Barbados drops all COVID-19 testing for vaccinated travelers
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.
Travelers heading to the beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados this summer will face few COVID-19 entry restrictions — and those who have been vaccinated will face none.
Just as the busy summer travel season started, leaders in Barbados announced the island nation would do away with its testing requirement for vaccinated vacationers. The move, which took effect May 25, follows updates made last fall that eliminated additional testing requirements for travelers once they arrived in Barbados. It's another step toward normalcy, and it removes obstacles for those looking to enjoy the resorts, beaches, wildlife and everything else Barbados has to offer.
Unvaccinated travelers will still have to get tested within three days of departure, and again after arriving on the island.
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Getting into Barbados
As is the case with many countries, travelers have to complete some documentation through online portals in order to enter Barbados. Overall, there are just two simple steps.
One is the online immigration and customs form, which has long been the norm when entering a new country; you'll have to fill out some personal information including your passport number, the reason you're visiting and where you're staying. You can fill this out within 72 hours of arrival, so taking care of this in advance should help speed things up for you once on the ground in Barbados.
Read more: Barbados on points and miles: Shipwreck snorkeling, steam trains and more
The next step is to download and enter information into the BIMSafe mobile app. This is where you'll see a health questionnaire and where you'll provide your vaccination proof.
Once you get those forms squared away, you should be well on your way.
Flying to Barbados
Major U.S. and international carriers — including American Airlines, JetBlue, United Airlines and Air Canada — have resumed travel to the island’s Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI).
According to a recent search on Google Flights, the cheapest round-trip fares for much of summer and fall 2022 (as well as the winter months following the holidays) are in the $400 to $500 range. For example, this JetBlue flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) allows New York City-area travelers to book a Fourth of July getaway to the island for just more than $400. The nonstop service involves a red-eye flight that arrives in Barbados before 4 a.m., so you'd certainly have an opportunity to maximize that first day on the island if you're not too tired.
Read more: You might be able to move to Barbados and work remotely for a year
Meanwhile, you can get some pretty good miles deals on a trip to Barbados this fall. For instance, 20,000 AAdvantage miles would get you a round-trip flight from Miami International Airport (MIA) or from airports in the New York area. The Web Special deal is 10,000 miles less than the standard mileage fare in the AAdvantage program's award chart.
Where to stay in Barbados
Unfortunately, Barbados doesn't offer too many points properties, so you might be looking at paying cash. However, some honorable mentions include the Hilton Barbados Resort, the Radisson Aquatica Resort and the Courtyard Bridgetown. There are also several new hotels in Barbados under the Marriott umbrella, including a number of all-inclusive properties, thanks to a 2019 acquisition.
When searching for September dates at the Hilton Barbados, I found points rates at 50,000 per night (worth about $300, according to TPG's valuations). However, you'd be much better off paying the cash rate of $163 per night — a discounted rate I received for plugging in at least five consecutive nights.
Related: 2 Barbados resorts set to reopen as part of Marriott’s all-inclusive portfolio
“Travelers should visit Barbados not only to support the return of tourism and help boost the island’s economy but to create memorable moments by participating in exhilarating activities that the island offers," Barbados tourism board representatives said back in July 2020 when TPG first wrote about the island's reopening. "From wildly exciting activities for the lionhearted to peaceful and relaxing days in a tropical paradise, Barbados has it all!”
It's a sentiment that's sure to exist still today, particularly as Barbados reaches this latest milestone in rebounding from the pandemic.
Over the past two years, the island maintained strict entry requirements, despite welcoming tourists back. Now, as the summer travel season kicks into high gear, vaccinated travelers will face no obstacles on their way to enjoying all the island has to offer.
Related: Royal Caribbean will launch cruises from Barbados for the first time
Additional reporting by Sean Cudahy and Caroline Tanner.