If you are looking for a remote place to spend your 2020/21 vacation time, you’re sick of hearing people complain about coronavirus, or you are able to work remotely, there may be a solution: spend a year at the beach.
The global situation may still be a far cry from normalcy. However, as international borders slowly reopen, it is once again possible to escape to a paradise lost.
Islands to Escape the Pandemic
Who hasn’t secretly dreamed of living like Tom Hanks in Castaway? Complete with a ball for a companion and everything.
Various destinations across the globe are now pitching themselves as a safe haven from COVID-19. Some destinations (e.g. Greece) assert that they will cover medical expenses in the event that you contract the illness. Other locations such as Madeira are offering free testing on arrival.
Even if you are apprehensive about flying and travelling right now. The promise of travelling somewhere where the presence of COVID is low, or where you can easily get back to nature and socially distance, makes the journey worthwhile.
I asked several Travel Bloggers for their suggestions on where to escape over the next 12-18 months. The destinations listed here have managed to avoid the brunt of the pandemic through rigorous testing, effective track and trace procedures, social distancing, and remote locations.
Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain
Fuerteventura is a beautiful Spanish island located 30 minutes’ flight time off the coast of Africa in the Canary Islands. There are amazing cultural experiences, food, and dynamic landscapes ranging from sand dunes to caves. In addition, visitors can enjoy both chocolate and black sand beaches. All of these render easy for social distancing.
The Canary Islands as a whole were one of the least affected regions in the world. Although no quarantine is required upon arrival, their safety measures are fantastic. These include filling out a health form to obtain your personal QR code to be scanned at your departure airport as well as temperature checks when deplaning in the Canaries.
The best benefit (and seemingly rare) is the Canarian government will provide travel insurance to include medical, repatriation, and extended-stay expenses should you contract COVID while visiting and have no other insurance that will cover the virus. That is peace of mind!
Heather Trimm of Trimm Travels
Christmas Island (Australian External Territory)
Located 2500km from Perth and actually closer to Indonesia than Australia, Christmas Island is a fabulous place to escape a Pandemic with strict entry requirements to keep the Islands status as COVID-free.
It’s an eco-paradise most famous for its spectacular annual red crab migration (where the 50 million red crabs that inhabit the island migrate from the jungle to shorelines to breed and spawn). But is also home to a 40-year-old National Park which covers 75% of the Island which has a wealth of wildlife, waterfalls, and walking tracks to keep visitors entertained, not to mention this island has multiple beautiful beaches surrounding its 80km coastline.
With a limited capacity for tourists, the approximately 2000 Australian, Malay and Chinese residents create a welcoming community, and the wildlife (dolphins, whale sharks, manta rays, birds, crabs, etc) make it a once-in-a-lifetime place to visit.
Vicki from MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld
Sifnos Island, Greece
Sifnos island is the perfect place to escape crowds and enjoy some relaxation during the pandemic. It’s a gem in the Greek islands with laid back beaches like Vathy Beach and Faros Beach, a more remote local beach in a small fishing village. Another great attraction on the island is Sifnos Trails, a network of 19 hiking trails winding 100 km around the volcanic island. Many trails offer sweeping views of the coastline and bring you to sites like Chrisopigi Monastery and the medieval town of Kastro.
While a Greek island-hopping itinerary can be full of ideal activities for social distancing, Greece has also dealt with the virus extremely well. The spread of the virus has been particularly slow due to a swift and effective government response early in the pandemic. All visitors to Greece are expected to wear a facemask on public transportation and participate in contact tracing and randomized testing.
Derek and Mike of Robe Trotting
The small volcanic island of Madeira in Portugal is one of the best places to visit right now. As well as having plenty of things to do in Madeira, it is an island that takes the safety of its residents and visitors very seriously.
Madeira has been open to tourism since July 1st and allows tourists who have not already had a negative COVID-19 test in the last 72 hours, to have one on arrival at the airport.It is also advised to wear a face mask in public areas and social distance whenever possible.
This is easy to do if you get out of Funchal city and explore the cycling paths, canyons and hiking trails that make the island of Madeira so beautiful. One of the best off the beaten track hikes is Levada do Rei, a three-hour walk through the Laurissilva forest to reach a remote waterfall, Ribeiro Bonito. On an average day, you’ll only see 2-3 other people on the trail.
Roshni from The Wanderlust Within
Martinique, the French Caribbean
Martinique in the French Caribbean is a great place to escape the pandemic. Part of the French Antilles, Martinique is one of the French departments overseas which means that you can enjoy an exotic holiday without leaving France.
Being part of France makes it also very convenient because European travelers just need their ID card to travel and the currency is the euro. Also, there are many flights leaving from Paris for a good price so you can eventually decide to spend 3 or 4 days in Paris before flying to Martinique.
Martinique has good, not crowded beaches, turquoise waters perfect for sailing, and many hiking trails that allow visitors to enjoy nature and outdoor activities where safety distances are not an issue.
Last but not least, locals in Martinique are joyful people who know how to have fun and enjoy life and they make excellent rum which definitely makes it easier to forget about the last months.
Elisa from World in Paris
Crete is a beautiful Greek island located in the Mediterranean sea. It’s an ideal destination for all beach, nature, and history lovers. You can admire the remnants of brilliant civilizations, explore the longest European gorge Samaria, hike up the impressive Psiloritis mountain range, explore lovely towns with cozy caffés, or just relax on one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean.
The current situation requires negative molecular test results for COVID-19 only from passengers traveling from certain destinations (you can find more information here).
Beaches in Crete are usually not crowded, and there are not any giant resorts. You will more likely find private apartments or smaller hotels there. You can also easily hire a car and explore the island by yourself. The true gems of the Crete are Balos beach, Elafonissi beach, Samaria Gorge, the archeological museum and Knossos palace in Heraklion, and the lovely towns of Chania, Rethymno, and Agios Nikolaos.
Adriana Plotzerová of Czech the World
Magnetic Island, Australia
With golden beaches, crystal clear waters, and boundless natural beauty, the magical Magnetic Island is one of the most stunning places in the whole of Australia. Located 8km off the shores of Townsville, Queensland, it’d also be an absolute haven for any Aussies looking to escape the pandemic!
For one thing, no travellers are even allowed into the country right now. The result? The usual mass of tourists that flock to this 52km^2 island wouldn’t be there to cramp your style (and potentially give you the virus!).
Sure, there are a couple thousand locals here (including the koalas…), but it’s still nothing to worry about. With 25km of walking trails, 23 unspoiled beaches, and endless ways to get out onto the water, there’s ample opportunity to keep a safe distance from others.
Don your charging backpack, grab a scooter, revel in the open roads, and explore the endless sights and attractions on offer here. You’d have war-era forts, koala colonies, stunning fauna and flora, and hidden waterfalls to keep you entertained. Magnetic by name and magnetic by nature, you may never want to leave!
Danny from What’s Danny Doing.
Unlike some of the populated Greek cities, Kythira is less packed and offers various nature-oriented getaways. This is particularly favorable for those looking to escape the current pandemic, as hikes in the nearby hills and swims in the Mediterranean Sea (there are 36 beaches on the island!) are great ways to avoid crowds. Some great nature outings include Waterfalls of Mylopotamos, the Lorentzos Beach, and the Kaladi Beach.
Kythira has also been implementing strict social distancing regulations and all those traveling to Greece must present a negative COVID test and follow quarantine guidelines. As such, the country has taken a turn for the better in terms of medical cases. If you still feel the wandering spirit after Kythira, head north and spend 2 days in Sarajevo or a few days in Dubrovnik to catch what’s left of summer!
Daisy Li of Beyond My Border
Bozcaada Island, Turkey
Up until July, my girlfriend and I were enjoying retired life in the Philippines. However, on August 1st, our health insurance company invalidated our travel insurance due to COVID-19. While we enjoyed tropical island life, living in a foreign country during a global pandemic, without health insurance didn’t sound like a fantastic idea.
We needed to find another island home base. However, pandemic lockdowns were still in force. Greek and Spanish islands are off-limits since I hold a US passport. All of the SE Asian countries are inaccessible. We were struggling to escape to another island that accepted US citizens.
Bozcaada, Turkey came to our rescue. The Turkish government offers COVID-19 insurance to visitors for roughly $20 per month.
Coverage includes all COVID-19 costs, including any intensive care and hospital stays. There is no deductible, copay, and Turkey doesn’t have any quarantine requirements.
Bozcaada was the perfect pandemic escape. We wanted beach life somewhere beautiful, sunny, but away from hordes of potentially infected tourists.
Bozcaada is Turkey’s third-largest island and one of only two islands they own on the Aegean, as opposed to the Mediterranean Sea. Bozcaada is more about quiet cafes and strolls down cobblestone streets than about bars and nightlife. People come here for wine and good food vs. drink specials and booze cruises. Relaxing and secluded, Bozcaada is the perfect place to hide out during the pandemic.
Marco of Nomadic Fire