An Island-by-Island Guide to the Caribbean Amid COVID-19
Because island vibes are all we want right now.
As travel was mostly put on hold in 2020 — and hasn't exactly had a roaring comeback yet in 2021 — destinations, that beach lovers and sun chasers have been missing, are gradually figuring out how to welcome visitors back safely.
Many Caribbean islands have laid out plans for a "new normal," allowing back visitors with pre-arrival testing and resort bubble-like protocols after being forced to initially take a pause when the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe. Several hotels are offering on-site testing to help visitors heading home comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's requirement that international travelers test negative for the virus before boarding a flight to the U.S.
And while you can always explore an island's dreamy beach vibes virtually, nothing quite replaces the feeling of sticking your toes in white sand.
Below is an island-by-island guide for U.S. travelers with everything you need to know before planning a trip to the Caribbean.
Travelers are welcome to visit Anguilla (which the CDC considers a country with a low risk of COVID-19), but are required to show proof of a negative PCR test 3 to 5 days before arriving on the island, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS.
Travelers on a short trip 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 cays excursions.
Antigua and Barbuda
Visitors are welcome to head to Antigua and Barbuda, but travelers 12 years old and older are required to arrive with a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test from within seven days of their flight, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS.
Visitors are then required to be monitored for COVID-19 for up to 14 days.
Travelers must stay at a certified accommodation property, according to the Antigua Barbuda Tourism Authority.
Aruba welcomes American tourists but requires all visitors 15 and older to 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 must also complete an Embarkation/Disembarkation card as well as a personal health assessment.
Additionally, the island has several testing facilities to help travelers who need to get tested before returning home.
To make it even easier, Aruba has partnered with JetBlue to allow travelers to get tested at home before their flight.
If you can't make it to Aruba just yet, the island is offering a dose of wanderlust from home with a virtual tour, including a 30-minute calming video of the sights and sounds of Aruba
The Bahamas is welcoming tourists and allowing them to skip the islands' mandatory quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 within five days before their departure and apply for a Bahamas Health Travel Visa, according to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Children 10 and younger are exempt. Travelers must opt-in to mandatory COVID-19 health insurance when applying for their Health Travel Visa.
Visitors then must be retested with a rapid antigen test on day 5 of their visit, complete a health survey each day. The Bahamas requires everyone to wear masks in public.
All travelers to Barbados must take a COVID-19 PCR test from an accredited or certified facility within three days of arriving, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS. Travelers are then required to take a second rapid antigen test upon arrival.
Visitors then have to quarantine at their accommodation before taking another test on day five to test-out of that quarantine, according to the Barbados Ministry of Tourism.
Barbados is tempting visitors to move there for a year for the ultimate work-from-home experience.
Tourists are allowed to travel to Bermuda but require entering visitors to show a negative COVID-19 PCR test no more than five days before arrival, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Children 9 and younger are exempt.
Adult visitors then have to fill out a travel authorization process online one to three days before departure and pay a $75 fee, which includes testing in Bermuda (children 9 and younger have to pay $30). Travelers will be tested at the airport and have to quarantine at their accommodation until the results are ready, which typically takes about a day.
Visitors will then have to wear a Traveller Wristband for the first 14 days of their stay, which will be distributed upon arrival, be tested every few days while on the island, and be required to take their temperature twice each day and report it online.
Vaccinated travelers must comply with all testing requirements, but are not required to quarantine after they receive the negative results from their test at the airport.
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
Bonaire allows U.S. travelers to enter with two negative COVID-19 tests: a PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival, and a rapid COVID-19 antigen test taken no more than four hours prior to boarding a flight, according to the U.S. Consulate General in Curacao. Flights to the island are tentatively scheduled to restart in April.
Travelers must also complete an online health declaration form 72 hours to 48 hours before departure.
U.S. tourists are not allowed to enter Saba or Sint Eustatius.
The British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands welcomes tourists who show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test five days before arriving, according to the government. Travelers must also register on the BVI Gateway App and submit a Public Health Declaration form 48 hours before arrival.
Children under 5 are only tested if it is medically indicated.
Travelers will be tested again for the virus upon arrival, be quarantined for four days, and get tested again on the fourth day.
U.S. tourists are not currently allowed to travel to the Cayman Islands, according to the Cayman Islands Government.
Cuba welcomes travelers who 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 fill out a health declaration card and get re-tested upon arrival. They will then have to quarantine at an approved hotel for five days and get tested again.
While U.S. citizens are not allowed to travel to Cuba for tourism, they are allowed to legally travel there under several criteria, including "Support for the Cuban People," which requires that travelers have a "full-time schedule" of activities that "enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities."
Curaçao welcomes U.S. travelers from all states who show 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 within 48 hours of their flight, and have medical insurance to cover them if they become ill with the virus while visiting.
Children 6 years old and younger that don't show symptoms, and whose parents show proof of a negative PCR test, are not required to get tested. Those who travel to Curaçao for one day from Aruba are also exempt.
Dominica welcomes travelers from high-risk countries — of which the U.S. is considered one — who show a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken 24 to 72 hours before arrival, according to the Discover Dominica Authority. Travelers must also submit an online health questionnaire at least 24 hours prior to arrival.
Travelers will then have to undergo a rapid test upon arrival. If it is negative, they will be taken to either a "Safe in Nature" certified property or a quarantine location for five to seven nights. On the fifth day, travelers will be re-tested and can be medically cleared if that result is negative.
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 3% 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.
To ease concerns of would-be travelers, the Ministry of Tourism is offering visitors who stay at a hotel a free health coverage plan for those who arrive by at least March 31. The plan covers emergencies if travelers are exposed to COVID-19 and includes long-term stays if a traveler falls ill or needs to quarantine.
Travelers to Grenada must apply for a Pure Safe Travel Certificate prior to their trip and arrive with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of traveling to the island, according to Grenada's Ministry Of Health. Visitors must then undergo a second PCR test on the fifth day of their trip at their expense and have a minimum 7-day reservation at an approved accommodation for quarantine.
Children 5 years old and under are exempt from testing.
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.
U.S. travelers are allowed to enter Haiti but need a negative COVID-19 PCR or Antigen test 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.
Jamaica welcomes U.S. tourists, but requires they show a negative COVID-19 PCR or Antigen test taken within three days of traveling to check in for a flight to 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 "resilient corridor." Tourists are allowed to leave their hotel to visit an approved tourist attraction.
U.S. tourists are not allowed to enter Martinique, 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.
Montserrat only allows U.S. travelers who own a home on the island to travel there, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS. 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.
Travelers must then either self-quarantine at their home for 14 days or quarantine at a designated facility for six days.
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.
Visitors to Puerto Rico do not need to get tested before returning to the U.S. mainland since the island is a U.S. territory. The island recently started loosening restrictions on popular attractions like beaches.
U.S. tourists are not allowed to enter St. Barts, 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.
St. Kitts and Nevis
U.S. tourists are welcome to visit St. Kitts and Nevis and must come with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, according to the St. Kitts Tourism Authority. Travelers must also fill out a travel form prior to their trip and confirm their stay at a COVID-19-certified hotel.
Travelers will have to test negative again on day 7 -- after which they can visit approved tourist attractions in a secure bubble -- and on day 14 -- which would allow them free movement in society. If a traveler's trip is less than 14 days, they will have to be re-tested at least two days before leaving the island.
As the island's tourism authority puts it: "If you are working from home you can do so from any of our beaches, accommodation."
American travelers to Sint Maarten must show a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 120 hours of arrival, according to the U.S. Consulate General in Curacao. Alternatively, travelers from the U.S. can undergo an antigen test 48 hours before traveling, according to the government.
Travelers also need to fill out an online immigration card prior to travel and purchase mandatory COVID-19 health insurance.
U.S. citizens can visit the French St. Martin through its Dutch counterpart, Sint Maarten.
Travelers who plan to stay on the French side must have a negative COVID-19 test from within 72 hours, according to the St. Martin Tourist Office. While isolation is not mandatory, it is recommended for seven days, followed by a PCR test.
U.S travelers to St. Lucia are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within five days before their arrival and complete a pre-arrival registration form, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS. Children under 5 are exempt from testing.
Travelers to the island must also have a confirmed reservation at a COVID-19 certified accommodation for the duration of their stay.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
U.S. travelers are allowed to enter St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but must show a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival as well as get re-tested upon arrival, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS.
Travelers must also complete a pre-arrival form, which can be accessed online, and complete a 14-day mandatory quarantine in a Tourism Authority/Ministry of Health, Wellness, and the Environment approved hotel. Visitors must have a fully-paid reservation in advance.
Travelers will then be re-tested between days four and seven of their quarantine.
Vaccinated travelers who received their final dose at least four weeks before traveling must still abide by pre-travel testing requirements, but can cut their quarantine to seven days and get re-tested on day 5.
Trinidad and Tobago
U.S. tourists are not yet welcome to visit the islands, according to the U.S. Embassy in Trinidad & Tobago.
Turks and Caicos Islands
U.S. travelers are welcome to visit Turks and Caicos, which reopened to tourists in July, but must arrive with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within five days of arrival, according to the government. Travelers must also apply for a travel authorization and have insurance that covers COVID-19 costs. Children under 10 years old are exempt from the testing requirement.
United States Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands welcome tourists from the mainland, but require all visitors 5 years old and older to receive a certification before traveling and show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within five days of their trip, according to the USVI Department of Tourism.
Travelers heading back to the U.S. from the U.S. Virgin Islands do not need to get tested before returning to the U.S. mainland since the island is a U.S. territory.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.