Nothing stomps out the winter blues faster than trading big, heavy coats for skimpy bikinis. When the thermometer starts to dip, it’s prime time to plan a warm-weather trip to the Caribbean for days filled with swimming, catching rays, and sipping rum punch. While the region provides plenty of incredible destinations, not all are so easy to reach. Some places require hopping on connecting flights, an air shuttle, or a ferry. There’s no denying that St. Barts and Anguilla warrant the additional transport hurdle. With that said, if you’re short on time or just don’t want to deal with the hassle, other islands cut out the extra time in the sky and make travel days much shorter — thanks to direct flights from major East Coast hubs, including Atlanta, Boston, Miami, and New York. That means fewer hours waiting for vacation to start and actually getting to enjoy each and every second of PTO.

Dominican Republic

Unlike some of the smaller Caribbean nations, the Dominican Republic actually has a few airports that welcome international direct flights, which gives U.S.-based travelers ample options. Check into an all-inclusive in Punta Cana and spend the week flashing your yellow wristband for food, drinks, and watersports or head to the capital city of Santo Domingo to explore historic landmarks and more local beaches.

Where to stay: Located less than 20 minutes from Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ), Eden Roc Cap Cana, the only Relais & Châteaux property on the island, oozes luxury in a laid-back, leisure-ready way and possesses a spate of five-star perks — notably a private beach club, an award-winning spa, delicious food, and elegant villas.

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