Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure you could use a Caribbean vacation right now. After a uniquely challenging year and with winter upon us, an island getaway is something we all crave. But before you pull out your suitcase and sunscreen, know this: For now, at least, the days of the spontaneous Caribbean escape are over.
A visit now requires researching pandemic-related entry requirements pertaining to testing, quarantine and on-island protocols (each country has its own), and then planning and timing your trip accordingly. But if you’ve got Grenada in mind for your next trip, you’re in luck. I spent eight days there and returned with the scoop on making the most of your stay in the southern Caribbean paradise while abiding by pandemic protocols.
Here’s everything you need to know.
You’ll Need to Get Tested and Complete Online Paperwork
Like most of the Caribbean, Grenada has managed the spread of the coronavirus superbly, mostly by locking down quickly and conducting widespread contact tracing. Consequently, the country of 110,000 people has, to date, reported no Covid-19-related deaths and only 30+ recovered cases. Grenada is taking the virus seriously and requires visitors to do so, too. So, once you’ve decided on Grenada, you’ll need to go their website, puregrenada.com, to apply for travel authorization.
You’ll upload your passport info; complete a health questionnaire; and upload negative test results of a PCR test taken within three days of your arrival. (Note that you can begin the application at any time in advance of your trip, save it, and then upload your test results when you have them, until 24 hours before your flight.) Officials review your documents and, if approved, you’ll have your travel authorization within a day.
A word to the wise: Make sure you print your travel authorization and copy of your negative test results. You’ll need to show them both at your departing airport and when you land at GND.
You’ll Need to Choose—and Pay For—Your Hotel in Advance
When you apply for travel authorization, you’ll also need to upload proof of a paid reservation at a hotel or guest house. The hotel you choose must be “Pure Safe Travel approved,” a government designation given to hotels where staff have received training in COVID protocols. (You’ll find a list of more than 60 of them on the island’s website, so you can browse before you book.) And since the hotel already has all your payment info, this also ensures your check-in will be contactless. Why the five-night minimum hotel stay? That’s because Grenada also has a mandatory four-night quarantine.
You’ll Have to Quarantine
Regardless of where in the world you fly in from, you’re required to complete a four-night quarantine at your hotel. Although specifics may vary depending on the size of the hotel, its location, amenities and occupancy, in general you must stay in your room, with room service at mealtimes. Some resorts, such as Silversands (one of the places I stayed) may allow dining in the restaurant and use of the gym, but only by advance reservation. And wherever you stay, the beach (public property throughout the island) is strictly off-limits!
On the fourth day—at no charge to you—nurses come to your hotel to administer a nasal and oral swab PCR test. Results are returned in one to two days, which means that you could be quarantining for up to six days in total. So, choose your hotel carefully; this is one instance where your room—and not just a beachfront location—is really important.
You’ll Have to Wear a Mask
Face coverings are required in public spaces here, so once you complete quarantine you’ll need to wear one to move around the island. A good rule of thumb: If you’re not on the beach or in your room, you should be wearing a face mask. My advice: Bring plenty of them (and a supply of hand sanitizer and wipes) with you.
You’ll Have Plenty to Do
Even though it’s only 133 square-miles, Grenada punches well above its weight class in terms of attractions and things to do. A volcanic island with fertile soil, its known as the Spice Island, and apart from being the world’s second-largest supplier of nutmeg, is also famous for its world-class cocoa, chocolate and rum. (Apparently “grog” is a colonial-era acronym for “great rum of Grenada.” Who knew?!) Don’t leave without touring any of the five cocoa estates and rum distilleries here.
Grand Etang Nature Reserve is a verdant rainforest with a volcanic crater lake, troops of Mona monkeys and a bounty of tropical plants and birds. And there are more than 50 beaches and 16 waterfalls to explore. All these activities are on the island’s Pure Safe Travel list of approved attractions, also on puregrenada.com. When you visit them, expect to wear a mask; to have your temperature checked and hands sanitized on arrival; and to be asked for your contact details for tracing purposes—no exceptions!
You’ll Want to Stay Longer
In my book, five nights in the Caribbean has never been enough. And with Grenada’s four-night quarantine requirement, it certainly isn’t now! In the unlikely event that the results of your COVID test on day four take (the expected maximum) two days to come back, that means you’ll have spent six days in your room without seeing the island.
So, take my advice and book a 10-day trip. The good news is that several island hotels—including Mount Cinnamon, where I also stayed—are offering discounts and perks for longer stays. And what better way to spend all the unused vacation time you’ve earned this year?