A Country-By-Country Guide To Traveling in the Caribbean Right Now

by Carolee Chanona
Moho Caye belize caribbean travel island

Champagne-colored sands and clear-as-gin waters brought a record 31.5 million tourists to the Caribbean in 2019, which plummeted to as low as 60 percent estimates since the earth-shattering pandemic in March 2020. As one of the most tourism-reliant regions in the world, the Caribbean is finally seeing a jump-start to a stalled economy thanks to flight expansions, accessibility to North America and the largest draw of all: the widening availability of vaccines. Few nations are fit to benefit most, given their dependency on visitors; in 2019, the contribution of travel and tourism towards Belize’s GDP was approximately 44.7 percent, while the same contribution made up 50 percent of The Bahamas’ own.

But hope is on the horizon, bolstered by strict entry protocols intended to ensure the safety of both travelers and residents. The Bahamas, where GDP contracted 16% in 2020, is starting to receive cruise ships at its ports, and hotels are rehiring some of the workers furloughed through the pandemic, Bahamas Central Bank Governor John A. Rolle reported to Bloomberg. Belize readies for the final stage of its Travel Reopening Plan with the return of cruise tourism today, July 7, after becoming the first destination in the Caribbean to waive entry testing requirements for fully vaccinated travelers. Now, destinations are taking on a new urgency as travel professionals are recommending Caribbean trips to clients—newly vaccinated and otherwise—not just for the remainder of the summer season, but even into typically off-season months.

For travelers looking to dip their toes into the warm Caribbean Sea and safe travels, here’s everything to know about the countries and territories in the Caribbean open (and not) for leisurely travel. Plus, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s current ranking of COVID-19, as of July 5.

Anguilla

Villa Anguilla

A villa in Anguilla overlooking its bay. Photo via Anguilla Tourist Board’s Facebook.

Travelers, both vaccinated and not, are welcome to visit Anguilla as of May 25. However, starting July 1, all travelers eligible for a vaccine must have gotten the shot before entering Anguilla. Travelers will still need to undergo a negative PCR test between three to five days before arriving and present proof of vaccination. Vaccinated travelers will only have to quarantine for seven days and do not need to provide proof of health insurance. Multigenerational families with a mix of both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers will be required to quarantine for 10 to 14 days.

Short-stay travelers must also apply to enter the country and pay $300 per person, $500 per couple, or $250 for each dependent to cover surveillance and two tests per person while on the island. Visitors must then stay at a Safe Environment Approved accommodation or private home for 10 to 14 days, where they can take advantage of a hotel’s amenities like snorkeling or offshore cay excursions.

Antigua and Barbuda

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Antigua and Barbuda. Photo by Rick Jamison on Unsplash

Travelers are welcome to visit Antigua and Barbuda. Those ages 12 and older are required to submit proof of a negative PCR test taken seven days before boarding, as well as complete a Traveler Accommodation form upon arrival, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS.

Visitors must also stay at a certified property and will be monitored for COVID-19 for up to 14 days, according to Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority officials.

Aruba

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The renowned two-mile-long Palm Beach strip, home to Aruba’s glamorous high-rise hotels. Image courtesy Aruba Tourism

Aruba is open to Americans, but visitors must take a COVID-19 molecular test either up to 72 hours prior to arrival or upon arrival at the airport, according to the Aruba Tourism Authority. Travelers also have to complete an Embarkation/Disembarkation (ED) card and a personal health assessment.

Visitors will need to purchase Aruba Visitors Insurance in advance of travel as part of the online ED card process, too. Personal travel insurance may supplement, but cannot replace Aruba Visitors Insurance. Premiums are $30 for visitors 15 and over and $10 for those 14 and younger, for a maximum duration of 180 days. Aruba offers several testing facilities for travelers returning home to the U.S. The island has also teamed up with JetBlue to test travelers at home prior to their departure.

Bahamas

The Bahamas is welcoming U.S. visitors, and travelers who are fully vaccinated are now exempt from entry and inter-island testing requirements. If you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t need to take a pre-arrival COVID test; kids under the age of 12 are also exempt from testing. Vaccinated travelers must still apply for a Bahamas Travel Health Visa and upload proof of vaccination, but are not required to provide proof of a negative PCR test prior to entry or submit to rapid-testing mandates during their stay, according to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.

Unvaccinated travelers also have to apply for a Health Visa, provide proof of a negative test taken five days prior to arrival, and undergo rapid antigen testing if staying longer than four nights. All visitors must adhere to the Bahamas’ health and safety protocols, including wearing a mask, social distancing, and frequent handwashing.

Barbados

Barbados. Photo by Anthony Ingham on Unsplash

Effective May 8, Barbados travelers who provide proof of full vaccination and a negative PCR test was taken within three days of travel will have a standard COVID-19 test done at Grantley Adams International Airport or their approved accommodations, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS.

Visitors will then quarantine at their approved accommodations for one to two days as they await their test results. Unvaccinated travelers from specified countries must provide a negative PCR test that was taken three days prior to arrival, quarantine in their rooms for five to seven days, and take a second test five days after arrival, according to the Barbados Ministry of Tourism. All incoming U.S. travelers over the age of five must complete online immigration and customs form 24 hours prior to arrival. Barbados is also welcoming visitors to reside on the island for a year for the ultimate remote work experience.

Belize

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An island within Glover’s Reef Atoll. Photo by Duarte Dellarole

Level 2: COVID-19 Moderate

Belize first reopened for tourism in October 2020, with a myriad of ever-changing restrictions and eases, including no pre-entry testing requirements for vaccinated travelers. Unvaccinated travelers are welcomed but must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of arrival, or a state-approved Rapid Test within 48 hours of arrival. Children younger than five are exempt. For travelers arriving without either, you’ll undergo a Rapid Test on arrival inside the airport’s clinic, for a fee of US$50.

The country enacted a Tourism Safe Corridor of Gold Standard certified businesses—tour operators, hotels, restaurants, car rentals, etc.—who implemented a nine-step process of enhanced health and safety measures.

Bermuda

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Bermuda. Photo by Reilly Durfy on Unsplash

Visitors are welcome to enter Bermuda but must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within five days of arrival, according to Bermuda Tourism Authority guidelines. Children nine and younger are exempt. Travelers are also required to complete a Bermuda Travel Authorization form online within 48 hours of departure and pay a $75 per person fee, which includes charges for testing on the island.

Visitors will have to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and quarantine in their hotel room until results are obtained (usually six to eight hours). Vaccinated travelers must comply with all testing protocols, but are not required to quarantine after they receive negative test results. Travelers must also wear traveler wristbands distributed during testing for the first 14 days of their stay. Finally, visitors will have to undergo COVID-19 tests on days four, eight, and 14 of their trip at any of the several pop-up testing centers.

Bonaire 

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Photo by Bonaire Tourism

Bonaire is open to U.S. visitors, but with no direct flights, travelers must fly to Curaçao and follow the country’s entry protocols before continuing on to Bonaire. Bonaire allows U.S. travelers to enter with two negative COVID-19 tests: a PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival and a rapid antigen test taken no more than 24 hours prior to boarding the flight, according to the U.S. Consulate General in Curacao.

All travelers must have health insurance covering medical costs while on Bonaire, including care related to COVID-19. Visitors must also complete an online health declaration form 48 to 72 hours before departure. Saba is open to travelers from “high-risk” countries, including the U.S. Travelers must obtain EAHS approval online before arriving on the island. Fully vaccinated adults who provide proof of a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival are not required to quarantine, according to Saba Tourist Bureau officials.

Non-vaccinated travelers, however, must quarantine for five days and take a rapid antigen test on day five. Travelers connecting through St. Maarten prior to visiting Saba must follow St. Maarten’s entry requirements in addition to those for Saba. As of May 9, visitors may enter Sint Eustatius but must apply for permission in advance, and those who are not vaccinated will have to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.

The British Virgin Islands

Tortola. Photo by Dietmar Lichota on Unsplash

The British Virgin Islands welcomes tourists who submit a negative PCR test result five days before arrival, according to government officials. Visitors must also register on the BVI Gateway portal and submit a Public Health Declaration form 48 hours before arriving.

Arriving visitors will have to undergo a health screening and PCR test, as well as download a contact-tracing app. Travelers will then proceed to certified accommodations, where they will quarantine for four days, take another PCR test, and, if negative, may visit designated locations. Visitors will pay $175 per person for two PCR tests, a contact-tracing bracelet, and the COVID-19 monitoring app. If visitors need a test to exit the BVI, the government charges $70 per test. Effective May 15, fully vaccinated travelers will be tested on arrival and released from quarantine as soon as a negative result is received. Vaccinated visitors will pay a reduced fee of $105 for the BVI Gateway travel authorization certificate.

Cayman Islands

Level 1: COVID-19 Low

Grand Cayman.

The Cayman Islands remain closed to U.S. visitors, according to government officials. The country has implemented a phased approach under which U.S. travelers will be required to obtain pre-travel approval via a Travel Cayman portal, among other measures, when permitted to enter.

Cuba

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Cuba. Photo by Alexander Kunze on Unsplash

Cuba welcomes travelers who can show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arriving in the country, according to the U.S. Embassy in Cuba. Travelers must also complete a health declaration card and undergo complimentary retesting upon arrival. Visitors will then have to quarantine at an approved hotel for five days and be retested at their own expense.

While U.S. citizens may not travel to Cuba for tourism, they are allowed to legally visit under 12 specific categories, including “Support for the Cuban People,” the most popular form, which binds travelers to a “full-time schedule” of activities that “enhance contact with the Cuban people,” among other requirements.

Curaçao

CuraçaoPhoto by Den Harrson on Unsplash

Curaçao welcomes U.S. travelers who can present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test no more than 72 hours before departure, according to the Curaçao Tourist Board. Travelers must also fill out an online immigration card and Passenger Locator Card (PLC) within 48 hours of their flight, as well as have medical insurance to cover COVID-related costs while visiting. Children six years old and younger who do not show symptoms, and whose parents present proof of a negative PCR test, are not required to get tested.

Dominica

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Lush Dominica. Photo by iSAW Company on Unsplash

Dominica welcomes travelers from high-risk countries, including the U.S., who can show a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken 24 to 72 hours before arrival, according to the Discover Dominica Authority. Approved travelers will receive an email notification with clearance to visit.

Travelers will then undergo rapid testing upon arrival; if negative, they will proceed to immigration and customs and be transferred to a “Safe in Nature” certified property, which is designated by Dominica’s Environmental Health Department. They will also have to quarantine for five days. A PCR test ($40) will be administered on day five; if negative, travelers will be free to move around the island.

Visitors arriving from high-risk destinations can book the “Safe in Nature” experience, enabling them to experience activities beyond their accommodations during the first five to seven days of their stay.

Dominican Republic

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DR. Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash

The Dominican Republic does not require American tourists to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test in line with the country’s “Responsible Tourism Recovery Plan,” according to the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism. Instead, officials at airports and ports of entry will perform breath tests on three to 15% of passengers.

Before arriving, however, travelers must fill out a Traveler’s Health Affidavit online as well as an electronic entry and exit form.

Grenada

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Grenada via Unsplash.

Grenada is open to U.S. travelers, who are required to provide proof of a negative PCR test obtained 72 hours prior to travel. All visitors also have to apply for a Pure Safe Travel Authorization Certificate prior to their trip. Fully vaccinated travelers entering Grenada must quarantine for 48 hours pending an on-arrival negative PCR test result, as well as book approved accommodations for a minimum of two nights, according to Grenada’s Ministry of Health.

Unvaccinated travelers must also provide proof of a seven-day booking in approved accommodations and quarantine for the first five days of their visit. On day five, these travelers must take a second PCR test; if negative, they may move about the island. All travelers have to prepay for PCR tests in Grenada.

Guadeloupe

Wiew of Terre-de-Haut from atop Le Chameau. Guadeloupe. Photo by Viktor Ruppert on Unsplash

U.S. tourists are not allowed to enter Guadeloupe, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS. The ban follows France’s efforts to tighten its borders, including in its Caribbean territories. In the meantime, you can virtually dive into the sights and sounds of Guadeloupe through the tourism board’s dreamy Instagram stories.

Haiti

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Haiti. Photo by Claudia Altamimi on Unsplash

U.S. travelers are allowed to enter Haiti but need a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken no more than 72 hours before traveling there, according to the U.S. Embassy in Haiti. Travelers who had COVID-19 and recovered can skip testing and instead show their previous positive test, along with a doctor’s note explaining they recovered.

U.S. travelers are not required to quarantine. The departure terminal at Haiti’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport offers rapid testing that meets CDC criteria.

Jamaica

Bamboo Rafting down Jamaica’s Martha Brae River. Photo via Lovicarious

Jamaica welcomes U.S. tourists who can present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test that was taken within three days of arriving in Jamaica, according to the country’s tourism board. Children under 12 years old are exempt. Travelers must also apply for a Travel Authorization within seven days of their trip and stay within a designated “Resilient Corridor.” Tourists may leave their hotels to visit approved tourist attractions.

Martinique

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Anse Noire, Les Anses d’Arlet in Martinique. Photo by cyril mazarin on Unsplash

Level 3: COVID-19 High

Following France placing America on its approved Green List and by extension, U.S. tourists can enter Martinique as of June 6. In order to enter the French territory, travelers must ensure that they arrive with a PCR test taken less than 72 hours before boarding, or an antigen test taken up to 48 hours prior to boarding, Unvaccinated travelers will then be subjected to self-isolation for a period of 7 days, whilst vaccinated travelers are exempt from this restriction.

Montserrat

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Montserrat. Image via One Girl One World

Montserrat only allows U.S. travelers who own a home on the island to visit, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS. Similarly, all travel to or from Montserrat is via Antigua. Those who are permitted are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within seven days of arriving, as well as submit an Access Declaration Form.

Those eligible for entry and the fully vaccinated need to spend 5 days in self-isolation/quarantine on arrival whether staying in their own home, a rented property, or a government-approved quarantine facility. A negative PCR test 3-4 days after arrival is required to exit. Unvaccinated passengers need to spend 14 days in quarantine and are required to have a negative PCR test before releasing from self-isolation.

Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico. Photo by Chris McQueen on Unsplash

Travelers to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico are required to arrive with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of their trip and fill out a Travel Declaration Form online, according to Discover Puerto Rico.

Passengers arriving without a negative COVID-19 test result will be fined $300 and required to obtain a molecular PCR test within 48 hours of arrival. If negative, the fine will be dismissed. Visitors to Puerto Rico are not mandated to get tested before returning to the mainland, as the island is a U.S. territory. The island recently eased restrictions on popular attractions, including beaches.

Fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. will no longer need to get tested for COVID-19 before visiting Puerto Rico, though international visitors and Americans who are not fully vaccinated will still have to follow testing requirements prior to arrival.

St. Barths

Similar to other French territories, the Government of France has authorized St. Barts to reopen its borders towards fully vaccinated travelers. Saint Barthélemy—officially the Collectivité territoriale de Saint-Barthélemy—requires all travelers aged 10 and older will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than three full days prior to arrival. Alternatively, travelers can take a COVID-19 rapid antigen test no more than two full days prior to arrival. No quarantine is required after arrival, if negative.

St. Kitts and Nevis

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St. Kitts & Nevis. Image via Lonely Planet

U.S. tourists may visit St. Kitts and Nevis, though travelers from the UK are currently not allowed to enter. Travelers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, according to the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, as well as complete a Travel Authorization form prior to their trip.

Vaccinated travelers will proceed to an approved property upon arrival, where they must “vacation in place” or quarantine for nine days, though they may interact with guests and join hotel activities. If staying beyond nine days, vaccinated travelers must be tested on day nine. With a negative result, they are free to participate in tours, visit attractions, and enjoy restaurants, beach bars, and shopping.

Unvaccinated travelers must take a PCR test on day seven. If negative, they may book select excursions through their hotel’s tour desk. Those who stay beyond 14 days must take a test on day 14. If negative, they are free to move around the destination. If a traveler’s trip is less than 14 days, they must be retested at least two days before leaving St. Kitts and Nevis.

Sint Maarten

St. Maarten is open to American travelers, and those who wish to visit must upload a completed health declaration before departing. All travelers to St Maarten are in addition required to present a negative PCR test result of a test taken within 72 hours before departure and to complete and submit the health declaration form 72 hours prior to travel, according to St. Maarten government officials.

Travelers also must complete an online immigration card and purchase a mandatory St. Maarten Visitors Protection Plan, which covers hospital and ICU costs, doctor consultations, COVID-19 tests, and medical evacuation, if necessary. Packages cost $30 for travelers ages 15 and older and $10 for visitors under 15.

St. Lucia

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St. Lucia reopened tourism in early July.

U.S travelers to St. Lucia are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test no more than five days before arriving, as well as complete a pre-arrival registration form, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS. Children under five are exempt from testing.

All visitors will be screened at the airport; symptomatic passengers will be tested and quarantined at their hotel until a result is received. Travelers to the island must also have a confirmed reservation at a COVID-19-certified property for the duration of their stay.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Argyle International Airport has reopened following its closure due to eruptions of the La Soufrière volcano in April. Cleaning is ongoing as some ash fall persists, according to airport officials.

Under existing protocols, U.S. travelers may enter St. Vincent and the Grenadines with proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS. Travelers must also complete an online pre-arrival form and a 14-day mandatory quarantine in a Tourism Authority/Ministry of Health, Wellness, and the Environment-approved hotel. Visitors will need to have a fully paid reservation in advance.

Trinidad and Tobago

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Maracas Beach. Photo by Thruston Benny on Unsplash

While not dependent on tourism, the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago plan to reopen borders on July 17, in a phased approach to three categories of travelers: vaccinated citizens, unvaccinated citizens, other vaccinated visitors. All travelers must present a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before travel. Unvaccinated nationals will enter 14 days of mandatory state-supervised quarantine, at their own expense. However, children under 18 traveling with vaccinated adults will not have to go into quarantine. Unvaccinated non-nationals will not be allowed in.

Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos. Photo by Azzedine Rouichi on Unsplash

U.S. travelers wanting to visit Turks and Caicos must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within five days of arrival, according to Turks and Caicos Tourist Board officials. Travelers must also apply for travel authorization and have insurance covering COVID-19 costs. Children under 10 years old are exempt from testing requirements.

United States Virgin Islands

Trunk Bay, USVI. Photo by Josh Duncan on Unsplash

The U.S. Virgin Islands welcomes travelers from the mainland but requires visitors ages five and older to receive certification and submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test via the USVI travel portal within five days of their trip, according to the USVI Department of Tourism.

Upon arrival, travelers must submit the original portal test result and travel certification. Travelers unable to produce the required test result will be subject to a 14-day self-quarantine in their booked accommodations or until they receive a negative test result. Travelers heading back to the U.S. from the U.S. Virgin Islands are not required to get tested before departure, as the island is a U.S. territory.

Should I Travel?

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An American Airlines flight on arrival to the PGIA. Photo courtesy Belize Tourism Board

The global situation is still in flux, and travel requirements are subject to change as new developments (and variants) in COVID-19 arise. Even as some places reopen for the first time, others are imposing new measures—including lockdowns. Most of the countries on the list, even in the absence of restrictions, require a negative PCR test or approved Rapid Test to be done up to 72 hours before entry. It is important to visit each respective destination’s Tourism Board and in the end, it’s up to you to decide whether travel to international destinations is a good idea.

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The header of Moho Caye, an offshore island in Belize. Image courtesy Duarte Dellarole Photography  

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