It takes a bit more planning, paperwork, masks, and a negative COVID-19 test, but now, people can get back to planning travel itineraries — at least to some parts of the world. The coronavirus pandemic forced scores of travelers to cancel their globetrotting plans in 2020. Now, more than ever, getting away is a huge priority for those who desperately need fresh surroundings and spirit rejuvenation. Those dream destinations we’ve all been fantasizing about are once again welcoming visitors.
In the turquoise waters of the southern Caribbean ocean and just north of Venezuela’s coast, this island is much more than breathtaking, sun-drenched beaches. Capture magnificent sunsets enjoy classic Aruban cuisine in a relaxed outdoor setting, or experience kite surfing in Hadicurari Beach. Explore the limestone caves in Arikok National Park in Santa Cruz. COVID-19 restrictions require masks in all indoor public places. There’s also a curfew in places from midnight to 5 a.m.
Like other destinations allowing entry, travelers must obtain a negative COVID-19 PCR swab test and an approved health application before arrival in this Caribbean paradise. Face masks and social distancing measures are active. The country’s largest island, Andros, has one of the smallest populations, making it an ideal starting point for a getaway. West Andros is the site of several large sandy beaches when you can stretch out and enjoy some of that Bahamian sunshine. Scuba dive in the crystal clear waters or try your hand at fly fishing.
Despite curfews from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., Barbados will cure your wanderlust. Because of its beautiful climate, outdoor activities are plentiful and worth the trip. Visit a sugar plantation, dine on the beach, or explore the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. Less crowded beaches, like Brandons Beach, provide the same gorgeous white sands as the more crowded options and make social distancing easier.
This exotic country lies on the northeastern coast of Central America, bordering the Caribbean. Belize’s health ministry requires a negative COVID-19 test or proof of receiving either the single or dual vaccine dose before arrival. The government initiated the “Tourism of Gold Standard Program” to help travelers choose the safest accommodations and tour operators. Don’t miss seeing the Blue Hole, a world-famous giant sinkhole. The country’s coral reefs, which are magnificently preserved, are a sight to behold. Spend a day exploring the seldom-crowded Mayan ruins in Belize. The largest, Caracol, is in the Cayo District and not far from San Ignacio Cayo, a small town known for its delicious authentic cuisine.
The CDC recently upgraded the status of travel to Bermuda, lowering it from a “high” COVID-19 health threat to a safer “moderate” risk. Mask requirements in public spaces are in place, as are capacity limits and social distancing protocols. Bermuda is a cluster of six main islands and 120 smaller ones in the Atlantic Ocean. Private cottage accommodations and spacious resorts make social distancing easier. Bermuda is famous for its pink-sand beaches, golf courses, and ideal weather. Try sailing, lobster diving, horseback riding, or exploring the numerous outdoor dining establishments.
If beaches aren’t your thing, how about visiting the vast landscapes of Africa? Botswana, a country in the southern part of the continent, has similar COVID-19 rules, including a negative PCR test 72 hours before arrival and masks in public places. Chobe National Park, the Okavango Delta, and Victoria Falls are must-see locales in Botswana. Road trips take on a new meaning here. Seeing exotic wildlife in their natural habitats and visiting indigenous communities in places like the Kalahari Desert are life-changing experiences.
The government closed all land borders in this Central American country, but Costa Rican officials welcome those who arrive by air or sea. Finding lots of outdoor activities in this lush destination is easy. With the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, there are 763-miles of coastline and 600 beaches to explore here. Puerto Viejo is a less-crowded beach on the Caribbean side, although it’s also without the usual luxurious amenities. You’ll also find natural splendor here — volcanoes, rain forests, waterfalls, and jungle landscapes.
This island nation is in the southern Caribbean, 40 miles north of Venezuela, and welcomes visitors who follow its mandatory steps before arrival. The temperatures in Curaçao hover around 84 degrees year-round. Book a safari tour to explore the island or make plans to visit the Curaçao Ostrich Farm, the largest of its kind outside of Africa. Schedule time at one of the luxurious spas here, join a yoga class on the beach, or explore the exciting cuisine served at one of the many trendy outdoor restaurants.
Ireland has never fully closed its border during the pandemic. However, there are protocols in place, and arriving travelers must complete a passenger locator form. The least crowded times to visit are in the autumn and spring. The capital and largest city in Ireland, Dublin, is full of lush, beautiful parks, with man-made canals encircling the inner city. Hop aboard a boat to explore the city from a whole different perspective. Book a stay in a real castle fortress in County Cong or experience the panoramic views of a lifetime at the Moher Cliffs in County Clare.
Similar to other destinations, there are COVID-19 testing requirements in Jamaica. Medical services are limited here. The Jamaican government has implemented a “Resilient Corridor” for travelers to enhance safety. That’s not a problem because the zone includes the most enjoyable and popular destinations along the coast, including Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril. The capital city of Kingston or inland areas are not open to visitors. Bamboo rafting in Montego Bay, private waterfall tours in Ocho Rios, or hanging out at a beach cafe listening to reggae tunes in Negril will surely help you brush off those pandemic blues.
The usual negative COVID-19 test rules apply in the Maldives, and the country strictly follows World Health Organization guidelines. Of the 1,190 islands that make up this independent nation, people live on only 198 of them. There's no shortage of beautiful accommodations here to fit a variety of budgets, plus the food served here takes cuisine to a whole new level. Snorkel with friendly reef sharks or try out some windsurfing or jet skiing. The Maldives is an Islamic nation, so make sure you pack modest clothing to wear while in public.
This country has had loose border restrictions throughout the pandemic and allows anyone to visit. Although the country's government is not requesting negative PCR tests for COVID-19, many resorts are. Consider Yelapa, a peaceful village in Jalisco, just 15 miles southwest of Puerto Vallarta. Yelapa's original descendants still own and inhabit this area, which is rare. There are no cars here because there are no roads, yet you can explore the jungle on the back of a saddled mule. There's no shortage of breathtaking visuals to discover across Yelapa, from golden-sand beaches to cascading waterfalls.
On the southern slopes of the Himalayan mountain ranges, between India and China, is a landlocked Asian country, Nepal. Upon arrival, U.S. travelers must present official documentation of a negative COVID-19 test. This is the land of Mount Everest and adventure tourism, so visitors will find no shortage of exciting outdoor activities. Eating is a unique — and often spicy — experience in Nepal, where you'll find restaurants serving traditional and international cuisine. West of the capital city of Kathmandu, Pokhara is both a leisure and adventure destination. Hiking to capture some awe-inspiring panoramic views of the Himalayan peaks and boating on Fewa Lake are two ways travelers relax here.
Due to changing conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions vary rapidly with added curfews and other safety measures. Peru has resumed travel permissions, but certain areas are dealing with increased crime, civil unrest, or terrorism, so it's crucial to stay updated with current situations. Experienced travelers will likely fare better here. Machu Picchu, northwest of Cuzco, and Choquequirao, in the southern part of Peru, are breathtaking, sacred Incan sites and two of the country's most beautiful historical and cultural destinations. The resort beach town of Máncora is a popular gathering spot for both tourists and jet-setters.
This small, dual-island country opened its borders in October 2020. They require visitors to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their arrival and participate in contact tracing for the first 14 days of their stay. Once you've landed in St. Kitts or Nevis, you'll forget about all the paperwork and planning it took to make the trip happen. Whether you have a few days or you're lucky enough to have a few weeks to explore the wonders of these islands, you won't be disappointed. Discover the islands' historical sites and buildings amidst lush, majestic settings. Secluded sandy beaches at Banana or Cockleshell Bay, reggae beach bars with live local music, and communal farm-to-table dinners add to the charm and ambiance you'll experience.
People from all countries can visit St. Lucia after submitting a negative COVID-19 test and agreeing to wear a mask in public places. International visitors must have a reservation at a COVID-19 certified property for authorized travel to the island. Book a one-, two-, three- or four-bedroom villa, many of which have a private plunge pool, kitchen, outdoor shower, and complimentary breakfasts. These resorts also have their own beaches, so you can catch up on some fun-in-the-sun or just lay back and enjoy the spectacular views.
If you need a place where you can forget about the tumultuous events of the past year, put on your mask, submit your negative COVID-19 test, and head to the beautiful islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Spend the day sailing on the turquoise-blue Caribbean sea, visit the turtles who glide through the pristine waters of Tobago Cays National Marine Park, or plan an eco-adventure through a rainforest. No matter what direction you go, you'll find spectacular views to photograph.
Although Seychelles banned cruise ships through 2021, the country welcomes other travelers to its shores. The Ministry of Tourism requires proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test, and a valid Health Travel Authorization before entry. Seychelles is a group of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. La Digue Island is the fourth-largest. You can hop aboard an ox-driven cart to explore its picturesque, white-sand beaches or the pink granite rocks along Anse Source d'Argent. Book a private boat tour or head to L'Union estate and check out a vanilla plantation.
The government requires a travel authorization, which visitors can complete online before they enter the country. The Turks and Caicos, a British Overseas Territory, is just 75 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. The Turks Islands, Grand Turk, and Salt Cay are to the east, while the Caicos Islands, an archipelago, lies to the west. For spelunkers who love exploring cool, dark places, visit the Conch Bar Caves on the island of Middle Caicos. Stalactites and stalagmites fill this limestone cave system, and pools of water rise and fall with the tides.
Americans who enter the UK face restrictions, with each country having different requirements. The UK government mandated a 10-day quarantine, along with two COVID-19 PCR tests and a passenger locator form. Other conditions may be added as needed to contain outbreaks, including mandatory lockdowns, business closures, and travel bans. One of the most popular destinations in the UK is Newcastle in England, a lively, vibrant city that blends the past with the present in a seamless way. The architecture is spectacular, and you can visit the city's namesake castle, built in the year 1080. Don't leave the city without a selfie, using the Tyne Bridge as a backdrop.