June 24, 2020 - Meagan Palmer
If you’re anything like our team, it’s hard to stay put during quarantine. Instead, we find ourselves dreaming about our postponed vacation to the Bahamas. With that region seeing an influx of crime and the current pandemic riding itself out, feeling uneasy about travel is completely normal. This guide will answer the questions your family needs to feel more comfortable moving forward and making travel plans, so here’s what you should know about the Bahamas.
As with other Caribbean islands, the Bahamas has faced past negative news headlines. Just last year, the State Department moved the travel advisory from a Level 1 to a Level 2 due to increased violent crime, sexual assault, and burglaries. This is not uncommon in other countries like Germany, the Mexico, and France. Don’t cancel your trip though! There are plenty of safe places (and heavily security-guarded areas) to enjoy your vacation in the Bahamas.
Take these tips into consideration to stay safe during your travels.
Leave the Valuables: Petty crimes like stealing can happen anywhere, but just make sure to leave valuable items either at home or in the hotel safe while you’re out and about. If you encounter someone trying to rob you, give them what they want –it’s not worth the risk of getting harmed.
Dress Modestly: It’s perfectly safe to travel solo as a female or even as a family with kids in the Bahamas, but avoid revealing clothing as best you can to keep unwanted attention at bay.
Book Reputable Tours: Be cautious about where you book your tours, especially water tours, since they tend to not be regulated. When booking, confirm the operator has credentials and certifications, liability if an accident were to occur, and safety and rescue protocols.
Sign Up For STEP: Otherwise known as the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, once registered (for free!), can be helpful in maintaining your safety while traveling. You’ll receive updates from the U.S. Embassy about your destination as well as safety notifications if unrest or an emergency occurs. It’s unlikely to happen, but should you need to be evacuated from your location, the STEP can connect you with services to do so. After creating an account, enroll your future expedition to start receiving updates on that area.
If you’re feeling a little apprehensive about the safety in the Bahamas, purchasing a travel insurance policy can really take the edge off. Not only will you get coverage in case you need to cancel, you get hurt on your adventure, or if there’s an emergency, but you’ll also get access to 24/7 emergency health provider assistance. This service helps make sure you get the help you need in a travel or medical emergency situation.
Yes, although increased caution should be exercised when traveling to the Bahamas (even in tourist areas) a new travel ban due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic is in effect. Because this is considered a mandated global health advisory, U.S. travelers are prevented from traveling to the Bahamas and potentially spreading the virus. Bahamiam locals are encouraged to limit visitors and avoid movement in the community and must abide by the nationwide curfew in effect from 9pm – 5am each day of the week.
Not quite –but it’s really close to reopening airports! The Bahamas government plans to reopen the international borders potentially starting July 1st. Although this means potential travel plans in the future, increased hygiene and health safety protocols are still in place, such as wearing a mask on the plane. It should be expected that temperature checks and social distancing will be enforced upon arrival to the Bahamas. All travelers arriving to the Bahamas will be subject to showing proof of a negative COVID-19 swab test and must test negative. On the bright side, no traveler quarantine is required! Unfortunately, cruises are still stuck at ports due to an extension of the “no sail order” until July 24th. It might be best to reschedule your cruise for 2021 and book a family vacation to the Bahamas instead for this year.
No, the U.S. State Department recognizes that it’s widely required to have a valid passport when entering the Bahamas and upon returning to the States. It’s also been noted that you might need proof of your anticipated departure when traveling to the Bahamas.
Yes, since the Bahamas is located near the Caribbean Sea, there is a chance of hurricanes. Although the Bahamas have a lower chance of getting hit by a hurricane, there is a higher possibility through the months of June and November, since that’s prime hurricane season. When compared to Miami though, the Bahamas has a lower chance of experiencing a hurricane each year. Keeping a close eye on the weather prior to departure is helpful, but having a travel insurance policy in place could provide benefits in the event you have to cancel.
Hotels: As other destinations are ramping up their health and safety protocols, so are Bahamiam hotels and resorts. The Prime Minister has stated that these protocols will encourage travelers that the region is safe. Looking for a safe hotel in the Bahamas? Try Melia Nassau Beach (offers babysitting and kids’ programs!), Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island, or the Breezes Resort & Spa Bahamas, which have all been quite popular bookings from U.S. travelers.
Kid-friendly Activities in Nassau Bahamas: If you’re traveling to the Bahamas for a family vacation, your resort might already have activities to keep you busy. The good news is parks and beaches are open except for those in Bimini, Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama, Harbour Island, New Providence, Paradise Island, and San Salvador. Unfortunately, hotels and resorts on Nassau Paradise Island, including Atlantis and Baha Mar are closed, but we’re hopeful they’ll be available as reopening plans are successful.
If you’re the adventurous type and want to explore more of what the area has to offer, these few beach alternative and kid-friendly ideas should help steer you in the right direction!
Blue Lagoon Island: It’s closer to the Nassau port, but is great if you’re looking for a mix of fun and relaxation. Your kids will love the up-close-and-personal experience with dolphins and sea lions and you’ll appreciate the beach hammocks when afternoon nap time comes around.
The Ardastra Gardens Zoo and Conservation Centre: If you have various ages of kids in the clan, this venue offers something for everyone! From seeing endangered species to flamingo shows, this smaller zoo takes about two and a half hours to walk through.
Graycliff Chocolatier: This is a fun one for kids and adults with a sweet tooth! You’ll see how chocolate is made and even get to craft your own chocolate creations. Definitely a win for those ages six and older.
In reality, it’s rare to encounter an emergency while on your travel journey. The U.S. Embassy will be there to help, but so will your travel insurance plan –especially if you need to receive care right away. With uncertainty still within the air about travel, it’s a wise choice to protect your nonrefundable trip costs like your airfare, hotels, and prepaid tours.
On Yonder’s website, you can compare policies from the top providers. If you’re still not sure which plan is best for you or your family, feel free to reach out to our friendly humans, who will talk through your options and address your travel concerns.