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Nonstop Caribbean: Fly Right to the Beach
When the days grow chilly, it's time for a long weekend on the beach. We've compiled a list of every island you can reach nonstop from the mainland U.S. and Canada—because nothing kills the fun like a layover.
Did you know? Trinidad and Tobago was the first country to proclaim a national holiday (Emancipation Day) celebrating the end of slavery.
TURKS & CAICOS
Despite an upswing in tourism in recent years, Turks and Caicos still feels off the beaten path. Even in high season, Providenciales (a.k.a. Provo), the most developed island, never feels crowded. Life is a beach for those who need nothing more than soft white sand and clear blue water.
Must-do: At Da Conch Shack, conchs are kept in underwater pens before being cracked, curried, or served raw in salad, right on the beach (649/946-8877, conchshack.tc, conch salad $10).
Where to stay: The sand is just steps away from every room at Sibonné Beach Hotel (866/644-1658, sibonne.com, from $125). The family-run Caribbean Paradise Inn is two minutes from Grace Bay Beach (649/946-5020, paradise.tc, from $208, includes breakfast).
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
No passport is required for travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands (or Puerto Rico, the other U.S. territory in the Caribbean). The smallest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands, St. John, doesn't have an airport, but St. Croix and St. Thomas welcome nonstops daily.
Must-do: About two miles off St. Croix's northern coast, Buck Island Reef National Monument is best visited by day trip from Christiansted, St. Croix's capital. Take a half-day snorkeling trip aboard a 40-foot catamaran, run by Big Beard's Adventure Tours (866/733-4482, bigbeards.com, $60, with gear and beverages).
Where to stay: Built in 1829 by a French sea captain, the 14-room Hotel 1829 is on St. Thomas's Charlotte Amalie harbor (800/524-2002, hotel1829.com, from $125). On an islet in St. Croix's Christiansted harbor, Hotel on the Cay is accessible by a free two-minute water taxi that runs 24 hours. The hotel has its own sandy beach, and each of the 53 rooms boasts an ocean view (340/773-2035, hotelonthecay.com, from $130).