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Aaah, The Bahamas! Gentle turquoise surf for the kids. Tropical cocktails for the grown-ups. But, is it a good time for a trip to The Bahamas? COVID-19 travel restrictions in The Bahamas continue to change. Here’s the latest news for you to consider, including the experience of one TravelingMom.
As international travel resumes, The Bahamas will once again be a hot destination for US travelers. But, thanks to the pandemic, it’s not as easy as it used to be to just jump on a plane in Southeast Florida and be lounging on a beautiful Bahamian beach a few hours later. Here is the latest on The Bahamas travel restrictions, different rules for people who are vaccinated and not and what you need to know from a TravelingMom who vacationed in The Bahamas under COVID travel restrictions.
Who Does and Does Not Need COVID Tests
Visitors to The Bahamas from other countries who are fully vaccinated must present a negative COVID-19 test result (Rapid Antigen Test OR RT-PCR Test), taken no more than 3 days (72 hours) prior to arrival in The Bahamas.
If you are unvaccinated and 12 or older, you must present a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result taken no more than 3 days (72 hours) prior to arrival in The Bahamas.
Unvaccinated children ages 2-11, must present a negative COVID-19 test result – either Rapid Antigen or RT-PCR Test. And children under 2 are exempt from testing requirements.
Note: This information is current as of the date of publication. For the latest entry requirements, please refer to the official Bahamas travel requirements.
The Bahamas Health Visa
Getting a negative test result is not the final step before travel.
All travelers, vaccinated and unvaccinated, must obtain a Bahamian Health Visa. Upload your test results and, if applicable, your vaccination records. Processing can take up to 24 hours, so don’t wait until the last minute. Mandatory travel insurance is included in the cost of the visa which varies depending on length of stay and vaccination status.
Pay close attention to the travel details you enter for each member of your party. Complete each application separately. Be aware – if you make a mistake on one, it could delay travel for your entire party.
Getting a COVID-19 Test
TravelingMom Heidi Gollub, who visited The Bahamas with two of her (unvaccinated) kids in mid-April 2021, had a positive experience at her local Walgreens for this test. She was able to make an appointment online three days in advance and get tested for free in the drive-through pharmacy lane. When she arrived for her appointment, Heidi was handed a cotton swab (like a Q-tip) to swirl around the inside of each nostril. She says it was not painful.
Timing your COVID-19 test can be stressful. The turnaround time for labs varies wildly. Heidi’s 12-year-old son had the test administered at her local Walgreens on Sunday (Day Zero), received test results by email on Wednesday (Day Three) and was scheduled to arrive in The Bahamas on Friday (Day Five), which was adequate for entry in April 2021, but would not satisfy current requirements.
Visiting the Bahamas with Unvaccinated Kids
Traveling to The Bahamas with unvaccinated children requires a little extra planning, Heidi says.
First, you need to schedule coronavirus tests for your kids before departing for The Bahamas.
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Second, you need to think through your comfort level with indoor activities such as dining indoors without a mask, and outdoor activities like the kids’ club where they may be in close proximity to other children not wearing masks. This may affect which restaurant and activity reservations you secure before travel.
Finally, you should make a reservation to get a COVID-19 test for all members of your party as soon as you arrive at your resort. In order to return to the United States, all travelers age 2 and up need a negative COVID test taken within one day of their departure.
Plan for Your Return
Overall, traveling with unvaccinated children did not complicate Heidi’s trip much, she says. “My only concern was that if one of the children had tested positive in The Bahamas, it would have made our return home difficult.”
The U.S. State Department website warns: “If you choose to travel internationally, be sure to make contingency plans, as you may find yourself having to remain in a foreign country longer than originally planned.”
Other Bahamian Covid Requirements
Ongoing Reporting Requirements
During her stay at the Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas, Heidi was required to complete a quick six-question online survey about her family’s health each day. She received one survey link by email for herself and one for each child ages 17 or younger each morning. Answering this daily survey was mandatory, during Heidi’s stay.
Also, unvaccinated travelers were required to take a Rapid Antigen Covid test on Day Five of their stay. Vaccinated travelers were not required to take a test, nor were unvaccinated travelers who stay less than five days.
Familiarize yourself with your Bahamas resort requirements.
You’ll Need Negative Tests Before Heading Home
Testing requirements for re-entry to the United States after your vacation continue to change. At the time of publication, a negative COVID test is required, taken no more than one day prior to departure. For the latest requirements, check the CDC website.
Atlantis Resort guests staying in The Royal, The Cove, The Reef and The Coral hotels receive two tests for free. Additional tests are $20. PCR tests are $165.
Other Nassau Paradise Island Resorts offering on-site rapid COVID-19 testing as of late January 2022 are: Comfort Suites Paradise Island, Baha Mar, Graycliff Hotel, Margaritaville Beach Resort, Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort, Bahamas, and Sandals Royal Bohemian. In addition, the rapid tests are offered at Bay Street Medical, across the street from the British Colonial Hilton Nassau, and at Nassau’s airport, LPIA.
Go old school and bring paper copies to prove your negative COVID-19 test results. Although a phone image is acceptable, Heidi’s phone did not work in The Bahamas. Her paper copies came in handy. She had to show her family’s results at their home airport in Austin, Texas, before departure, to a customs officer upon arrival in The Bahamas and at the gate of Atlantis Paradise Island before they were allowed onto the property. While many things are different today with COVID-19 travel restrictions, The Bahamas will be ready to welcome you, and in light of the pandemic, there are additional travel precautions and testing required.