler is fully vaccinated.

Vaccinated travelers should carry the original certificate card, together with a certified copy of English language translation if the certificate/card is not in English or if relevant data are not indicated in English in a non - English certificate/card) or a verifiable evidence of vaccination.

Tourists may visit approved tourist sites under the safety of a bio-bubble.

If the travelers undergo quarantine, another test is taken at the end of the period.

»Read more details from official sources.



getting ready to surf in indonesia


Visitors are not permitted to enter Indonesia unless they are from specific categories, including travelers permitted under the travel corridor arrangement (TCA) bilateral agreement scheme: United Arab Emirates (UAE), the People's Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore.

Effective on July 6, 2021, international travelers (except those traveling under TCA) who can enter Indonesia are required to have a vaccination card before departure to Indonesia which is presented upon check-in and arrival in Indonesia. Visitors must register their vaccination here, before travel.

All travelers are also required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test and an electronic Indonesia Health Alert Certificate (e-HAC) barcode and present them upon check-in and entry at the airport/quarantine authorities. Please install the “Peduli Lindungi" app on your phone to generate the barcode.

All travelers are subject to an 8-day quarantine. Two PCR tests will be administered during this period. After the mandatory quarantine and if testing negative, all travelers are recommended to undertake 14 days of self-quarantine.

Those traveling domestically are also required to show a vaccination card the (first dose is acceptable) and a negative PCR test or rapid antigen test.


»Read more details from official sources.



surfing in Australia

Photo credit: Soul Surf School

Passengers are not allowed to enter Australia, except for:

  • Nationals of Australia and their immediate family;
  • Permanent residents of Australia and their immediate family;
  • Nationals of New Zealand residing in Australia and their immediate family;
  • Passengers arriving from New Zealand (if they’ve been in New Zealand for the past 14 days);
  • Passengers that have a visa and have been granted an exemption.

Passengers could be subject to presenting a Travel Declaration Form.  

Travelers may be subject to 14 days quarantine. However, as of April 18, 2021, quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand has commenced (provided the traveler has been in New Zealand for 14 days prior to arrival in Australia). (source)

Passengers traveling to Australia must be tested for COVID-19 72 hours or less prior to the scheduled flight departure, and display evidence of a negative test result at the time of check-in. Passengers arriving on a green safe travel zone (Australia-New Zealand) flight are exempt from pre-departure testing requirements.

Passengers that have a medical certificate with a positive RT-PCR COVID-19 test and a medical discharge issued at least 4 weeks before departure proving the passenger has recovered do not need to submit a negative test result.

»Read more from official sources.


New Zealand

surfing in new zealand

Photo credit: Surf N Stay New Zealand

Entry to New Zealand from all countries remains strictly controlled.

Nationals and permanent residents of New Zealand and their families are allowed entry. Nationals or permanent residents of Australia that reside in New Zealand, passengers arriving from Australia, Cook Island, or Niue only if they’ve been in New Zealand, Australia, Cook Island, or Niue in the past 14 days, and passengers with a visa that have been granted an exemption are also allowed entry.

Passengers must submit a request to travel to New Zealand. If approved, they must enter isolation or quarantine. This does not apply to passengers from safe zones (Australia, Cook Island, or Niue), as well citizens and permanent residents of New Zealand and their families.

A negative COVID-19 test result is required for most travelers to New Zealand.  It must be taken within 72 hours of their first scheduled international flight. (source)

Travel from India is suspended as of April 11, 2021.

»Read more from official sources.


The Americas


Costa Rica

getting ready to surf in costa rica

Photo credit: Selina

Travelers from countries around the world can travel to Costa Rica by air, as long as they meet the visa and COVID-19 entry requirements.

There’s no requirement to take any test before or after arrival, or quarantine upon arrival.

However, all travelers should complete the digital health form. And it’s mandatory for them to purchase travel insurance, covering the accommodations in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19 illness.

If the traveler purchases international insurance, a certification in Spanish or English should be issued and should include the validity, a minimum coverage of US$2,000 for accommodation expenses, and a guarantee of coverage for medical expenses.

Kindly note that visitors must abide by the re-entry rules of their country of origin (including the need to show negative tests upon boarding return flights).

»Read more details here.



surfing in mexico

Photo credit: Oasis Surf & Spanish School

Mexico is open for travelers and there’s no need to provide a negative test or quarantine upon arrival.

All travelers should fill in the “Questionnaire of identification of risk factors in travelers”.

The inbound land borders with the USA are open for “essential travel” only and does not prevent US citizens to return home. 

US citizens can fly into Mexico without any restrictions. However, please be advised that a negative COVID-19 test, taken at most 3 days before departure, is mandatory to board the flight back to the USA.

Alternatively, documentation of recovery from the COVID-19 infection within the last 90 days, is required.

»Read about the COVID-19 restriction and control measures in Mexico here.


United States

surfing in Hawaii, USA

Photo credit: Go Nuts Hawaii

With specific exceptions, travelers from the following countries / areas are not permitted entry in the USA: China, Iran, European Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Brazil, and South Africa.

All travelers who may enter, including US citizens returning from abroad and those transiting through the US, must have a medical certificate with a negative COVID-19 viral antigen, NAAT, RT-LAMP, RT-PCR, or TMA test result. The test must have been taken at most 3 days before departure.

Alternatively, if the passenger has a medical certificate with a positive coronavirus test result issued at most 90 days before departure and has been cleared to travel, they don’t need to provide a negative test result.

All passengers must complete a disclosure and attestation form before departure. Those arriving into Massachusetts, must complete the Massachusetts Travel Form, whereas those arriving in New York State, must complete the New York State Travel Health Form.

»Read more information from official resources.

[Last Updated: July 1, 2021]

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