It’s finally happening- people around the U.S. are looking forward to traveling again! More and more of us are getting vaccinated each day and celebrating that fact by booking flights, reserving hotels and resorts, and making lists of all the things we want to see and do when we arrive somewhere new. If this sounds like you, here are some great destinations that are calling your name.
The Bahamas is great for travelers that want to stay close to home, but get out of the U.S. It's the one country that’s been open to U.S. travelers for quite some time now. And it has a well-communicated set of entry requirements designed to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 within its borders. Visitors are required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within five days of departure. Then, you’ll need to apply for a Bahamas Health Travel Visa, where you’ll upload your negative test result and pay for the mandatory health insurance, which costs between $40 and $60 depending on how long you stay.
If you satisfy the requirements, you’re free to explore the islands, subject to local restrictions and regulations.
The Bahamas features plenty of great places to stay. One of the best is Baha Mar, a huge complex of hotels, dining and entertainment venues, casinos, nightclubs and more.
Many hotels across the island provide complimentary rapid antigen or PCR COVID-19 tests so travelers can remain compliant with the United States’ recent rule requiring proof of a negative test taken within three days of departing for the country.
Greece is excellent for travelers who want to experience the best of European island life. It is now open to all travelers who are fully vaccinated, have antibodies, or test negative. Exact details of the entry process for Greece have still not been revealed. When travel restarted briefly last summer, the country required all passengers to fill out an online form 24-hours before their departure. Once you arrive in Greece, you’re only a hop, skip and a jump away from literally thousands of Greek islands, including Santorini.
If you are more comfortable with rigorous testing requirements, Hawaii is a great destination for you. Even if you’re vaccinated, Hawaii requires you to show a negative COVID-19 test taken at least 72 hours before your departure flight. Anyone that arrives without a negative test will be required to undergo a 10-day quarantine. The state, however, is considering a change to the testing policy for those who have been vaccinated, so before your trip, check Hawaii’s COVID-19 update page to see the latest requirements for entry.
Kauai, the oldest island of Hawaii, has implemented tracking bracelets at properties that are a part of a “resort bubble” as a way to move and enjoy your surroundings while quarantining. For beach hopping on the island, start at Poipu Beach Park, a popular beach for visits by Hawaiian monk seals. Another good option is Lydgate Beach Park, which is shielded by a lava rock wall, providing calm waters for swimming.
Maui has a great pandemic-friendly activity- the 52-mile Hana Highway. You'll find tropical views, waterfalls, the Pools of Oheo, and coastal landscapes along Haleakala National Park.
In Oahu, Hilton Hawaiian Village, located on the widest stretch of beach in Waikiki, is known for its Paradise Pool with dramatic waterfalls, and the longest water slide in Waikiki.
National and State Parks
The great outdoors is best for travelers that still want to have as much social distancing as possible. Even with vaccines being here and positive COVID-19 rates dropping, not everyone will immediately hop on a flight. Instead, many travelers have embraced the great outdoors, such as national and state parks during the pandemic. The parks are going to be hot destinations in 2021 because they’re inexpensive or free and it’s easy to socially distance from others while you’re there. According to a study from Destination Analysts, a travel and tourism market research company, over 54% of Americans said they would be interested in visiting a U.S. national park in 2021, while nearly 48% said they would be interested in visiting a state, local or regional park.
If you’re looking for a great park or outdoor vacation, you have tons of options around the country, such as the Grand Canyon in Arizona or El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. And the newest national park, New River National Gorge National Park and Preserve in West Virginia, encompasses three existing pieces of land — the Gorge itself, the Gauley National Recreation Area and the Bluestone National Scenic River. It measures about 7,000 acres, while the remaining 65,000 or so is classified as a natural preserve.
If you’re visiting a national park, federal guidelines require visitors to wear face masks in federal buildings, including historic structures and museums. If you’re outside, face masks are required when social distancing isn’t possible.
Alaska is a good choice for travelers who want to see this special place at a time when traditional summer crowds will be absent. The coming summer could be a historic moment to be a tourist in Alaska. The state will be mostly open for visitors, but the crowds at such iconic attractions as Denali National Park could be near record lows. That means if you do head to The Last Frontier, you’ll be able to see it in a way that hasn’t been possible in many decades.
Tourism is likely to be down in many destinations this summer, of course. But the decline is especially large in Alaska. That’s because the large cruise ships that bring thousands of travelers to the state in a typical summer might be mostly or completely gone this year. Nearly 60% of the 2 million people who visit Alaska in a typical year come by cruise ship. But a recent cruise ship ban imposed by Canada for all of 2021 will make it difficult for most cruise lines to visit Alaska this year. Already, several lines have canceled their 2021 sailings to the state.
However, not all cruise lines are completely giving up on bringing travelers to the state this summer. You might want to look at one of the new land-based tours that the two biggest cruise lines operating in the state, Princess Cruises and Holland America, just announced for the summer. The tours will include stays at lodges and hotels that the cruise companies own in Alaska. Princess and Holland America normally use these properties to operate land tours of Alaska that are designed as add-ons to cruises.