So we guess someone has told you about the Zika virus and you’re wondering how this affects your honeymoon and whether you should go to a Zika free honeymoon destination? You’re not alone!
The Zika virus came to prominence around the time of the Rio Olympics in 2016 as reports of pregnant women in Brazil tragically giving birth to babies with birth defects because of an outbreak of the virus. The WHO advised women who were pregnant, or planning to get pregnant, not to visit countries where contracting the Zika virus was a risk.
This meant that, for some couples, many dream honeymoon destinations around the world were out of the question. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began in late 2019, Zika has had little prominence in the media. However, the Zika virus is still something you should have all the information about.
If you’re wondering, does the Zika virus affect my honeymoon? Is the Maldives Zika free? Is Hawaii Zika free? Where are the best tropical destinations without Zika? Where can I find beaches without Zika? Is there a Zika virus vaccine? Read on for all you need to know about Zika virus and planning a honeymoon!
Disclaimer: It is essential to get medical advice from a registered medical practitioner or health care provider in your home country. For up-to-date information regarding the Zika virus, please visit the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website, which we have found to have the most relevant and updated information. You can also check your own country’s medical advice (although they may not have been updated recently because of the pandemic) – here are links to European Union | Ireland | United Kingdom | Australia | Canada | New Zealand.
What is the Zika Virus?
The WHO states that the Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes, which bite during the day. Symptoms are generally mild and include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. Symptoms typically last for 2–7 days. Most adults with Zika virus infection do not develop symptoms or suffer from long-term health implications.
Why does Zika virus matter if you’re planning a honeymoon?
While couples may not be planning to start a family immediately after getting married/going on honeymoon (or not planning to start a family at all), it’s important to be aware of the risks for women who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or where there is the prospect of an unplanned pregnancy.
People can contract the virus from a bite from the Aedes mosquito but the virus can also be sexually transmitted (even if neither of you has symptoms) which is then passed from mother to foetus. With Zika virus exposure, there is a risk of birth defects, including microcephaly and other congenital abnormalities. In addition, several countries, including Brazil, reported a steep increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome – a neurological disorder that could lead to paralysis and death.
There is currently no vaccine on the market for Zika Virus.
Travelling to areas with Zika Virus
The only way to prevent a Zika infection during pregnancy and to prevent complications caused by the Zika virus is to not travel to areas with a risk of Zika and to use precautions or avoid sex if your partner has travelled to a risk area.
If you are not planning to start a family immediately after your wedding or on your honeymoon, then there is no reason you can’t go to a destination where Zika is a risk (as long as you take precautions). If you are travelling to a honeymoon destination where there is a risk of contracting the Zika virus, you should wait at least 3 months from your return before trying to conceive.
If you want to conceive within three months of travelling on your honeymoon, speak to your healthcare professional about getting tested for the Zika virus on your return. Couples who are embarking on assisted reproduction such as IVF should avoid Zika areas. It’s essential to chat with your doctor about this.
Zika free honeymoon destinations
It’s important to note that while the Aedes mosquito can’t travel far by itself, humans can introduce it to a destination in other ways, such as transport. Things can change quickly, so while a destination may be zika free now, it could change tomorrow. In fact, the EU reported its first case ever in 2019 (one case in southern France). According to the European Centre for Disease, the risk is considered ‘very low’. (Reference The Lancet). The Maldives had a similar situation. There was one case in 2016, but it is considered a Zika risk area.
It’s important to check the CDC website or WHO website if choosing a zika free honeymoon destination is important to you. This CDC map is very useful. You’ll see that most of Central & South America, the Caribbean and South East Asia are not recommended because of previous outbreaks, for example. While there are currently no major outbreaks of the virus as this blog is updated (January 2023), please proceed with caution.
Ideally, if you can wait a few months until after your wedding and honeymoon, then the world is your oyster and the Zika virus will be something you don’t need to be concerned about!
If, however, you decide you can’t wait, there are some exciting and romantic destinations you can consider for a zika free honeymoon*:
*The destinations mentioned below have either no mosquitos or they have mosquitos but have never reported a Zika case at the time of writing.
Indian Ocean paradises, Mauritius & Seychelles, are wonderful destinations if you’re looking for a tropical beach honeymoon. Mauritius is ideal for a relaxing beach honeymoon vacation – discover more with our Ultimate Mauritius Honeymoon Guide. Want to island-hop in paradise? Then make sure heavenly Seychelles is on your shortlist (we’ve got our Ultimate Seychelles Honeymoon Guide here to help). Want to know more about the difference between Mauritius and Seychelles? Then we’ve got the lowdown right here.
While the Americas, including Central & South America, Caribbean and the USA, have had previous outbreaks of Zika, including as far north as Texas and Florida – most parts of the United States of America are Zika free. Consider a California road trip from San Francisco to San Diego with a hop over to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Maybe island hopping in Hawaii is up your street? We’ve got our Ultimate Hawaii Honeymoon Guide here. Canada is also a great option for an epic romantic honeymoon road trip and a great jump-off point to cruise around Alaska.
Australia is also one of our favourite honeymoon destinations. For a first-time visit drive from Cairns down to Sydney – so much fun along the way. Take the Ghan train, one of the world’s most romantic train journeys. Or, consider New Zealand for an epic road trip of a lifetime.
Explore Petra in Jordan. Witness the arid landscapes of the gulf. Oman has many cultural and scenic highlights, and the world’s most opulent, luxurious hotels with amazing rooftop pools are in Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates with so much to see and do.
Thinking about a safari honeymoon? South Africa has spectacular wildlife experiences and a lot more, from bungee jumping to luxury wine tours. Get off the beaten track with a road trip in Namibia. Want to experience Asia? Sri Lanka is a great option with a mixture of temples, wildlife and beautiful beaches.
Island-hopping in Greece is one of our favourite Europe honeymoon recommendations or travelling around Italy’s stunning Amalfi Coast. Because of the cooler climate, Northern Europe is free from tropical diseases. Consider a road trip in Iceland. Cruise around the Norwegian Fjords or visit the Baltic capitals. Ireland, Scotland, England & Wales are perfect for a road-trip with a difference.
How to prevent mosquito bites on honeymoon
Mosquitos are part of life when travelling to warmer climates. While the Zika virus is a very serious consideration for people who want to have a baby, there are other serious mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue fever, so it’s important to discuss tropical disease prevention with a medical professional.
Here at The Honeymoon Guide, the mozzies love us. Thankfully, we’ve never been sick, but we have been in agony with bites. We’ve tried everything – many lotions and potions. What works for one person doesn’t work for another, so it can be confusing. Some say take Vitamin B12, others swear by citronella candles, others say none of these are backed up by science! However, everything is worth trying, so here are some practical things you can do to prevent mosquito bites on your honeymoon:
Consider longer sleeves and trouser/skirt lengths and loose-fitting clothing
Use good quality insect repellent with DEET
Avoid being around stagnant water (i.e. buckets, plant pots)
Stay near a fan and keep your room air-conditioned
Avon skin-so-soft – available from Amazon.co.uk
Cutter Eucalyptus Repellent – available from Amazon.com
Use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and Citronella Oil
We hope this article is useful. Is Zika virus a consideration while you plan your honeymoon? Do you get bitten by mosquitos? Have you any tips on preventing mosquito bites? We’d love to know in the comments!