Wednesday, April 13, 2016

7 Zika-Free Destinations To Travel To Right Now

With each new warning about the dangers of the Zika virus, it may be tempting to postpone your trip to Central or South America, or the Caribbean. But keep those vacation days blocked off on your calendar: All three locales are home to at least some countries not currently affected by the outbreak, making them a safe choice for worried travelers. (Also worth keeping in mind: The virus is expected to spread throughout the U.S. anyway.) Check out these hot spots, which are all Zika free as of today, and keep an eye out on the CDC's website for updates. 


 St. Barts

If you’re looking to splurge, St. Barthélemy (a.k.a. St. Barts) is the place to do it. This glamorous French island boasts some of the finest resorts and restaurants in the Caribbean. From amazing private plunge pools to the latest fashion in the boutiques of capital city Gustavia, it's no wonder that this is where the well-heeled come to play.

Turks and Caicos

This country, made up of seven main islands and 40 smaller isles and cays, boasts some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, including Grace Bay Beach, which consistently ranks in the top ten beaches in the world. Divers will have a blast exploring the expansive reef on the north shore of Provo, as well as the Grand Turk Wall's many shipwrecks. Nature lovers can kayak among osprey, mangroves, and stingrays. Also an option: Sitting back on a powdery, white-sand beach and doing absolutely nothing.


The only country in Central America where English is the official language, Belize boasts the second-largest barrier reef in the world (it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site), which makes it a top spot for diving and snorkeling. Scuba divers in particular flock to the Great Blue Hole, where you can swim with sharks and other creatures in underground caves. If you’re interested in history or archeology, Belize is also home to Mayan ruins well worth exploring.


With pink sand beaches and pastel-colored homes, Bermuda is a pristine island with a decidedly British feel. The beautifully preserved town of St. George, Britain’s oldest town in the New World, is a World Heritage Site that also happens to have world-class shopping. Looking to practice your swing? The island is known for its golf, boasting some of the most challenging—and scenic—courses in the world. Action junkies will also want to snorkel around the shipwrecks off Elbow Beach, and hit Bermuda's 22+ miles of bike trails.


Argentina really does have something for everyone. Buenos Aires is one of the world's great food cities, according to Traveler readers. The famed Iguazu Falls—astounding at two miles wide and 250 feet high—makes nature lovers of city dwellers. In the southern part of Argentina, Patagonia has some of the best hiking and scenic trails in the world, while Mendoza's wine region will help soothe all those sore muscles.


Nicknamed the "Spice Island" (due to its nutmeg plantations), this Caribbean country consists of one main island, Grenada, and six smaller islands. It has beautiful beaches, ideal for snorkeling and diving. (Check out this undersea sculpture park in Moliniere Bay, if you want to see more than fish.) Two beaches worth visiting: Pingouin Beach, with soft white sand and views of St. George, a picturesque town with beautiful old churches, a historic fort, and shops; and Grand Anse, a resort area with turquoise waters and plenty of outdoor cafes.


Head to Uruguay's interior and stay in an “estancia”—a working ranch —to experience gaucho life in the pampas. You'll get an insider’s look at how these famous cowboys ranch cattle and herd sheep in what are essentially the dude ranches of South America. Also head to the coast where the city’s capital, Montevideo, boasts a beautiful 19th-century opera house, Teatro Solís, on the outskirts of the old town, Ciudad Vieja, also rich with beautiful old churches, Art Deco buildings, and museums.


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