Vaccination hot spots: The sunny islands with least restrictions

Zanzibar, Tanzania
Zanzibar, Tanzania Copyright Med J @theoutsider
Copyright Med J @theoutsider
By Tim Gallagher
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The six island retreats with the most relaxed rules on COVID-19.


During the pandemic, it may have felt at times as though you lived on a desert island - but visiting an ocean island paradise is a very different kind of isolation.

Small populations and a reliance on tourism mean that many islands have prioritised vaccination and relaxing travel restrictions. With a relatively small amount of hassle, you could be enjoying an island getaway this summer.

From the Pacific to the Mediterranean, these islands are welcoming tourists in summer 2021 thanks to successful vaccine rollout and clear entry requirements.

A summer exploring the Azores

Martin Munk
Azores, PortugalMartin Munk

This Portugese archipelago spreads out into the mid-Atlantic, populated by fishing villages and dramatic volcanic scenery.

The smallest Azores Island reached full-vaccination as early as March 2021 and a negative PCR test from the previous 72 hours could see you entering this autonomous region with no quarantine. Depending on the length of your stay, further tests may need to be taken on the 6th and 12th day of your holiday. You will also need to fill out a passenger locator form prior to arrival.

Whether you enjoy hiking trails, want to relax in the mineral hot springs or engage in a spot of whale watching, these sustainability focused islands are perfect for you.

Take a dip in the emerald waters of Meganisi

After a 78 per cent drop in tourism in 2020, the Greek islands are hoping to be back in business this summer.

On a mission to vaccinate everyone on islands with a population of less than 1,000, the Greek government initiated their plan Eleftheria or ‘liberty’.

Off the beaten track (or should we say off the ferry path?) you can find the island of Meganisi, near to the more popular Nydri. With lush vegetation and emerald green waters Meganisi may not be the obvious choice but it is perfect for a day trip.

Entrants to Greece will need to fill out a passenger locator form and present a negative PCR test from the previous 72 hours. However, those with proof of recovery or proof of vaccination do not require this to skip quarantine.

Say aloha to Hawaii

Marcus Lenk
Haleiwa , Hawaii, USAMarcus Lenk

After a long hiatus, the Aloha State is soon to reopen to visitors. Although Hawaii has a 10 day quarantine in place currently, this can be skipped with a 72 hour negative COVID test.

49.8 per cent of Hawaii’s population is currently fully vaccinated but the country needs to be at 60 per cent before it will allow unrestricted travel.

The pacific island isn’t short of sandy beaches, volcanoes or stunning wildlife but their twin values of kuleana (responsibility) and aloha (love, peace, and compassion) mean you’ll need to take precautions to enjoy their clear waters.

Zoom away to Zanzibar

Camilla Frederiks
Nungwi, Zanzibar, TanzaniaCamilla Frederiks

Located off the coast of Tanzania, a 72 hour old negative PCR test can get you into Zanzibar.

The cafes, bars and attractions of this Indian Ocean island are all open and there’s never been a better time to enjoy Zanzibar’s white coral beaches or go hiking in the Jozani Forest.

Those hoping to visit will need to fill out a traveller surveillance form prior to arrival, so make sure you do your paperwork while you’re dreaming of a beach break.

Dive deep into the Maldives

Ahmed, Yaaniu
Kendhoo, MaldivesAhmed, Yaaniu

One for Brits - who will have to quarantine for 10-days regardless - to avoid, but everyone else can enter with a negative PCR from the previous four days, with the exception of travellers from South Asia. Those with proof of vaccination can also enter without quarantine.

You can go to any of the 140 resorts on the Indian Ocean destination but it is best to avoid the capital of Malé which is off-limits due to being the source of most of the country’s COVID cases.


Taste the Mediterranean in Malta

Calin Stan
Marsaxlokk, MaltaCalin Stan

The first European nation to achieve herd immunity, Malta is the Mediterranean island destination of choice for anyone wanting culture, sun and sea.

A negative PCR test from the last 72 hours will get you into the country with no quarantine and once you’re there you can enjoy the fine Maltese cuisine in restaurants until midnight.

Malta looks set to introduce vaccine passports in July, but until then make sure you’re on top of your testing so that you can soak up some of the island-nation’s 3,000 hours of sunlight a year.

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