For travelers lucky enough to gain approval for entry into Grand Cayman, the arrival experience will look vastly different from seasons past. Mandatory travel approval, mask mandates, COVID testing, and a 14-day home isolation period are some of the new realities travelers must adjust to.
The good news, however, is that Grand Cayman and its sister islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, boast no local transmission of COVID-19. All new cases are confined to recent travelers in home isolation.
Once you get through the inconvenience of quarantine, it will feel fantastic to be in an environment free of masks and social distancing, once again enjoying life on a beautiful island leaving the pandemic worries behind.
This blog will cover some pre-arrival planning tips to keep in mind, as well as what to expect when you land on Grand Cayman.
Pre-Arrival Planning: Villa or Condo?
Cayman’s quarantine protocol requires that you stay within the perimeter of your quarantine residence. That means travelers staying in condos are strictly confined to the four walls of their unit. The only outdoors you’ll be free to enjoy is from your condo’s balcony. Quarantining with your pets is also prohibited in condos.
Villas, by contrast, provide more freedom to move around without getting cabin fever. Not only are interiors more spacious for guests to spread out, but you also have the freedom to enjoy the perimeter of your property. While you may not go as far as the ocean, your family would be able to play games outside, sit by the pool, or take your pet out for some fresh air.
It’s also much easier to find private space for working remotely at a villa than it is at a condo.
Our villas meet the government’s criteria and qualify as an approved quarantine-at-residence accommodation for upcoming arrivals.
Applying for Travel Approval
All travelers wishing to visit Grand Cayman must be pre-approved by the Cayman Islands Government. An application must be completed on-line through Travel Cayman. There is no fee to apply.
Under the current phase of Cayman’s reopening plan, inbound travel is limited to citizens, permanent residents, work permit holders, property owners, and those travelers participating in Cayman’s Global Citizen Concierge Program.
Once approved for travel, you will be issued a “Certificate to Travel” to be used when booking your flights and presented at the airport upon check-in.
It is important to note that only two carriers, Cayman Airways, and British Airways, provide flights to Grand Cayman at this time. We recommend reserving your flight at the same time you complete your application with Travel Cayman.
From the US, Cayman Airways operates repatriation flights out of Miami, FL.
From the UK, British Airways runs limited service departing from Heathrow Airport in London.
Seats on commercial flights are limited with service currently scheduled through December 2020 and January 2021.
It is important to note, while other airlines might be showing service to Grand Cayman, they do not have permission to land. Avoid other carriers or risk losing your airfare as credit vouchers are not transferable to Cayman Airways or British Airways.
Travelers choosing to fly by private charter are required to contact the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands for landing authorization.
Remember, you will not be able to leave your villa until released from quarantine. This makes pre-stocking an essential component of your pre-arrival planning.
Once approved and prior to your day of arrival, you’ll want to schedule a local grocer to stock your villa with enough food and beverages to last you two weeks. Orders and delivery can be set up online through Hurley’s, Kirk’s Market, and Fosters, the most popular grocers on-island. A few local restaurants will deliver, as well.
For items such as baby gear, streaming devices, corn hole sets, or even a volleyball court, rely on our on-island hospitality team at Silver Thatch to coordinate delivery and set up before your arrival.
Day of Arrival on Cayman
Currently, the Cayman Islands government does not require pre-arrival COVID testing. Cayman Airways requires the wearing of masks during the entire flight from Miami, FL. If you’re a high-risk traveler, you may want to wear a face shield or N95 mask for further protection.
Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by a team of friendly Customs and Immigration officials who will guide you through quarantine procedures as shown in the video below.
Official guidance from the Cayman Islands Government on quarantine protocols can be found here.
You will spend a few moments with a Travel Team member who will give you a wrist bracelet to wear and a Samsung burner cell phone. These two items will be central to your monitoring while under quarantine. The bracelet communicates directly with an easy to use app on the supplied cell phone. You may also use the phone to contact the Travel Team should you have any questions.
After receiving your bracelet and phone, you will proceed through Customs and Immigration where your passport will be stamped. You will then be administered a PCR COVID test by a health professional.
Once swabbed you will collect your luggage and exit Customs where another member of the Travel Team will usher you to a private van for direct transport to your residence free of charge. Remember, no stops along the way are permitted, so you’ll want to have your villa pre-stocked beforehand.
You will receive the results of your PCR test via email on Day 2 of arrival. You might also receive a wellness visit at some point over the first five days of your quarantine from a Travel Team member to ensure you are following procedures and answer any questions, or allay any concerns, you may have.
On Day 13, you’ll receive information about where to take your final COVID test on Day 15 in order to be released from quarantine. You can elect to drive yourself to a nearby health facility to take your test or they can come to you.
Results will be emailed to you along with instructions as to where to return your bracelet and cell phone. If you test negative for COVID, you are released from quarantine and free to travel about the island and enjoy the island-life free from the virus.
Well Worth The Wait
The Cayman Islands Travel Team understands that quarantine can be a strange and, at times, an onerous process for all involved. It has been our personal experience that every member of the team does their absolute best to make you feel comfortable, and welcome explaining and answering your questions.
Whether it’s the first team member who greets you after getting off the plane, the gentleman explaining your bracelet and how the app works, the nurse administering your COVID test, or the ladies who field your questions if you need to call Travel Cayman, they all respond with patience, kindness and an extraordinarily high level of professionalism.
And I can’t begin to tell you how great it feels once quarantine has ended, to enjoy all the island has to offer worry-free, for the first time in months, from the threat of COVID. Celebrate by hiring a chef for a gourmet dinner party, or head out on the waves aboard a private charter to reconnect with the stingrays at the sandbar.
For all there is to do under the Cayman sun, our on-island hospitality team at Silver Thatch can help with the arrangements.