The King Fahd Causeway, a 25 kilometre (16 mile) series of bridges closed in March last year, was packed with traffic as Saudi Arabia reopened its land, sea and air borders.
The easing of rules prompted a rush of holidaymakers to exit the kingdom, following the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
“It’s a beautiful feeling after such a long absence from Bahrain,” said Mohammed, a Saudi travelling to the island nation.
The opening of borders is expected to boost Bahrain’s tourism industry, which is heavily reliant on high-rollers from its conservative neighbour, the Arab world’s biggest economy.
For decades, the causeway linking Bahrain to Saudi Arabia has served as a key artery, bringing visitors who pack out Bahrain’s nightclubs, shopping malls and hotels.
But since coronavirus slammed on the brakes, traffic was reduced to a trickle.
Bahrain’s economy will see a $2.9 billion dollar boost following the lifting of Saudi restrictions, Al-Arabiya television reported, citing a Bahraini economist.
Travellers also headed to Saudi Arabia’s airports for flights abroad.
The Saudi interior ministry has said three categories of citizens are permitted to travel.
They include those who have received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine, those administered a single dose at least 14 days prior to travel, and people who have recovered from the infection within the last six months.
Saudis under the age of 18 — an age group that is not receiving vaccines — are also allowed to travel, provided they carry an insurance policy approved by the central bank.
The policy represents an incentive for citizens, barred from travelling abroad since the pandemic began, to get vaccinated.
Saudi’s health ministry said it has administered more than 11 million coronavirus vaccine doses, in a country with a population of over 34 million.
Saudi Arabia has reported more than 433,000 coronavirus infections and over 7,000 deaths from Covid-19.
Bahrain has recorded over 199,000 cases, including over 730 deaths.
Saudi citizens are still barred from direct or indirect travel to 13 countries, including tourism hotspots Turkey, Lebanon and India due to the threat of the pandemic, the interior ministry said Sunday.