If you want to leave the cold so far behind that you cross the Pacific, then you might want to go to the Northern Mariana Islands. This vertical array of small islands is full of small mountains and sandy beaches, and is a U.S. territory northeast of Australia.
Saipan in particular, the largest of the islands, is home to a turtle-filled underwater cavern, an islet surrounded by coral reef, and a few WWII historical sites from the 1944 Battle of Saipan.
6 of the islands, which aren’t exactly small, are entirely unpopulated. And who wouldn’t want to explore a deserted island? To walk in an untainted jungle, to climb small mountain peaks, to swim in the water and walk on the sand like the beach belongs to you? That alone is reason enough for me to go.
Pictured here is the Grotto, located on Saipan. This diving site is a collapsed cave reaching 70 feet below sea level. Besides its intrinsic natural beauty, the cavern is doubly worth visiting on account of the sea turtles who often occupy it.
Banzai Cliff, at the northern tip of Saipan, has a darker tinge. This is where 8,000 Japanese and Korean soldiers, civilians, women, and children, all leaped to their deaths of their own volition, in order to avoid being caught by the Americans. Nearby Suicide Cliff had a similar but smaller tragedy at the same time. What it must be to stand over those cliffs and stare down humanity’s strength of purpose and, a moment later, our fragile mortality.
And by the way, I nearly forgot to mention: the Northern Mariana Islands are essentially free of COVID-19, with only a Level 1 risk. (The U.S. is currently a Level 4 risk, which is basically Defcon 5 as far as the virus is concerned.)