Starting May 1, all international travelers who are fully vaccinated will be able to enter the Bahamas without needing to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. They will still need to follow other safety protocols implemented by the government. Here’s what you need to know about travel in the Bahamas right now.
Is the Bahamas open for travel?
Yes: The Bahamas has been open for travel for several months now with various testing and safety protocols in place. On May 1, international travelers who are fully vaccinated are exempt from testing requirements, but unvaccinated travelers will still need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than five days prior to arrival in the Bahamas.
Fully vaccinated Bahamian citizens and residents have been exempt from testing requirements as of April 21. All travelers—both vaccinated and unvaccinated—are being asked to follow government-mandated face mask requirements and social-distancing efforts.
What are the COVID counts and vaccine rates in the Bahamas?
As of April 29, there have been 10,220 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 198 deaths in the Bahamas, according to the Reuters COVID-19 Tracker. So far, the Bahamas has only administered 21,907 vaccine doses, which accounts for 2.8 percent of the country’s population, assuming every person needs two doses.
On April 20, 2021, the State Department issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory to the Bahamas due to COVID-related conditions. The CDC currently says, “Travelers should avoid all travel to the Bahamas.” It ranks the destination as a Level 4 (Very High Level of COVID-19) in a travel notice that was last reviewed on April 19.
Requirements for traveling to the Bahamas
On May 1, international travelers who are fully vaccinated will be exempt from COVID-19 testing requirements for entry to and inter-island travel within the Bahamas. According to the Bahamas government, being fully vaccinated means you can show valid proof you’ve passed the two-week immunity period after your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or your first dose of Johnson & Johnson, with a government-issued vaccine record card.
All unvaccinated travelers are still required to upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test taken no more than five days before their arrival date (children 10 and under are not required to take a test).
All travelers—including fully vaccinated ones—must apply for a Bahamas Travel Health Visa application at travel.gov.bs and complete daily health questionnaires. Unvaccinated travelers will need to upload their negative test results, while vaccinated travelers will need to upload proof of vaccination when they apply for the mandatory visa.
As part of the Travel Health Visa application, travelers must also opt-in for COVID-19 health insurance that will cover the length of their stay. The cost of the insurance is included in the visa application fee, which depends on the length of stay. It costs $40 for citizens of the USA and Canada staying up to four nights and $60 for those staying longer than four nights. Residents of all other countries need to pay $50 for up to four nights and $70 for more than four nights. It’s free for children 10 years and under. This insurance covers medical expenses up to $50,000, trip interruption/delay in case you need to quarantine up to $500/day, and medical evacuation costs due to COVID-19 up to $50,000 in the event you fall ill.
Unvaccinated travelers staying more than four nights and five days in the Bahamas will also need to take a rapid antigen test. The cost of this test is included in the visa application fee. Those who fail to take this test will be fined $1,000 or imprisoned for one month. People departing on or before day five will not need to take this test.
If you abide by all these protocols, you’ll be able to move freely about the Bahamas during your stay.
Requirements for returning to the United States
Per the CDC, all international passengers flying into the United States (including returning U.S. citizens and permanent residents) must still provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days prior to departure. Tests must either be a viral antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test, such as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. There are no exceptions for fully vaccinated travelers yet.
Several major resorts, including Baha Mar and Atlantis Paradise Island, have opened dedicated testing centers on site to help travelers with this new requirement. Learn more about how to procure a COVID test abroad here.
What commercial airlines are flying to the Bahamas?
After all commercial flights from the U.S. were banned from flying into the Bahamas in July 2020, American, JetBlue, Delta, and United have since resumed routes from cities like Miami, Atlanta, and New York. The national airline of the Bahamas, Bahamasair, has also resumed outgoing flights to the United States. And British Airways has resumed its nonstop route from London to Nassau.
However, Air Canada and WestJet extended their flight bans to the Caribbean from Canada through May 31 and June 4, respectively.
What else is open in the Bahamas?
During their time in the Bahamas, all international travelers are being asked by the government to practice social-distancing measures and are required to wear face masks while transiting through airports, as well as in transit in taxis or buses and when entering and exiting restaurants. While masks aren’t required on beaches, you must wear them when entering and exiting them. Those who refuse can be fined $250 or imprisoned for a month.
Note that some islands have imposed other rules such as curfews and reduced service for restaurants and other business. For example, on Nassau and Paradise Island, where most major resorts are located, indoor dining is permitted at hotels only, while outdoor dining is available elsewhere, including the Arawak Cay Fish Fry. People must be back on their hotel grounds by curfew time, which starts at 10 p.m. and runs through 5 a.m. daily in Nassau, Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama Island, and Abaco. On less populated islands, like Cat Island, indoor dining is allowed everywhere and there is no curfew. To check individual island restrictions, visit bahamas.com/tourism-reopening and scroll down to the Interactive Island Guide.
Where to stay in the Bahamas
Hotels and vacation rentals, including Airbnb and HomeAway, are allowed to welcome guests and the Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort has remained open to guests, with new safety protocols in place. Face masks are also required of all guests 10 years and above in all public spaces. Additionally, two of the Bahamas’ largest resorts reopened in December 2020. Here’s what you can expect.
Atlantis Paradise Island
On December 10, 2020, the Atlantis Paradise Island resort reopened to guests. Upon arrival, guests must have their temperatures taken, and everyone two years and older is required to wear a mask while in public places at the resort. For those returning to the United States, complimentary on-site rapid antigen tests are included for up to two guests per room for those staying at the Royal, the Cove, the Reef, and the Coral hotels within the resort. Additional rapid antigen tests costs $20, while PCR tests are $165. For more information about the Atantis reopening, visit atlantisbahamas.com/travel-info.
On December 17, 2020, Baha Mar began its phased reopening by welcoming guests back to the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar. The Rosewood Baha Mar and the SLS Baha Mar reopened to guests in March 2021. Additionally, the resort has opened a few new restaurants like Café Boulud The Bahamas, Chef Daniel Boulud’s first restaurant in the Caribbean, and a Sugar Factory restaurant and confectionary shop that features a carousel bar.
All guests are still required to wear face masks in public places at the resort, but only unvaccinated guests need to take a mandatory free rapid antigen test prior to check-in in a semi-private setting onsite at the hotel. After checking in, unvaccinated guests must remain in their rooms until test results are available (about 30 minutes). Those with positive results will be visited in their room by a medical professional from the resort’s medical director’s office who will conduct a PCR test.
Guests who must take another rapid antigen test on day five of their trip, per government rules, or need a PCR test before returning home can do so at Baha Mar’s on-site testing center run by Doctor’s Hospital Nassau. All three Baha Mar properties are offering complimentary rapid antigen tests and RT-PCR tests onsite for $112 per person for guests whose country requires negative test results to return home. (The required day five rapid antigen test at the approved testing sites listed at bahamas.com/travelupdates are also free as part of the Bahamas Travel Health Visa fee.)
For more information about the resort’s reopening, read Baha Mar’s Commitment to Your Wellbeing, which outlines all of the safety protocols and requirements.
Can you work from the Bahamas for an extended time?
Yes, professionals and students alike can now work remotely from the Bahamas for up to one year with the launch of the Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay (BEATS) program. To apply via portal.immigration.gov.bs, you’ll need a valid passport, medical insurance, and proof of employment or a valid student ID. In addition to a $25 application fee, work permits are $1,000 for the head of household and $500 for each dependent. Student permits are $500 per person.
This article was originally published on July 20, 2020; it was updated on April 29, 2021, and most recently on May 3, 2021, to include current information.
>> Next: How to Make Flexible Travel Bookings in Uncertain Times