Easy-to-reach islands with amazing beaches
I don’t know about you, but when I go to a tropical island, I want to get to that island fast and the beach even faster. One truism in travel is that less convenient equals more beautiful, but in terms of beaches, that’s not always the case.
I’ve taken multiple connecting flights to islands only to be disappointed by the quality of the beaches. And another pet peeve is a long, arduous drive from the airport to the beach resort.
So click through this slideshow for 10 islands that are accessible via nonstop flights from major American cities—and where you can hit the beach in well under an hour (and sometimes in minutes) from the arrivals gate.
The island’s Dutch and French sides are distinct in terms of development and cuisine (you land on the Dutch side), but the Caribbean beaches are equally enticing in both “countries.” Orient Bay (French side), which gets progressively more clothing-optional from north to south, has a Riviera quality, with chic eateries right on the sand (shorts required).
Sample direct flight: American Airlines, New York (JFK) to St. Maarten (SXM)—4 hours, 20 minutes.
Minutes from airport to beach: 10. Your plane will fly right over the clear turquoise waters and white sands of glistening Maho Beach.
Stay: La Samanna, managed by the esteemed Orient-Express brand, still wears the crown as the most luxurious resort on the island. It sits just above lovely Baie Longue and boasts a pair of swimming pools, lavish beach cabanas, and multi-bedroom villas—when a hotel suite is simply not enough.
This quiet Bahamian island that sounds like an infection is located only 50 miles from Nassau, but you can get there nonstop from Florida. Because it’s 100 miles long, the island holds three airports, but the airstrip at the northern tip is the one most accessible to the mainland.
Sample direct flight: United Airlines, from Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) to North Eleuthera Airport (ELH)—1 hour, 10 minutes.
Minutes from airport to beach: 15 or less, and the beaches between the airport and nearby Gregory Town are pristine.
Stay: Reopened after a major renovation, the Cove, with its 58 minimalist guest rooms, enjoys 40 acres of pink sand beachfront.