Tag: bahamas

Bahamas closed to Americans? Not exactly…

Oh Mondays, you’ve been so much more fun this year. And by fun, I mean keeping me on my toes more than I’d asked.

On July 20, the Bahamas announced they were limiting international travel due to localized outbreaks:

International commercial flights and commercial vessels carrying passengers will not be permitted to enter our borders, except for commercial flights from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. This will come into effect as of Wednesday the 22nd of July 2020 at midnight. Private International flights and charters for Bahamians, residents and visitors will be permitted. Pleasure craft and yachts will also be permitted.

Bahamas Tourism Website

This announcement specifies the closure applies to commercial airlines and vessels, private charters and flights will still be allowed.

Keep calm. It’s still on.

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Doing what we can

We’re back! Well, as much as we can be at the moment anyway. Juliet resumed limited charters on June 6 to the Florida Keys, and it was nice to be back out on the water again. The following three charters followed suit with small groups, limited crew, and more Florida Keys – thank goodness the weather was gorgeous, we never get that lucky on regularly-scheduled Keys charters! We thought we might be able to squeak out a trip to the Bahamas when they announced their soft opening June 15, but the testing requirements were logistically not feasible in the time frame we were given. And we were hoping that their official reopening on July 1 would yield an easier window…

But the official word from the Bahamas is that the borders are open and they are excited to welcome tourists again, but until further notice, they will be requiring negative COVID tests to enter the country. All travelers are required to have a negative COVID-19 PCR swab test taken within 10 days of travel, and results digitally submitted to the Ministry of Health to obtain a travel visa. We had our first successful Bahamas entry on July 5 so we can attest that it is doable, and it is so good to be back.

Logically you might question that timeline – so the test was negative on day 7, but what if you then are exposed 5 days out, what then? No, it’s not perfect, far from it. But it is the best the Bahamas can do right now to try to jump start their tourism-reliant economy while trying to protect their citizens from folks coming from areas that have wide-spread COVID-19 community transmission. It is more of a hurdle than a fail-safe, discouraging an unrestricted mass-exodus from the nearby states in the US. If someone does come down with a serious case of COVID-19 while in the Bahamas or transmits it to someone who lives there… their medical system cannot handle a major outbreak. If you’re feeling symptomatic, do not travel.

Yes, we all need a break, but not at the expense of Bahamian citizens’ health and well-being. And even though we as a group on Juliet do not touch land, the captain does, and the captain interacts with all passengers and crew before doing so. So this testing requirement does include us. If you are booked with us on a trip this summer, assume that this testing procedure will be our New Normal until told otherwise. Look into how and where you can get tested, what the turn-around time is for results, and plan accordingly. You will receive detailed information 2 weeks prior to your trip’s departure. If this process is not feasible for you, please reach out to the office and we’ll chat about options.

There may be weeks this summer that we are scheduled to head to the Bahamas and cannot due to local testing procedures, results taking longer in some parts of the country, or some counties not allowing asymptomatic testing to prevent a drain on local resources. Those weeks we might get rerouted to the Keys again. We’ll do our best to get you away, wherever that may be. We’re being as flexible as we can, and we appreciate your patience while we navigate this new ocean. And of course, this is all subject to change – thanks for bearing with us!

Fair winds.

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Making progress!

Signs of life are starting to return to the streets and states around the country are slowly reopening their economies for business in whatever this new normal will be. We’re still on standby but here is the latest update:

Miami is beginning the reopening process with many marinas reopened May 18 along with the bulk of other non-essential businesses. Many restrictions on occupancy are still in place, including limiting charter boats to 10 total individuals on board, and our dockage location is not yet open to commercial operations. Also, according to the emergency order categorization we believe we fall under hotel and travel lodging, which have not yet been allowed to reopen but is anticipated for June 1.

The Florida Keys announced they will be reopening to tourism on June 1. If this lines up with hotel also reopening in Miami-Dade, we could be on track for restarting charters in some capacity in early June with the Florida Keys as the destination to start.

As Bimini went into full lock-down for 2 weeks over recent unexpected spreading of Covid-19, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas announced over the weekend that the country anticipates they could reopen for commercial travel on or before July 1. It is still unclear what that means for commercial boating as flights were the only thing mentioned in the address. We hope to be able to return to the beauty of the Bahamas by late June, early July.

In the next few days we’ll be reassessing what traveling on Juliet will look like as we reopen. Not too much will change – our sanitation protocols were already in line with CDC guidance – but some things will as we adjust to abide by local and federal requirements to open our doors and remain in operation. We ask for your help and thank you in advance for keeping us compliant if you are coming on board this summer.

Thanks to everyone for the kind words, encouragement, and overall understand and compassion these past few months. This virus might be terrible and confusing, but it has shone a light on the good that is in the world through all of your kindnesses.

Fair winds.

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What the best time of year to go to the Bahamas?

Bahamas, turtles, loggerhead, dive with turtlesThis is a question we get a lot! And the answer is “Any time!”because the Bahamas are such an amazing group of islands. However, if you’re asking from a scuba liveaboard perspective, let me be a little more specific.

We run trips to the Bahamas from Miami April through November, and that’s very much by design. Winter weather in the Bahamas, while warmer than most places in the US, can be a bit unpredictable. That’s not a big deal if you’re flying over and staying on one of the Bahamas’ 300+ islands, but it is a big deal if you have to get there and back by boat. The spring, summer, and fall months allow for a more comfortable ride.

April is a wonderful sailing month and the spring diving is really interesting for the hard-core critter watcher! Florida sees shark migrations up and down their coast regularly in March and April – and the Bahamas is not much different. Our most diverse shark sightings happen this time of year. You’re most likely to see hammerhead sharks, Bull sharks out on the reefs, and once we even spotted a Sawfish! The water temps are cooler than you think (73-75) which is what the sharks like, so bring a 3mm wetsuit for sure.

May is a big month for fish and coral spawning as water temps start to rise. If you’re a dive geek like us, plan a trip around the full moon in May and you might catch a glimpse of sponge spawning during the day and if you’re really lucky maybe the corals will put on a show at night! Mutton snapper and other species of snapper get frisky this time of year as well, so expect some bigger fish on your dives in May.

flat seas, bahamas diving, gun cay, island explorationJune is when the weather starts to settle – and by settle we mean flat flat flat! The breeze turns to the Southeast, drops to about 5-10 knots from spring’s East 10-15 tradewinds and things warm up really quick! Water temps are hovering right below 80F, air temps are 80-85, and this is when we do our own weekly migration down to the good stuff. Orange Cay and farther south are only accessible in calm weather and June is the best time of year to reliably head south.

July is downright toasty, and the weather even more settled.  However, we are deep into hurricane season at this point so while the weather is gorgeous and calm and we take advantage of every minute we can of our glassy summer waters, there’s always a risk. All trips from June to October we strongly recommend the purchase of travel insurance; you never know when Mother Nature will spin up a storm!

August brings us similar conditions to July, but the night sky is where the excitement happens. The Perseid meteor shower happens for almost 2 full weeks in the middle of August and there is no better place to watch a meteor shower than from a boat, far from all the light pollution of land. Diving during the day, epic star gazing at night – sign me up!

September and October are probably our favorite months to be in the Bahamas. The weather is still calm but starting to cool off from the inferno of July and August and the water temps are no-wetsuit-required warm at 83-85F! The best part is there isn’t a boat to be seen. Its fall, the kids are back in school, and the tourists are gone – it feels like we have the whole ocean to ourselves.

In November we’re back to the easterly tradewinds, great sailing weather, but still warm water temps. We offer some of our longer trips this month to get some more sailing in, and allow for trips to not run into Thanksgiving without cutting anything short. Join us for a 10-day trip just before Thanksgiving, there’s no better way to prepare for the holidays.

Our Bahamas have something for everyone, so pick your month and come diving with us!

Fair winds and Following Seas, Friends

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Trip from the Bahamas to the Turks and Caicos

Juliet crew and passengers arrived safe and sound with many new experiences under their belts in the Turks and Caicos last week. They departed Miami 10 days before to begin with a seemingly routine trip to the Bahamas, but this time, they just kept going…

[image size=”one-third” title=”Brain coral dive” alt=”coral reef dive bahamas” align=”left” fancy=”false” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/coral-dive.jpg[/image] After hitting up the usual spots in Bimini – the loggerhead turtles of the Hesperus and the jam-packed Strip – they headed to Nassau to dive some more famous wrecks, like the Bond wrecks which were featured in “Thunderball” and “Never Say Never Again.” The weather was perfect and they were sad to leave, but knew that even more incredible diving was just ahead.

From there Juliet continued south, and after a brief stop at the Nassau Blue Hole and cut through Highborne Channel to dive the walls on the east side of the Exumas. A quick jaunt across to Eleuthra for a dive at Jake’s Blue Hole with its intricate and unexplored cave system in the middle of a lush and beautiful coral garden!

A day of diving at Conception Island followed, which never disappoints. This uninhabited island is a Bahamian National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, and is only dove by a few boats a year. The dramatic walls are healthy and untouched. From there the diving would only get better as they very very slowly made their way to Hogsty Reef.

[image size=”one-half” caption=”Hogsty reef bahamas” title=”hogsty reef bahamas diving” align=”right” fancy=”false” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/hogsty-bahamas.jpg[/image] Hogsty Reef is a Caribbean anomaly. Its one of only three true atolls that can be found in the western hemisphere. An atoll is a lagoon island, or a ring-shaped reef in this case, that rises from 6,000 feet to break the surface of the ocean – in the middle of nowhere! It’s thought that atolls are formed from extinct volcanoes which created a seamount and then subsided over time to leave only the atoll in its place. To find remnants of a volcano in the very unvolcanic Bahamas is to say the least strange. Hogsty is home to many wrecks as you might imagine, two plainly visible on the surface and one in about 25′ of water.

The diving at Hogsty was the highlight of the trip. Covered with beautiful corals and sponges, the walls surrounding the atoll made a perfect backdrop for wide-angle photography and our underwater camera gurus on board were thoroughly impressed. The crew and passengers of Juliet were floored by the diving here, and chose to stay for two night dives. Two of the divers – who were celebrating their honeymoon on board – were lucky enough to have a close encounter with a Hammerhead shark! Not your typical honeymoon!

[image size=”one-third” title=”Hawksbill” alt=”diving turtle turks and caicos” align=”left” fancy=”false” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/turks-caicos-turtle.jpg[/image]Reluctantly departing from Hogsty, Juliet headed to its final destination at the Turks and Caicos Islands. Everyone loved diving the Driveway, and were so jazzed about the walls elected to do a pre-breakfast dawn dive to watch the underwater world wake up.

After ten days at sea, over 25 dives, eight islands, three countries, 500 miles, and an incredible adventure, the passenger parted ways at Providenciales and the crew has taken Juliet over to Puerto Rico for another rare and amazing experience – diving Mona Island! Stay tuned for more vicarious diving…!

Fair Winds and Calm Seas,

Juliet

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Juliet is on her way to the Virgin Islands

After a beautiful season in the Bahamas and Florida Keys, Juliet is on her way south for the winter. This afternoon she’ll head out of Miami to her normal stomping grounds of the Bahamas, but will travel farther south, hitting up new spots along the way. Past cruises have taken divers to the Berry Islands, Nassau, Exumas, Conception Island, Hogsty Reef, Cay Lobos Lighthouse, and Great Inagua to visit with the Flamingos at the Salt farm.

After a quick stop in Turks and Caicos, we’ll run a trip out of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico out to Mona Islands, Monito, and Desecheo off the west coast of Puerto Rico. Then on to the Virgin Islands for January!

Stay tuned for warm, tropical updates from the Caribbean!

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