7 Places Where You Don’t Have to Worry About the Zika Virus
The rapid spread of the Zika virus has put the brakes on beach travel plans for many vacationers. Fears about contracting the mosquito-borne illness, which usually causes mild symptoms but can lead to serious birth defects in pregnant women, have caused nervous travelers to reschedule honeymoons, babymoons, and beach vacations to affected areas in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, and Pacific Islands.
Currently, the United States has no reported cases of locally transmitted Zika, which means you can lounge on American beaches worry-free — at least for now. But as many as 2 million pregnant women in the U.S. could be at risk of contracting the virus this summer, warns the Center for American Progress, when the mosquitoes that carry the virus become more common in some parts of the country.
At some point, we may all need to worry about Zika, whether we’re on vacation or not. Until then, you can protect yourself by choosing to spend your summer vacation somewhere where the Zika virus hasn’t yet been detected. Fortunately, you have no shortage of options as this list of seven stunning Zika-free beach destinations proves.
Information current as of May 27, 2016. For updated Zika travel information and tips on how to protect yourself from the virus if you are traveling to a Zika-affected area, check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
1. Coronado, Calif.
The California coast is littered with scenic beaches, but if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation, you can’t go wrong with San Diego. One of the best beaches near the popular Southern California city is in Coronado, a seaside resort town just minutes from downtown and the airport. As an added bonus, even if the Zika virus does reach the U.S., Southern California’s dry climate means the chances of the disease becoming a serious problem in the region is low, the Los Angeles Times reported.
If you go: Stay at the Hotel Del Coronado, a 680-room luxury resort built in 1888. The iconic wood-frame building faces the Pacific Ocean, with the beach just steps from your door. For a more secluded getaway, book a cottage or villa in the resort’s Beach Village where you’ll enjoy ocean views, private terraces and patios, and gourmet kitchens.
2. Key West, Fla.
Zika fears have eliminated the Caribbean as an option for many travelers, but that doesn’t mean a tropical vacation is off the table entirely. Key West, the southernmost point in the U.S., has a tropical climate and is just a few hundred miles from Caribbean destinations like Cuba and the Bahamas. Yet the region is still free of the Zika virus.
If you go: The Casa Marina, a four-star Waldorf Astoria resort on Key West, marries vintage island style with contemporary luxury. Guests have access to the largest private beach on the island, and there’s also an oceanfront pool, yoga classes on the pier, and opportunities for water activites. The hotel is also within walking distance of historic Key West destinations like the Ernest Hemingway Home and the Key West Lighthouse.
3. Mallorca, Spain
A European vacation doesn’t have to mean hours spent touring castles and cathedrals. The continent has beaches aplenty, from Algarve in Portugal to Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. The sandy stretches on the Spanish island of Mallorca are among the region’s most picturesque, including several charming spots that can only be reached by foot. A 40-minute hike will take you from Puerto Pollensa on the island’s north coast to Cala Boquer, a quiet, rocky bay with crystal clear water that’s perfect for snorkeling.
If you go: The seaside Esplendido Hotel on Mallorca’s northwest coast overlooks a quiet bay and has its own private beach. Most rooms have terraces or balconies, and some have sea views. There’s a bar, restaurant, and spa on-site, so you may never want to leave the hotel.
4. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The land down under hasn’t been hit with the Zika virus yet, and its miles of gorgeous coast mean it’s the ideal destination for a beach vacation. To make this trip truly memorable, combine your beach getaway with a longer vacation so you have the chance to explore some of the other things Australia has to offer, from the culture of Sydney to the wilds of the outback.
If you go: Qualia is a five-star luxury resort on Hamilton Island (part of the Whitsunday Islands). Condé Nast Traveler readers named it the best resort in the world in 2012, and it’s easy to see why. The exclusive destination is tucked away at the tip of the island and overlooks the Coral Sea. Each of the 60 individual pavilions faces the water, some with private plunge pools. The hotel is also the ideal base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, and staff will arrange helicopter trips to take you to the best snorkeling spots.
5. Kauai, Hawaii
When visiting Hawaii, skip crowded Waikiki and head to more low-key Kauai. From picturesque Wailea Falls to the secluded Na Pali Coast, this lush island is the perfect spot for a romantic and rejuvenating beach getaway. Plus, as of late May 2016, the Hawaiian Islands are free of the Zika virus.
If you go: The boutique Ko’a Kea Hotel and Resort on Kauai’s Poipu Beach provides the luxury travel experience you’re craving in a beach vacation. Many guest rooms offer ocean views, and the resort features lavish amenities like a full-service spa, the Red Salt Restaurant, which serves Hawaiian-inspired cuisine, and easy beach access.
The British territory of Bermuda is still free of the Zika virus, according to the CDC, which means you can enjoy the island’s famous pink-sand beaches worry-free. Schedule a dive trip to investigate the more than 300 shipwrecks in the area or take a day to explore St. George’s, the oldest English-speaking colonial town in the world. (It was settled in 1612.)
If you go: The Grotto Bay Beach Resort is the only all-inclusive resort in Bermuda. Guests can take a dip in one of the resort’s cave pools, schedule a massage in the subterranean cave spa, or just relax on the private beach.
7. The Seychelles, Africa
The Seychelles, a 115-island Indian Ocean archipelago, may not be the most convenient place for U.S. travelers to get to, but once you arrive, you’ll find yourself in a peaceful tropical paradise, where white sand beaches meet sparkling turquoise water. The temperature ranges from 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, and the most-visited islands lie outside the cyclone belt, so you won’t need to worry about a storm spoiling your trip.
If you go: The idyllic Coco de Mer Hotel on the south shore of La Digue is flanked by multiple private beaches and surrounded by palm trees and tropical flowers. Couples who want privacy should opt for the stylish and spacious Black Parrot Suites, which offer private balconies with ocean views.
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