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Election fatigue? 6 spots to stick your head in the sand

By Michael Luongo, Special to CNN
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Sat November 3, 2012
After a day on the sand in Rio de Janeiro, go ahead and sip a caipirinha or two. After a day on the sand in Rio de Janeiro, go ahead and sip a caipirinha or two.
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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tahiti
Phuket, Thailand
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Costa Rica
Curacao
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Heard enough of the election? Consider a sunny getaway
  • With coasts on both sides, Costa Rica offers sun, sand and quiet
  • Or drop off the map in far-flung Tahiti

(CNN) -- Blaring ads, arguments with co-workers, family and (former) Facebook friends. The cold nip in the air is already driving you over the edge, but presidential elections really make you want to bury your head in the sand.

No need to flee the country without voting. The State Department and the Federal Voting Assistance Program offer guidance for U.S. citizens. But if you don't want to hear any more about it after that, a warm weather getaway might be just the ticket.

If the elections don't go your way, hold onto this list. These places are great ex-pat havens.

Eat Like a Local: Share your favorite spots

Tahiti

Tahiti is one of the most remote island chains in the world, a place where the peaceful lifestyle, luscious green mountains and deep blue waters fed the muses of painter Paul Gauguin, writer James Michener and many others.

Patricia Schultz, author of "1000 Places to See Before You Die," recently returned from French Polynesia's Tahiti, where she especially loved the island of Bora Bora.

Even more places to see before you die

"It takes about a minute to know it's the place to effortlessly drop off the map," she said via e-mail. "Everyone greets you with 'Ia orana' - hello - and wears large, luscious flowers in their hair."

Schultz stayed in luxury at the Four Seasons, but she said there are ways to see Tahiti more affordably by staying on the outer island Huahine, for example, where "tourism has been blessedly slow to arrive. Captain Cook might still recognize it."

Isla Holbox, Mexico

Mexico has long been an escape valve for Americans fleeing politics.

Travel journalist Karen Catchpole and photographer Eric Mohl, an American couple whose website Trans-Americas Journey describes their ongoing six-year pan-American odyssey, recommend Isla Holbox, near Cancun, famed for its flamingo-filled lagoon.

"This car-free island is the place to flee and literally kick off your shoes. It's entirely possible to spend your time on the island barefoot," Catchpole wrote in an e-mail.

"The beach is perfect for long, lonely strolls and a surprisingly large Italian ex-pat community means the food is top-notch, particularly at Los Pelicanos, which served up some of the best Italian food we had during the 18 months we spent traveling in Mexico."

One top-rated lodging choice is tranquil Casa Sandra, a 17 room boutique hotel.

Phuket, Thailand

Thailand hosted Leonardo DiCaprio's deserted island experience in the 2000 movie "The Beach."

Phuket's beaches offer nice temperatures in November without the crush of tourist season's peak and neighboring "James Bond Island" is just one more step removed from the rest of the world. The island near Phuket, which is really called Ko Khao Phing Kan or Nail Island, was used as a setting for "The Man With the Golden Gun."

Plus, the Phuket area is easy for foreigners, according to Pichaya Saisaengchan, an assistant director for the Tourism Authority of Thailand. "It's one of the very few provinces, including Bangkok, where locals speak English." One famous ex-pat is political film director Oliver Stone.

The place is truly magical, say those in the know. "When you put a seashell up to your ear in Phuket, you hear angels sing," said Michael Aumock, an American working for vacation home company 3rd Home. "With impossibly clear blue water, great food, friendly locals and a strong exchange rate, I don't know why anyone would go anywhere else.

Face your fears through travel

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Perhaps no other city has as beautiful a setting as Rio de Janeiro, with its forest-covered mountains and calm, sandy beaches.

"Rio in November is the perfect recipe to forget about the elections and enjoy a relaxed vacation. There's the traditional Brazilian food, excellent weather conditions, nonstop flights from most major U.S. cities for a reasonable price," said South America travel specialist Sandra Borello, owner of Borello Travel.

Head to Belle Époque-era cafe Confeitaria Colombo, where Borello recommends "ordering a caipirinha or two, to make you feel like a real Carioca, a native of Rio." Reasonable hotel chains include Golden Tulip and Blue Tree, or splurge at the Copacabana Palace.

Curacao

You won't run into your neighbor on the beach in Curacao, a mostly off-the-radar Caribbean getaway that mixes an island lifestyle with a liberal Dutch attitude. While November might be high hurricane season for most of the region, the island is out of the range of these tropical tempests, untouched by one in almost 160 years.

There are more than 40 beaches lining its shores, along with about 60 diving spots, where visitors can see more than 600 species of fish in one of the Caribbean's healthiest marine environments. The streets of capital Willemstad are lined with Dutch colonial architecture swathed in palm trees: Imagine an Amsterdam bursting with tropical Miami Beach colors.

If you're fleeing the elections, the locals completely empathize. They just held the first of their own in October as a newly autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, so they'll understand how you feel right now.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica offers mountains, jungles and two coasts of beaches, on the Atlantic and Pacific.

Jersey Shore native and former travel book publishing industry executive Megan Kennedy moved here and teaches English at Universidad Nacional Costa Rica in Nicoya and lives nearby in Playa Sámara, on the Pacific. Kennedy said she follows U.S. elections with "a little distance from the noise, but I'm still concerned about democracy and the direction my country is headed."

Her new home is "an incredibly beautiful spot, with a gorgeous beach, zip-lining, horseback riding, howler monkeys, cows and horses roaming the street."

Her community also has tourist amenities, "but we're not overrun with chain restaurants and American-ized ideals of vacation. There's a mix of tourists from around the world, plus locals, which allows for interesting discussions!"

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