Cayman Islands reopening borders — here’s what you need to know

Sep 13, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect Cayman Islands hasn’t yet confirmed the exact rules for a full reopening to tourism.

As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.

The Caribbean is on a reopening roll.

After a delay, the Cayman Islands are preparing for a soft reopening on Oct. 1. As a part of the first phase, borders will be open to approved visitors, property owners, workers and residents. The Caribbean nation will be joining nearby islands St. Kitts and Nevis, which are also opening in October, as well as a number of other Caribbean destinations which have reopened earlier in the summer.

However, there are some important restrictions, including quarantine requirements, you need to be aware of before you book your ticket.

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It won’t be much longer until visitors can return to the Cayman Islands’ white sand beaches. (Photo by Rebecca of Flytographer)

What’s required for travel to the Cayman Islands

Airports in the Cayman Islands are currently still closed to all inbound and outbound international passenger flights. When they begin to reopen in October, approved travelers will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 (RT-PCR) test taken within 72 hours of departure. This will be required for everyone 10 years or older.

The number of people who will be allowed to visit will be capped at 800 people. Prospective travelers must fill out the TravelTime Form prior to arrival for pre-approval. Eligible travelers will include Caymanians, permanent residents, work permit holders and homeowners. It will also include digital nomads hoping to live in Cayman and work remotely through the ‘global citizen initiative.’

Upon arrival in the country, travelers will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days at home or in hotels. Travelers will also be asked to wear electronic tracking devices and may be subject to random checks. Anyone who does not want to wear a tag will be required to isolate at a government facility. Following the isolation period, the travelers will be tested for COVID-19, and if negative, they will be released and the tags are removed.

Originally, travelers were only going to need to quarantine for five days if they were able to present a second negative test upon arrival. Additionally, travelers were going to be asked to wear a BioButton, which is a health monitoring device for continuous screening while in the Cayman Islands. However, those plans have been scrapped.

“Given the ever-increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases in many of the countries around us, particularly the United States of America and Jamaica, we have had to adjust our initial plans, especially regarding isolation,” Premier Alden McLaughlin explained in a recent briefing.

Details of reopening protocols are still being finalized. It’s possible that additional requirements may be implemented in the coming weeks.

Related: When will international travel return? A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

What is open in the Cayman Islands

Most things on the islands are returning to normalcy. While hotels are still closed for the most part, some have begun accepting reservations beginning Oct. 1.

Aside from on public transport and at airports, face masks are no longer required in most places. Social distancing guidelines have also been relaxed. Public gatherings of up to 250 people are allowed and the passenger capacity on excursion boats has increased to 250. Scuba diving and snorkeling excursions are allowed so long as rental equipment is disinfected for three days after use.

Related: Caribbean islands reopening, country by country

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz / The Points Guy)
Excursions are open for business. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz / The Points Guy)

How to get to the Cayman Islands

In October, the only airline approved to offer nonstop service to Grand Cayman (GCM) from the U.S. will be Cayman Airways. It will offer nonstop service to Miami (MIA), Tampa (TPA) and New York-JFK. More flight options are expected to return in November.

Cayman Airways flights aren’t easily bookable with points and miles, but fortunately, the flights are fairly reasonably priced. All of the nonstop flights are priced between about $70 to $130 each way. However, if you’re flying from a city other than one of the ones listed above, your best bet would be to book two separate tickets.

United is a codeshare partner of Cayman Airways so you could theoretically fly from Houston (IAH) to Grand Cayman with a layover in Florida on one ticket. However, these flights are currently extremely expensive — upwards of $1,000 each way. You’ll be much better off booking a $100 ticket to Florida and then a separate $70 ticket for the onward flight.

Related: A Review of Cayman Airways in Coach From New York to Grand Cayman

Where to stay in the Cayman Islands

As previously mentioned, some resorts have begun to accept reservations beginning Oct. 1, including Palm Heights, The Locale Hotel Grand Cayman and Seven Mile Beach Resort & Club. However, with tourism still restricted, many of the bigger resorts, such as the Kimpton Seafire Grand Cayman and Westin Grand Cayman, aren’t accepting reservations until at least November.

Airbnbs and other vacation rentals are also an option.

Related: 9 places to use points in the Caribbean

Kimtpon Seafire Resort on Grand Cayman (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)
Kimtpon Seafire Resort on Grand Cayman (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

Cayman Islands seems to be taking a conservative approach with its border reopening, but it’s making progress. While the country may be reopening its borders in October, there will be a lot more flight and hotel options come November. And be aware the opening date has been pushed back a few times, so you might want to wait until later in the year.

Keep in mind that only you can decide when you’ll be ready to travel again. TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research destinations before booking that next trip.

Featured image by Westend61/Getty Images.

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