After more than a year cooped up and doing absolutely everything from our living rooms — work and school, Zoom meetings, Zoom happy hours, working out, even graduating — many of us have one thing on our minds: travel. If you’re eager to get back to exploring Mother Earth, you’re in luck as more countries announce they will welcome tourists again. But where should you go after spending the past 18 months with nowhere to go?
It’s time to dust off those travel bucket lists because we’ve compiled an epic list of the top seven vacation spots for 2021.
Jump Ahead To
1. Saint Lucia
If you’ve got blue waters, white sand, and unlimited pina coladas on the mind, a vacation package in Saint Lucia is calling your name. Besides jaw-dropping scenery and landscape, the island of Saint Lucia has so much to offer travelers of all interests and needs. Thrill-seekers will love all the water sports from scuba diving to parasailing, while nature lovers will appreciate the island’s natural beauty and picturesque hikes. Saint Lucia is also home to some pretty awesome volcano sites, and after a long day of gazing in wonder, you can take a load off and relax at hot sulfur springs that are conveniently located on the road up to the volcano.
Why does vacation always have to end so soon? With Saint Lucia’s newly rolled out “Live It” program, it doesn’t have to! To warmly welcome tourists back to the island, “Live It” allows visitors and remote workers to stay in Saint Lucia for up to six weeks. After filling out an online application, applicants are paired with an island specialist who will act as their personal guide before and during the stay. The island specialist will help book and arrange flights, accommodations, activities, and transport — they basically take care of everything, allowing Live It members to pack a bag and show up in Saint Lucia for six weeks. Don’t mind if we do.
Paris is always a good idea — and makes for the perfect post-pandemic getaway. The best part about Paris is that it’s magical in every season, so there are no seasonal restrictions to worry about, and you will have an exquisite holiday no matter the time of year you visit.
We recommend reserving a day or two to see all the Paris landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower (go at night!), Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, and any other iconic Paris sights on your bucket list. Then, use the rest of your time in Paris to stroll the streets like a Parisian. Pop into a flower shop and buy a fresh bouquet for your hotel room, grab a croissant and cafe au lait, stop at a local farmers market, and overall do things that make you happy. Living like a Parisian means taking the time to stop and appreciate the small things. Pack your rosé colored glasses and stroll the streets to experience the ultimate Parisian “joie de vivre.”
3. Bora Bora
French Polynesia is a small island that is overflowing with beauty. The island is home to a dormant volcano that fans out into lush jungle before eventually spilling into an aquamarine lagoon. Bora Bora is home to many luxury resorts — some even have over-the-water private villas for a totally romantic and secluded getaway. The best part is that Bora Bora still remains a relatively low-visited country, meaning it is an untouched paradise. There are no crowds and areas that are overflowing with tourists in Bora Bora, which lends to the island’s chill vibes. French Polynesia is one of the purest spots on the planet — so take deep breaths and enjoy the ultimate relaxing vacation.
Greece was one of the first countries to reopen to Americans after the pandemic, and we are so grateful! The breathtaking Greek islands are a must-see travel destination, so why wait any longer to experience Athens‘ deep-rooted history and culture, Santorini’s iconic blue roofs, and Mykonos‘ vibrant club scene surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea?
Eat fresh olives and seafood, experience the deep flavor profiles of Greek wine and ouzo, and of course, grab a late-night or mid-afternoon gyro for a cheap and mouthwatering snack.
From organized beaches with sunbeds and umbrellas to beach bars and clubs where the party doesn’t stop to more secluded and peaceful beaches — Greece has a beach for everybody!
The Greek islands have a rich history and are home to many of the world’s historical sites. Ancient architecture lovers will marvel at the sight of architecture dated back to 900 B.C.
5. The Big Island, Hawaii
The Big Island, officially named Hawaii, is the largest of Hawaii’s islands. The Big Island is home to 12 of the world’s 14 climate zones and has one of the most dynamic landscapes on Earth. On the Big Island, you can experience rocky beaches, sandy beaches, New Zealand-style pastures, and rain forests filled with beautiful orchids and waterfalls. There’s also snow on the Big Island! It dusts the peak of the Mauna Kea Volcano — the world’s tallest mountain when measured from seafloor to peak.
Though Hawaii is the largest of the Hawaiian islands, it’s also the most sparsely populated. Only about 170,000 residents call the Big Island home. For tourists, this means fewer crowds to deal with and more space to spread your towel on one of the island’s dozens of beaches.
Want an Instagram photo that will knock your followers’ socks off? There’s a green sand beach on the Big Island! The accumulation of semi-precious silicate crystals causes the beach to be green. The trek to the green sand beach called Punaluu is a bit arduous but well worth it. It’s a 2.5-mile drive (though unauthorized cars are not allowed, so if you don’t feel like hiking, you’ll have to catch a ride with the locals), followed by a rocky walk leading to a strikingly beautiful and mesmerizing green sand beach. Take a dive into the cool, blue waters and lie down for a while in the green sand. We’ve even seen people cliff-jumping into the water.
The cuisine on the Big Island is out of this world with every kind of poke bowl and fresh fish you can imagine to shave ice (not shaved!), taro, and roasted pork. You’ll definitely want to pack your appetite on your trip to Hawaii’s Big Island.
Dubai’s dizzying skyscrapers, extensive five-star hotel offerings, and man-made islands make it a sight to see. Dubai is perfect for the eco-conscious traveler, as the United Arab Emirates recently adopted its Vision 2021 agenda, which pledges to focus on sustainable development, clean energy, and environmental preservation. You can get a glimpse of Vision 2021 at work by visiting Dubai’s Sustainable City, a net-zero-energy metropolis within Dubai. In the Sustainable City, solar panels shade parking spaces, a buffer zone of trees naturally purifies the air, and greenhouses pave the way for urban farming. There are even some hotels in Dubai that are pushing to recycle all wastewater.
Dubai offers diverse cuisine for the foodie traveler and features Lebanese, Indian, and French influences. Try stuffed camel, a local dish cooked on a spitfire over an open flame, and chicken shawarma from a street vendor, and save room for some esh hasarya, a cake that is like cheesecake with a cream frosting.
Vietnam’s dramatic landscapes, fascinating history, delectable food, and vibrant energy make it one of our must-see destinations for 2021. Vietnam is famous for having some of the best street food in the world, meaning you’ll be able to dine deliciously on a budget. As the world’s second-biggest coffee producer, Vietnam is also home to exquisite coffee. From specialty coffee shops to street vendors, you can find coffee around virtually every corner and down every alleyway in Vietnam. The Vietnamese serve their coffee with sweetened condensed milk for a delicious boost of sweetness.
Vietnam is also home to the biggest cave in the world, Son Dong Cave. The cave was first explored in 2009 and did not open to tourists until 2012. This cave is reserved for skilled explorers, but there are many other caves in Vietnam that are more accessible.
A trip to Vietnam would not be complete without going to the local markets. Vietnamese markets are in a league of their own and sell everything from clothing and fabric to dried baby shrimp. Allow yourself ample time to get lost in the rows upon rows of the market — a great place to find inexpensive and unique souvenirs to bring home.
2021 is shaping up to be an exciting year full of new beginnings. What better way to take advantage of the world reopening than by heading out to explore new areas and make new memories? Use this list as your guide and start planning an unforgettable vacation today!