If you’re planning a vacation and thinking about avoiding travel destinations with the Zika virus, you’re not alone. We’ve put together a shortlist of some unexpected travel destinations as alternatives that will offer you a top-notch travel experience, peace of mind, and won’t break the bank.
Hoping for an affordable tropical beach vacation close to home? Try Hawaii.
A lot of the affected areas are popular for beach and tropical/jungle holidays. If this is your personal travel jam, you cannot go wrong with Hawaii. And contrary to lore, Hawaiian holidays do not have to cost a fortune. It’s true, Hawaii boasts some of the most opulent resorts in the world, but there are many smaller, inexpensive beachfront hotels to choose from as well as a booming condo/timeshare market that is quite popular with travelers who return year after year. Most condos are situated on or within walking distance of the beach and allow you to feel as though you’re in your home away from home. Most condos come outfitted with amenities such as kitchens and washer & dryers. They’re an easy, affordable way to add value to your holiday and save money for activities that might otherwise get compromised by dining out for every meal. Hawaii’s beaches are world-class for sporting sorts as well as folks who just like to lounge and boasts spectacular scenery that rivals any destination for natural beauty. Try local-frequented dining establishments for affordable, traditional Hawaiian fare like Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina on Maui. They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serve cheap, strong cocktails and you can get in and out for under $20 with drinks. Flights from the mainland start at $370 from San Francisco to Maui or Honolulu on United.*
Did you have your heart set on a wild Mexico beach holiday? Book Ibiza, Spain.
Ibiza is as notorious in Europe for nightlife, parties and beaches as Cancun is for U.S. travelers. Ibiza Town is where you’ll want to do the most people watching and club hopping, but there are also some beautiful natural landscapes to get out and experience. Day trip to the nearby island of Formentera for something a little different when you need a break from the fiesta. Formentera is known as something of a hippie enclave, so you can definitely embrace your inner flower child here. You get to Formentera by ferry from Ibiza and most people rent bikes to get around. One word to the wise: all of the beaches are completely nude. You’ll want to check your modesty at the port. American has flights out of JFK for around $1,000 round trip direct to Ibiza.* Or you can also bide your time and wait for a sale fare to Madrid. Oftentimes you can snag $700-800 round trip fares from the New York area and then use a European low cost carrier like RyanAir to hop a flight to Ibiza for a song.
Looking for a family-friendly destination for you and yours? You can’t go wrong with Hilton Head, South Carolina
Pretty much anywhere in Hilton Head is a no-brainer for families, but insiders know that Coligny Beach is the gold standard, especially for the wee ones in your party. The waters there are shallow and very placid, with tidal pools to wander through and collect sand dollars at low tide. The Coligny Plaza shopping center across the street from the beach has open-air family entertainment all summer long (music and magic shows), as well as a fab movie theater showing first run movies for the whole gang. Another popular family activity to partake in is renting the giant tricycles and tooling around the boardwalk. If you can get away after the tots are asleep, Hilton Head has some great restaurants and drinking establishments for the grown ups. Flights from Washington, D.C. to Hilton Head start at around $200 on American.*
Searching for an island option with a twist? Vancouver Island might be just the ticket.
Many visitors coming to the island stay in and explore Victoria. But you’ll be really missing out if you limit yourself to the capital of British Columbia. Vancouver Island’s charms are varied and quirky and you’ve got easy access to the big city life of Vancouver, should you need it as well. Tofino should not be missed if you’re a surf enthusiast, families will enjoy Parksville for the outdoor activities and kid-friendly amenities. You can even go to the far north of the island, which is still quite remote and has a bit of the wilderness feel to it. Vancouver Island’s denizens are a friendly bunch, and proud of their community. You’ll find people are quick to offer suggestions for your trip. Part of the fun of getting to Vancouver Island is the journey and we suggest a ferry from either Vancouver or Seattle. You can also fly direct into Victoria. Flights to Seattle from Denver on Alaska Airlines start at under $170 while flights to Vancouver or Victoria run from $375-450 depending on travel dates.*
Really bummed you’re not going to get to practice your Portuguese in Brazil? Go for the classic version and travel to Portugal instead.
Portugal is always popping up on “Best-Kept Secret” travel lists for Europe. We’ve said it ourselves, and we still love Lisbon for it’s laid-back, small town feel. But if you’re coming to Portugal as a backup plan for Brazil, you’ve got to get on the Azores bandwagon – their mind-blowing natural beauty rivals the rainforests of Brazil. Are you scratching your head and wondering where the heck the Azores are? You wouldn’t be alone. The Azores chain of 9 islands in the Mid-Atlantic are still relatively untouched and locals want to keep it that way. Tourism on the islands skews toward the sustainable and environmentally friendly – it’s low impact all the time and there is no end to the variety of things to do in that vein. Mt. Pico is Portugal’s tallest mountain and every year thousands of hikers make the trek to the top. Ziplining, visiting the volcanic crater of Cete Cidades, cycling and guided nature walks are all musts for visitors to the Azores. You can fly nonstop from Boston to Sao Miguel or fly to Lisbon from Newark for under $900 on United.*
Putting your Caribbean cruise plans on hold? Alaska will not disappoint for expert and novice cruisers, alike.
If you were thinking a Caribbean cruise was in your sights before Zika came along, may we suggest you reassess your plans and consider Alaska. The Inside Passage is a once-in-a-lifetime sight – and cruising might be the most impressive way to visit the massive ice formations of Glacier Bay and Icy Strait You’ll also stop in Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau, which is the only state capital not accessible by car. As a bonus, you can bring your cruise-averse friends. We’ve yet to hear from any travelers with buyer’s remorse. Alaska is the stunning, majestic last frontier of America and Princess Cruises has a popular 7-day itinerary out of Seattle that will give you all the highlights. Flights from Los Angeles to Seattle are as low as $123 round-trip (on Spirit).* Just keep in mind that cruise season is May to September.
Know the facts about Zika before you cancel existing plans. But if you’d rather be cautious, these destinations are great alternatives. Happy travels!
*Airfares include taxes and fees and are valid as of 5/05/16 on select dates between 5/5/16 and 11/30/16. Lowest fare seats are capacity controlled and may not be available on every airline, flight, or date. Fares subject to change without notice.