10 Caribbean Destinations Open Now
Updated: Jan 29
It is January-cold and in our COVID-dominated winter a warm Caribbean beach is especially inviting. But is anything open that doesn’t require a long quarantine or other onerous protocols? And what about our own regulations requiring a negative COVID test to come home?
It turns out there are options for those of us wanting to swap our winter coats and boots for shorts and sandals. Among the more than two dozen Caribbean destinations, a few stand out for being especially traveler friendly.
· Aruba: You need to till out an Embarkation/Disembarkation card between 72 and 12 hours before departure and upload a negative PCR test result that is not more than 72 hours old. All visitors must also purchase Aruba Travel Insurance at $30 per person for anyone older than 15 years, $10 if under 15. Check out www.visitaruba.com for the latest information.
· Bahamas: A negative PCR test no more than five days before arrival is necessary, plus a Bahamas Health Travel Visa available at travel.gov.bs. Getting the visa requires opting into a mandatory health insurance plan. Your first five days are at the resort. After a negative test on day five, you can explore the island. Check out www.bahamas.com/travelupdates.
· Barbados: Admission is with a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, and an Immigration and Customs form 24 hours prior to arrival. Travelers must stay at one of the more than 70 approved locations until a second PCR test on day two or three. Unfortunately, during that first couple of days, you can’t even go to the beach until the second test is negative. See www.visitbarbados.org for the latest information.
· Curacao: Visitors complete a Digital Immigration Card and a Passenger Locator Card within 48 hours of arrival and upload a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours old. While the forms are digital, carry a printout just in case.
· Dominican Republic: Probably the most traveler friendly, this popular destination does not require a negative PCR test, only a Traveler’s Health Affidavit online at https://eticket.migracion.gob.do. There is screening at the airport, if negative it’s off to the beach. For returning to the US, many resorts offer onsite testing, often at no cost. (It’s best to check with the resort.) Visit godominicanrepublic.com
· Jamaica: Another favorite location, Jamaica also has a two-step procedure before arrival. One is to submit an online Travel Authorization two to five days in advance plus a negative COVID test. A certificate is given with approval—make sure you carry a hard copy. Once in Jamaica, tourists are required to stay at one of the approved locations, listed on www.visitjamaica.com. Plus, everyone must join the Jamaica Cares program at $40 per person.
· Puerto Rico: Your Travel Declaration form can be found at https://travelsafe.pr.gov That, plus a negative COVID test will get you an Exit Confirmation number and QR code. Without the negative test result, a quarantine will be required.
· St Lucia: Negative COVID test, this one within seven days of travel, plus a pre-arrival registration form and confirmation of the COVID approved hotel you are staying at. There is screening at the airport, and mask wearing in public is mandatory. More information is at www.stlucia.org/covid-19.
· St Maarten/St Martin: Usually visited as a cruise stop on a Caribbean cruise, the beautiful two-country island is open for visitors with a negative COVID test and a completed health declaration form. It is also mandatory to join the St.Maarten SMX Protection plan at $30 per person, or $10 if under 15 years of age.
· U.S. Virgin Islands: Before arriving, visitors must use the USVI travel portal and upload a negative COVID test result. When arriving the original result and travel certificate from the portal are submitted. Remember, the USVI is a U.S. territory. That means visitors do not have to get another COVID test before flying home. Updates are at www.usviupdate.com.
These regulations are not as cumbersome as they may first appear. The purpose is to get you to a much-needed break in a relaxing and beautiful location while keeping you and all your fellow travelers safe. Mostly it means getting a COVID test—much easier now than a few months ago—and filling out a few forms. With a little advance work, that Caribbean vacation is possible.
Your beach chair is waiting.