Special Report

Places Where Cars Are Not Allowed

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Tangier Island, Virginia

With only a single small grocery store in the tiny village, tourists come to Tangier Island for a Chesapeake experience — a boat ride to the island in the middle of the bay, a traditional meal in town, and perhaps an overnight in one of the village’s two quaint inns. For those who wish to spend more time taking in the bay air, there are bicycle rentals and golf cart tours of the island. There are a few cars on the island, but the roads are said to be just wide enough for two golf carts to pass one another.

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Lamu, Kenya

This exotic and historic island town, which grew out of a 14th-century Swahili settlement, offers visitors dunes, beaches, tiny villages, and posh resorts. It is accessible by plane and boat, but there are no cars on the island and transportation is mainly by donkey. Small sailboats of ancient design, called dhows, are used for travel among the surrounding islands and for access to Lamu’s beaches. Tourists are warmly welcomed in this former center for world trade, particularly in Lamu’s old town, with its narrow, winding streets that carry many hints of Portuguese, Turkish, and Arab influence.

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Perhentian Kecil Island, Malaysia

One of two Perhentian islands off the east coast of Malaysia, Perhentian Kecil is favored as an affordable tropical destination, offering campsites and basic cabins in addition to its luxury resorts. Visitors can hike forest trails between villages and beaches, go snorkeling or diving on the island’s coral reef, spend lazy days at the beach, and enjoy the party atmosphere of local bars and restaurants. The absence of motor vehicles on the island enhances its exotic feel.

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Fes el-Bali, Morocco

Referred to as a medina — the Arab quarter of a North African town — Fes el-Bali is a well-preserved medieval enclave within the city of Fez. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is closed to most vehicular traffic, making it one of the largest contiguous (nearly) car-free areas in the world, competing only with Venice for that honor. Walking through its narrow winding streets, visitors will find a plethora of monuments, market stalls, and atmospheric eateries.

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North Captiva Island, Florida

Close to the more famous, tourist-congested Captiva and Sanibel Islands, North Captiva Island is an unusual retreat for beach-lovers, with miles of sand and sea without the usual coastal Florida crowds. Because there are no cars allowed on the island, and because there are few tourist services, vacationing there has its challenges. Access is by ferry and island travel is by bicycle or golf cart. There is some housing, with short term rentals available, but half the island is a state park — making in something of a paradise for those not daunted by the logistics of getting there.