2020 proved far from a picnic, especially for travelers. Many of us had to cancel vacation plans as the coronavirus continued to impact popular travel destinations worldwide, including Italy, France, the UK, and Brazil.
Fortunately, travel restrictions have started lifting in some parts of the world.
With this welcome news, tourists wonder about the best places to visit in 2021. Fortunately, Canadian travellers have plenty of options when it comes to where to go.
What is open right now? Let's take a look at the top five vacation spots for Canadians.
Factors Influencing Post-COVID-19 Travel
Before we dive into our list of the best destinations of 2021 for Canadian travellers, let's take a moment to explore the criteria that we used to develop this list. After all, you need to make the same considerations as you start putting together a trip.
We ranked potential destinations for Canadians based on the following factors:
- Which health and safety protocols are in place
- How much of the destination is currently open
- How enjoyable the destination is
- How easy it is to get to
As you consider where you wish to travel and how you'll get there, bear in mind these factors.
For example, safety and health precautions should remain top priorities. But you'll also want to know which businesses and attractions are open and why you should visit.
What Is Open Right Now?
The million-dollar question on every traveller's mind remains the same. What is open right now? When it comes to the top five spots Canadians can visit, they include:
- Costa Rica
- The Dominican Republic
- The Bahamas
Let's take a closer look at each of these gorgeous destinations.
If you're longing for breathtaking beaches, gorgeous scenery, and a hefty dose of "aloha" spirit, Hawaii's the place to be. This top-rated vacation destination has reopened to Canadians. Let's take a look at their current restrictions.
Hawaii's Health and Safety Protocols
Hawaii has gone to great lengths to put travelers' health and safety first. You must wear face coverings and observe social distancing guidelines.
As for other health and safety protocols? They vary from county to county.
Starting in mid-December, travellers from Canada to Hawaii who have tested negative for COVID-19 may bypass the mandatory ten-day quarantine. For test results to prove valid, they must come from a lab stipulated by WestJet or Air Canada. Get the full list of testing partners.
What else do you need to know about the Aloha State's safety protocols? The test must get taken within 72 hours of travel to the destination and received before departure.
What happens if you don't produce a negative test in the timeframe requested? Then, you must self-quarantine for ten days or the length of your stay, whichever comes first.
How Much of Hawaii Is Currently Open?
As with safety regulations, what's open in Hawaii differs from county to county. Restaurants have reopened for pick-up, takeout, and delivery service. As for dining in, restaurants may now offer dining indoors at 50 percent capacity.
Tables remain positioned five feet apart, and reservations are required with parties restricted to five per table. You'll need to wear masks at all times you're not drinking or eating.
You'll also find many malls, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and other businesses operating at 50 percent capacity for parties of no more than five. The same goes for other attractions, zoos, and museums.
How Enjoyable Is Hawaii?
There are countless reasons to fall in love with Hawaii. They include Polynesian food and culture, hiking and outdoor excursions, and some of the world's most stunning beaches. These beaches provide opportunities for sunbathing, snorkeling, and more.
You'll also find most state and national parks open for business. Of course, wearing masks and social distancing regulations still apply.
How Easy Is It to Get to Hawaii?
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Hawaii implemented a strict 14-day quarantine period for all visitors. Fortunately, officials have since lifted the quarantine for travellers who provide a negative COVID-19 test.
When flying into Hawaii, prepare for health screenings, including facial imaging and thermal checks. You should also remain aware of restrictions specific to certain islands.
Travelers must remain aware that Kauai has opted out of Hawaii's testing program. The island launched its "resort bubble" program in early January 2015.
As for Maui, it enacted a mandatory contact tracing requirement effective as of January 19, 2021. To comply with this regulation, all visitors to Maui must download the AlohaSafe Alert app on their phones before arrival.
Failure to meet this requirement will result in quarantine upon arrival.
2. Costa Rica
Few nations prove as synonymous with adventure as Costa Rica. Yet, this tiny nation also boasts impeccable environmental standards and some of the friendliest and happiest locals on the planet. There's no better place to soak up the "Pura Vida" vibe.
Costa Rica's Health and Safety Protocols
Costa Rica has kept it simple yet effective when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions. You must wear face masks in public spaces. Physical distancing standards also apply.
Fortunately, countless outdoor activities make adhering to these standards easy. And you'll still get to pursue plenty of adventure in the process.
How Much of Costa Rica Is Currently Open?
Costa Rica is currently permitting open-air tourist activities. What's more, most restaurants and businesses have now reopened. That said, expect capacity limitations.
According to Javier Pacheco, the president of the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels, 90 percent of the nation's hotels are back in business. That said, hotel restaurants remain at half capacity to respect social distancing regulations.
These hotels have also adopted strict rules about sanitizing and masks. They've nixed buffets, too. Besides these changes, expect to get your temperature taken and have bellboys leave your bags at the door rather than bringing them inside.
How Enjoyable Is Costa Rica?
There's something for everyone in Costa Rica, from stunning beaches to lush rainforests, volcanic regions to cloud forests. You'll also find world-class surfing, boutique resorts, and coffee plantations.
What's more, Costa Rica contains a vibrant array of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Cooks craft this produce into iconic dishes that'll satiate your inner foodie.
With snorkeling, hiking, zip-lining, wildlife observation, and much more, a trip to Costa Rica has no dull moments.
How Easy Is It to Get to Costa Rica?
Costa Rica's borders reopened on November 1st to travellers arriving by air. You won't have to worry about quarantines or a COVID-19 test, either.
But all arrivals must have a travel insurance policy that covers their medical expenses should COVID-19 accommodations and treatment prove necessary. You must also complete the nation's digital Health Pass Information form before arrival.
Find out more about the differences between travel insurance and international health insurance.
3. The Dominican Republic
For Canadian travelers arriving by sea and air, the Dominican Republic represents another excellent option. It boasts the Caribbean's largest offering of beachfront and city rooms, venues and the most advanced transportation system.
The Dominican Republic's Health and Safety Protocols
The Dominican Republic encourages wearing face masks and physical distancing.
The nation has banned large gatherings and events. What's more, a nightly curfew is in place. Travellers are also encouraged to download the "App COVID-RD" to help with contact tracing.
The Dominican Republic goes the extra mile when it comes to ensuring your safety while traveling. What's more, its stunning natural beauty and weather encourage visitors to get outdoors.
How Much of the Dominican Republic Is Currently Open?
What's there to do in the Dominican Republic at the moment? And how much of the island has reopened?
You'll be pleased to know that access to beaches, restaurants, and most businesses is possible. That said, these facilities have reduced their capacities to promote social distancing. The island's gorgeous national parks also welcome groups of five or fewer.
How Enjoyable is the Dominican Republic?
There's a reason the Dominican Republic remains one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. You'll fall in love with its lively energy, vibrant culture, and natural splendor.
Whether you spend your days relaxing on the beach or involved in water activities like sailing or snorkeling, the Dominican Republic delivers when it comes to a leisurely pace filled with endless adventure.
How Easy Is It to Get to the Dominican Republic?
If you're a Canadian arriving via cruise ship or airplane, you're welcome in the Dominican Republic. That said, you must complete a Traveler's Health Affidavit, which provides officials with your contact information in case contact tracing proves necessary.
You'll also need to complete an Electronic Ticket and receive a QR code, which you'll present to authorities upon arrival. Although you don't need to bring proof of a negative COVID-19 test with you, spot testing at the airport may occur.
This testing typically takes place at the seaport or airport. What happens if you test positive? You must remain in a government facility for a predetermined quarantine period.
4. The Bahamas
Sun, sand, and surf abound in the Bahamas. But did you know you'll also find swimming pigs, pink sand beaches, and all-you-can-eat food festivals? That's just the start when it comes to this paradisical island chain.
The Bahamas' Health and Safety Protocols
Wearing masks and remaining six feet away from others are required in all public spaces. You must install the Hubbcat App on your mobile device for contact tracing purposes.
Social gatherings are limited to either 10 or 30 people in attendance, depending on the region. These restrictions also apply to weddings.
How Much of the Bahamas Is Currently Open
In some areas of the Bahamas, locals and tourists must observe nightly curfews. Beaches and parks are open in New Providence and Abaco, from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm on weekdays and 5:00 am to 6:00 pm on weekends.
Restaurants remain open with reduced seating, and some keep limited hours. Casinos, bars, and other businesses (e.g., museums, shops, etc.) are closed.
How Enjoyable Are the Bahamas?
The Bahamas' crystal-clear waters and white sand beaches attract tourists from all over the world. You'll also enjoy plenty of opportunities for adventure, including snorkeling, diving, and eco-tours. Discover your ideal sanctuary among the nation's smaller and quieter island retreats.
How Easy Is It to Get to the Bahamas
Travelers must submit a Travel Health Visa Application before arrival. This document may take up to 72 hours to process. You may also be subject to random temperature checks in airports.
You must also show a COVID-19 RT PCR test certificate. It should date to no more than five days before your vacation begins. Kids under ten years old are exempt.
Rapid tests on arrival aren't required anymore. But all travellers remain subject to a COVID-19 rapid test five days after arrival. Stays of less than five days exempt you from this requirement.
Tourists to the Bahamas must also agree to mandatory COVID-19 health insurance while applying for their Health Travel Visa. An insurance policy must cover medical needs for the duration of a trip.
Canadians love visiting Mexico for many different reasons. Not only does it offer gorgeous beaches, but you'll also appreciate the nation's dynamic culture, delectable cuisine, and miles upon miles of golden beaches.
Mexico's Health and Safety Protocols
When you visit Mexico, you'll adhere to many of the same health practices in the United States. They include mandatory face coverings in public spaces and maintaining a safe distance. Parks and hotels are also running at reduced capacity, and public gatherings are limited to 100.
Mexico also recommends that travelers download the "COVID-19MX" app before a visit. This app helps with self-assessment and contract tracing.
How Much of Mexico Is Currently Open?
Each state in Mexico has been color-coded so that you know at a glance how many coronavirus cases they have. Based on the number of cases in each state, local rules vary.
As tourist destinations continue to reopen, expect the usual access to on-site facilities when staying at a resort or hotel. These facilities may also provide a sanitizing station and complimentary face masks.
Whether you're shopping, eating out, or lounging at the beach, remember that capacity restrictions apply.
How Enjoyable Is Mexico?
Are you an archaeology junkie who can't get enough of ancient sites? Then, Mexico has you covered with ancient complexes like Teotihuacan and Tulum.
Do you prefer soaking up the sun and surf at a coastal resort town? Give Cancun or Playa del Carmen a try.
And if you're into ecotourist expeditions? Nothing beats lending a hand at a sea turtle hatchery or swimming with whale sharks in Baja California. The top 5 vacation spots in Mexico also include Cozumel, Huatulco, Guanajuato, and Zacatecas.
How Easy Is It to Get to Mexico
Currently, Mexico's seaports and airports are open for travel, with more flight options available. You'll need to provide a Health Declaration Form before your travel date.
But you're not required to carry COVID-19 test results. At the airport, don't get caught off guard by random health screenings and temperature checks.
Where Canadians Can Travel Right Now
We've slowly turned a corner when it comes to the global pandemic. While we must all do our part to adhere to safety protocols and avoid traveling when we're feeling under the weather, cabin fever is over.
What is open right now? From the Bahamas to Mexico, you've got many options.
Restrictions are lifting, and Canadians will find many safe travel spots waiting to welcome them. Of course, it never hurts to plan for the unexpected by investing in travel insurance. Contact us now to get the best insurance quotes for your next vacation.