Considering an awesome getaway to the beautiful Bahamas? Coming to you live from Palm Cay (pronounced like ‘Key’) in Nassau, here are 10 things you really should know before you travel to the Bahamas.
Looking back, flying to the Bahamas was actually one of the easiest, most pleasant experiences I’ve had traveling around the world during Covid-19.
Our plan was to charter a Catamaran sailboat and explore the Exumas by island-hopping. On our way, we learned much about the Bahamas, past and present. Times have changed, but the Bahamians have stood strong.
It’s a great time to rekindle an old love for these incredible islands, or to embark on a new one. We certainly found inspiration here. And learned a couple things so that you don’t have to! 😁
1) Complete Your Bahamas Pre-Flight Checklist Before Taking Off
Before setting out on your search for Bahama Blues, make sure you have a few things out of the way:
- RT-PCR Test Taken Within 5 Days of Departure
- Completed Health Visa Application at least 48 hours prior to departure
As part of the Health Visa, there is a $10/day fee which covers: testing on island and health insurance (medical and lodging) in case you get sick.
You will receive a QR code which allows you access into the country, and the government will send you daily e-mail health surveys.
2) You Won’t Have to Quarantine in the Bahamas
Unless you get sick, the Bahamas is one of 12 countries that don’t require a quarantine on arrival. This is a HUGE incentive to travel there right now.
You will be invited to take a rapid test (not painful) on day 5 to ensure your continued Covid-free status. The test cost is included in your Health Visa. If you’re staying 8 days or less, your 5-day test will also serve as your return test for the United States!
3) Travel Between the Islands of the Bahamas is Permitted
I personally spent my 7 day trip hopping between the incredible Exumas – from Nassau to Highbourne Cay to Staniel Cay with a couple extra stops.
At the beginning of the pandemic, inter-island travel was forbidden for awhile. Luckily, that’s no longer the case. Even better, you can find testing almost ALL over the Bahamas to satisfy your return testing requirements.
4) Different Bahamas, Different Curfew
Yes, there is a curfew in place in the Bahamas. But fortunately for you, it’s not too severe; 10PM-5AM in most islands.
One note of caution: the curfew varies on some islands that were hit worse by Covid-19. Right now, Abaco is the only exception with a stricter curfew of 8PM-5AM.
5) Don’t Expect the Usual Crowds
During the week I spent here, I noticed something very unusual. There were no lines anywhere!
From the moment I touched down, I never had to wait. Airport customs went by super quickly even though they have to check everyone’s Health Visa and PCR test.
On island, I noticed that most tours still had empty spots last-minute, and hotels were running exceptional deals.
I even visited the famous Pig Beach next to Staniel Cay and had access to as many pigs as I wanted. And swam in the Thunderball Grotto (featured in many films included James Bond) with no one around me. Crazy, especially for the Bahamas.
6) Resorts in the Bahamas Are Better Than Ever Before
Atlantis, known globally as the resort to visit in the Bahamas, now has some stiff competition.
Baha Mar used the downtime from Covid-19 and it’s effects on tourism to expand their size 3 times over, including the addition of a world-class casino. Plus, they’re the first and only resort to provide courtesy private jet service back to the U.S. or a free stay for guests who test positive for COVID-19 prior to departure from the resort.
Hey, competition is a great thing.
7) You Can Charter a Yacht and Discover Everything the Bahamas Has to Offer
We personally chartered a 36-foot catamaran sailboat to be one with nature on our trip. And the nature in the Bahamas is simply phenomenal.
We were glad to see that the national parks, including the world-famous Exumas Land and Sea Park, were all open.
Moorings and dock slips were available everywhere we went, but anchoring works great here.
8) Some Restaurants Require Reservations
This is something that caught us off-guard more than once. Both times, we ended up taking our little dinghy back to the boat on empty stomachs.
Although I believe this to be the norm (at least in the Exumas), it is especially enforced after the pandemic. It’s a great way to keep social distancing in mind.
9) Face Masks Are Required in the Bahamas
Just like, well basically anywhere outside of Texas, face masks are required here. The fine is a bit kinder than what I’ve witnessed elsewhere, at only $200 per violation.
To be honest, it wasn’t really enforced. I hardly saw anyone wearing masks outside of New Providence Island (where Nassau is), and even there it was iffy at best.
10) The Locals Are Very Receptive to Tourism
Like so many tourism-dependent countries, the Bahamas was hit hard by the pandemic. As a country that normally thrives on tourism, especially from Americans, many people struggled this past year.
Be kind, be understanding, and be thankful. Times have been tough for everyone, and Bahamians are so happy to see the return of their friends from another country. It makes for a fantastic ambiance.