In the summer of 2020, Barbados reopened its borders to tourism. Since then, people have been visiting Barbados for vacation or even moving there long term, thanks to the new Barbados Welcome Stamp remote work program.
My partner and I decided to travel to Barbados because we are from different countries and travel bans made it difficult to see each other this year. Here’s what it’s like to travel to Barbados right now!
This post is based on my personal observations and experience, this is NOT medical advice, travel advice, or an official report. Please consult the Barbados Travel Protocols website and other official guidelines for more information. Thanks!
Traveling To Barbados During COVID
During our trip in the fall of 2020, COVID numbers in Barbados were low. At the time I’m publishing this article, Barbados has had less than 300 total cases and 7 reported COVID deaths since the pandemic started back in March. (Source)
Even though Barbados is now open to tourism, there are some protocols in place to make sure COVID numbers stay low. The exact steps you need to take depend on where you’re coming from. Countries are considered either very low-risk, low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk. At this time, most countries are high-risk.
- All Travelers must fill out a form online before arrival
- Low-risk travelers will need a negative COVID test that was taken within 5 days of arrival
- High and medium risk travelers will need to bring a negative COVID test that was taken within 3 days of arrival
- High and medium risk travelers will need to do a second COVID test 4-5 days after the date of their first test
- High-risk travelers will need to quarantine while they wait for their second negative test result
All travelers must fill out an online form before arriving in Barbados. This form can be completed on the Travel Guidelines page.
Travelers from high and medium-risk countries must arrive with a negative COVID test that’s no more than 3 days old. People arriving from low-risk countries must have a negative COVID test that’s no more than 5 days old. And people arriving from very low-risk countries do not need to present a test as long as they haven’t been in a low, medium, or high-risk country in the last 21 days.
In the airport, you’ll fill out a lot of paperwork and meet with a health official for a health screening. You’ll give the health officials your contact information and they’ll give you instructions for monitoring and follow up testing. This can take a while for everyone to process, so be prepared to wait.
Travelers coming from high-risk countries will then go into quarantine. The quarantine can be at one of the approved hotels or villas around the island or at a government facility.
Four to five days after the date of your first test results (the one you did at home), high and medium-risk travelers will take a second COVID test. The Ministry of Health officials and the staff at your quarantine accommodation will explain how to set this up. Finally, a health official will contact you with your test results and let you know you’re free to go.
You can see which countries are considered very low, low, medium, and high-risk on the Barbados protocol website. This website also has more details about specific testing timelines and approved quarantine facilities.
My Barbados Travel Experience
I traveled to Barbados from Norway with a layover in the United Kingdom. At that time, Norway was considered low-risk and the UK was considered medium-risk. Because of the layover, I was considered a medium-risk traveler when I arrived in Barbados. (Now, both Norway and the UK are considered high-risk.)
When the plane landed, we were instructed to disembark one row at a time. Getting off the plane took longer (difficult after seeing the beautiful blue water on the ride in) but it felt much safer than everyone squishing together to get off.
After getting off the plane and feeling that first wave of warm, tropical air, everyone lined up at a check in table where a health official verified our COVID tests.
I gave them my negative test results and received a stack of papers to fill out. I cleared customs and immigration and after passing through the checkpoint, I met with a health official. She gave me a temperature tracking form that I needed to fill out over the next 14 days and she explained that, because I was traveling from a medium risk country, I didn’t have to quarantine.
At that time, medium-risk countries didn’t need to do any additional testing. Recently, this changed. Now, medium-risk arrivals must retest 4-5 days after the date of their first negative test. Temperature monitoring is only for 7 days instead of 14 days.
There were hand sanitizer stations throughout the airport and everyone wore masks the entire time.
The Crane Resort
For our first few days in Barbados, we booked a room in The Crane Resort. Even though we were arriving as medium-risk travelers, we weren’t sure if protocols would change last minute and we wanted to be comfortable if we did end up having to quarantine.
The Crane Resort is an approved quarantine hotel and it has a satellite testing location on site where you can book your second test. They even have rooms with private plunge pools for people who really want to quarantine in style! How cool is that!
Our booking at The Crane included an airport transfer, so we were picked up outside the airport and taken straight over to the resort. When we checked in, we were given green wrist bands because we were medium-risk travelers with a negative test. Travelers awaiting test results were given blue or red bands and had limited access to the property, but our green band meant we could go anywhere on the grounds and leave freely.
We brought our bags up to our room, which had a sticker on the door explaining that it had been recently sanitized. The room was spacious and even had a little kitchenette, which is very useful for people quarantining. When walking around the resort, I noticed signs everywhere explaining where guests were allowed to go based on their band color. All guests and staff wore masks while walking around the resort.
A few days after arrival, I got a phone call from the health official who asked for the information from my temperature sheet. I sent her the numbers and answered some questions about my health.
Later in the trip, I spoke to friends who had come to Barbados from a high-risk country. They did their quarantine at The Crane and said it was a very comfortable experience. They were able to use a pool which was set aside for quarantine guests and appreciated having room service and a kitchen while they waited for their second test results.
Overall, the stories I’ve heard about the Barbados quarantine have been varied. Some people were able to get their second test done quickly and were out of quarantine in 2-3 days, while other people experienced delays and had to wait 4-5 days. From what I’ve heard anecdotally, staying at a hotel that doubles as a satellite testing facility will usually mean quicker results. (These hotels are listed on the Barbados Travel Protocol website.)
Regardless of where you stay, it’s best to give yourself a few days of cushion in case your quarantine takes longer.
Life on the Island
After being approved by health officials, travelers are free to explore the island! Lots of restaurants, bars, shops, businesses, and tours are open in Barbados, so you won’t run out of things to do.
Masks, Hand Sanitizer, Temperature Checks, and Contact Tracing
Even though the rates of COVID are very low in Barbados, masks, hand sanitizer, and temperature checks are still required to enter most public places. If you’re going out to eat, you must wear a mask unless you’re sitting down at your table.
Contact tracing is also used in most places. When you arrive at a restaurant or business, you’ll be required to sign in with your name, number, address, and temperature. If anyone at the same establishment gets sick, you’ll be contacted and asked to quarantine until you can get a test.
Masks are required while riding on public buses and ZR vans. They’re also required while visiting many tourist attractions.
Some Tours and Activities are Operating at Limited Capacity to Avoid Community Spread
In order to prevent large numbers of people from congregating, some tours and activities are operating at a limited capacity. Some group experiences were capped at lower numbers than normal to avoid community spread.
Also, note that attractions and restaurants might have limited opening hours. Not every place has COVID hours listed online so it’s best to call ahead before making plans. We learned that lesson the hard way after driving across the entire island to eat at a restaurant that was only open on weekends… twice. Oops.
The Island Isn’t Very Crowded
With no cruise ship travel and fewer tourists than normal, the island is pretty quiet. You probably won’t find rammed beaches or packed restaurants. Sure, there are other tourists around, but I’m sure it’s nothing like it normally is during the busy season. We never had issues booking tours or accommodation, even at the last minute.
The Atmosphere is Welcoming
Having fewer visitors on the island has been hard for businesses that are dependent on tourism. Many people who work in the tourism sector said how excited they were to see travelers on the island again. Tour guides, taxi drivers, vendors, shop owners, and new friends we met on the beach all commented again and again on how great it was to have visitors back. Overall, the environment was very warm and welcoming.
Some of our friends were visiting for a month, and when our bartender found out he encouraged them to get the Welcome Stamp and stay longer. “Cancel your flight!” He said on their last night, “This is paradise!”
Where To Find Updated Barbados Travel Information
As we all know, things can change every day. Make sure you check with the official Barbados travel website to ensure you have the most up to date information. Below are some links that will help you continue your research.
- Official Barbados Travel Protocols: This website is packed with helpful information about visiting Barbados which is updated regularly. See Updated Barbados Travel Protocols Here
- Barbados Welcome Stamp Program: Learn more about the year-long Barbados Welcome Stamp
- The Crane Resort: If you are planning to stay at The Crane Resort, you can read about their COVID policy on their website. Learn about The Crane here.
- Travel Insurance: Before taking any trip, it’s a good idea to have travel insurance. Seven Corners and Safety Wing have plans that cover COVID19 related medical expenses.