an aerial view of a blue ocean

Popular travel destinations have become increasingly creative in recent months as they spin sub optimal covid-19 travel restrictions into positives, in hopes of keeping visitors coming. The Bahamas offered one of the most amusing such takes, with its “VIP” travel program, inviting visitors to “vacation in place”, a sly and less unappealing way of saying there’s a mandatory 14 day quarantine for all.

Unsurprisingly, the VIP program wasn’t a huge hit with potential visitors, and the Bahamas now plans to drop quarantine requirements in favor of stronger testing for all travelers. Here’s what you need to know, if you’re planning a getaway to the islands.

an island with boats in the water

Bahamas November Travel Entry Updates

If 14 days of quarantine didn’t fit into your Bahamas travel plans, there’s good news. From November 1st, the Bahamas will drop 14 day quarantine restrictions, known as “vacation in place” and will instead move to a more comprehensive system of testing.

All arrivals onto the islands until October 31st will still be a part of the VIP program, which requires vacationing in place, without leaving resort grounds for the first 14 days of travel.

All visitors to the Bahamas from November 1st will instead be required to present a recent negative covid-19 test taken no more than 7 days before arrival, and must also submit to a second test on arrival, as well as a third test circa 5 days after arrival. That’s the good news, the bad news is that tests will be at visitors expense.

The Bahamas rapid testing on arrival will be conducted at airports or approved sea borders, with airports including: Nassau, Freeport, Marsh Harbour, North Eleuthera, Georgetown Exuma, Bimini, and San Andros.

a white building with yellow shutters

Interestingly, American Airlines will offer rapid airport covid-19 testing prior to flights from Miami, starting from late October. Anyone traveling with the airline, or any airline offering rapid airport testing prior to departure will notably not be required to submit to testing upon arrival into the Bahamas, according to the official tourism resource. All visitors will still be responsible for receiving the final test 96 hours after arrival.

The post arrival test, which will be conducted roughly 96 hours after arrival can be completed at a variety of hotels, and other properties are said to be able to assist with making arrangements to facilitate testing. If your trip to the Bahamas is 5 days or less, no 96 hour covid-19 test will be required, since you depart on the day you’d be tested.

Crucially, the robust testing protocols mean that when you arrive into the Bahamas, there’s no need to quarantine at any point. Visitors can once again enjoy the islands, and the many lovely less traveled cays as soon as they land.

Allowing shorter stay travelers to simply test before departure and rapidly on arrival minimizes frustration of wasted time on the ground, with no more than a few hours of inconvenience all told. These days, that’s not much.

So how much is it going to run you? Apparently, it depends on the length of your stay in the Bahamas. Shorter stays which don’t require the third test will cost less than all longer stays, and the cost of all testing and other protocols will be lumped into the Bahamas Health Visa, which you can apply for online prior to travel.

Do note: you’ll need to have your pre-travel covid-19 test in hand before you can actually apply for the Bahamas Health Visa, so plan to do so in the week of travel and only after you’ve received your test result.

an aerial view of a blue ocean

Bahamas: Better Than VIP

These new protocols from the Bahamas leave a bit to be desired given the unspecified costs of testing and health visas at present, but they do create an environment where people can actually enjoy trips, like before. There’s a big difference in lounging around a resort because you feel like it, versus being legally bound to stay there.

The Bahamas has answered the call from international tourism bodies to make travel accessible again, based on standardized testing in favor of lengthy, often unnecessary quarantine periods.

Recent studies suggest 80% of covid-19 cases in travel are caught on the first test on departure or arrival, andthe remaining 20% of positive cases were caught by typically caugh by testing on the 7th day, rendering 14 days of quarantine statistically unnecessary.

With deep desires for winter sun fast approaching, the Bahamas is now one of the more attractive options for global travelers. You’ll just need to get your hands on a test, and a few extra bucks for the health visa.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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