UPDATE: Bahamas now open for Americans

Jul 6, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. 

The Bahamas are once again welcoming travelers from the United States.

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation recently unveiled a five-phase plan to reopen the country to international travelers. While the plans are tentative and subject change based on advice from health organizations, it’s a comprehensive blueprint for how the island nation plans to welcome tourists back while enforcing high safety standards.

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When will the Bahamas reopen?

The Bahamas implemented an international travel ban on March 24, 2020 which will be lifted on July 1 when it officially reopens to tourists. All islands will be open to tourists on that date. Americans are included.

Which hotels are reopening?

A few properties in Nassau will be welcoming guests on July 1. These include the Baha Mar, Sandals Royal Bahamian, Atlantis Paradise Island, the Melia Nassau Beach-All Inclusive and The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort.

All of these resorts have flexible cancellation policies, so you can book with peace of mind, knowing you’ll receive a full refund if reopening plans don’t proceed as planned.

Nassau Paradise Island let TPG know they are also now open and accepting American visitors. Among the hotels reopening soon is the famous Atlantis, Paradise Island.We found rates beginning at $229 a night in August. It is accepting reservations beginning August 1.

The view from a balcony.(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
The view from a balcony.(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Related: U.S. Virgin Islands reopening

What to expect on arrival

All incoming travelers will be subject to temperature checks at airports and seaports. Social distancing will also be enforced and you must wear a mask in the terminal, during security checks, customer screenings and baggage claim.

You’ll need to keep your mask on during the ride to your hotel and you may notice fewer passengers in the shuttle van. Both shuttle and taxi drivers have been mandated to cut passenger capacity by 50%, in accordance with social distancing guidelines. You also won’t be able to sit in the passenger seat of taxis or shuttle vans.

Hotels will be distributing hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to guests, elevator capacity will be limited and “unnecessary literature’ in guest rooms will be removed. In other words, fewer magazines and less clutter all around. Unfortunately, buffets will not reopen for the time being and all meals will be single or prepackaged.

Meanwhile, employees will be subject to frequent temperature checks and restaurant staff will be required to wear masks and gloves.

The great news is that guests traveling to the Bahamas will be able to leave their resorts to go on excursions and shopping trips – with some precautions. In order to adhere to social distancing rules, there will be limits on the number of customers allowed in stores and touching of merchandise is highly discouraged unless you’re ready to purchase.

When it comes to excursions, travelers are encouraged to bring their own gear while tour operators will be required to cut capacity clean everything on a set schedule.

Related: A country-by-country reopening guide to the Caribbean

Flight availability

With both Southwest and American Airlines resuming flights to Nassau in early July, there are plenty of options to get there. As of now, award availability on American Airlines is fairly restricted, while Southwest isn’t displaying flights at all.

AA award NYC - NAS

Your best bet, if you want to secure airfare in advance, is a paid fare. A Google Flight search turned up plenty of $370 round-trip basic economy fares between New York (LGA) and Nassau. Some of these are multi-carrier fares that must be booked separately, though Delta does offer similar fares transiting Atlanta.

Google flights NYC - NAS

If you absolutely want to redeem points for these flights, consider charging it to the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, which requires 37,000 miles. The card earns 2x miles per $1 spent and currently has a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus after $3,000 spent within 3 months of account opening.

If you have a stash of Ultimate Rewards points you want to put to use, you can book these fares through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, for around 29,000 points.

Ultimate Rewards LGA - NAS

Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.5 cents each if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and 1.25 cents with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Bottom line

The Bahamas are just the latest in a long list of countries announcing plans to reopen this summer. While it remains to be seen whether these plans can actually be implemented on time, it provides a glimmer of hope to travelers who have been cooped up at home for the last two months due to coronavirus concerns.

Whether you should be traveling on July 1 is going to be a personal decision. We advise our readers to heed the advice of health organizations to determine whether it is in fact safe to travel again.

Featured photo by Pola Damonte via Getty Images/Getty Images.

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