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7 of the Top Destinations for Black Travelers Around the World

These vacation spots offer new experiences along with safe and respectful interactions.

A Black traveler enjoys the views of an ocean paradise.
Hi, I'm Kay!

Kay Kingsman is a fiction author and travel writer who prides herself on being a full-time silly goose. When she's not documenting her ill-planned adventures on her blog, The Awkward Traveller, she is indulging in her favorite pastime: ordering too many appetizers at chain restaurants. Kay is passionate about making travel more accessible to historically excluded communities and supporting locally led organizations in recovering countries.

Travel can be daunting for travelers of all backgrounds. But for Black travelers, there's always one lingering question: “Is this destination safe for Black people?”

Anti-Blackness is a global issue, deeply embedded in both the social and structural institutions of countries around the world. To go through all of the hurdles of trip planning—the time, effort, and money—only to have your experience tarnished by a discriminatory encounter can be overwhelmingly exasperating and disheartening ... and may even sour the destination altogether. As a result, the question of how likely this is in any particular destination is something to which many Black travelers give serious consideration.

As a 29-year-old Black American who travels a lot, I—and many of my Black friends—have developed strong opinions about the kinds of places that are most welcoming to Black travelers. Together, we've collectively traveled to more than 100 countries—and we definitely have our favorites. Here are our seven top travel destinations for Black travelers, along with some tips to make your travels easier.

1. Mexico

A Maya ruin on the beach in Tulum in Mexico.
In Tulum, you'll find Maya ruins on the beach.Photo credit: Stanislav Nemashkalo / Viator

Mexico's Black population makes this spot a favorite among first-time Black travelers.

Editor's note: Travel to Guerrero is not recommended due to serious safety risks in this area. Please follow your government's guidance and travel advisories.

Why go: An amazing destination for Black travelers (especially first-time travelers), Mexico has its own rich Black history—a result of both the trans-Atlantic slave trade and immigration. Mexico was also one of the first countries in the Americas to abolish slavery, so it became a place of refuge for enslaved people escaping to freedom. Add to that the fact that the country has a robust tourism infrastructure, the culture is global enough to feel familiar and comforting for US travelers, and there's truly something for everyone to enjoy—from beaches and jungles to history and culture.

What to do there: If you’re looking for a relaxing beach destination, fan favorites such as Cancun, Tulum, Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Vallarta are great introductions to the Mexican coast. If you’re more of a city person, you'll struggle to run out of things to do in Mexico City and Guadalajara. And if you’re specifically looking for Afro-Mexican culture and influence, you can find it throughout the country, but it's most visible in the state of Veracruz and on the Costa Chica (an area along part of the Pacific coast in Oaxaca and Guerrero). Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the Danza de los Diablos and son jarocho–style music; when you find them, you’ll know you’re in the right place.

2. The Philippines

Black travelers swim in a Philippines bay.
The Philippines is the place for snorkeling and diving.Photo credit: marako85 / Shutterstock

A stellar Asian destination for Black tourists.

Why go: Traveling in Asia can be exciting, but many Black travelers find themselves the subject of curious (or uncomfortable) stares. Sometimes these interactions can’t be helped, but for travelers looking for less of a paparazzi vibe, the Philippines offers some of the most beautiful beaches and delicious flavors in the world. “Every time I travel to the Philippines, it gives me such a comfortable feeling—the feeling of returning home,” says Rebecca Um, a private educator based in Asia. In her experience, “Black travelers won’t be discriminated against, and I have been welcomed to join in on experiencing Filipino culture at every turn.”

What to do there: From El Nido to Boracay to Cebu, the Philippines offers countless islands to explore—in between enjoying bites of iconic Filipino dishes such as adobo and lumpia. And even if you’ve never dipped a toe in the ocean, the country’s warm, calm ocean is also a great spot to learn to swim, snorkel, scuba dive, or even surf with affordable local instructors.

Related: Around the Philippines in 15 Dishes

3. Qatar

The Doha skyline at night in Qatar.
Qatar is coming into its own.Photo credit: Gordon Bell / Shutterstock

This Gulf country is one that has plenty to offer Black visitors.

Why go: The young but mighty country of Qatar is making fast strides towards being welcoming and accessible to visitors, offering visa-free travel for many citizens of the Global South. As a result, visitors with deeper complexions don’t stick out in a crowd here—and there's a robust community of Black expats. Whether as a stopover city or as a destination all on its own, Qatar is worth a visit.

What to do there: There are a lot of fantastic things to do in Qatar, with Doha offering the most action, including easy access to dune and desert tours. Don't skip the incredible public art and restaurants offering cuisines from around the world, and make sure to check out Embrace Doha, a local woman-owned and -operated cultural house where you can get a deeper understanding of Qatari heritage through workshops, walking tours, and open conversations—many of which have been inspired by movements such as Black Lives Matter and Black liberation around the globe.

Related: 7 of the Top Things To Do in Qatar

4. Brazil

Women selling garlands take a break on a Brazil street.
Brazil is a great part of South America to visit.Photo credit: Helissa Grundemann / Shutterstock

Black travelers will find a lot to love about Brazil, a majority Black and mixed-race country.

Why go: As a country with a majority Black and mixed-race population, Brazil is (not surprisingly) a fantastic destination for Black travelers. The weather is good, the people are enthusiastic, and Afro culture is not only normal but celebrated. Jasmin Carnelus LMFT, SAP (who has worked as a therapist for a decade) is adamant that travel has mental health benefits, especially for Black people. “Having the opportunity to experience new environments and be present in moments of joy and self-discovery, without the lingering weight of anti-Blackness, can be very positive,” she explains. For Black travelers, Brazil is a party—both in the traditional sense and in the (more radical) sense that existing as oneself is reason enough to rejoice.

What to do there: While Rio de Janeiro (often just called Rio), is perhaps the most popular destination in Brazil, you should also visit Salvador, Bahia (in the northeast of the country). Afro-Brazilian culture flows through the city and you can dive into the local heritage with a capoeira performance and a history lesson, or hang out at one of the city’s numerous beaches and islands.

5. Ghana

Boats at Cape Coast Castle in Ghana.
Ghana is worth the visit.Photo credit: Fabian Plock / Shutterstock

Ghana has enjoyed a spike in popularity among Black travelers from around the world.

Why go: In 2019, Ghana launched the “Year of Return,” inviting all members of the global Afro-Diaspora to visit. The campaign commemorated 400 years since the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Jamestown, Virginia and celebrated the cumulative resilience of all the victims of the Transatlantic slave trade.

What to do there: A first stop for many visitors to Ghana is Cape Coast Castle, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. As one of the 40 forts built by colonizing oppressors to support their slave trade, the site offers insight into the haunting reality of the past and the resources pillaged from African nations. But Ghana’s rich culture is not defined by pain. There are a lot of things to do in Accra, the capital city. From art and culture, shopping, and outdoor excursions, to chocolate-tasting tours—Ghana is one of the largest producers of cacao in the world—and seemingly never-ending nightlife, you won't be bored.

Related: 10 Don't-Miss Things To Do in Ghana

6. American South

Posters at the National Museum of African American Music in the American South.
Head to the National Museum of African American Music.Photo credit: Chad Robertson Media / Shutterstock

The region's rich—and Black—culture is one worth exploring.

Why go: When looking for safe and comfortable travel spots, you might not immediately think of the US—much less the American South. But the region’s rich history and cultural heritage actually make it one of the best destinations in the world for Black travelers. Much of the country’s best musical styles and foods have roots here ... and much of that can be attributed to Black cultures. If you want to experience unfiltered Black America from the source, this is where you should go. Plus, as a Black traveler, you won’t stand out as a tourist.

What to do there: There are various road trip routes you can take through the South, such as the Blues Trail, the Civil Rights Trail, and the scenic Bourbon Trail. You can also plan a trip that focuses on the ways that Black heritage is at the center of broader American culture, by visiting spots such as the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, among others.

7. Haiti

Boaters come in to land on a golden Haiti island.
Haiti is known for its beaches.Photo credit: mikeledray / Shutterstock

The first Black Republic in the Americas remains a welcoming destination for Black travelers.

Editor's note: Travel to Haiti is not recommended due to serious safety risks in this area. Please follow your government's guidance and travel advisories.

Why go: As the first Black Republic in the Americas, Haiti symbolizes both physical and metaphorical freedom and independence—and it’s a great destination for Black travelers. For one thing, you won't stick out from the crowd here, letting you ease into an otherwise unfamiliar environment without having to worry about additional stares. It's also located on the second-largest island in the Caribbean, making it one of the more convenient to visit for first-time travelers. And Haiti allows visa-free travel for almost all nationalities.

What to do there: Haitian American blogger Larissa Jeannoit, of Life with Larissa, suggests that visitors head to show-stopping Kokoye Beach and enjoy the lush hiking trails of the national parks. She also recommends indulging in Haitian food in Port-au-Prince—popular dishes include akra, a crunchy appetizer made from malanga (taro root); griyo, a style of fried pork; and legim, a braised dish full of meat and vegetables.

That said, she also emphasizes that there's more to Haiti than its famous attractions. Freedom is at the heart of Haitian culture and is one of the main draws for Black travelers. Jeannoit describes travel itself, and feeling comfortable while doing so, as liberation. “If you don’t feel safe in your skin, are you truly free?” she asks. In Haiti, Black travelers will immediately feel this difference; it's a shift that is unlike anything you’ll experience almost anywhere else in the Americas.

8. Tips for Black travelers

Whether you’re deciding between the above destinations or venturing beyond them, travel can be intimidating. Misfortune can happen anywhere (at home or abroad), but the reality of racial injustice can still be a mental barrier to travel. That said, staying connected while traveling and finding community abroad can help alleviate that anxiety—and can make the difference between a nice trip and an unforgettable one.

  • Before you leave, have open conversations about any questions or concerns. Social media is an insightful tool to learn about the travel experiences of other Black travelers. Many destinations will also have a Black community social media page, so travelers joining the group can get real time tips and advice from Black residents who live in that destination.

  • If you’re planning a road trip, take additional precautions. While exploring a country on a road trip can be enriching, it can also be stressful thanks to the fact that Black travelers are disproportionately profiled while driving. To alleviate some of that stress, map out your driving route to ensure that you reach your destination before it gets dark and research the area to find Black-owned hotels, tours, and businesses. Having a physical map (as well as a copy of your insurance) can be helpful when traveling through areas that might have spotty internet and cell service.

Related: To Wong Foo: Thanks for Letting Me Know Road Trips Are for Me

9.

Black people party on a beach in Miami, USA.
Don't be afraid to explore the worldPhoto credit: PeskyMonkey / Shutterstock

10.

  • Use online platforms to meet others during your trip. A regular solo traveler, travel writer and photographer Kayla Brock also uses platforms such as Facebook groups to meet other Black travelers while on the road. “I think it’s great to link up with other Black people while traveling, because it makes you feel even more connected and secure,” she says. “When you find someone who looks like you, where no one else does, you immediately share a special bond.”

  • Don't be afraid to go it alone. Even so, Brock—who has traveled to over 30 countries, mostly on her own—still recommends traveling solo. “Solo travel allows you to best utilize your time to [cater to your own] interests,” she says. Like with most things, travel is a learned skill; the more you travel, the more trust you will have in yourself to explore the beauty, joy, and light that different parts of the world have to offer.

  • Share your stories. The more I learn about the world, and how I fit into it as a global citizen, the more I understand the impact Black travelers have made on the world. It's important for Black travelers to share their stories, because it can dispel the myth that travel is only accessible or relatable to a specific type of person. The connection of Black heritage is everywhere, and it’s ready to be enjoyed.

Related: The Unexpected Joys of Being a Black Traveler in the Bay Area

More ways to explore the US

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