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As we move into August and the scorching summer heat, a beach vacation sounds irresistible. Many Caribbean islands and parts of Mexico are opening their doors to American tourists this summer, but with safety regulations and protocols in place.

All of the islands have a few more entry forms you’ll need to fill out, they will take your temperature at the airport, and they require masks to be worn at all times in the airports and on all flights. Like the rest of the world, masks, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing are always encouraged but each destination also has its own twist on their coronavirus safety efforts. Here’s what you need to know about traveling to the beach this summer {and please keep in mind that this information is accurate as of July 20th and may evolve over the coming weeks}:


Cancun & Riviera Maya, Mexico

over water bungalows on punta maroma mexico
[Photo credit: Ann Petronio, Annie’s Escapes]

Getting There

The requirements for flying into Cancun are pretty minimal. Currently, there are no restrictions on air travel to Mexico from the U.S. However, when you arrive you’ll need to complete a COVID-19 risk questionnaire. All travelers must undergo thermal screening, and if you exhibit symptoms upon arrival you’ll have to go through further screening and a potential quarantine. When you depart you will have to upload a second COVID-19 questionnaire. This can be tricky with the Cancun airport wifi so it’s best to complete it before leaving your resort.

On Vacation

Once you’ve landed you’ll find that business openings are dependent upon strict sanitary protocols, social distancing, and hygienic guidelines. Bars, casinos, and nightclubs remain closed but hotels, resorts, and restaurants that have received the Clean & Safe Check certification can open at 30% occupancy to facilitate social distancing. Staff will always be wearing masks and gloves, and depending on the resort you may be asked to do a temperature check at check-in. Many hotels also have a new app that allows guests to scan a QR code to see the restaurant menu on their phones to limit contact. The most notable differences in your Cancun or Riviera Maya experience will be having no buffets, lots of cleaning, and social distancing markers.

two shots of tequila and cribbage on vacation in Mexico
[Photo credit: Paige Van Norstrand via Annie’s Escapes]

In general, masks are required in all public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. However, masks are not required in private areas like your hotel rooms and on the beach. The public beaches in the area are currently closed but resort beaches are open to their guests so you can still get plenty of sun and sand. If you’re looking for something more active, many water sports and private tours are still operating. Xcaret, Xel Ha, and Xplor are all open with limited capacity and required reservations.

The biggest focus in Quintana Roo is social distancing, so it’s still fairly easy to enjoy the warm sea and soft sand of these exquisite beaches as long as you’re far enough away from fellow guests.

ANTIGUA

stunning areal of the bay in antigua
[Photo credit: Rick Jamison via Unsplash]

Getting There

Antigua’s focus on the safety of locals and tourists means they are requiring everyone who enters to be tested for COVID-19. Knowing that your fellow travelers tested negative certainly offers greater peace-of-mind while relaxing on the beach.

Travelers heading to Antigua must upload a negative COVID-19 test certificate taken within a week before their arrival date. Every incoming traveler must be tested for COVID-19. So if they do not have a recent negative test certificate, it will cost around $100 to be tested upon arrival. Tests administered at the airport will take about 15 minutes to complete and results will be available within 48 hours (during which time you will have to quarantine at your resort).

Before traveling you must fill out traveler registration and traveler accommodation forms. Upon arrival, besides the regular immigration form, you will have to fill out a health declaration with coronavirus risk-related questions. When leaving the airport for your resort, you must use authorized certified ground transportation to help increase the effectiveness of contact tracing.

three beach chairs in antigua
[Photo credit: Danielle Acampora via Annie’s Escapes]

On Vacation

Antigua is taking the safety of locals and visitors very seriously so they can provide a safe environment for your vacation. There is strict mask enforcement in public locations throughout the island. Failure to wear a mask in public places and those places where social distancing is not possible can result in a fine up to $5,000 or 6 months in jail. Washing or sanitizing your hands before entering a new location such as a restaurant, grocery store, or hotel is also strictly enforced.

However, face masks are not required on the beaches when social distance can be maintained. While vendors and other staff will be wearing face masks and gloves at all times, beachgoers can enjoy the ocean unencumbered. All the beaches will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and there is a general mobility curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Guests are asked to, generally, stay inside their resort property and participate only in activities arranged by their resort. However, dependent on their negative test results, arrangements can be made to rent a car through the hotel.  

JAMAICA

Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort, Montego Bay, Jamaica
[Photo credit: Ann Petronio, Annie’s Escapes]

Getting There

All travelers to Jamaica must complete a Travel Authorization Screening within 5 days of their arrival date and present the result at the airport. The response is usually generated within 10 minutes after submitting the form. You will not be granted permission to travel if the COVID-19 risk is considered too great. On arrival, if you are considered high risk or exhibit symptoms, they may ask you to take a COVID-19 test and place you in quarantine until the results are available (usually within 48 hours).

Travelers from New York, Florida, Arizona, and Texas are considered high-risk and must have a negative COVID-19 test result from an accredited laboratory taken within 10 days of their arrival date before being allowed to board the flight.

enjoy a glass of champagne overlooking the resort pool and ocean with palm trees in Jamaica
[Photo Credit: Anne Marie McLaughlin via Annie’s Escapes]

On Vacation

Jamaica is asking that you remain within your resort bubble and comply with the face mask and social distancing requirements. They have created a “resilient corridor” on the north coast to manage the movement of tourists. Resorts and hotels in this corridor may only open after receiving a COVID-19 readiness certificate so you know they are following the 120-page hospitality guide. The hospitality guidelines include sanitation and temperature checks upon arrival, luggage sanitization, face masks and PPE for employees.

As long as social distance can be observed, masks are not required on Jamaica’s beaches. To help facilitate this, beaches will be restricted to 70% capacity with designated entrances. Like Antigua, there is a general mobility curfew on the whole island from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. but that shouldn’t affect your beach vacation too much.

ARUBA

ocean sunset with sailboat in Aruba
[Photo credit: Helen Pereira via Annie’s Escapes]

Getting There

Aruba has four main requirements for entry. Basic travel information, Personal Health Assessment, negative PCR test, and insurance. All of the forms and information are consolidated onto a digital ED card. Aside from the usual basic information, passengers must fill out a Personal Health Assessment with COVID-19 risk-related questions between 72 and 4 hours before boarding.

Residents from 20 high-risk states [AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, GA, ID, IA, KS, LA, MS, NV, NC, OH, OK, OR, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WI, WY] must upload proof of a negative test result from an accredited laboratory taken between 12 and 72 hours before flying. Other states’ residents have the option of uploading the test or having one taken at the airport in Oranjestad for $75. If the test is taken at the airport then travelers are required to quarantine at their booked accommodation (remaining in their room and avoiding all contact with others) for 24 hours while awaiting results.

Finally, all travelers must purchase mandatory Aruba Visitors Insurance which costs around $15 per person per day and covers up to $75,000 in expenses should they test positive during their stay.

private beach umbrellas under the palm trees in aruba
[Photo credit: Paulo Evangelista via Unsplash]

On Vacation

The requirements to enter Aruba are greater than some of the other islands, but once there you can feel secure knowing everyone there has had a negative test result and you can relax at your resort. Like the other islands, hotels in Aruba are following protocols for extra cleaning, luggage sanitization, elevator safety, and contactless check-ins. Though social distancing and masks are not mandatory outside the airport, they are heavily encouraged in all public spaces.

ST LUCIA

couple enjoying their plunge pool in St. Lucia
[Photo credit: Nicole Fiero via Annie’s Escapes]

Getting There

Visitors to St. Lucia must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the past 7 days. They will also have to complete a travel registration form. At the airport, each passenger will be screened and their temperature will be taken. Anyone showing symptoms will be tested and quarantined at their expense. Travelers must also show confirmations for their stay at a COVID-19 certified accommodation before boarding the plane.

the ocean view from a beach-side cabana in St. Lucia
[Photo credit: Sara O’Brien via Annie’s Escapes]

On Vacation

To protect the locals and minimize risk, St. Lucia is restricting guests to an approved list of resorts that are cooperating with strict COVID-19 protocols, and is not allowing multi-resort stays (you have to remain at one property for the duration of your vacation). Throughout the properties, there will be sanitization stations and they have implemented strict cleaning protocols.

St. Lucia asks that you not explore the island on your own, but a small number of tours will be available through the resorts. Masks are required in public spaces and hotels are implementing limited contact check-in and check-out protocols. Additionally, hotels are required to check guests’ temperatures at each meal-time. As with the other islands, masks are not required on the beach as long as social distance is maintained.


Although a relaxing island vacation will require a few more steps than usual this summer, most of the Caribbean has seen low coronavirus numbers. That combined with their commitment to sanitization and testing should give you great peace-of-mind as you head to the beach. Fantastic resorts and all-inclusives usually mean you don’t want to leave your resort anyway. So, if you’re excited by the idea of soaking in the sun and enjoying the waves let us know and we can help you navigate the new rules and regulations for wherever you want to go!