Caribbean Islands Are Reopening — Here's What to Know If You've Been Dreaming of the Beach
Because island vibes are all we want right now.
As travel was abruptly put on hold earlier this year, recent signs of reopenings and restrictions lifting around the world have given sun chasers everywhere a sign of hope that lounging on a white sandy beach while looking out at shimmering turquoise water may not be too far off.
Specifically, the Caribbean islands have laid out their plans for a "new normal" among locals as well as welcoming back visitors after being forced to take a pause as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe.
In the interim, many islands — like Aruba and Saint Lucia — took the virtual alternative and provided dreamy beach island vibes online, but we all know that nothing can replace the real thing. Below is each Caribbean island's reopening plan along with the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus each has recorded since the beginning of the outbreak, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The island of Anguilla will begin its Phase 1 reopening on Aug. 21. Travelers wishing to visit will have to submit a pre-registration application online with the Anguilla Tourist Board. Visitors are required to disclose their dates of travel, home address, and submit a negative COVID-19 test 3-5 days ahead of arrival. Once landing at the airport, visitors will have to take another COVID-19 test and stay in an approved accommodation site.
There is not a minimum stay requirement, but after 10 days on the island, visitors will have to take another coronavirus test. Travelers will also have to wait ten days to rent a car.
In the event of a traveler testing positive, they will have to isolate at a government-approved location.
Wearing a mask isn't mandatory but guests are expected to respect social distancing rules and hygiene practices.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda opened its borders on June 1 in a phased plan that includes reopening the international airport, according to the government. Visitors are required to wear a mask in all public places. Additionally, visitors must take a COVID-19 test 48 hours prior to arrival and be able to present documentation of negative results. If they're unable to do so they must pay for a test locally or agree to quarantine at a hotel for 14 days.
This follows the islands’ mitigation efforts in which residents were told not to leave home except for food and emergency supplies, and beaches were closed.
Aruba, a territory of the Netherlands, first opened its borders to travelers from the Caribbean (except the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Europe, and Canada on July 1.
In July, the island welcomed U.S. visitors to its turquoise waters, but required travelers coming from certain states to upload a negative COVID-19 test online taken within 72 hours before their flight. The test has to be uploaded at least 12 hours before departing, according to the Aruba Tourism Authority.
The affected states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota. Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
On Sept. 24 states including Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Travelers can see what protocol is from their specific state here.
While all U.S. visitors will have to complete a self-health declaration form and show a negative COVID-19 test, travelers from states not listed above can also choose to pre-pay for a test to be completed upon arrival.
The island, which started reopening outdoor restaurants on May 25, has implemented a cleaning and hygiene certification program for tourism-related businesses to reassure tourists when they do return. This includes extra cleaning during tasks like handling luggage as well as plexiglass barriers at desks and the use of digital keys.
In the meantime, 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 reopened to international commercial travel on July 1, after first reopening to yachts and private planes on June 15. While the island closed its borders to Americans again on July 22, that has since been amended to allow travelers as long as they quarantine in a government-specified facility, according to the ministry. All travel in or out of Grand Bahama, which has been placed under a lockdown, is prohibited.
Passengers arriving on a private yacht or plane, however, are still allowed and have to show a negative COVID-19 no more than 10 days old. Visitors will also have to fill out an electronic Health Visa before their departure.
Locally, on June 2, the Bahamas allowed non-essential storefront businesses to open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on certain islands. An increase in cases on Grand Bahama, however, necessitated the implementation of a nightly curfew and the closure of all public and private beaches on July 22.
Barbados is reopening to tourists on July 12. Visitors are encouraged to take a COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to departure and have negative results on hand at the airport. Visitors can also undergo a test at the airport and quarantine until the test results come in.
On June 1, the island reopened retailers, parks, and dining in restaurants, according to the Barbados Government Information Service. On June 15, all businesses were allowed to open and restrictions on beaches were eliminated.
The British territory will reopen for international travel on July 1 and require entering visitors to show a negative COVID-19 test from no more than five days before departure, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Additionally, visitors have to fill out a travel authorization process online. Travelers will also undergo testing at the airport and have to quarantine at their accommodation until the results are ready, which usually takes between four and eight hours.
Travelers then have to be retested every few days and are required to take their temperature twice each day and report it online
On June 11, Bermuda entered Phase 3 of its reopening plan, according to the government, allowing restaurants to reopen for indoor dining with physical distancing and gatherings of up to 20 people. Bermuda's popular beaches were also open. On July 1, the island entered Phase 4, increasing gatherings to 50 people and reopening bars. A nightly curfew remains in effect.
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
Borders for the Dutch islands are currently closed, and the Bonaire airport will remain closed through at least June 15. On Sint Eustatius, restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen with capacity restrictions on May 29, and hotels can open but leisure flights are still restricted. Saba’s borders remain closed as well, but the island lifted its “lock-down” order on May 11, according to the U.S. Consulate General in Curacao.
The British Virgin Islands
The British overseas territory will reopen its borders in June for returning residents and citizens who will each be subject to a 14-day quarantine, according to the Government of the Virgin Islands. The islands have a nightly curfew, according to the UK government. Beaches, however, are open from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Airports in the Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory, remain closed for international leisure and non-essential travel however they're accepting repatriation flights and those with work permits as of Oct. 1.
Currently, the island has a strict nightly curfew. Beach access is limited to certain days, based on the letter of people’s last names, and exercise is limited to groups of two people for up to two hours. People have to wear face masks in public places, and shopping at supermarkets is staggered based on people’s last names.
Cuba has closed its airport until at least June 30, according to the U.S. Embassy in Havana. Southwest Airlines had initially said it planned to start flying from Tampa to Havana on June 7, but the airport will still be closed. In addition, American Airlines has said it will start operating flights to the island on July 7, The Miami Herald reported.
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.”
Reuters reported that tourists heading to Cuba will be tested for coronavirus upon arrival.
Curaçao will welcome American tourists from the tri-state area starting Nov. 1.
Tourists will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test from within 72 hours before traveling and fill out an online immigration card and Passenger Locator Card within 48 hours of their departure. Visitors will also have to show a state-issued ID to prove they live in one of the approved states.
While on the island, people are asked to wear face masks if they cannot be at least 6 feet apart and to make reservations for restaurants, bars, and beach clubs in advance. The island has also introduced a “Dushi Stay” app — dushi meaning “sweet” in Papiamentu — which help visitors keep track of everything from entry requirements to island-wide protocols and even which restaurants, attractions, and beaches are open.
Dominica has closed its borders to commercial and private flights or boats, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados. The country also has a curfew in place at night.
The Dominican Republic lifted border restrictions on July 1. As part of its newly announced "Responsible Tourism Recovery Plan," visitors will no longer be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the country, starting Sept. 15. Additionally, mass testing will not be performed at the airport upon arrival, but will instead be done at random.
Travelers visiting a hotel will also be offered a temporary, free travel assistance plan until December 2020. In addition to general emergency coverage, the free insurance plan covers COVID-19 testing, as well as cost coverage for long-term stays should a traveler fall ill or need to quarantine.
Wearing a mask and maintaining social distance is mandatory in the airport and in public areas.
Grenada allows chartered flights to come to the island, the Grenada Tourism Authority shared with T+ L, but will continue to restrict commercial flights. The country’s prime minister has said in order to reopen to tourism, procedures have to be in place, including ensuring hotels have sanitation protocols.
Grenada has a nightly curfew, but allows access to beaches during daytime hours, according to the tourism authority.
The quarantine on the French island was lifted on May 11, the Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board shared with Travel + Leisure, but the island still remains closed to tourism.
In the meantime, you can virtually dive into the sights and sounds of Guadeloupe through the tourism board’s dreamy Instagram stories.
On June 2, Spirit Airlines was authorized to fly from Port au Prince to Fort Lauderdale, according to the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, which added it was unaware of “any flights from Haiti to the United States after June 02 or if any flights will be authorized in the future.”
In March, the country shut its land border with the Dominican Republic and suspended flights from several areas, including Europe and Canada, according to the Miami Herald. There is a nightly curfew in place.
Order in Place: Jamaica will be welcoming tourists back on June 15 with specific rules at restaurants and hotels to ensure safety for guests. Most locals have returned to work and bars have been allowed to reopen with capacity restrictions, according to the Jamaica Tourist Board. A nightly curfew, however, remains in place.
All arriving passengers to the French island of Martinique, except for those from Guadeloupe, must quarantine for 14 days, according to the Prefecture of Martinique. Additionally, the island has a nightly curfew in place, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados.
On March 23, the island closed the airport to most international flights, as well as canceled scheduled cruise stops, the Martinique Tourism Authority noted.
The British overseas territory has a nightly curfew and gatherings are limited to four people or less, according to the UK government. On May 22, the government of Montserrat allowed restaurants to open for delivery or take-out services and for salons to reopen for appointments.
Puerto Rico delayed its official reopening for tourism, initially slated for July 15, encouraging only essential travel due to an increase in U.S. COVID-19 cases, its tourism board, Discover Puerto Rico shared with T+L. Visitors who are traveling to the island, however, are required to show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival to avoid a quarantine and fill out a travel declaration form.
Beaches in Puerto Rico are only open during daytime hours for solo exercising after initially reopening for sunbathing. Hotel pools are closed. Capacity at restaurants has been scaled back to 50 percent with temperature checks required to enter, and bars, casinos, tours, and attractions -- with the exception of museums -- have been closed.
Masks are required in public places.
This island, commonly known as St. Barts, requires travelers to get tested for COVID-19 72 hours before departure. Those who test negative, however, are still required to quarantine for seven days and then get retested. Travelers must wear a face mask at the airport, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados.
But if you can’t get to the beautiful island right now, you can feel like you’re there with a creative Zoom background (just don’t forget a glass of French wine to go with it).
St. Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis announced in August that they will be opening their borders in October, the Prime Minister announced. Travelers heading to the island must obtain a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before arrival.
Hotels including the Marriott, Park Hyatt, and Hilton are said to be reopening in the, "last quarter of 2020."
Face masks are required in public areas and on public transportation. Those who do not comply with the mask mandate may face a fine.
The Dutch territory is currently closed to tourism and is “very much dependent on the health situation of other countries COVID-19 to be under control before we can feel comfortable opening our borders to the world and traveling Public,” according to the Prime Minister.
On May 11, Sint Maarten lifted its “shelter-in-place” order, according to the U.S. Consulate General in Curacao, but a nightly curfew remains in effect.
Like its Dutch counterpart, Sint Maarten, there are no commercial flights to get to the French side of the island.
Saint Lucia started welcoming visitors back to the island on June 4, requiring them to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within 48 hours of boarding a flight. Visitors will also have to wear face masks and health authorities could conduct temperature checks on arriving passengers. In addition, the island is requiring hotels to apply for a COVID-19 certificate from the government that addresses several safety protocols like cleaning measures and enforcing social distancing.
Businesses on Saint Lucia have been allowed to reopen, but they must have protocols in place for social distancing and disinfecting surfaces.
And if you can’t get there immediately, you can virtually escape to the island through an Instagram mini-series.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Visitors to St. Vincent and the Grenadines have to complete a pre-arrival form, which can be accessed online, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados. Travelers also need to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within five days of arrival or undergo a test upon arrival. Those who choose to take the test upon arrival will be quarantined for at least 24 hours while waiting for the results.
Travelers who arrive by air will also have to quarantine for at least 24 hours to await test results of all passengers from the same flight.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan in May, according to the U.S. Embassy there. While street vendors have been allowed to resume and restaurants are open for take-out, dine-in is not. Additionally, outdoor exercise is allowed, but face masks must be worn.
Turks and Caicos Islands
Turks and Caicos plans on reopening to tourists on July 22, utilizing new protocols for things like personal protective equipment and training, which officials said will be detailed in the coming weeks. The Grand Turk Cruise Center, however, will remain closed until August 31.
The British overseas territory initially closed its borders in March, shutting the airport to both regional and international flights and closing seaports, according to the government. There is currently a nightly curfew in place on the islands, face masks are required to be worn in public places, and on June 5, Turks and Caicos will allow retail businesses to reopen. Restaurants are expected to reopen on July 6.
United States Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands reopened to tourists on June 1 with rules in place for cleaning and housekeeping protocols as well as taxis. While the island is now welcoming visitors, however, the U.S. territory remains under a state of emergency through July 11.
People on the island are required to wear masks when entering a business, gatherings are limited to 10 people, and bars and restaurants are limited to 50 percent capacity restrictions, according to the territory.
Travelers either headed to or returning to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
For more information about traveling during the coronavirus pandemic, click here for more.