Visiting Jamaica is possible once again. International travel has begun to return, and Jamaica is ready for the influx of tourism. While most offerings are back in this beautiful country, there are some pre-travel forms you must complete and mandates you must abide by when you arrive. Grab your passport and prepare for a COVID-19 test, it is time to visit Jamaica — the Heartbeat of the World.
Recently, we were invited out by Visit Jamaica and Frontier Airlines to be on the inaugural flight from Orlando International Airport in Florida to the Sangster International Airport in Jamaica. Before we could enjoy the country, the culture, the beaches and food, we needed to do a few things first.
Get a negative COVID-19 test
You will need to get a negative COVID-19 test less than 72 hours before your flight to the country. In our experience, in the United States, that is most easily done at a Walgreens Drive-Thru Pharmacy. Americans can receive a free test, and get results back usually within a few hours. You can get a Diagnostic Lab Test (PCR) or a Rapid Diagnostic Test (ID NOW). The Rapid Antigen Test (BinaxNOW) is not usually accepted overseas, and isn’t accepted to visit the state of Hawaii (even if you are already in the U.S.).
We have had great success with the Rapid Diagnostic Test (ID NOW) and usually get our results back in just a few hours. At Walgreens, you will go through the pharmacy drive-thru. Here, the pharmacist will watch you place the test swab in your nose about one inch up. You will then swirl the swab in each nostril five times. The test results will be emailed to you, and the pharmacist makes sure your address, name and email are correct before you leave.
Get an approved Jamaica Travel Authorization Form
You will need to apply for a Jamaica Travel Authorization Form when visiting Jamaica. The form can take a little while to complete, but it is fairly simple. You will need your passport, and basic information on your hotel. If you select one of the pre-filled in hotel options, it will take care of the address and additional information for you. This form is very important when visiting the country and we were asked to present the form numerous times at the airport.
While the travel form and the negative COVID-19 test are given to you digitally, it is highly recommended that you print both items out and keep them handy.
Bring a mask and follow the rules
You will notice when visiting Jamaica that the country treats COVID-19 protocols seriously, moreso than many places in the United States. The most notable was the use of hand sanitizer, which is required to enter any dining space, even in areas that aren’t tourist-y. Face masks, in our experience, were only required in enclosed indoor spaces. At beaches, outdoor walkways, and even some open-air covered spaces, it appeared that mask usage was arbitrary. Make sure to keep your mask near you, as you will need it to ride in taxis, go into enclosed indoor spaces, and in some crowded spots.
But overall, masks were not hard to use. There was not a specific mask type that wasn’t allowed. Neck gaiters and masks with vents were allowed, unlike the protocols that are still enforced indoors at Walt Disney World.
Returning back to your home country
To return to most countries around the world, you will need to have recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months or test negative for COVID-19. This FAQ page is very helpful for locating hotels that offer testing on-site (like ours, the Hyatt Zilara), and other testing areas around the country. Scroll down and you will see a long list of updated FAQs about best practices for entering and leaving the country of Jamaica.
If testing is not a part of the vacation package, travelers can expect to pay $60 to $100 for Antigen tests or $150 to $230 for PCR tests. Both test forms are acceptable under the current U.S. Order.
Booking a flight to Jamaica
Numerous airlines now offer flights to Jamaica, but our trip was on the inaugural flight from Orlando to Jamaica with Frontier Airlines. They now offer a nonstop flight numerous times a week. On average, the pricing is around $100 each way. There are three airports in Jamaica: Norman Manley International Airport, Sangster International Airport and Ian Fleming International Airport. We flew into Sangster International Airport as we were exploring Montego Bay on our trip.
We hope these tips and links help you make the most out of visiting Jamaica. As mentioned in the video above, this country was hit hard during the pandemic, as their economy is heavily based on tourism. If you feel comfortable and able to do so, now is an excellent time to visit. In one trip you can avoid the cold, explore a new country, meet its people, learn its culture, taste its food, make memories and go on an adventure.