How to Plan a Trip to the Virgin Islands When COVID Restrictions Continue to Change [Updated]

Since the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) is a U.S. territory, it was a popular holiday destination during the pandemic as travel rules were less restrictive than international travel . Some locations continued to require mainland visitors to stay in an approved quarantine hotel or villa, or required regular testing . But with vaccinations and ever-changing CDC guidelines, vacation planning can be tricky, so here are some tips on how to plan your USVI vacation from the mainland.

Start planning your island vacation two months in advance

Restaurants and excursions are booked days (sometimes weeks) in advance, so last-minute adventures are often not possible. Popular Oceana Restaurant and Bistro may receive rave reviews , for example, but visitors and staff strongly recommend that you book in advance. On a recent trip, the famous restaurant was booked for weekends starting that Thursday.

The islands also host sunset cocktail cruises and snorkeling trips, but they all fill up quickly. There is no need to over-schedule your days, but try to book hot ticket activities a couple of weeks before your trip to the island.

Things like car rentals are also quickly booked, and while the rental option may still be open, prices are going up. I bought my plane tickets in advance, but I was in no rush to rent a car, leaving me $ 100 a day. Instead, plan your flight booking and car rental at the same time if you are planning on renting.

In terms of flights, you can expect round-trip travel between $ 245 and $ 489 direct, with cheaper tickets just under $ 200 if you’re comfortable with a connection. A 2021 Qtrip Airfare Study found that the best time to buy is around 64 days before your travel date to get the best deals, so plan to buy your tickets about two months in advance.

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Because It’s Still Needed

The USVI requires every traveler, fully vaccinated or not, to test negative for COVID-19 no more than five days prior to arrival. Acceptable tests include PCR, antigen, and positive antibody test (rapid test is permitted for both antigen and antibody tests). In the US, the number of tests has dropped significantly and processing times are usually shorter , but it can still take 24 to 48 hours to get results, so plan accordingly – you will need to upload your results to the USVI travel portal . Although it was not necessary, I brought a photocopy of the vaccination card.

How to use the USVI travel portal

You will want your test results to be validated before you go on your trip. If you test negative for COVID-19, go to the USVI Travel Portal and review the instructions. You will be asked to provide travel dates, flight and seat numbers, and information about your stay. They will ask the usual COVID-19 safety questions and then ask you to upload negative COVID-19 results. Most of the results are sent digitally, but if you receive a paper copy, take a photo or scan it.

After submitting the form, you will receive a confirmation email. Within one to two days, you will receive a notification that you are allowed to arrive. The portal sends you a green QR code that will be at hand when you get off the plane. You will need this permission to enter the island, so make sure you have it before even taking off.

Updated {Jun 9, 2021} {10:47}: This post has been edited to correct information about valid COVID-19 tests for travel to the US Virgin Islands and the need to allow the travel portal to enter.

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