4 Zika-Free Warm-Weather Getaways You Can Take This Winter
That dreaded four-letter word, Zika, has been wreaking havoc on travelers' plans all year, particularly those who are pregnant or hoping to become so. And sadly, the threat of catching this virus has made most of the usual places you'd turn to for a beach break — like Miami, Mexico, Central America and nearly all of the Caribbean — out of the question.
“Zika is a risk anywhere that Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes can be found, including throughout the tropics and subtropics,” said Gary Brunette, MD, Branch Chief, Travelers’ Health, of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “Because it can be hard to determine where Zika is spreading and because this information can change rapidly, travelers should consult the CDC’s Travelers’ Health website for the most up-to-date information about specific destinations before making any travel decisions.”
The good news is, if you're still itching to cast off that parka and head to a beautiful island this winter, there's hope. As of this writing, these four dreamy beach destinations are currently Zika-free, so have at it!
1. The Canary Islands
Located about 62 miles off the west coast of Morocco, the Canary Islands are a former colony of Spain — now an autonomous community — but still maintain a lot of that Hispanic flair. Consisting of seven larger islands and several smaller islets, there's much to discover, from the cable car trip to the 3,900-foot Pico del Teide for a bird's eye view of the volcanic valley of Teide National Park, to the powdery white sands and clear aqua waters of the beaches of Playa de Sotavento de Jandía.
If you were ever looking for a good time to make that long-haul trip down under, now might be it. Not only is it summertime there, but scientists recently reported that its common mosquitoes aren't able to transmit the Zika virus — though to be safe, avoid visiting tropical northern Queensland, where Aedes aegypti do reside. Besides the Cairns' area, there are still plenty of beaches to be explored. Byron Bay in northern New South Wales is a hub for surfers and swimmers alike, with sea kayaking trips to spot off-shore dolphins available from Clarkes Beach. On the other side of the country, Cable Beach in Western Australia is prized for its white sand beaches and remoteness. Bondi Beach, located just a 30-minute drive from downtown Sydney, is also worth checking out if you fancy a swim in gorgeous, blue and green waters.
3. The Seychelles
If off the beaten path — er, trade route — is your bag, consider East Africa's Seychelles. This equatorial nation is comprised of 115 islands, the largest of which, Mahé Island, is just 60 square miles and populated by 77,000 of the country's 90,000 people. If visiting the capital city of Victoria on Mahé with its population of 26,450 seems too bustling for your great escape, hop over to nearby Praslin Island and hike the rainforest in the Vallée de Mai, and bask, swim or snorkel at the pristine beaches of Anse Lazio or Anse Volbert.
While it's not quite tropical there this time of year, with mild temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s, it's perfect for taking advantage of the island's many golf courses and other outdoor activities. Must-dos include a visit to the town of St. George — a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the longest continuously inhabited English settlement in the Western Hemisphere, first occupied by shipwrecked sailors in 1609 en route to Jamestown — and a stroll along Horseshoe Bay Beach and Jobson's Cove, two of Bermuda's most famous and breathtaking pink-sand beaches.
Which of these four places are you most excited about visiting this winter?