Tips And Information For Traveling To Jamaica During COVID
It’s that time of year again and we are all looking for ways to get out and enjoy our summer. Especially after this past year, getting out of the house for your health and well-being is important. You can read my post on wellness travel and the benefits it has for you.
If you’re one of those antsy travelers looking for a getaway, you’re probably thinking about the Caribbean. The warm, beautiful weather and beaches are a wonderful way to spend your vacation. A lot of people gravitate towards the Caribbean islands, even more so during the summer.
Has Jamaica crossed your mind? If so, then you’ve picked an amazing little island to visit! Home to Bob Marley, Reggae, and stunning wildlife, you won’t be disappointed.
However, traveling internationally during the COVID 19 pandemic is a bit tricky. There’s extra things you have to do and know prior to taking your trip. Coupled with the changing status of tourism travel to certain countries, it’s hard to plan a decent vacation.
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! If you’ve decided to travel to Jamaica during this pandemic, then you’ll want to save these tips and general information on visiting Jamaica in 2021.
Check the CDC & WHO
At the time of my trip to Jamaica (May 13th, 2021 to May 16th, 2021), there was an advisory to NOT TRAVEL TO JAMAICA. However, that’s changed since then. Now, travelers should “reconsider” traveling to Jamaica. Either way, there was no ban or anything stopping tourists from entering the country despite the warnings.
Everyone’s situation is different, so be sure to consider your situation and whether it’s right for you to travel during the pandemic.
Travel Documents Needed
If you decide to go to Jamaica, then you’ll need to do a few things before your departure.
First, you’ll need to get a negative COVID test 3 days before your departure. This can be a molecular (PCR, NAA, RNA) or an Antigen test. You can find more information on pre-departure documents at this website here.
Second, you’ll need to get a travel authorization 7 days before your departure. You can go to visitjamaica.com/travelauthorization/ to complete your document. This should take you 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the information you fill in. Once the authorization is complete, it should take you a couple of second to a few minutes to receive the results.
When you’re filling out your travel authorization, and arranging your accommodations and activities, be sure to pick areas that are within the resilient corridor. The website listed above will give you more information on the resilient corridor and overall help for planning your trip.
Show Your Travel Documents At The Airport
Now, if you’ve read the previous point, you’ll know that you need a negative COVID test and a travel authorization to travel to Jamaica (which you can find here). But prior to the pandemic, you didn’t need any travel documents to enter Jamaica (travelers from the USA didn’t need any documents).
Since that’s change, be sure to get to the airport early to check yourself in and show your documents to the check-in staff. If you don’t, this will delay the process of check-in and you run the risk of not making it to Jamaica.
Just a side note, you can’t check in at the airport kiosk for Jamaica. Again, prior to COVID, you could check-in on your own. But since you have to show the staff your travel documents, you can’t check in ahead of time on the kiosk.
Get Flexible Or Refundable Purchases
The world is still in the midst of a pandemic, meaning that travel can come to a halt at any given time. Whether it’s the Jamaican government’s call or your own country’s call, make sure everything you book is flexible or can be refunded. That way, you’re covered and won’t lose out on money if Jamaica, your country, or the world decided to go into another lockdown.
Stay Within The “Resilient Corridor”
If you’re a tourist visiting Jamaica during the pandemic, then the Jamaican government wants you to stay within the resilient corridor.
What’s the resilient corridor, you may ask? The resilient corridor is government approved locations, resorts, activities, and transportation in designated areas of Jamaica. Typically, they’re tourist areas of Jamaica. The resilient corridor runs from Negril on the north coast to Port Antonio, and from Negril to Milk Bay on the southern coast. Kingston and Portmore, and the surrounding areas, are off limits to tourists.
The corridor is in place to allow tourists into the country, and have them stay in the tourist areas, without venturing to local parts of Jamaica. The objective is to lessen the spread of COVID-19 from the tourists to the local population.
If you do not stay within the resilient corridor, then you must quarantine for 14 days at your residence before traveling about in the community.
Use Carry-On Luggage Only
This tip comes from my personal experience from my trip to Jamaica. You can read more about it here. Since the reopening of travel during the pandemic, it seems as though flights have been more overbooked than before. If that happens, passengers who only have carry-on items will have to check that bag in because there won’t be enough space in the overhead bins.
If that happens, there’s a risk that they may not load your “checked-on” carry-on luggage onto the plan. If the plan’s storage compartment is already at capacity, they’ll have to send your bags on another flight to your destination. To avoid something like this happening to you (because it happened to me), just fly with carry-on luggage only and hope the staff don’t force you to check it in.
I know some people need more baggage when traveling and that’s fine. However, if you want to avoid any potential delayed or lost luggage, only take a carry-on with you.
Tourist Areas Accept USD
The tourist areas in Jamaica do accept American dollars, and quite frankly, they prefer the American dollars over their Jamaican dollars.
Yes, the currency in Jamaica is Jamaican dollars. However, they know that a lot of tourists who come to Jamaica will more often have American dollars on them. They prefer USD because of its value. When locals give you the total amount for things, 99.9% of the time it’s in American dollars. But you can always tell them to give you the total amount in Jamaican dollars, if you have it.
You can change your country’s currency for Jamaica or American dollars as the tourist areas accept both. But I’d recommend using Jamaican dollars to help out the local economy.
Try the Jamaican food
When you’re in Jamaica, you have to try the local food! Jerk chicken is a must, of course, but also ackee, oxtails, curry chicken or goat, the list goes on.
I’ll be honest, some of the meals don’t look very appetizing. However, if you step out of your comfort zone and give it a try, you’ll find that the food is amazing!
Due to the pandemic, the government has issued a curfew for Jamaica. Monday to Friday, curfew starts at 8pm and no one is allowed on the streets until the next morning. On Saturdays, curfew starts at 6pm and lasts until the morning. Finally, on Sundays, curfew starts at 2pm and goes until the following morning. Curfew ends around 6am to 8am.
So, if you have any activities or excursions planned, be sure to have them scheduled around the curfew start time. The last thing you’d want to do is get into trouble with law enforcement in a foreign country.
Locals Speak Patois or Jamaican Creole
The locals in Jamaica speak Patois or Jamaican Creole. Patois is an English based creole with West African influences. Although the official language of Jamaica is English, and they do speak English, they also speak Patois.
Jamaican Creole has its own words, spellings, pronunciations, and sentence structure. I’d recommend familiarizing yourself with some basic words and phrases in Patois. That way, if you encounter a local who speaks Patois, you’ll have an easier time understanding them.
If you’re staying in a touristy area, don’t be surprised by the overwhelming number of shops and people who’ll tempt you to go inside. There’s a lot of stores with cool articles of clothing and souvenirs representing Jamaica.
However, you may find that the people can be a bit aggressive with their tactics of luring tourists into shops. Even though that’s how the locals make their living, just be aware that a lot of people will ask you to go into their shops. It can be annoying and overwhelming, so just prepare yourself.
Locals Are Very Friendly
You’ll find that the locals in Jamaica are very friendly and welcoming. If you need any help, tips, or just looking for some good conversation, Jamaicans won’t disappoint you. They’re super helpful and friendly, so you’ll definitely have the best of times getting to know them!
COVID Test For Return Flight
Finally, prior to leaving Jamaica, double check the guidelines for your country to see if you need to present a negative COVID test for departure. I can only speak for the USA as I’m from here, so if you’re returning to the USA from Jamaica you need a negative COVID test.
The COVID test can be the rapid test. As the other method takes quite a while to for the results to come in, I recommend the rapid test where you receive your results within minutes. This type of test is ok to use at the airport for your return flight.
If you need to get a test, visitjamaica.com/travelauthorization/ has a list of resorts, hotels, and other sites where you can get a test. Some resorts and hotels offer free COVID tests to those who are staying on the property.
If you are traveling to Jamaica during the pandemic, be safe and have fun!