I love new experiences, but when it comes to some things, I’m definitely a creature of habit. One of the best examples of this is spending New Years in Sayulita, Mexico. Having done it for the past few years, there’s something about the beach, jungle, my friend Isis, that is as integral to New Years to me as a countdown. Having so many subpar, at best average New Years of my early 20s, in Sayulita, I found the magic sauce, and I’m sticking to it. So much so that even though the country of my magic place — really, Sayulita has been designated a Pueblo Mágico by the Mexican government — is on the CDC’s list of countries with Zika, that hasn’t stopped me from planning my annual pilgrimage. At the proposal of spending New Years in London or the British Isles, I was excited for a hot minute and then felt as though a vice was being slipped on me. I digress…
Friends often ask me for advice in planning their New Years trips and one thing that’s often come up is avoiding Zika. Whether child-planning or not being able to be sick during award season, there are tons of very practical reasons to avoid Zika during your holiday travels. Here are the top 10 places for you to spend the holidays Zika-free! It’s not too late to book!
1. Hawaiian Islands
About that not too late thing, this first place is a little tough. Bookings are up with the Hawaiian islands getting many of the American travelers that previously holidayed in the Caribbean. With 6 inhabited main islands to choose from, there’s something for everyone. My personal favorite? Kaua’i. From the stunning cliffside of the Napali coastline to lush fern valley forests, this island is a nature lover’s dream and I can think of few better places to ring in the new year.
With much of the Caribbean being in the hot zone, many holiday travelers are missing island vibes. For us east coasters, one of the closest islands too us offers a Zika haven, that comes with island vibes! Bermuda’s beautiful pink sand beaches, pastel homes and British colonial architecture are definitely curated insta-worthy and the best part? It’s really a stones throw away from most major east coast airports.
3. Punta del Este & José Ignacio, Uruguay
With it’s lax banking laws, nightclubs and casinos Punta del Este is definitely the place to be scene in South America, making it like a South American Monaco and now, during South American summer is peak season. Unlike it’s neighboring South American countries, there have been no cases of Zika reported in Uruguay. If you’d prefer your vibes a little more boho chic and laid back, head to José Ignacio. Boutique hotels and restaurants, exuding farm-to-table and blending in with the rustic landscape make José Ignacio a true gem.
4. Cabo Polonio, Uruguay
OK, so yes, it’s in Uruguay like the two locales previously mentioned but Cabo Polonio is for my true off-the-beaten path adventure and I felt it deserved a position on the countdown all it’s own. Funny thing is, before I ended up in Sayulita, I originally wanted to go to a place that back then was even more off the beaten path, Cabo Polonio. Farther up the coast this settlement is only accessible by walking through dunes or 4x4s. With no electricity or running water, torches light your way at night and you can rent eclectic cabanas built by locals. Full time population? Under 100.
For another Zika free South American country, head to Chile. There’s so much to do in this country from sightseeing in the capital of Santiago to skiing in the nearby Andes. Another fun option? A wine trip through Chile’s wine country in the Colchagua valley. Even more? Why not head as far south as Patagonia or visit Easter Island? Visiting Chile really will have all of your bases covered.
6. Vail, Colorado
More of a ski bunny? Mosquitoes can’t get you in the snow! Continue that snowy white Christmas into the New Year in glam ski town, Vail Colorado. Shortly after nightfall, festivities begin with ski instructors skiing down the slopes with torches. Top mountainside views will make this a New Year to remember.
7. New York City
Few New Years parties are more famed around the world than New York City’s ball drop in Times Square. One of the best parties on earth, Times Square draws revelers from around the globe to watch a giant, illuminated glass ball drop 141 ft in 60 seconds. So renowned is New York’s practice that the term “when the ball drops” is synonymous with it being midnight on New Years Eve! Complete with confetti, cheers and giddy pandemonium, as I New Yorker I can say I’m proud we throw one of the greatest parties on earth to ring in the New Year, and as a New Yorker, I avoid Times Square like the plague on the evening of December 31st. 🙂
8. Berlin, Germany
If you’re set on going the city route for New Years, and don’t mind freezing temps, why not mix it up and head to Berlin, Germany. A hub of arts and culture this city attracts millions of young people due to it’s lifestyle and affordability. And if you’re trying to find that all night party anyways, head to the city known for it’s 24 hour clubs!
9. Marrakech, Morocco
I’ve been itching to head to Marrakech and spend some time with my girl Melanie in her home away from home. New Year, new experiences right? I can think of few greater experiences than watching fireworks and enjoying delicious Moroccan food in a riad in Marrakech.
10. Rome, Italy
Rome is called the Eternal City because ancient Romans believed that no matter what happened to the world or how many empires came and collapsed, Rome would go on forever. I can think of few things better than ringing in another year in a city centuries old. Kind of puts things in perspective, huh?