Everyone is looking to get away these days – rightfully so – but what if you want to check out an awesome island spot without having to travel halfway around the world, or renew your passport to get there.
If that sounds like your jam, here are 12 awesome island vacation spots you could skip over to asap.
12. Coastal Florida
The Florida Keys are home to great food, banging nightlife, and beaches great for recovering from the night before. It’s made of of dozens of small islands, but if you’re making a bucket list, you’ll want to include the food, entertainment, and dolphin experiences on Key Largo, Islamorada, and Key West.
You will need to grab some airfare to get there (unless you’re brave enough to hop on a cruise ship), so keep an eye out for good deals!
Off the coast of Northeast Florida is Amelia island, a place focused on relaxation, wellness, and romance. You can travel there from the mainland by bridge, and enjoy all of the nature, biking, and yoga your little heart can handle.
Florida also offers Sanibel and Captiva Islands, which are connected to each other – and to mainland Florida – by a bridge. There are great places to stay right on the oceans, gorgeous beaches full of collectible seashells, and restaurants galore.
11. Mount Desert Island, Maine
If you’re an outdoorsy person, visiting Maine is likely already on your bucket list – they’ve got moose safaris, rock climbing, and white water rafting, among other things.
You might not know they also have gorgeous seaside, and on Mount Desert Island, it meets those types of woodland adventures for a little bit of both.
The island is home to Acadia National Park, making it secluded as well as wooded, and Vogue had this to say about the destination:
“There are some 18 mountains on the island – which holes the unique designation of being the highest seaside summits on the Atlantic coast north of Rio.”
It’s about a 5 hour drive from Boston, but if you’ve got the cash, it’s faster to fly in locally on Cape Air.
10. Mackinac Island, Michigan
Right off the lake coast of Michigan, this small town is home to horse-drawn buggies and old historic forts – in fact, only biking, walking, or horseback riding are allowed on the island.
Their sample itinerary has suggestions on what to pack, and includes four days of activities and dinner suggestions at this throwback by the lake.
Cars, ferries, and airplane options can all get you to the island.
9. Block Island, Rhode Island
The beaches in Rhode Island are beautiful, and Block Island is no exception.
The island also has a great, bustling energy that’s great for families as well as singles.
You can get there by ferry or by air, and you won’t regret it.
8. San Juan Islands, Washington
Off the northwest coast of Washington State, the San Juan Islands contain 172 separate islands and reefs.
The most popular are Orcas Island, Lopez Island, and San Juan Island, which offer whale watching tours, local farms, and iconic lighthouses in turn.
You can get to the islands by train, plane, shuttle, or ferry.
7. The Maryland Coast
You might never have imagined it, but there are several islands off Maryland’s coast that are worth a visit.
Solomon’s Island offers an old-town feel, with museums and restaurants by the shore, while Smith Island is known for its crab cakes.
St. George’s and Deal Island are popular with boaters and bird-watchers alike.
Some of Maryland’s islands can be accessed by car, but others are only accessible by private boat or water taxi.
6. Santa Catalina Island, California
If you’re on the west coast and looking to spend some time communing with nature, Santa Catalina Island is your spot.
There are ropes courses, zip lines, canyon excursions, and powerboat trips to nearly private beaches littered with palm trees.
If SCUBA is your thing you won’t be disappointed either; they offer undersea sub expeditions and sea-life safaris that are sure to delight.
You can get there by high-speed ferry or by helicopter.
5. The Golden Isles, Georgia
Georgia’s coastline isn’t long, but it is beautiful, and between Savannah and Jacksonville sit the Golden Isles.
The island is home to both marshland and beaches, and no matter where you sit, the sunrises and sunsets are sure to knock your socks off – as will the unique seashells and sculpture-like driftwood.
The beaches on Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island are open to the public, but even though the ones on Sea Island and Little St. Simons Island are private, you’re welcome to enjoy their nature trails and wildlife.
There’s also a ton of culture on the islands, from Gullah Geechee heritage to the Georgia Sea Island Singers and other historical sites, you’re bound to learn a thing or two.
You can get to the Golden Isles by boat, train, car, or in the air – take your pick!
4. The U.S. Virgin Islands
The tropical islands of St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix are all tropical and dreamy, and are all popular destinations for U.S. citizens.
St. Croix, the biggest, is known for its massive coral reef and deep-sea diving, and you can parasail and snorkel the day away in St. Thomas.
All of the islands have stunning beaches and fun nightlife.
You can get there by plane from most major airports, and you won’t regret it.
3. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
It you’re looking for tons of beachfront, quaint, small towns, and all the delicious seafood you can eat, the Outer Banks won’t disappoint.
They’re one of the first official beach towns in the country, and are where the Wright Brothers’ took off successfully for the very first time.
There’s a 62-point bucket list that includes things like hang-gliding and ghost tours, so you might need to visit more than once to complete it all.
Get there by car, ferry, or in the air.
2. Puerto Rico
You don’t need a passport to get there, and Puerto Rico’s beautiful beaches, cultural heritage, and great food are sure to draw you back again and again.
There’s fun nightlife, the historic city of Old San Juan, the Bacardi Rum factory, and all sorts of water sports and island adventures for you to choose from.
If awesome beaches are your thing, the nearby islands of Vieques and Culebra feature some of the prettiest turquoise water you ever will see – and at night, they’re bioluminescent, too.
You’ll have to take a plane to get there, so start saving for your airfare now!
1. The Lowcountry, South Carolina
The coastal lowcountry is lovely (if a bit sticky in the summer), but there are also a couple of islands off the coast of South Carolina that are worth a visit.
First, Hilton Head Island has 12 miles of beaches and a family-friendly atmosphere. Fans of water sports will jump on the jet skiing, paddle boarding, and guided kayaking, and if you’re a golfer, you’re sure to find something to love in at least one of the 33 available courses.
The food is possibly the best part, so make sure and nab some reservations ahead of time.
Hilton Head is just a 20-minute drive from the mainland, but the island also boasts two airports of its own.
Kiawah Island is home to all of the best and most unique parts of lowcountry nature – the salt marshes, the dunes, ponds, and loads of wildlife make this island the place to be for nature lovers of every stripe.
There are tons of nature programs to choose from, along with guided kayak tours through the marshes and hiking trails all over the island.
Golfers will be at home here, too, and after a day on the marshes or on the course, you can unwind with luxury spa services and delicious cuisine.
Kiawah is 30-ish minutes by car from the Charleston airport.
Ahhh, this list is giving me ideas, y’all.
Which of these spots are going on your list? Tell us where you’re headed in the comments!