Getting stranded on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean - sounds idyllic, right?

That’s exactly what’s happened to Sam, 32, a solo traveller from Hazlemere - and it’s not nearly as enjoyable as it sounds.

Sam left the UK on February 26 and flew to Cebu international airport in the Philippines for what was meant to be a three-and-a-half week holiday.

From there, he travelled to the tiny island of Malapascua where he spent a week diving with sharks, then to Duain on March 7, a town 15km south of Dumaguete on Negros Island, where he planned to stay until his flight home on March 21.

Little did he know he would get stuck in Duain, and face the possibility of not making it home for his birthday in May, or to meet his new niece.

Quarantined abroad

On March 14, with no advance warning and little to no information about what help was being offered to foreigners, the Philippine government banned all travel from Negros to Cebu.

Along with four others, Sam travelled to Dumaguete where he spent five hours in the baking heat with the hope of getting a medical certificate, then two buses and a boat to Cebu airport.

However, he was told that nobody could leave until they’d completed a 14-day quarantine.

Unable to catch his original flight home, Sam rebooked for March 30 via Singapore, only for Singapore to shut its borders.

He then rebooked via Hong Kong, only for Hong Kong to shut down.

The UK government organised a flight on April 4 from Manila to London. However, with no way to get to Manila, this didn’t help Sam and the two other British citizens he’s stranded with.

In fact, they received a message from the British Embassy advising them to simply “stay put for the next two weeks and keep safe”. On top of that, the flight cost £1,300 - around triple the cost of a regular flight.

His only option is to book a new flight home from Manila, pass a medical screening in order to travel to Cebu and wait for enough people to register for a sweeper flight to Manila.

However, if the plane isn’t full it won’t fly, which means he could easily miss his international flight home (at great expense).

In addition, you can’t book the sweeper flight from Cebu to Manila in advance - only when you get to Cebu airport.

If, after all this, he were to make it to Manila, flights back to London cost a small fortune and can be cancelled at any time.

Sam’s Australian friends spent over £4,000 on a flight home, only for it to get cancelled with no prospect of a refund.

“Plus, all of the hotels in Manila are closed,” Sam said.

“Which means if your flight is cancelled, you’re sleeping in the airport. I hear eight days is the current record.

“We are well and truly stuck,” he continues.

Sam is stranded along with two other Brits, two Australians and a number of Danes, French and American citizens.

“Germany, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Poland and Sweden have all flown their citizens home,” he said. “It’s safe to say we’re feeling abandoned.”

To make matters worse, he found out on April 6 that transport to Cebu and a flight to Manila had been organised for April 7 - which wasn’t communicated to him by any of the three organisations he’s registered his details with, including the British Embassy.

Instead of emailing or texting him, the information was simply posted on the Embassy’s Facebook page.

“You could get shot if you break quarantine”

On April 3, the Philippines went into enhanced quarantine, meaning Sam is now confined to a small dive resort. Only one person from each household or resort is allowed out for supplies.

“We can send out one of the staff here, but shopping for 18 people is a challenge at best without half the shops closed,” Sam said.

“The president has also warned you can be shot for breaking quarantine. We’re basically not allowed out. The situation is crazy.”

There is also concern that if anyone gets seriously ill, medical facilities are overstretched and care doesn’t meet the same high standards as back home.

The enhanced lockdown measures are likely to be extended until the end of the month.

Sam’s MP Steve Baker said there’s “a limit to what can reasonably be expected of the Foreign Office.

“Repatriation is costly and complicated to coordinate. So, as has been the case so far, Government-supported repatriations must only be undertaken in exceptional circumstances.”

No place like home

At first, light-hearted pips were bandied around: after all, there are worse places to be marooned than a marine utopia in the southern Philippines.

But now, the stark reality of being locked down almost 7,000 miles away from home has begun to sink in.

Sam said: “It would be great to get home. I’ve got a new baby niece I'm probably not going to see for the first time till she's two or three months old at the earliest, and if this continues it will be a lot longer.

“I know everyone is on lockdown back home, but at least I’d feel a lot closer to family and friends.”

With no foreseeable way home, Sam’s three-week diving holiday has quickly descended into nothing short of a nightmare.

The irony is cruel: like so many others, he planned to escape the UK for a holiday in paradise; now all he wants is to escape what is quickly becoming the holiday from hell.

Perhaps true paradise can be found in grey skies and drizzle - who knew? - and the comfort in knowing our amazing NHS will be there if we need it.