Three Atlantic Islands That Are Great Alternatives to the Caribbean
With direct flights from the US and distinctive cultures, these oft-overlooked options should be on your radar the next time you need some island time
I love a frozen drink on a beautiful Caribbean beach as much as anyone. Maybe more than anyone, as it turns out. But beyond the idyllic qualities of many Caribbean islands — warmth, weather, beaches, food, resorts, etc. — they’re also an attractive destination for American travelers due to their relative convenience.
A good portion of the Caribbean is but a nonstop flight away, especially if you’re on the East Coast or live near a major hub airport. They aren’t the only islands that Americans can reach via direct flight service, though. In fact, there are a handful of exciting Atlantic islands that you can head to without enduring a marathon of airport transfers and flight connections.
Your direct-flight options are set to increase in 2022, too. This fall, United announced a huge list of new routes, including to a number of Atlantic islands which should be on your radar.
In May 2022, the airline will begin offering New York service from Newark Liberty International Airport to Ponta Delgada in the Azores, with planned daily flights. United is going to offer two new direct routes to Spain as well. In June, the airline is launching a three-times-weekly service from Newark to Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands. In the same month, they’ll begin running three-times weekly service from Newark to Tenerife in the Canary Islands as well. (Why stop with direct flights to Atlantic islands, when you can enjoy direct service to a Mediterranean island, after all?)
Meanwhile, TAP Air Portugal is likely to restart some of the routes which they had stopped running as a result of the pandemic. When reached for comment, a representative for the airline said they’re hoping to restart direct service from the U.S. to the Azores Islands in 2022, for instance. The airline previously offered a direct flight from Boston to the Azores.
In the meantime, when you want to enjoy a convenient escape to an Atlantic Ocean island beyond the Caribbean, here are your best bets.
Nobody said an island vacation had to be tropical, did they? Newfoundland is the island getaway curveball you can connect with and smash over the fence, as the oft-overlooked Canadian destination is a paradise for everyone from nature lovers to history buffs, not to mention those of us who most prefer first and foremost to take in the sensory pleasures of travel via our stomachs. The area was long a fishing hub, after all, and excellent seafood still abounds today. Or you can stick with moose meat — it’s your call.
Fogo Island Inn, which is on the much smaller Fogo Island off the north coast of Newfoundland, might be the only reason you need to head to the region. The ultra-luxe 29-room property has become one of the most sought-after stays anywhere in North America thanks to its dramatic and unrivaled location, eye-catching aesthetics and architecture, and abundance of activities and experiences on offer. Profits are reinvested back into the region, and sustainability, both environmentally and for the community and its people on the whole, is at the forefront of everything the hotel does.
Beyond where you’re booking your stay, Newfoundland does indeed have plenty to offer. Gros Morne National Park has all of the hiking trails and scenic fjords and mountains you can handle. Meanwhile, the city of St. John’s — capital of the Newfoundland and Labrador province — is more than 500 years old, and is the easternmost city on the continent. The area was visited by Europeans long before that, too, as you’ll see at the L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, which was first built about a thousand years ago, and is said to be Leif Erikson’s former digs.
Elsewhere, you can go puffin spotting and whale watching, or climb to the top of Signal Hill, where the first transatlantic wireless signal was received. Then laugh about that as you get in your Instagram fix by posting shots of the city’s colorful row houses. Bet ya ol’ Guglielmo Marconi didn’t anticipate that, did he? (Maybe he did.)
No, Bermuda isn’t in the Caribbean; it’s closer to New York City than the Bahamas. But don’t worry — there’s still rum, and plenty of it. Namely Gosling’s Rum, which was founded in 1806. Two centuries later and the rum is omnipresent in Bermuda, and its signature cocktail the Dark ‘n Stormy is a universal libation across the area. The rum is distilled elsewhere — namely in islands which are indeed in the Caribbean — but is then brought to Bermuda, where it’s matured and blended. You can visit their HQ in Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital, and that reminds us; you’re going to need a cozy crash pad to sleep off all that rum.
You can do worse than the Rosewood Bermuda. Like, a lot worse. The five-star resort is known for its gorgeous oceanfront positioning looking out to Castle Harbour, the world-class Tucker’s Point Golf Club located right on its premises, and proximity to Bermuda’s famed pink sand beaches, not to mention its all-around unimpeachable style and dedication to luxury.
The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club is your other best bet. The property is right on Hamilton Harbour, and you can actually stroll straight into the main district of Hamilton in a matter of minutes. With a nickname of the Pink Palace, you’ll be assured of feeling like royalty with a stay at the Hamilton Princess, whether you’re sipping your afternoon tea, enjoying the property’s private cove beach club, or simply living the high life in a poolside cabana.
With your room and your rum sorted, it’s time to explore what else Bermuda has to offer. The list starts with sailing, which is more mandatory than optional if you’re visiting Bermuda. There’s no better way to take in Bermuda’s beauty and get a taste of its prized lifestyle, whether you want to get hands-on with a lesson, or enjoy a more relaxing sunset-and-Champagne type of experience. Just don’t forget your boat shoes and Bermuda shorts. Fishing, shipwreck diving, vibrant snorkeling and whale watching are all on offer, too.
As mentioned at the top, United will debut direct service to The Azores in 2022, and TAP is hoping to renew its direct service to the islands. However, you don’t have to wait that long to experience the trip for yourself if you’re willing to look into some creative and convenient solutions.
For instance, tour operator ZeniTravel is currently offering vacation packages including direct round-trip flights from Boston to The Azores resuming in January. Who knew Boston was such a gateway to Portugal? Well, when you consider that it’s just a five-hour flight, it starts to make a lot more sense, doesn’t it?
As for ZeniTravel, they offer a number of different pre-built itineraries, including hotels and transportation, and focusing on everything from golfing to sightseeing and leisure time. The Azores is what the operator is all about, so whatever you’d like to see or do while visiting the islands they’ll likely have you covered. The once-weekly flights are seasonal and run from Boston to Terceira Island.
There are some sensational hotels and resorts across the archipelago you should acquaint yourself with as well. Check out the Pedras Do Mar, for instance, or the Azor Hotel, both of which are in Ponta Delgada. Elsewhere, there’s a wide range of eco-resorts, boutique hotels, cottage and villa rentals, and B&Bs, so you’re bound to find something that suits your style and mood.
Listen, you’re never going to hear us badmouthing the Caribbean. But it’s wonderful to know there are additional and equally convenient island options to consider when you’re planning your next trip, too. We’re all about expanding our horizons … especially when those expanded horizons fall within the bounds of a direct flight.
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