For many Americans, the summer of 2022 is revenge travel season.
They are willing to go a little further and spend a little more than they would normally do on a summer vacation to ensure they have a trip to remember. Rematch trips are about making up for lost time and missed opportunities due to the pandemic.
I’ve identified the best places for Americans to do just that. These are places that won’t make the average person’s bucket list, but they all offer a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.
Each of these destinations is open to tourism and already looking forward to welcoming visitors back.
1. Turks and Caicos Islands
There’s no better place for a post-pandemic luxury travel experience than Turks and Caicos. This chain of sandy coves in the Atlantic Ocean offers total relaxation in the form of white sandy beaches, azure waters and a laid-back island vibe. All of this is just a short flight from Miami.
Aside from postcard-worthy beaches, Turks and Caicos has a pristine coral reef perfect for scuba diving. You can practice almost every type of water sport here, from parasailing to paddleboarding, or spend your time exploring the territory’s 32 uninhabited islands by small boat or yacht. Deep waters are just minutes from shore. For sport fishermen targeting big game, this is a dream destination.
Turks and Caicos is undoubtedly a place to indulge, with world-class beach resorts, acclaimed golf courses and spas, and world-class dining. All that luxury comes at a price, however: A week-long stay for a couple at a beach resort, including dining, horseback riding, and a half-day boat ride, can cost as much as $9,000.
But one lesson of the pandemic has been to seize opportunities as they arise, and for those looking for total escape, Turks and Caicos are hard to beat. Right now, Americans must be fully vaccinated with two doses of an approved vaccine to get here.
2. Azores and Madeira, Portugal
Two alternatives to the more touristy beaches of mainland Portugal are the archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira. Located 870 and 600 miles from Lisbon, respectively, these unique islands almost force you to disconnect as you immerse yourself in the rugged nature.
Known as the “Hawaii of the Atlantic,” the Azores landscape is dominated by verdant peaks and valleys. Across the nine islands that make up the Azores, there is a cornucopia of natural attractions, from geysers to waterfalls, powdery sandy beaches and thermal baths. Here is the highest mountain in Portugal, Mount Pico with its 7,700 foot peak.
Madeira, on the other hand, is known as the “Floating Garden of the Atlantic” for the lush laurel forests and exotic flowers that grow in abundance. Madeira has won the award for the best island destination in the world more than a few times, while this year Porto Santo Beach and Seixal Beach have been rated as the best in Europe.
All kinds of outdoor recreation are available to you in these two archipelagos. Hiking along Madeira levadas (stone irrigation canals built as early as the 15th century), bird watching, fishing, sailing, diving and whale and dolphin watching are just some of the activities you can enjoy.
Due to the current strength of the dollar against the euro, Americans have increased their purchasing power in the euro zone this summer.
To visit the Azores you must present proof of vaccination, a negative test (either a 72-hour PCR test or a 48-hour rapid antigen test) or a certificate of recovery from COVID-19 if traveling direct from in Abroad. Madeira does not impose any entry restrictions on visitors.
3. Kotor, Montenegro
Just off the coast of the better known Dubrovnik in Croatia lies the small town of Kotor in Montenegro. Nestled at the foot of a rugged bay, overlooking the sparkling Adriatic Sea and surrounded by towering mountains, Kotor’s views alone justify the trip.
The city itself offers Old World charm at its best. It is surrounded by ancient city walls and has a concentration of historic buildings that make it the best preserved medieval city in the Mediterranean. The old town with its narrow cobbled streets, squares and markets is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Modern marinas and a geography that lends itself to adventure sports (hiking, rafting, etc.) are also available in Kotor. While more tourists will head to Croatia this summer, Montenegro is more affordable with similar views and Adriatic ambience.
Montenegro has dropped all entry requirements related to COVID-19 – no vaccines, tests or health screenings are required – making travel easy now.
4. Ceara, Brazil
Brazil is a country of beach lovers. While most international visitors flock to Copacabana and Ipanema, Brazilians vacation in Ceará, a state in northeastern Brazil with 600 kilometers of soft sandy coastline.
You’ll find a beach for every taste here, from city beaches equipped with amenities to isolated outposts surrounded by towering white sand dunes to windswept strips where you can practice kite or windsurfing.
Fortaleza, the capital of Ceará, is the epicenter of the state’s cultural activities. It is the fifth largest city in Brazil with 2.7 million inhabitants and is famous for its vibrant nightlife. Still, it retains the quintessential Brazilian beach town feel, especially along the seafront Beira Mar Avenue, where you can watch fishermen selling their daily catch or always-on-the-go Brazilians playing futsal on the sand.
For those looking for a more laid-back vibe than Fortaleza, there are quaint fishing villages along the Ceará coast. Canoa Quebrada is a resort town with a wide beach surrounded by red cliffs. It was discovered for tourism by hippies from Europe in the 1970s and has retained this free spirit feeling to this day.
Because Ceará is a domestic tourism destination, prices are low for North American visitors, who typically have more purchasing power. The current strength of the US dollar against the Brazilian real continues to increase Americans’ savings.
To enter Brazil as a tourist you must be fully vaccinated. If you have a medical condition that prevents vaccination, you must present a negative 24-hour PCR or antigen test prior to boarding your aircraft.
Malta is one of the smallest countries in Europe, but it’s packed with fascinating history and culture, unique attractions and stunning natural landscapes, and a packed calendar of summer events.
The capital, Valletta, is the smallest in Europe at less than half a square mile. Still, it’s a historical treasure trove with a landmark or monument around every corner. When it was crowned European Capital of Culture in 2018, it received a facelift that saw many of its older buildings restored.
Beyond the capital, the rugged coastlines of Malta, Gozo and Comino (the three main islands that make up the country) hide sandy Mediterranean beaches, secluded coves, dramatic cliffs and quaint fishing ports.
Malta ticks all the boxes: it’s safe, with friendly locals and a great climate, and English is one of the official languages. During the summer months it comes alive with events such as the Malta International Wine Festival (in June) and the Malta Jazz Festival (in July).
To come to Malta this summer you must be fully vaccinated or present a COVID-19 recovery certificate or a negative 72-hour PCR or 24-hour rapid antigen test. If you are unable to meet these requirements, you will be required to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.
6. Salta, Argentina
Salta, a province in northwest Argentina, is characterized by Martian desert landscapes, a strong Andean culture, high-altitude vineyards and the picturesque capital, also known as Salta. Known as “Salta La Linda” (“Salta the Beautiful”), the capital has some of the country’s most striking Spanish-Colonial architecture, including well-preserved parks, churches and squares.
It’s a cultural center – a place where you can taste delicious regional cuisine and learn about local art, history and archeology in the many museums. participation in a pena– a traditional folk music concert – is an unforgettable way to connect with local culture. These include Spanish guitars, drums, fiddles and audience participation in the form of clapping and stomping.
If you’re here in August, you can also witness the Pachamama celebrations, dedicated to Mother Earth and based on Andean mythological beliefs.
With its vast expanses and incredible rock formations, the province of Salta attracts fans of outdoor recreation. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, white water rafting and more can be done in this rugged landscape. The start of summer in the United States parallels the start of winter in Argentina, but temperatures are milder here than in other parts of the country, so spending time outdoors is still comfortable.
Argentina encourages visitors to get tested 24 hours before arrival, but does not impose any vaccination or testing requirements. You must complete an electronic declaration with information about your vaccination status and whether you have any symptoms of COVID-19.
7. Caño Cristales, Colombia
Known as “The Liquid Rainbow”, a visit to Caño Cristales is an experience you won’t soon forget. This colorful river flows red, green, yellow, blue and black at various points due to algae growing along the river bed.
To make the experience even more special, the seaweed only blooms at certain times of the year, meaning timing your visit is crucial. The good news is that this summer, especially July to October, is the perfect time to travel.
Caño Cristales is located in La Macarena National Park, a densely forested area where you can get a taste of the megadiversity that Colombia is famous for. River kayaking allows you to spot up to 400 species of birds that call the park home, as well as monkeys and pink river dolphins.
One of the reasons Caño Cristales is a once-in-a-lifetime experience is that getting there isn’t easy. It’s an arduous multi-day journey overland, or rather a charter plane from Bogotá. At the moment, Americans can enter Colombia with a vaccination certificate or a negative 72-hour PCR or antigen test.