Healthy Travel Tips »
Healthy Travel Tips » Stay safe on vacation
6 Zika-Free Beach Destinations to Visit This Winter
Escape icy temperatures and retreat to a sunny – and safe – locale.
Plan a worry-free winter trip in these idyllic beach escapes the world over. (Getty Images)
Is the threat of the Zika virus affecting your vacation plans? If you're expecting or planning to become a mom or dad-to-be soon, you're right to be concerned. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website highlights, the mosquito-borne virus poses a specific threat to pregnant women. An array of countries throughout South America, Central America and the Caribbean have been impacted by the virus, and some cases have been reported in Florida as well. While this news leaves certain tropical beach destinations off-limits, there are plenty of sunny, sandy locales that aren't currently impacted by the outbreak. Explore these beach retreats across the globe, which are currently Zika-free, and monitor the CDC's website for travel alerts.
Lisbon, Portugal may not come to mind when you think of a classic beach destination, but the capital city has plenty of golden sands and alluring waters to satisfy any sun seeker. Relax under a palapa on the famous Guincho Beach, take a windsurfing lesson or meander into the historic city to explore its ancient treasures. And if you want to splurge, stay at the five-star Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort Hotel for stunning beachfront views.
Known for its pink-sand beaches, impressive snorkeling spots and unique culture, Bermuda beckons to outdoorsy types and culture vultures alike. Visit the famous Horseshoe Bay Beach, the Bermuda National Aquarium or the island's fantasy caves for an experience you can't get anywhere else. Grotto Bay Beach Resort & Spa offers an affordable all-inclusive option, and features its own spa where guests can get treatments among 500,000 year-old stalagmites.
With a prominent spot along the Adriatic Sea, Croatia offers its share of beautiful beaches. Zrće Beach, the Hvar Islands, Kandarola Beach and Brela Beach are just a few popular beach destinations, plus there are plenty of hidden coastal spots draping the country's coast. In Dubrovnik, consider Adriatic Luxury Hotels and specifically cliff-side Villa Agave, an ultra-luxurious three-bedroom villa that was formerly the residence of famous archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. The villa boasts five outdoor terraces with breathtaking views across the bay to the Old Town of Dubrovnik and Lokrum, an island that's served as a film location for the hit HBO series "Game of Thrones."
As you plan your Zika-free beach getaway, don't forget about the Golden Coast. From San Diego to the San Francisco Bay area, there are endless miles of beach options to explore. Long Beach, California, offers 5.5 miles of sandy beach along its coast, inland bays and waterways. Book a whale watching cruise or catch the Catalina Express to enjoy exploring Catalina Island and ample opportunities for snorkeling and hiking. Stay at the Hilton Long Beach for close proximity to restaurants, shops, entertainment venues and, of course, the beach. The newly revitalized city of Huntington Beach also offers a host of perks for beach lovers, along with year-round surfing and plenty of high-end dining. Stay at the new Paséa Hotel & Spa for modern accommodations, outstanding Pacific views and proximity to Huntington Beach Pier.
Florida's Paradise Coast
While there have been reported cases of Zika in the Miami area, the Gulf Coast has remained untouched for now with no locally transmitted cases. The coastal cities of Naples and Marco Island offer some of the best beach retreats in the entire state with miles of white sand, great shelling and calm, warm waters. The Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa (soon to be the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort in 2017) offers the area's best beach, 810 guestrooms and a rooftop restaurant with a celebrity chef.
You don't have to leave the U.S. to get an island experience. A trip to Hawaii includes all the ingredients of a relaxing beach getaway – spectacular scenery, laid-back vibes and natural beauty – without the threat of Zika. Hike to the peak of an ancient volcano, surf on the island's famous waves or soak up the sun with dramatic mountain scenery in the backdrop. The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa sits on the Ka'anapali coastline and has its own private beach for resort guests. Enjoy snorkeling, surfing or sunning on the beach or at one of the resort's two free-form pools.
The Bottom Line
If you're angling for a beach getaway, don't let the threat of Zika stand in your way. But before you plan your trip, make sure to check with the CDC for updated information on new Zika cases worldwide and take extra precautions before, during and after your trip to reduce your risk of contracting the virus and affecting others.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.