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We promise this won't (really) hurt.

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The 5 Best Places Americans Can Travel Right Now

Perhaps you don’t want to leave because of the pandemic, or you’re happy at home because fall is the best time of year to be a coastal elite. All good. But maybe you’ve got a pile of unemployment cash and a bloodstream filled with Covid antibodies. Maybe you’re choking on wildfire smoke in the West or tired of raking leaves in the East. If that’s the case — or if you just wanna dream — here are the best places for American surfers to travel right now.  

1. Tahiti

MichelBourez Leroy bellet tahiti

Tahiti is famous for its hospitality. Michel Bourez, rolling out the welcome mat for photographer Leroy Bellet.

Late season Teahupo'o while Michel Bourez and co. are away in France, anyone? Nonstop flights from SFO are $826, from LAX $725. One-stops from JFK are $1,100. 

Dane Reynolds made the strike last week, and while I was not writing this I saw on IG that Mav’s grom Thomas Lungard had just made it over there too. I asked him how it went. “A little stressful because you need to take a Covid test 3 days before your plane leaves but it’s hard to find a place that can give you the results quick enough,” he wrote. “I took it at Stanford and I called them like 15 times and luckily one lady hooked me up and called the lab to make sure it got through ASAP. If you don’t have the test or you’re positive for Covid they won’t let you on the plane.”

Entry Requirement: Negative RT-PCR test 72 hours before departure. Self-test (which they give you) four days after arrival. 

2. Mexico

Brian Conley Chris Gurney ff

Brian Conley, Mexico. Photo: Chris Gurney

Even if the rest of the world was welcoming you like a struggling strip club, I’d still recommend Mexico. It’s close, it’s cheap and it’s one of the most wave-rich regions on earth (and sure, it’s got more than a few struggling strip clubs). Pandemic-proof surfers have been heading south of the border this summer, with many opting for Colima beach breaks over Puerto Escondido because of a more favorable flight path. (Nobody likes that long layover in Mexico City.) As a result, the area has seen pre-Covid crowds. But Mexico has thousands of miles of Pacific coastline. You can find some solitude. 

For those in Southern California your best option might be to walk across the border and fly out of Tijuana, which has cheap, direct round trip flights to Colima ($252), Huatulco ($262), Ixtapa ($321) and more. 

By most accounts Mexicans are taking Covid very seriously, and are better than their northern neighbors at wearing masks and social distancing. Show respect and follow their lead. 

Entry Requirement: A pulse.

3. The Caribbean 

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The carpets match the clouds in the Caribbean. Dylan Graves and a little friendly discovery. Photo: Russo / Vans

I know very little about the Caribbean. I’m not even sure how to pronounce it (care-IH-bee-in or cah-RIB-ee-in?). But Stab's Mikey C knows a lot so I asked him if it was a good season to be there. “Depends,” he said. “Hurricane swells can be sick if they take the right path. Or they can destroy everything in sight. Or they won't send any waves at all.” 

Is it acceptable to include on the list or not, Mikey? “Yes. You can actually use hurricane Paulette as an example. It'll send waves down there for sure. Maybe the next one, too.”

Here are the entry requirements for the following islands:
Barbados: Negative PCR test result 72 hours prior to travel. Without one you’ll be required to take a test upon arrival and self-isolate while awaiting for the results.
Dominican Republic: Negative PCR test 5 days before travel.
Guadeloupe: Negative Covid test 72 hours before departure. 
Puerto Rico: Negative Covid test 72 hours before departure.
Haiti: None. (It’s got better waves than you think. I got barreled here once.)

4. Maldives

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Maldivian juice worth squeezin'. Photo: Umar Ebrahim

The Maldives reopened to tourism on July 15 with no quarantine and no testing requirement. Italo took advantage. Many considered renting this island. Others just went and rented a room like a normal person. There was a small uptick in Covid cases, though, so on September 10 they implemented a testing policy which requires a negative result 72 hours before departure. 

LAX to Male is just over $1,000 RT. JFK to Male is $1,130 RT.

But where to go once you're there? A completely unbiased Mark Winson of TropicSurf told us, "Six Senses Laamu is where you want to be. Throaty rights 5 mins from the resort and the country’s best barrel just 30 minutes away. Get there before the end of October to score the best conditions.”

Rumor has it some of the ...Lost team are heading to this dreamy island nation in a couple of weeks. They sure seem to get around!

Entry Requirement: Negative Covid test 72 hours before departure.

5. West Africa

EvaDiez WestAfrica

Can you name 5 countries on Africa's west coast? Well, there are 20 of them, and they all have waves. Welcome to one of surfing's least-explored wave gardens. Photo: Eva Diez

There are few things that feel as adventurous as landing in West Africa, but landing in West Africa during a pandemic is one of them. And while there are 10 countries on Africa’s Atlantic coast that are technically open for tourists at the moment, many require quarantines or are too inconsistent to recommend.

But Liberia and Ghana both have good surf, warm water, speak English and are relatively easy to reach from the US. From LA to Liberia it's $1,643; Accra $954. From NYC to Liberia it's $1,300, Accra $934. Wait for a big south swell and go. Bring a shortboard, step-down and an open mind.

Entry requirements: 
Liberia: Rapid PCR test given upon arrival.
Ghana: Negative Covid test 72 hours before departure.


[All info as of September 15, 2020. Lots of openings on the horizon, including Morocco, Nicaragua, El Salvador and more. Stay tuned.]

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