Forbes recently dubbed 2020 “the lost year for travel”—fortunately, according to new data, 2021 is set to make up for it. A recent survey by the World Travel & Tourism Council indicates that wanderlust is at an all-time high, with 70 percent of American travelers reporting that they’re planning a trip this year. Happily, the world’s safest vacation spots are standing by.

Here, we’ve curated a selection of those destinations that not only offer warm weather, but are also open to tourism and have embraced stringent measures—such as requiring travelers to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test before departure—to ensure visitors’ health and safety. So, take a look and ready your luggage: sunshine and adventure await.

The British Virgin Islands, Caribbean

When to go: January to March

Average winter temperature: 84°F (29°C)

Travel status: Open to travel. Visitors are required to take a COVID-19 test on arrival and quarantine for four days, after which they will once again need to test negative for COVID-19.

Rosewood Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda
For the ultimate in exclusivity, stay at the five-star Little Dix Bay resort on the B.V.I.’s Virgin Gorda island, which offers private villas set along an isolated stretch of beach.

Situated in the warm, azure waters of the Caribbean, the British Virgin Islands enjoy a temperate climate and trade winds year round, making them the ideal location to explore by yacht. Made up of more than 50 cays dotted close together, runs between islands are easy and there are plenty of sheltered anchorages.

The islands themselves boast white-sand, palm-fringed beaches, and many have excellent places to dine and safely enjoy the bustle of the beach bars. A daily curfew is currently in place from 2am until 5am, but all businesses and beaches are open and practicing social distancing. Face coverings are mandatory in all public spaces.


When to go: November to March

Average winter temperature: 84°F (29°C)

Travel status: Open to travel. Travelers with a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival are not subject to quarantine.

A black rhinoceros in green Namibian wilderness
Namibia’s Etosha National Wildlife Park covers an area as large as that of Switzerland and is known as the top spot in Africa from which to see black rhino. Image: Alamy

Namibia’s exclusive camps and lodges, hidden among dramatic desert dunes and bushland, offer the ultimate in wild luxury along with world-class approaches to conservation. Privacy and seclusion abound here and, untouched by more commercial ventures, the country receives fewer than half a million visitors a year (neighboring South Africa receives almost 10 times that number). November to March are the region’s wettest months, when the surrounding desert transforms into a lush green wilderness. It makes for ideal game-viewing conditions, as swarms of migratory birds arrive and the wildlife emerges in full.

While there are no quarantine requirements in place, travelers will need to adhere to the nationwide curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. each day. Face covers and social distancing are required in all public spaces.

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

When to go: December to May

Average winter temperature: 82°F (28°C)

Travel status: Open to travel. Visitors are required to take a COVID-19 test on arrival and self-isolate for five days.

Galapagos sea lion
The isolated terrain of the Galapagos Islands shelters a diversity of plant and animal species, many of which can’t be found anywhere else, such as the Galapagos sea lion. Image: Alamy

Ecuador promises adventure and luxury in equal measure. For wildlife, take an exclusive cruise into the Ecuadorian Amazon and enjoy an eco-stay at the five-star Mashpi Lodge, hidden deep within a cloud forest. For surfing, 1,400 miles of Pacific coast offers plenty of choice, while the nearby Galapagos Islands are largely unspoiled and promise animal sightings like nowhere else on earth. Each of the country’s geographical zones has its own weather pattern, but the Northern Hemisphere winter is when it’s driest in the jungle and sunniest on the coast.

Travelers to Ecuador must present a negative COVID-19 test issued within 10 days before their arrival, while those wishing to visit the Galapagos Islands must present a negative test taken 96 hours prior to the date of departure. Social distancing measures are mandatory.

Baja California, Mexico

When to go: January to March

Average winter temperature: 68°F (20°C)

Travel status: While the U.S.-Mexico land border is currently restricted to essential travel, air travel between the two countries is permitted. There are currently no quarantine measures in place.

Boats in the marina at Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Beyond Cabo San Lucas’s bustling marina, you’ll find the natural beauty of Land’s End promontory, site of Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach) and El Arco, a natural archway in the seacliffs. Image: Alamy

The Mexican peninsula of Baja is ideal for an escape from reality. On its southern tip lies Cabo San Lucas, which offers five-star resorts and first-class golf courses alongside incredible natural surroundings. Hidden sandy beaches, protected by the dramatic cliff faces, offer privacy, while the mountains provide excellent hiking trails. And from mid-January to mid-March whale-spotting is a must, as gray whales migrate in droves to the area’s plentiful lagoons.

The region has relatively few COVID-19 restrictions in place, although social distancing and preventive measures are strictly observed.

Please note: All travel restrictions were correct as of 01/08/2020. Please make sure to check current restrictions for your destination before booking and traveling.

Banner image: Alamy

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