10 Tropical Vacation Spots You Didn't Know Are Zika Free
For families who love warm, beachy travel, there is no scarier word than Zika. Here are ten vacation destinations with very minimal risk of Zika transmission.
When it's time for a tropical vacation, the Zika virus stops many families in their tracks. But the mosquito-borne disease—which can be fatal to unborn children—is less of a threat in recent months, causing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand its list of countries marked Zika-free.
Keep in mind, though, that Zika is still extremely dangerous for anyone pregnant or trying to conceive in the near future. Both women and men are at risk for transmission, which is important to note since it can spread sexually. Always research Zika risks before booking a tropical vacation; the CDC has a comprehensive map of affected areas here. Additionally, you should take steps to minimize risk of transmission while traveling (use pregnancy-safe insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts, etc.), and discuss plans with your health care provider before booking anything.
That said, here are ten of our favorite Zika-free travel destinations for parents and families, with tips on lodging, activities, and more.
1. The Bahamas
The CDC cites no current Zika outbreak in the Bahamas, although the country has reported cases of it in the past. Families have a few different lodging options in the tropical islands. Some might choose to stay in a luxurious resort like the Atlantis Paradise Island, which offers dolphin interactions, a water park, pools, and much more.. Others might opt for a laid-back beach bungalow like Sunrise Beach Club. No matter the lodging choice, though, tourists will love scuba diving, snorkeling, and exploring the countless beaches on the Bahamas.
Zika transmission hasn't been reported in Bermuda, making it a safe option for pregnant women. Bermuda boasts plenty of beautiful beaches, recreational activities, modern attractions, and a short travel time (it's only two hours from New York City by plane). Keep in mind, though, the island tends to get chilly in the winter (around 60-70 degrees). As for hotels, the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club entices luxury travelers, while the Hotel Fairmont Southampton is perfect for the whole family.
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Where to begin in Zika-free Hawaii? Well, with Moana, of course. At the Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Oahu, there are exciting activities for everyone including a "Moana Meet and Greet." Families can experience the KA WA'A Luau, Aulani's signature Luau that portrays the local islanders' story of discovering their deep cultural roots in canoe exploration, which brought the first ancient explorers to the shores of Ko Olina and made Oahu the unique and bustling island it is today. Children ages 3 to 12 will love getting a fun fashion transformation—and a brand new look—from the Painted Sky: HI Style Studio and parents can relax in the hydrotherapy garden at the Laniwai Spa.
Another exceptional option is Montage Kapalua Bay in Lahaina. Located on the northwest coast of Maui, the resort provides the ultimate luxury experience—starting with the one- to four-bedroom accommodations with private balconies, spacious bathrooms and living rooms, and fully-stocked kitchens. The property has several pools (including an adults-only sanctuary), access to the pristine Kapalua Bay Beach (perfect for snorkeling), a couple of delicious restaurants, a kids' club, a luxurious spa, and much more. Various cultural activities—including lei making and hula dancing—let you experience a taste of Hawaiian culture.
This French island in the Caribbean is currently Zika-free (but like the Bahamas, it has a history of transmission). It's a hidden treasure for kids and parents seeking paradise—especially if you can snag a big villa on the beach like this one via Airbnb. Alternately, you can stay at accommodations like Hotel La Pagerie or the boutique French Coco. Martinique culture mixes both French and West Indian influences—and you'll discover plenty of beautiful beaches to boot.
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What was previously considered a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list trip, the French Polynesia is now more easily attainable for families thanks to French bee, the first low-cost long-haul airline offering direct flights from San Francisco, CA (SFO) to Papeete, Tahiti. Lower transportation costs mean more splurging once on the island. And if you still don't want to splurge too much, the Tahiti Pearl Beach Resort is a practical, 91-room beachfront hotel located on Lafayette Beach, in the famous Matavai Bay, with a Kid's Club, complimentary sporting activities, and a local arts and crafts market. Note that Tahiti has reported Zika in the past, so pregnant women should be extra cautious and check advisories before booking flights.
6. Mexico City
Because of its high altitude, Mexico City is considered low-risk for Zika transmission. And while you won't find sand in your toes there, you can still eat mouthwatering tacos and embark on excursions to La Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo House) and Chapultepec Park—a massive park featuring museums, restaurants, an amusement park, and a zoo. As for hotels, The St. Regis Mexico City features a kids' club and indoor children's playground for families on vacation. The Holiday Inn Express Reforma is a budget-friendly option with free breakfast, and it's conveniently located at the intersection of Paseo de la Reforma and Insurgentes—two of the most important avenues in Mexico City.
7. Key Biscayne, Florida
Across the Rickenbacker Causeway from Miami, Key Biscayne is a currently-Zika-free island getaway. Consider staying at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, located just a few minutes from the city's cosmopolitan center. With its lush tropical gardens and endless ocean views, the resort is home to two swimming pools (one for families and one that's adults-only), a secluded stretch of white sand beach, a heavenly spa, and an expansive tennis center. There are multiple dining outlets on property, including an oceanfront Mexican restaurant.
8. St. Barts
There are many reasons to celebrate that Saint-Barthélemy (St. Barts) is currently free of Zika (although it has a history of transmission). The beaches are some of the most breathtaking in the world, the locals are warm and hospitable, and there's an array exceptionally fabulous hotels, like Le Sereno and Eden Rock. Families really love Hotel Christopher, located on the mostly residential Pointe Milou. The property has spectacular sunsets, big villas, and spa overlooking the waves.
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9. Cayman Islands
Calling all beach bums! For families who don't need much else besides soft sand, some scuba gear, and a great sunset, the Cayman Islands are a great vacation option. The currently-Zika-free destination has long been a no-brainer escape for families because of its crystal clear water, awesome snorkeling, and beginner-level scuba diving. Solid hotel options include The Ritz Carlton in Grand Cayman and the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort.
10. Key West, Florida
For adults who like to let loose, Key West might be the perfect destination. The famous Duval Street houses plenty of bars and restaurants, while the beautiful beaches are perfect for diving, snorkeling, and swimming. Other notable attractions include the Ernest Heminghouse House and Mallory Square. Consider staying at the newly renovated Parrot Key Hotel & Villas. The property has an on-site signature restaurant (The Grove), four themed pools, and a variety of watersport activities. Complimentary shuttles can transport you to Smathers Beach or downtown Key West.