June 24, 2020 - Meagan Palmer
Last Updated on 11/25/2020
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.
Yes, the Bahamas was temporarily shut down but is now allowing U.S. residents to enter. Before the recent lockdown, the country was in Phase 2 of its reopening and included strict regulations. One of these is called, “Clean & Pristine”, in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Health, and other agencies. This certification ensures suppliers are meeting health and safety rules before reopening.
Although you may not be able to travel there now, it never hurts to be aware of some of the requirements that are likely to still be in place once the border reopens. Here are some of the likely new health guidelines to heed once travel to the Bahamas resumes.
Traveler Health Application: All travelers arriving from outside the country must submit an online travel health visa application and present a copy upon arrival to the Bahamas.
Mandatory COVID-19 Health Insurance: Starting on November 14th, it is now required that all travelers to the Bahamas purchase COVID-19 insurance. The coverage includes medical expense, trip interruption and trip delay due to quarantine, and medical evacuation benefits. Find how much you would need to pay based on the length of your stay. Although this coverage does offer protection for COVID-19 related events, it’s best to supplement it with a comprehensive travel insurance policy for other travel-related mishaps.
COVID Test Result Submission: Also, all travelers must test negative using a COVID-19 molecular swab test with results posted online with their travel health visa application before entry into the Bahamas. The test results must not occur more than five days before arrival. If you’re staying for more than 5 days, you’ll likely need to take a rapid test.
Social Distancing & Curfews Enforced: Travelers must maintain a three to six-foot distance from others and wear a face mask or be subject to a fine. Daily curfew mandates are expected to be followed from 6 pm – 5 am on the weekends and 9 pm – 5 am during the week, even for tourists.
Also, there is a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival to the Bahamas if you are symptomatic or tested positive for COVID-19 as well as when traveling from one island to another. Once this time period is up, the traveler is required to take another coronavirus test that must show negative results. Although the “no sail order” for cruises expired on October 31st, there is now a conditional sailing order in place. It might be best to reschedule your cruise for 2021 and book a vacation to the Bahamas instead.
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, 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.
In newer events, the State Department has declared a Level 3 Travel and Health Advisory for the Bahamas, meaning do not travel due to increased crime and the spread of COVID-19. This has been decreased from the “do not travel” advisory previously in place.
Take these tips into consideration to stay safe during your future 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 help maintain 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.
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 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 before 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 safety 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 and other tourists.
Kid-friendly Activities in Nassau Bahamas: If you’re traveling to the Bahamas for a vacation, your resort might already have activities to keep you busy. Currently, beaches are closed but should reopen once the coronavirus surge declines. We encourage you to reach out to the hotel or resort for updated alerts and information.
If you’re the adventurous type and want to explore more of what the area has to offer, these few beach alternatives 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 travel 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.