The No-Zika Guide to Winter Travel

Just like the Caribbean! Except not actually in the Caribbean.

By Diane Rommel

 
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28 October 2016

Chances are if you're dating a literate woman of roughly childbearing years and planning to travel somewhere sunny this winter, you've already had this conversation: no zika.

The virus, transmitted to humans by mosquitoes and via sexual contact, results in literally nothing for the 80 percent of zika carriers who remain asymptomatic. For most of the others, symptoms range from muscle aches to fever and fatigue. For pregnant woman, though, the virus can result in devastating birth defects, including fetal microcephaly. In badly hit areas of Brazil, one percent of all babies have been born with the disorder; the country has been so disproportionately affected by deformities that scientists now suspect that local factors may contribute to its severity there. Early-stage drug trials are currently underway, but a vaccine remains years away.

Which means that the best way for women to avoid zika is to avoid the areas where it's locally transmitted.

That's bad news for some of our favorite tropical destinations, including Puerto Rico and Miami (the Centers for Disease Control has advised pregnant women to postpone travel to the entirety of Miami-Dade County). 

Below, suggestions for where to find some sun this winter — without worrying about zika. 

Instead of Art Basel Miami Beach, consider Art Basel Hong Kong, which has so far seen only a single case, in a woman who had recently traveled to St. Barths. The March fair is considered the bellwether for the Asian art market, and last year featured large-scale public projects like Tatsuo Miyajima's "Time Waterfall." 

Instead of Puerto Rico for close-at-hand good weather, consider Bermuda. Bermuda isn't in the Caribbean — it's on roughly the same line of latitude as North Carolina — and it's seen no cases of locally transmitted zika. We like the oceanfront Elbow Beach Bermuda as our HQ for exploring this laidback, genteel island. 

Instead of Rio for beachy fun in South America, consider Uruguay's resorts. Rio has been nowhere near as hard-hit as portions of Brazil's northeast, but the city is still engaged in a massive mosquito-control effort. For a stress-free trip, adjust your course for Uruguay — which, along with Chile, remain South America's zika holdouts. Punta del Este is the glam, citified beach resort two hours east of the capital of Montevideo; anyone looking for something more chilled out should continue another 60 miles east, to the beachfront villages of Rocha — like La Pedrera

Instead of Jamaica's relaxed-tropical hotels, try the Royal Lahaina Resort on Maui. Not the island's ritziest, but where else can you stay in a two-story cottage directly on the beach? The resort is now booking these fully renovated cottage rooms, and if you'll settle for garden-view instead of ocean-, you can get in for under $200 a night. 

Instead of Caratagena for Old World Spanish heritage, consider ... actually going to Spain. Andalusian Granada is home to the Alhambra palace, perhaps the country's most beautiful. To add on a beach destination, travel to Tarifa, Europe's wind-surfing capital, and then perhaps onwards to Tangier, Morocco, via ferry. From here, the rest of the country is easily accessed by convenient, modern trains. 

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