Cook Islands announces two-way quarantine-free travel with NZ

The Cook Islands government has announced two-way quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands will resume in January 2022.

Travelling during covid-19 pandemic. New Zealand passport and protective mask on black suitcase


This announcement means the Cook Islands will be the only country that people in New Zealand can travel to and from for a holiday, without any quarantine or isolation from 14 January 2022.

However some families will be unable to make the trip all together, with children under the age of 12 not permitted to travel until the New Zealand government receives approval to vaccinate children between 5-11 years old.

Travellers will be required to take a Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours before departing and provide evidence of a negative test results both on departure and arrival in New Zealand. No test will be required upon arrival in the Cook Islands.

New Zealanders will be able to travel from the main island of Rarotonga to the island of Aitutaki, with the only requirement being that travellers undergo a Rapid Antigen Test before boarding their flight to Aitutaki. A further test may be required on Aitutaki.

Cook Islands Tourism general manager Graeme West said the Cook Islands was very fortunate to have remained Covid-19 free so far.

He said the Cook Islands government has prioritised the health and wellbeing of its residents and visitors throughout the pandemic. More than 96 percent of its eligible population are fully vaccinated.

“We were open for just three months from May to August this year until the current Delta outbreak in New Zealand meant that the border had to be closed. We are absolutely delighted that we can safely welcome fully vaccinated visitors from New Zealand back again very soon.”

To assist with contact tracing in the Cook Islands, Travellers will be required to complete a Cook Islands contact form 72 hours before departing New Zealand and also use the Pacific nation’s own app-based contact tracing system.

The travel corridor is exclusively open between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, and the Cook Islands maritime border will remain closed.

The Cook Islands government said full details will become available on their tourism website over the next few weeks.

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Travel Tips For Andaman And Nicobar Islands| 5 Must-Visit Places, Adventure Activities, And More

Craving stunning sunsets, crystal clear blue waters, and white-sand beaches? Then you can experience this and more in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. An archipelago of over 300 islands located in the Bay of Bengal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands is the perfect choice for a vacation. The picturesque islands cater for a perfect beach holiday away from the hustle-bustle of the city. The untouched white sandy beaches offer a plethora of adventure activities and luxury staycations.Also Read – Visit Chaukori in Uttarakhand For a Heaven-Like Experience – Here Are Some Places to See And More

The gorgeous islands have something for every tourist. Here, we list 5 must-visit places in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Also Read – As Sikkim Decides to Lift Inter-State Travel Curbs – Here Are Some Places to Explore

  • Radhanagar beach, Havelock Island: Awarded as one of the best beaches in Asia, this beach offers picturesque scenery, pristine white sand, crystal clear blue water.
  • Cellular Jail, Port Blair: Built between 1896 and 1908, the jail was home to hundreds of freedom fighters. The jail is known as Kala Pani, this jail was constructed during the colonial rule of Britishers.
  • Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island: Formerly known as Ross Island, this is one of the most popular destinations in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located near Port Blair. This island is famous as the headquarters of the British Colony in the state. This island has a beautiful view of the sea, and you can laze around gazing at the turquoise blue waters for hours.
  • Kala Pathar Beach: A flawless seashore with white sand, clear blue water and big black rocks. Located on the tip of Havelock Island, the name of the beach was derived from the adjoining street known as Black Road. You can spend hours here and witness amazing sunset as well as sunrise.
  • Viper Island: The island has derived its name from the H.M.S Viper that met with an accident and its wreckage was found near the island. This island is famous for its old jail, here you can enjoy the sunset and the peace.

Adventure Activities in Andaman and Nicobar:

If you love all things adventurous, then Andaman and Nicobar Islands has a lot to offer: Also Read – World’s Highest Motorable Road In Ladakh – Check Interesting Facts

  • Snorkelling and Scuba Diving: Explore the vibrant aquatic life in the turquoise waters of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Witness the famous coral reefs and the wide range of aquatic flora and fauna.
  • Underwater sea walking: Experience underwater sea walking or helmet diving. You can walk on the seafloor at a maximum depth of seven meters during high tide and in calm water, as reported by Outlook India.
  • Glass Bottom Boat Ride: You can explore the mysteries underwater with the Glass Bottom Boat Ride.
  • Mangrove Kayaking: Want to experience kayaking? Then take a trip to Havelock Island. Explore the rich flora while riding kayak in still waters.
  • Seaplane ride: Witness the scenic attractions of Andaman with a Seaplane ride.

When is the Best time to visit Andaman And Nicobar Island:

The best time to visit Andaman and Nicobar Island and enjoy water sports activities is between October- May.

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9 Best European Islands To Visit

When islands in Europe are mentioned, especially when it comes to vacation hotspots, then the Greek Islands win every time. Followed, usually, by the Balearics, the Canaries, and a few Italian islands, such as Sardinia or Capri. Admittedly, these are all gorgeous islands, and extremely popular with travelers, but not only does their popularity take away from their appeal, but also there are so many more beautiful European islands that are worth a visit. And, best of all, they are not overrun with tourists and allow you to discover parts of Europe you might not have considered before.

Being a dedicated island fan, I have selected a few in this roundup that might just spark your interest and entice you away from the crowds. Here are islands that have that little something different, are off the beaten path, or are popular, but not at the time I recommend visiting.

Ready for some island hopping?

Jerbourg Point, the southeastern point of the Ballwich of Guernsey in the English Channel.
Ruth Peterkin /

1. Guernsey, English Channel

The bailiwick of Guernsey is part of the Channel Islands, and although a British Crown Dependency, the island is a delightful mix of all things French and English, lying some 30 miles off the coast of Normandy and 70 miles off the coast of England. The small island with a grand total of 65,000 inhabitants is perfect for hiking, with a coastal path spanning 110 miles of varied terrain. The island is historic, with a beautiful natural landscape that has inspired painters and writers. It has cute small villages and towns full of restaurants serving the freshest seafood, but most of all, it invites you to slow down and explore at a more relaxed pace.

Pro Tip: Rent a car at the airport and explore the island first, before enjoying the rest on foot. 

Chalk Cliffs in Rügen National Park, Rügen, Germany
Pitufo22 /

2. Rügen, Germany

Do you know the painting Chalk Cliffs on Rügen by German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich? The artist is an ancestor of mine, and I was taken to see it at a museum when I was young. To me, it sums up the island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea perfectly. Beautiful white cliffs, lush countryside, all surrounded by the sea, which is lovely and warm in summer, not too salty, and often freezes over in winter. A former society sea bath resort, the island is dotted with old grand hotels, and one of the prettiest piers in the world, the Sellin Pier, which has a white restaurant on a platform reached by a short wooden pier. While the island has perfect beaches for swimming in summer, this is an all-year destination that invites visitors to don comfortable shoes, grab a map and go out exploring.

Pro Tip: There are easy train connections from Hamburg or Berlin, that take you to the island in three to four hours.

Aerial view of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, France
Saint-Martin-de-Ré, France (Photo Credit: Trabantos /

3. Ile de Ré, France

Probably my favorite island in Europe, the Île de Ré, oozes French charm at every turn. Just a bridge away from the medieval city of La Rochelle with its quaint harbor, it seems a million miles away from anywhere. Endless beaches, towns with tiny harbors full of colorful traditional fishing boats, good food, houses with shutters in pastel colors, and even its own breed of donkey, the Poitou donkey, that looks very shaggy with its dreadlocks. Quite often you see them wearing trousers, which is not a gimmick but protects them from mosquitoes.

Rent a bike and explore the lighthouse, the windmills, the salt flats, and don’t forget to buy some of the famous Île de Ré coarse sea salt.

Pro Tip: As much as I love this island, the French love it even more, and come in August when you can barely step for people. However, visit in September and all the tourists with kids have disappeared, yet all the restaurants are still open, and the beaches empty.

Coastline of Bosphorus, Princes Islands, Turkey
 Ann Stryzhekin /

4. The Princes Islands, Istanbul, Turkey

I love that when on a city break, you can take a short excursion and land somewhere completely different for a day. The Princes Islands are made up of nine small islands in the Sea of Marmara, four of which I believe are open to the public. The Islands are a mere 1.5-hour ferry ride from the heart of Istanbul. Arrive on the main island and you’ll notice straight away how quiet it is. No cars, just the clippety-clop of horse-drawn carriages, and the hum of electric trams and buses. The islands are wooded, and quite hilly, crammed full of prime real estate, and narrow beaches, always packed with locals on the weekend. There is not much to do in the way of sightseeing, but they offer such a contrast to bustling Istanbul, and the ferry ride is just lovely, that they are well worth searching out.

Pro Tip: If you are unsure which ferry to take or which island to choose, try a guided day trip from Istanbul, with a tour and lunch on the main island.

The lighthouse and sand dunes on Texel, Netherlands.
Sara Winter /

5. Texel, Netherlands

Texel is the largest of the Dutch North Sea islands, one of the Frisian or Wadden Islands which stretch from the Netherlands to Germany and up to Denmark. These islands lie in the large mudflat area called the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site because of its unique ecosystem. They vary in size, with Texel being large in comparison, at 15 miles long and 5.5 miles wide. Basically sand dunes overgrown with grass, the islands are a haven for wildlife, especially birds and seals, and the beaches are beautiful. That said, the tide goes out a long way, and when it comes back in, it comes in fast, so when out Wadden walking, always take care. Texel has several small communities but with lots to offer, from cheese sampling to wine tasting (yes, this island in the North Sea has a vineyard!) and there are some good restaurants, offering, not surprisingly, great fresh seafood.

Pro Tip: Stay at the Strandhotel Noordzee, right in the sand dunes and with great views.

Rocks on the shore with turquoise waters, Formentera, Spain.
lunamarina /

6. Formentera, Spain

When everybody heads off to Mallorca or Ibiza, may I suggest instead visiting Formentera, the smallest of the Balearic Islands? Reached by a rather scenic ferry ride from neighboring Ibiza, little Formentera is not half as busy as its more popular neighbors but instead has empty beaches with turquoise waters, lighthouses, great walks, and superb scuba diving. San Francesc is the largest community on the island with its 3,000 inhabitants but has a surprising number of good restaurants, cafes, and shops, catering to incoming day-trippers and yachts arriving from across the Mediterranean Sea.

Pro Tip: This island is a perfect size to be explored by bicycle or scooter. Just don’t forget to pack a picnic and a beach towel.

Rocky islands in Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden.
Igor Grochev /

7. Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden

Some 30,000 islands make up the Stockholm archipelago, some only large enough for a small beach hut, others sporting villages and ferry ports. Each one though is charming and offers the sort of getaway you don’t get in many places. Many Swedes own a beach house on one of the many islands off the Swedish coast and use them at weekends or over the summer months. Most are basic, without electricity or amenities, and you have to get there by paddle boat, bringing your supplies with you — and taking the leftovers off the island when you leave. But when it comes to peacefulness, then it doesn’t get much better.

Pro Tip: You can take day trips to various islands from Stockholm which will give you an idea of just how lovely this part of Sweden is. But even better, why not rent a tiny house on one of the islands and do as the locals do? 

Aerial view of Comino island, Malta with boats in the water.
Karina Movsesyan /

8. Comino Island, Malta

While Malta is a large island with a stunning, historic capital, Malta is also an archipelago, with only three of the islands inhabited: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. Although at last count, Comino only had a reported population of three. A popular day-tripping spot from the two larger islands, little Comino is a nature reserve and famous for its Blue Lagoon, and so popular because in Malta itself good beach bathing is at a premium due to the rocky coast.

Pro Tip: Best reached by boat from Malta, an organized boat trip also gives you the chance of seeing some other coves and beaches on the island.

Harbor and village Porto Azzurro at sunset, Elba island, Italy.
Balate Dorin /

9. Elba, Italy

The island of Elba officially belongs to Tuscany in Italy. Need I say more? The third-largest island of Italy, and famous for playing host to Emperor Napoleon during his exile in 1814 from France. Elba is historic, with plenty to see, surrounded by the beautiful Tyrrhenian Sea, offering plenty of watersports. Elba is large enough to give you a chance of a road trip and explore before settling down in a more relaxed seaside resort. The best thing is, while the Italians know about this place, foreign tourists usually head to the better-known islands, making Elba a little quieter.

Pro Tip: While on your Tuscan Road Trip, take the roughly 1-hour ferry ride to Elba from Piombino, and add a couple or three days of R&R on Elba.

Other European adventures to explore:

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Things to Do in the Magdalen Islands: Canada Travel Guide & Trip Planner

Magdalen Islands

The low-key Îles-de-la-Madeleine are a best-kept-secret among Québecois. | Photo by Stephanie Foden

The low-key Îles-de-la-Madeleine are a best-kept-secret among Québecois. | Photo by Stephanie Foden

Alright America, huddle up. I’m about to let you in on a secret.

On the east coast of Canada, smack in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, there’s an archipelago of eight islands with 186 miles of pristine red and squeaky white sand beaches, rich Acadian culture (yes, the same Acadians that migrated to Louisiana and became known as Cajuns), and truly amazing gourmet eats. I’m talking some of the best seafood, anywhere.

They’re called Îles-de-la-Madeleine, or the Magdalen Islands, and they’re wildly popular among Québecois—yet few people in the rest of Canada have even heard about them.

If you’ve read up on climate news lately—moon wobble, code red, ahh!—this stunning archipelago might not be around for too many more generations. And every year, more and more people are finding out about this pearl of the east coast (yep, thanks to stories like this one). So you’ll definitely want to plan a trip sooner rather than later.

Prince Edward Island Ferry
The five-hour ferry takes off from Prince Edward Island. | Photo by Stephanie Foden

What to know before you go

With a landmass just 20 square miles bigger than Manhattan in a gulf of water roughly the size of Minnesota, Îles-de-la-Madeleine isn’t exactly a place you’ll bump into unless, well, you’re Jacques Cartier sailing to North America in 1534. So if you want to go, you’ll need to plan ahead. Seriously, some people plan their trips two years in advance.

To get there, you can fly into Îles-de-la-Madeleine Airport on the island of Île-du-Havre-Aux-Maisons, or sail about five hours on the sparkly new Madeleine II ferry from Souris, Prince Edward Island. The extra cost to bring a car aboard the ship is worth it, as there’s so much to explore, despite the archipelago being just an hour drive tip-to-tip.

June to August is your best chance at great weather and when you can see the awesome sandcastle festival. But peak season is also when the islands’ adorable pastel-colored cottages, cabins, and campsites book up, so May and September might be a better bet.

And yes, this is Quebec, so expect to hear mostly French with smatterings of English when necessary.

Hiking on Magdalen
Meander through windswept hills and charming fishing villages. | Photo by Stephanie Foden

Explore secret beaches and historic lighthouses

If coming by ferry, you’ll land at Cap-aux-Meules, which has all your necessities but admittedly lacks on the charming side. For something cuter, drive south to La Grave, where Acadian refugees first landed after escaping deportation in 1755’s Grand Dérangement, when the British and French colonists butted heads over Canadian land. Today, La Grave is a cute fishing village with solid restaurants like Café de la Grave, pretty shops like Atelier Côtier where you can buy art made of sand, and the beachfront venue Au Vieux Treuil that plays music into the night.

Other hubs worth checking out are L’Étang du Nord, with its boardwalk, carnival-like energy, and delicious ice cream from Cremerie du Port; Entry Island, which requires a short boat trip, has only 60 inhabitants, and grants desktop screensaver-like views from atop its biggest hill; and Île-du-Havre-aux-Maisons where you can see glass-blown jellyfish at La Méduse and the historic Cape Alright Lighthouse—built in 1928, it’s much cooler than its name suggests.

As for beaches, you won’t have to look too hard. For every one of the 13,000 year-round Madelinot locals, there’s probably a different “secret” beach, but some faves are at Pointe-aux-Loups, L’Anse aux Whalers in Fatima, at the tip of La Grave’s long and skinny sand dune, and Dune-du-Sud on Havre-aux-Maisons.

Oysters on Magdalen
Head out to sea for fresh oysters with Cultures du Large. | Photo by Stephanie Foden

Procure the ultimate picnic

Seeking out and eating gourmet food is basically a sport on Îles-de-la-Madeleine. The Circuit des Saveurs food trail features 26 producers that offer traditional, extremely tasty local cuisine that you can usually taste on-site.

At Fumoir d’Antan, you can see (and smell) herring smoked the traditional way—over slow-burning fires for three months—and then grab some for your picnic along with smoked mackerel, scallops, and salmon. At Miel en Mer, open a door to witness thousands of bees working on their honey, which turns white when it crystalizes. And at Cultures du Large, you’ll absolutely want to hop on a boat out to sea and eat the freshest oysters you’ve ever tried before taking a box for yourself.

Fumoir d’Antan
Smoked mackerel, scallops, and salmon at Fumoir d’Antan. | Photo by Stephanie Foden

As for booze, brewery À l’Abri de la Tempête serves intriguing flavors in its multi-level bar and Le Barbocheux does artisanal yet inexpensive berry wine tastings.

For a more guided food experience, restaurants across the islands cleverly combine these gourmet products. At Gourmande de Nature, Chef Johanne Vigneau utilizes the abundance of amazing seafood around the archipelago—think crunchy lobster tail and a deconstructed cheesecake served inside a scallop shell. And at Bistro Accents, where 80% of all ingredients are local, Chef Hugo LeFrançois sears halibut to perfection and knows how to cook a mean seal filet mignon.

When I asked LeFrançois why Madelinot are so passionate about eating local, he told me it’s a form of mutual respect.

“If everyone would be independent, everyone would die,” he said.

Kitesurfing on Magdalen
This might be the best place in the world to learn how to kitesurf. | Photo by Stephanie Foden

Get in on some of the world’s best kitesurfing

Being on the Atlantic coast means that the weather on Îles-de-la-Madeleine tends to be prettay windy, but you can make the best of it by grabbing a board and a kite and literally flying. Off beaches across the archipelago, you’ll see kitesurfers levitating airborne before gently gliding back down to the rippling waves below.

But you don’t have to be a pro kitesurfer to go here. Îles-de-la-Madeleine might be the best place in the world to learn, because there are plenty of lagoons; so if you lose your board, you can just walk over instead of body surfing to get it.

The wind is also really consistent, so if you go for a week, you’ll likely spend most of your time out on the water rather than chatting with your travel mate(s) about all the people you want to share these secret islands with.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Joel Balsam is a freelance journalist and travel guidebook writer whose work can be found in National Geographic Travel, Time, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, and Travel + Leisure. Follow him @joelbalsam.

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rt-pcr : Andaman travel update: Fully vaccinated tourists do not need to carry PCR report, Andaman And Nicobar Islands

Andaman travel update: Fully vaccinated tourists do not need to carry PCR report

In a new travel guideline, the Andaman and Nicobar government has announced exemption of negative RT-PCR reports for fully vaccinated travellers who wish to visit the island destination. The new guideline will come into effect from September 25.

Requirements to enter

According to the latest SOPs, asymptomatic fully vaccinated with both doses of COVID-19 vaccine won’t have to carry their negative RT-PCR test report to enter Port Blair. Also, the passenger should have completed more than 15 days after the second dose of the vaccine.

Such passengers will also be exempted from undergoing additional RT-PCR tests on arrival at the airport. An ID document proof along with the vaccination certificate will be required. If someone is found symptomatic on arrival at Port Blair, irrespective of their vaccination status, they’ll have to take the RT-PCR test at the airport.

Others who are unvaccinated or are partially vaccinated and those with both doses not completed 15 days, will have to carry a negative RT-PCR report. An additional RT-PCR test on arrival will also take place at the airport.

Being a popular holiday destination, a large number of tourists are travelling to the Andamans. The islands and all the other attractions are open to tourists now but all the COVID-19 protocols are being followed like social distancing and wearing of face masks all the time.

As of now, the union territory has 17 COVID-19 cases.

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Volcano in Canary Islands disrupts air travel, sends residents fleeing

Sept. 25 (UPI) — Flights have been canceled and residents ordered to evacuate as a volcanic eruption on the Spanish island of La Palma intensified.

The volcanic eruption began Sept. 19 in Cumbre Vieja rift located in the Canary Islands archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa and is the first since 1971.

The Canary Islands government said Saturday that it’s maintaining the evacuation of the villages of Tajuya, Tacande de Abajo and Tacande de Arriba as a safety measure. Enaire, an air navigation manager in Spain and west Sahara, has also restricted areas in for the municipalities of El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane.

Lava has destroyed 400 homes and buildings on the island of 85,000 and caused the evaluation of 6,000 people, reports CNN.

Ash rising from the volcano continues to be a concern and the local government has instructed residents to remain inside and to wear goggles and face coverings if they venture out.

The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute said on Twitter on Friday that the eruption sent shockwaves of air from sudden decompression through the atmosphere that can travel faster than the speed of sound. Earlier that day, a second emission vent opened west of the eruption’s primary allowing more gas and lava to escape.

Spanish airport operator Aena said Friday on Twitter that it closed the La Palma airport because of the build-up of ash, which crews were cleaning Saturday.

Local authorities and the Spanish government were working to provide relief to residents, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Friday. He said his government was preparing for the island’s reconstruction, pledging that residents would not be forgotten.

Rivers of lava have continued flowing down the mountainside of the island, reports the Guardian. But the speed has slowed considerably, Miguel Ángel Morcuende, head of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan, told the news outlet.

“I don’t dare to tell you when it’s going to get there, nor do I dare to make a forecast,” Morcuende told reporters, according to the Guardian.

The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute posted some positive news to Twitter on Saturday.

“In the last few hours, the amplitude of the volcanic tremor has decreased notably in all the stations of the Canary Islands Seismic Network in La Palma,” it said.

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10 favourite British islands: readers’ travel tips | United Kingdom holidays

Winning tip: Rum – it’s the real Skye

It requires effort and planning to get to Rum, and it has few facilities, which means the island has nothing like the crowds of its big brother over the water. I had my finest day’s walking ever traversing the first three peaks in the Rum Cuillin range, and my best travel experience staying in the Guirdil bothy on a beach on the north-western coast. Then there’s Kinloch Castle, the decaying pile built by a Lancashire textile magnate. His grandiose mausoleum is well worth a visit too – by bike across former deer-stalking tracks.
Paul Kirkwood

Freshwater isle, Loch Lomond

Looking across Loch Lomond from Inchmurrin, with Ben Lomond in the distance.
Looking across Loch Lomond from Inchmurrin, with Ben Lomond in the distance. Photograph: Mark Williams/Alamy

A 40-minute drive from Glasgow will take you to the ferry for Inchmurrin island, one of Loch Lomond’s gems, which hosts good self-catering accommodation, a great bar and restaurant, beautiful beaches and super-clear water. The neighbouring islands of Inchconnachan and Inchcailloch have colonies of red wallaby – introduced in the 1920s – and white deer respectively. The ferry ride from Luss pier to Inchcailloch is stunning, though you’ll need your own boat or kayak to get to Inchconnachan.
Jayne Pearson


Readers’ tips: send a tip for a chance to win a £200 voucher for a Sawday’s stay


Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

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Scotland in miniature: Isle of Arran

View across the Firth of Clyde from the Witch’s step, Isle of Arran.
View across the Firth of Clyde from the Witch’s step, Isle of Arran. Photograph: Christian Heintzen/Alamy

This island has everything you need. Scenic coastal paths on the west coast takes you to Kings Cave (a claimed Robert the Bruce hideout); the rugged mountains of the north have walks up the popular Goat Fell; and there is more adventurous scrambling across the A’Chir ridge or the Witch’s Step on Caisteal Abhail. For a more leisurely day, there is the original Arran distillery in Lochranza (a new one has also been opened in Lagg) and an amazing pub with an even wider selection of whisky in the village. The surrounding sea is gorgeous for swimming in – and a friendly seal or otter might come to say hello.
Darren Atkinson

Cooler Caribbean, Barra

A couple walking on Tangasdale Beach,  Barra
Tangasdale Beach, Isle Barra. Photograph: Alamy

If you added a few palm trees, you could be in the Caribbean. But in fact you’re on a beach in Barra, with sparkling white sand and blue-green sea, and on the Hebridean coast the water isn’t even cold. But there is so much more – for example, the short boat ride to Kisimul Castle, seat of the MacNeils, the only medieval castle in the Hebrides, dating back to the era when the sea was the main highway and islands weren’t isolated. There are walks on the hills, standing stones and graveyards to visit, the neighbouring island of Vatersay with its own fascinating history, the bus to Eoligarry to see the planes landing on the beach at low tide. And the sky – always the changing sky, and the sea.
Barbara Forbes

Two hours on Iona

Houses by the beach, Iona.
Houses by the beach, Iona. Photograph: Keith Sutherland/Getty Images

My favourite time of day on Iona is 6.15pm, when the island becomes quiet. The last of the day trippers have left on the ferry to Fionnphort, on Mull. This is the time to go for a swim and absorb the sunlight in an after-swim snooze on a sandy beach or explore rock pools for crabs. Time goes slowly when you follow the final journey of the ancient Scottish kings along Sràid nam Marbh – the Street of the Dead. This cobbled track leads to Reilig Odhráin the cemetery just in time for evensong at the Abbey next door at a 8.15pm.
Monique Gadella

Where eagles dare, Mingulay

Grey seals on Mingulay beach.
Grey seals on Mingulay beach. Photograph: Alamy

St Kilda aside, I can’t think of a wilder UK island than uninhabited Mingulay at the southern tip of the Outer Hebrides. The ride to it ( £50 for a six-hour round trip from Barra including three hours ashore with Mingulay Boat Trips) passes some of the UK’s highest sea cliffs and a splendid array of birdlife: guillemots, razor bills, terns and sea eagles. I saw nine of the latter! My first view of the island was its vast beach covered in seals, with puffins darting in and out of their clifftop burrows. In the distance was a derelict schoolhouse, abandoned in 1912 – a reminder that humans are now only visitors to this place.
Nathanael Kent

Seabird central, Northumberland

European shag with chick, Farne Islands.
European shag with chick, Farne Islands. Photograph: Andre Gilden/Alamy

My number one has to be Northumberland’s rugged Farne Islands, where vast colonies of birds congregate on the rocky cliff faces. On a summer day trip from Seahouses, we saw puffins, shags, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, arctic terns and eider ducks. The boat captain also managed to get us up close to thousands of grey seals basking on the rocks.
Alison Field

Chapel in the sands, Morecambe Bay

Chapel Island in Morecambe Bay.
Chapel Island in Morecambe Bay. Photograph: John Davidson/Alamy

Chapel Island in Morecambe Bay is a tiny island you can get to – on guided walks only – to when the tide is at its lowest. You feel a great sense of nature at its best and at its most perilous! But once you arrive bare-footed you look around and get great views of the Lake District mountains in the distance and the surrounding coastline. The Island has no buildings or inhabitants, but for one or two days a year we get to be kings and queens of the place.
Jackie Donson

Car-free bliss, Herm

The Mermaid Tavern on Herm.
The Mermaid Tavern on Herm. Photograph: David Askham/Alamy

If seeing empty roads in the early days of lockdown was something you enjoyed, Herm Island is just the place to visit. Cars and bicycles are banned, but as the island is just a mile and a half long, you won’t miss them. The local gardens are celebrated by the RHS and many varieties of flowers grow here because of the mild climate. The only pub, the Mermaid Tavern manages to feel like it “belongs” to the island’s handful of residents, without feeling unwelcoming to visitors.
Paul Jones

Squeaking sands and singing monks, Caldey

Monastery buildings on Caldey Island, Pembrokeshire.
Monastery buildings on Caldey Island, Pembrokeshire. Photograph: Simon Whaley/Alamy

Caldey Island is off the coast of Pembrokeshire. A 20-minute boat trip from Tenby (£14) takes you to the golden Priory Bay beach, where the sand grains are perfectly spherical, so they squeak when you walk across them. Limestone cliffs house cormorants and oystercatchers, while seals bob in rocky bays below. Thrift blooms over the headlands, and hedgerows are lined with blackberries and gorse. Caldey Abbey stands tall over the village green, alongside a tiny post office and phone box. And remember to keep an eye on the treetops – there are red squirrels here.
Jemima Childs

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Volcano erupts in Canary Islands, lava threatens homes

MADRID — A volcano on Spain’s Atlantic Ocean island of La Palma erupted Sunday after a weeklong buildup of seismic activity, prompting authorities to speed up evacuations for 1,000 people as lava flows crept toward isolated homes on the mountain.

The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute reported the eruption on Cumbre Vieja, which last erupted in 1971. Huge red plumes topped with black-and-white smoke shot out along a volcanic ridge that scientists had been closely watching following the accumulation of molten lava below the surface and days of small earthquakes.

Mariano Hernández, the president of La Palma island, told Canary Islands Television there were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths from the eruption. He said there were five eruption points, of which two were spewing magma.

The explosion took place in an area known as Cabeza de Vaca on the western slope of the volcanic ridge as it descends to the coast. Tinges of red could be seen at the bottom of the black jets that shot rocks into the air.

One black lava flow with a burning tip was sliding toward some houses in the village of El Paso. Mayor Sergio Rodríguez said 300 people in immediate danger had been evacuated from their homes and sent to the El Paso soccer field. Roads were closed due to the explosion and authorities urged the curious not to approach the area.

La Palma, with a population of 85,000, is one of eight islands in Spain’s Canary Islands archipelago off Africa’s western coast. At their nearest point to Africa, they are 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Morocco.

Itahiza Dominguez, head of seismology of Spain’s National Geology Institute, told local TV station RTVC that although it was too early to tell how long this eruption would last, prior “eruptions on the Canary Islands lasted weeks or even months.”

The last eruption on the Canary Islands occurred underwater off the coast of El Hierro island in 2011. That eruption last five months.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez cancelled his trip to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly so he could travel from Spain’s mainland to the Canary Islands archipelago.

After days of what scientists call an “earthquake swarm,” authorities on La Palma had already started to evacuate residents with reduced mobility Sunday shortly before ground broke open. The area near the southern tip of the island where the ridge is located is not densely populated. Residents of the five nearby villages had already been told to be on alert and ready to leave their homes in case of an eruption.

A 3.8-magnitude quake was recorded before the eruption as vibrations from the seismic activity were felt on the surface.

The Scientific Committee of the Volcano Risk Prevention Plan said stronger earthquakes “are likely to be felt and may cause damage to buildings.” The committee of experts also noted that a stretch of the island’s southwest coast was at risk for landslides and rock falls.

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Exploring the Beaches, Vineyards, and Quiet Towns of Portugal’s Madeira Islands

In 1419, when Portuguese seafarers happened on an uninhabited island in the North Atlantic, around 500 miles off the African coast, they were awed by the dense covering of greenery. Even today, after 600 years of human encroachment, their amazement is easy to understand. The variety of flora is astounding: groves of local mahogany, bushy stands of indigenous lily of the valley, and a laurel forest, the largest surviving relic of the vegetation that covered much of southern Europe at least 15 million years ago. Those first men who arrived on the island called it Madeira—the Portuguese word for wood.

But those 15th-century sailors were perhaps indifferent to what struck me most forcibly when I first visited this summer: the insistent presence of the ocean. Madeira—the largest island in an archipelago of the same name—is so steep that even inland, when I walked through a vineyard or dined on a hillside, bright water framed the view.

Swimmers at Faja dos Padres Beach, in Madeira, Portugal

The beach at Fajã dos Padres. | Credit: Rodrigo Cardoso

In the capital city, Funchal, on the southern coast, hotels and restaurants take full advantage of a vista that never gets boring. But at ground level, strolling along sidewalks decorated with traditional cream-and-black mosaics, I was still distracted by gaps between buildings that offered shifting glints of blue. The Atlantic affects the climate, the wildlife, and the food. Those sailors, I thought, should have called their discovery mar—the sea.

My interest in this place pre-dates my realization that it was a place. My father used to sing a sly English music-hall ditty, “Have Some Madeira, M’Dear,” so when I grew older, it was the wine I wanted to try. Still, it turns out that there is no better location than Madeira in which to drink Madeira. The wine and the place are as intertwined as their common name suggests.

Every boat trip, swim, and breathtaking mountaintop walk, as I inhaled salt and admired the azure tint of the waves, reminded me that the Atlantic has shaped this wine’s existence. And the wine, the principal export of Madeira for more than 400 years, has profoundly changed its homeland’s destiny. As our hiking guide, Otilia “Tilly” Câmara, put it, “Madeira was born from the sea.”

We were high in the hills at the time: Câmara was leading us on a glorious hike along one of the levadas, the man-made irrigation channels that direct water from the forested mountains in the north and west to the dry southern slopes. It was so peaceful, walking alongside this small, orderly stream, framed by walnut, apple, and pear trees. We passed an older woman in a headscarf, who carried a pail of leaves to use as mulch, and felt terribly remote until we realized the closest village was just two minutes’ walk away.

Photos from Madeira, including fruits for sale at the market, and the island’s icon manpowered sledge cars

From left: A fruit stall at the Mercado dos Lavradores, in Funchal; attendants guide a sledge-car descent from Monte Palace Madeira. | Credit: Rodrigo Cardoso

For centuries, right up until the advent of air travel, almost everyone stopped in Madeira. Columbus briefly lived on the island. Captain Cook paused for supplies, sailed on to Rio de Janeiro and Tierra del Fuego, and wound up planting a British flag in eastern Australia. On the way to America and the West Indies, traders and explorers bought barrels of Madeira wine and discovered that it doesn’t just survive an ocean voyage: it improves. The acidity endures, the nutty, caramel flavors deepen. In an era when wine that traveled usually arrived as vinegar, this was incredible. And Madeirans grew rich on their wine’s resilience.

At Blandy’s Wine Lodge, part of a 16th-century Franciscan monastery that takes up an entire block near the Funchal waterfront, my husband, Craig, and I walked through beamed rooms, their wood dark with age, where the wine matures in barrels so old that Blandy’s employs four in-house coopers to handle the ongoing repairs. Past a small museum and a stately row of giant wooden vats, we arrived at a tasting room.

Reid’s Palace, perched on top of a cliff in Funchal, Madeira

Reid’s Palace, a Belmond Hotel, sits on a cliff in Funchal. | Credit: Rodrigo Cardoso

“We have nearly four million liters of Madeira wine aging here,” explained Chris Blandy, CEO of his family’s business. He casually opened a 2002 Sercial, made from one of the five Madeira grape varieties. It wasn’t sweet, although there were toffee and stewed-apple flavors, as well as a lemony acidity. It also wasn’t old. Unlike other wines, Madeira lasts almost indefinitely. There are surviving Madeiras—rich, bittersweet, utterly drinkable—that were made around the time John Blandy arrived from England to found the winery that still bears his name. And that was in 1811.

Perhaps I was sentimental, but the whole of Madeira seemed to have a versatility, a willingness to consider different ways of doing things, that might be a legacy of the inhabitants’ historic reliance on visitors. There were the venerable and modern styles of wine; hotels like Quinta da Casa Branca built in repurposed quintas, or manor houses, and ultra-contemporary resorts like Les Suites at the Cliff Bay.

At Casa de Pasto das Eiras, an unprepossessing shed in the hills east of Funchal, I tried espetadas, skewers of tender beef grilled on an open fire, then hung on metal hooks at each plate. This was quite the contrast with the modern dishes at Kampo, a seriously hip Funchal restaurant with an open kitchen and a poured-concrete bar. We ate sophisticated versions of Portuguese specialties such as a savory bola de Berlim doughnut, which is usually sweet but is here filled with chorizo and mushroom and topped with powdered sugar.

Chef preparing tuna at Kampo restaurant in Madeira

A chef prepares braised tuna with razor clam risotto at Kampo restaurant. | Credit: Rodrigo Cardoso

From the city, we glided by cable car into the hills, above terraces of the tiny, sweet local bananas, above flights of precipitous stairs leading to whitewashed, orange-roofed houses, whose residents must have excellent thigh muscles from all that climbing. At Pátio das Babosas, an airy hilltop restaurant, we stopped for lunch—grilled local tuna with milho frito, cubes of cornmeal fried with herbs; lapas, chewy, tasty limpets served in their frill-edged shells with butter, garlic, and a cascade of lemon—and gazed out over the slopes. It was distinctly cooler up there: clouds cluster around these mountains, then condense into rain that is channeled elsewhere via the levadas.

It was in these hills that the rich built their summer homes. One such residence is Monte Palace Madeira, an imposing estate constructed for an 18th-century consul and now home to over 750,000 square feet of botanical gardens filled with native and imported plants. Gorgeously decorated Portuguese tiles, some 500 years old, seem to be pasted, rather disconcertingly, to the foliage.

We skittered down paths lined with tangled greenery and giant ferns; what looked like fat, half-buried palm trees were actually cycads, the world’s most ancient seed-plant family, which first appears in the fossil record around 280 million years ago. In front of that grand building, a stepped cascade drew the eye down to a fish-filled lake and on to the distant ocean.

Two photos from Madeira, Portugal, showing a hiker along the island’s levadas, and the main cable car

From left: A hike along one of Madeira’s many levadas, channels built to bring water to the dry lowlands; the cable car to the gardens of Monte Palace Madeira. | Credit: Rodrigo Cardoso

A cable car seemed like a luxury when it came time to descend to the sunny lowlands by way of an only-in-Madeira sledge car. Two men wearing straw boaters and thick-soled shoes ushered Craig and me into an upholstered wicker basket. Why the thick soles? I wondered, as each attendant grabbed a rope attached to our conveyance and ran ahead down a sharply sloping road that had been worn glass-smooth from previous journeys. As we picked up speed, the two jumped on the back like old-fashioned footmen, and I got my answer: those shoes were our only brakes.

There was no dedicated path: cars had to stop for us, but there were few. The basket—originally used to transport goods downhill—swiveled this way and that, breath-catchingly close to the roadside ditch. It was as exhilarating as a fairground ride, and a lot more immediate. I don’t mind admitting that I hollered.

Recovery was swift. We padded through the beautiful grounds of our hotel, Quinta da Casa Branca. The gardens were amazing: Australian macadamia trees, cinnamon trees from Sri Lanka with their perfumed bark, the purple blossoms of the wonderfully named silver-leafed princess flower. On the broad stone terrace, as the setting sun briefly grazed the mountaintops, we sat down to herb-crusted lamb with local couscous.

Two photos showing the gardens, with lounge chairs, and the pool, at Quinta da Casa Branca in Madeira

The garden (left) and pool (right) at Quinta da Casa Branca in Madeira. | Credit: Rodrigo Cardoso

We sipped not the famous, fortified Madeiran wine but a deep-pink rosé, made from Tinta Negra Mole and Aragonez grapes, which, as we would see firsthand the following day at winery Quinta do Barbusano, grow on abrupt hills overlooked by a lonely belfry—a church with no church—and cooled by the ever-present sea.

The island was startlingly lovely: so green and sheer it resembled a vertical garden, trees alternating with terraces of bananas or vines. As we drove around the island, the sun would shut off every so often as the car ducked into a tunnel.

“We are like a Swiss cheese, full of holes!” our driver said cheerily.

The sky varied from cerulean to deep gray, depending on where we were, but the steep inclines and bright-purple African lilies that lined the roads like cheering crowds ensured that, even when it was cloudy, the scenery was never dull. One morning, atop Pico do Arieiro, the island’s third-highest peak, we watched the sun break through a glowing white haze just below us. The early start and short, cold walk in the dark, draped in blankets and clutching a thermos of coffee, were more than worth it to have the mountain seemingly to ourselves.

The tea terrace at Reids Palace in Funchal

The terrace at Reid’s Palace. | Credit: Rodrigo Cardoso

How those tunnels through the hills, built around 30 years ago, transformed the island! Journeys that would once have taken forever are now swift: little more than an hour to cross nearly the whole of Madeira’s 35-mile length, from eastern Machico to tiny Paúl do Mar in the west, where you can sometimes see the legendary green flash, a rare ray of emerald that appears on the horizon just before the sun sets.

Though travel time was minimal, those short commutes gave us a crucial window to sightsee and revive our appetites between meals. Which was vital when lunch at the hilltop Quinta do Barbusano was espetadas prepared by owner Tito Brazão and dinner was multiple courses at Galáxia Skyfood on the 16th floor of the Savoy Palace, a gleaming hotel that opened in 2019. The food played skillfully with Madeiran tradition. The panelo, a traditional banquet of stewed pork and sweet potatoes, had been reinvented as a taco; dessert was a banana poached in rum and accessorized, cheekily, with a communion wafer.

In the interim, we walked Funchal—past Mercado dos Lavradores, a buzzing Art Deco market, to the ocher São Tiago fortress, with a stop at a newly restored chapel dedicated by fishermen to their patron saint, Pedro Gonçalves Telmo. Did he protect his worshippers? I hope so. In the 16th century, they covered the ceiling in paintings to honor him.

This humble building was a stark contrast to the imposing Funchal Cathedral, built from dark-red volcanic rock that had been dragged down the coast from Cabo Girão, the island’s highest sea cliff. It’s a stunning profusion of tile, marble, paint, and gold leaf; not an inch of its interior is undecorated. Begun in the 1490s, it radiates the wealth and pride of an island that was the greatest sugar producer in the world—at least until the Portuguese realized that the cane used to produce their “white gold” would grow much better in their newest colonial outpost, Brazil. This economic disaster forced Madeira to refocus on wine, leaving just enough sugarcane to make agricultural rum, the basis of a weapons-grade drink called poncha.

The best places to brave this concoction are the tiny drinking dens that crowd the narrow streets of Câmara de Lobos, a fishing village. In Bar Number Two, there’s barely room to stand at the counter, but it’s worth doing to see owner Elmano Reis pound rum with sugarcane honey and juice from giant local lemons, the muscle in his forearm jumping in rhythm as he thumped and twirled the mexilhote, or wooden baton. His measures would have quenched the thirst of a desert wanderer, if this had been water—which, at 100 proof, it certainly wasn’t. The taste was dangerously pleasant. “We drink this in winter when we have a cold,” my guide, Célia Mendonça, said. Certainly honey and lemon is a universal remedy, but I wondered whether this potion cured sufferers or finished them off entirely.

A guest suite at Les Suite at The Cliff Bay, in Madeira

A guest suite at Les Suite at The Cliff Bay, in Madeira. | Credit: Rodrigo Cardoso

Drinks in hand, we edged out the back door into dazzling sunshine. Patrons of neighboring bars relaxed at tables and fishing boats bobbed in front of us. No wonder that when Winston Churchill visited the island, he went there to paint. He stayed at Reid’s Palace, an enormous pink hotel on a cliff, designed with its most magnificent side facing the sea. Now managed by Belmond, the property was built in 1891 to bedazzle the wealthy foreigners who, until the 1960s, all arrived by ship—and were then carried to the hotel in hammocks.

This service has long since been discontinued, but Reid’s, with its grand pianos and chandeliers, its cream tea on the elegant checkered balcony looking out through lush tropical gardens toward the water, is still a bastion of historic gentility. Churchill must surely have felt at home; George Bernard Shaw, being Irish, possibly less so, although he did take tango lessons. (“Shaw Admits Learning the Tango at Madeira, but Has Neither Time nor Youth for It Now” ran a New York Times headline in 1926.)

We took a look at the other end of the rum-making process, too, at Engenhos do Norte, the only producer still using steam power to press and distill the sugarcane, in a vast shed full of copper containers and 19th-century machinery. The metal was all painted bright blue, the same color as the dye used to mark the patterns on the material in another traditional island industry, embroidery. Perhaps it was a coincidence. Or perhaps, Madeirans working indoors, whether on gargantuan machines or on delicate stitching in the Bordal embroidery workshop, crave a reminder that the sea is just outside.

photos from Madeira, including an outdoor wine tasting, and a banana dish

From left: The patio at Quinta do Barbusano winery; scabbard fish with banana and potato salad at Pátio das Babosas. | Credit: Rodrigo Cardoso

“Hello gorgeous!” whispered Margarida Sousa, as the first dolphin glided alongside our motorboat. We had already marveled at a glossy dark arc that Sousa, who studied marine biology, informed us was the back of a Bryde’s whale, probably around 40 feet long. Tracking the animals is forbidden, so two people on separate cliffs scanned the water and called to inform the skipper where to head. “If the phone rings a lot, it’s a good sign!” she explained.

The phone rang a lot. When the dolphins flanked us, we slid into the water, dangling from ropes to minimize splashing. I dipped my head into a quiet turquoise world where the beaked inhabitants seemed to smile encouragingly, their eyes outlined in black, Cleopatra-style. A mother nuzzled her baby; their playmates, black and white with a patch of yellow, dipped and rose. We wore masks but no snorkels, and I was so absorbed that remembering to breathe became a nuisance.

Dolphins swim off the coast of Madeira

Left: dolphins off the coast of Funchal. Right: cozido panela tacos with dijon at Galaxia seafood restaurant at the Savoy. | Credit: Rodrigo Cardoso

After reluctantly returning to shore, we spent the afternoon at Fajã dos Padres, an organic farm with a simple waterside restaurant below the towering Cabo Girão. We took comfort in a lovely lunch—black scabbard fish, a local specialty; lapas harvested on the rocks outside; and vegetables from owner Catarina Vilhena Correia’s garden. We had already tried one highly unusual product of this place: a deliciously citrusy 1993 Frasqueira, a single-vintage Madeira that must be aged for at least 20 years. This version was made from an ancient variety of the Malvasia grape, thought lost until a vine was spotted on Correia’s property.

The next day we drove to Porto Moniz, on the island’s northwestern tip, where torrents of seawater poured thrillingly into pools hollowed out of the black volcanic rock. The water was cool but the view spectacular, cliffs rearing on each side, moss spilling over them like lava flow—and, of course, the ocean just beyond.

It flows through all my memories of this trip, from the walks to the extraordinary wine that wouldn’t exist without it. That wine was all I took home with me, which at least means that, anytime I like, I can pour a glass of chilled Madeira, a drink as fond of travel as I am and even more shaped by it, and briefly be transported, via those distinctive flavors, back to that sunny island and its sustaining sea.

An artisan working on an embroidery pattern at the Bordal embroidery workshop in Madeira

An artisan working on an embroidery pattern at the Bordal embroidery workshop in Madeira. | Credit: Rodrigo Cardoso

Making the Most of Madeira

Where to Stay

Where to Eat and Drink

Bar Number Two: Grab a glass of poncha at Câmara de Lobos’s most charming drinking den.

Fajã dos Padres: This organic farm in Quinta Grande has excellent local food and wine. Entrées $13–$47.

Galáxia Skyfood: At this restaurant in the Savoy Palace Hotel, disco-lite décor belies a sophisticated menu. Entrées $19–$49.

Kampo: Find surprising, seasonal fare at Madeira’s most innovative restaurant. Entrées $16–$55.

Pátio das Babosas: Visit this mountainside spot for stellar seafood and views of Funchal. 16 Largo das Babosas; 351-291-143-530; entrées $8–$24.

What to Do

Blandy’s Wine Lodge: On the Funchal waterfront, Blandy’s is one of the isle’s most storied Madeira houses.

Bordal: A look at this Funchal factory’s intricate embroidery, a Madeira tradition, is not to bemissed.

Engenhos do Norte: This rum distillery is a last vestige of Madeira’s once dominant sugarcane industry.

How to Book

Tempo VIP: Deep connections across the island make this company the one to call for tour bookings.

A version of this story first appeared in the October 2021 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline The Big Blue.

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Caribbean islands and Balkans at risk of moving onto red list

​Winter sun holidays to Jamaica and Grenada could be off the cards if the two islands are placed on the red list in this week’s review.

The Caribbean countries are at risk of moving to the hotel quarantine category, alongside Serbia, Kosovo and Albania, according to data expert Tim White. Mr White told Sky News that Nigeria could also be vulnerable. 

Jamaica remained amber in the last traffic lights update, but the Foreign Office has since changed its guidance for the country and advises “against all but essential travel to the whole of Jamaica based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks”. There has also been an increase in people arriving in the UK from Jamaica with Covid-19. 

Mr White said Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, “would effectively be admitting a mistake three weeks ago” if he put Jamaica on the red list. Meanwhile, green-listed Grenada has seen a spike in people testing positive for the virus. Mr White suggested that while Albania, Serbia and Kosovo could turn red based on the latest data, they would likely avoid the move.

An update is expected on Thursday or Friday, which could come with a shake up to the current travel system ahead of the October 1 deadline for the Government to assess to current rules.

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.

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