Where to Go On Your Vacci-cation
International travel has been off the table for more than a year and a half — but it's poised to come roaring back as vaccination rates rise. If you've had your shots, chances are you're already dreaming of hitting the road again. And that first post-vaccine trip is going to be special — so special that it deserves its own name: the vacci-cation.
So where should you go on your vacci-cation? We're tracking all the countries welcoming vaccinated Canadians, but we wanted to go a bit further and make some specific recommendations. Here are Travelzoo's top picks for destinations so appealing that they'll have you dusting off your luggage and grabbing your passport. Let the vacci-cations begin!
Hawaii always tops travellers’ lists for good reason. All six of the major islands in the chain — Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, and Molokai — have the ingredients for paradise: stunning beaches, awe-inspiring scenery and a warm aloha spirit that embraces you the moment you step off the plane.
If you haven't been, then surely this is the time to treat yourself. And if you have been, why not check out a new island for your vacci-cation? There's no wrong Hawaiian island; they each offer everything from world-class surfing and snorkelling to increasingly dynamic food and hotel scenes.
These days, Hawaii is a relatively easy place for Canadians to visit, at least as far as dream destinations go.
Both Air Canada and WestJet are ramping up service again, including many nonstop options from Vancouver and Calgary. Air Canada will launch its first-ever Toronto-Maui and Montreal-Honolulu nonstop flights. WestJet will increase Dreamliner flight options from Western Canada to Maui and new nonstop service from Calgary to Kona and Lihue this winter.
With Italy now open to international travellers, it’s a great time to experience the timeless serenity and sumptuous landscapes of the country’s most seductive setting.
Midway down the peninsula, Tuscany is Italy at its best, distinguished by rolling hills of vineyards and olive groves, medieval towns and the dramatic coastline of the Tyrrhenian Sea — which all adds up to gorgeous views at virtually every turn.
The region’s beauty proves a perfect backdrop for the Renaissance riches and prolific art and architecture that have flourished here through the ages. Of course, this region can’t be talked about without mentioning Florence and all that the culture-rich city has to bewitch its visitors.
But just as compelling are the lesser-known Tuscan villages with meandering cobblestone streets, crumbling gateways, red-tiled roofs and piazzas that bubble with Italian chatter. It's an experience best paired with simple, rustic food and eminently drinkable wines.
The Dominican Republic was among the first countries to reopen, giving travellers the green light to experience its postcard-perfect beaches and exceptional all-inclusive resorts.
The sun-drenched island has earned a reputation as one of the top Caribbean escapes at a reasonable price. And in recent years, the Dominican Republic has grown up, with all-inclusive resorts becoming more sophisticated, with service to match.
There's more than pretty beaches to see here. Mountains, rivers and rainforests abound, and the island’s history and culture can be felt in the heady rhythms of merengue and bachata, strong rum, coffee and fragrant cigars. And let’s not forget baseball; it’s a way of life here.
Punta Cana is particularly popular for its pristine beaches and golf courses. You can easily plant yourself at the swim-up bar or enjoy fun-in-the-sun activities like kayaking, zip-lining and windsurfing. Puerto Plata sits on the northern Amber Coast and offers more in the way of off-resort things to do. Trendy restaurants, art galleries and sleek boutique hotels help make Santo Domingo a superb destination for urban adventurers.
The Canary Islands are open to vaccinated Canadian travellers, but you wouldn’t be alone in not being able to point out this Spanish archipelago on a map. Located in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco, the Canaries get the majority of their visitors from Europe, and are still relatively unknown to North Americans.
It's time for that to change. Year-round sunshine, easygoing towns, superb food and wine and dazzlingly diverse landscapes mean there really is no bad time to visit. Plus, with boutique hotels and sprawling resorts that suit all tastes and budgets, there is a Canary Island for every traveller.
Tenerife is the largest of the Canaries and has a bit of everything. For beautiful beaches, head to Fuerteventura to soak up some rays. Gran Canaria is a favourite with travellers who want to mix beach time with mountain hikes. Lanzarote has a lunar landscape with volcanic vineyards. After that, you’ve still got four other islands to explore. Take your time; it's your vacci-cation, after all.
Thailand's Phuket and Koh Samui are once again welcoming international travellers to their shores, albeit with some conditions, and more Thai regions are scheduled to follow suit. We love the powder-soft beaches and tranquil temples in this part of the world, where tropical breezes and luxurious 5-star resorts can be enjoyed for a fraction of what you'd pay elsewhere.
Phuket is the more famous paradise for beach-lovers, and those in search of adventure can find everything from surfing to nightclubs. Koh Samui, Thailand's second-largest island, is smaller and more laid-back, with palm-lined beaches and excellent snorkelling.
In both locations, you'll find turquoise seas and meals scented with fragrant lemongrass; but if that isn't relaxing enough, opt for a Thai massage. The tradition goes back over 2,000 years, and Thai massage was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2019. Find out more about the destinations, entry rules and top deals at our microsite: Phuket & Koh Samui Are Open.
U.S. Eastern Seaboard
The United States is traditionally the most popular international destination for Canadians, but would-be travellers could be put off by the vaccine skepticism found in many pockets of the country. However, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut have the highest vaccination rates of all 50 U.S. states, and they're within driving distance for many residents of eastern Canada. Canadians have always been able to fly into the U.S. with a negative Covid test, and many expect the land borders to open by the end of August.
Each state is different, of course, but the Eastern Seaboard biggies each have quaint towns and big cities to explore, as well as friendly people. Vermont aside, they hug the Atlantic Ocean, so mouth-watering fresh seafood and gorgeous beaches are part of the allure. (The surfing is great, too, but wetsuits are desirable if you plan to spend any length of time in the chilly water.) Head inland in the fall for stellar "leaf-peeping" — the term our friends to the south use for checking out the fall colours.