Islands are gorgeous. No one can argue with that. Surrounded by brilliantly blue or green or gray seas, it’s hard to find better views than those found on America’s smallest pieces of land. Whether tropical beach getaways or rocky and wild, each has an appeal all its own. Below are some of the United State’s best islands.
Key West, Florida
This beautiful little artist’s cove is full of old Victorian homes and little hometown stores. Intentionally kitsch at times, the island is nonetheless full of charm and spirit. It’s also full of delicious key lime pie and raw oysters for the foodies out there, and has a lively nightlife. Anyone wanting a good local hotel need look no further than Eden House.
No list of islands could be complete without a mention of Hawaii’s chain of islands. Oahu or The Big Island are both popular choices to visit. Big Island has a little bit of everything, geographically speaking. It not only has the ever present beaches but mountains and a volcano too. Oahu on the other hand has great nightlife and surfing, and plenty of natural beauty of its own. Either or both would make a great place to spend some down time.
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Another multiple island location, the U.S. Virgin Islands are an exotic choice for someone still wanting to be on U.S. territory. St. John’s may be the island of choice for a first time visitor, especially one who loves both nature and a good party. Since a great deal of it is a national park, it has the untouched beauty that many vacationers look for, but the city of Cruz Bay has plenty of laid back nightlife as well. Cinnamon Bay Campground is a good spot to spend nights on the island and they offer both cottages and tents.
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
New England has great islands too. The most famous is Martha’s Vineyard, and it’s wonderful for anyone wanting a slightly more upscale, traditional vacation. It is not a party island; rather it’s a great place for families looking for some peaceful bonding time. Oak Bluffs Inn is a popular choice for tourists, and can be as cheap as $100 in the spring. Summer is quite a bit more expensive.
Sanibel Island, Florida
Sanibel Island is a nice weekend getaway for Floridians – and others – who want something a little more rugged than Key West. The beaches are better and nature takes the center stage. With year round beautiful weather, it’s the perfect island oasis for anyone just wanting sun and sand.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina Barrier Islands
For avid naturalists, Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a great option. There are four campgrounds in the national seashore where vacationers can rough it. Kayaking and windsurfing are available and there’s a great lighthouse on the island to check out. Being protected, there aren’t the wide variety of activities that some of the other islands have, but it also means that the natural beauty is unspoiled and even more magnificent for that. The sand even sparkles at night due to a chemical reaction. For those who want a real hotel, they can also be found outside of the national seashore in Cape Hatteras.
San Juan Islands, Washington State
Another laid back vacation spot, the San Juan Islands are great for anyone wanting either a relaxing shopping getaway or an outdoor hiking one. Friday Harbor is where visitors land and there’s plenty to do there, from shopping to restaurants to island water sports. This island is a nice choice for residents of the rainy north west who need a break from the mainland. The San Juan Chamber of Commerce has a list of hotels and B&Bs for anyone interested.
As a Florida girl, Islamorada is another one on my favorites list. The view of the horizon is just water as far as the eye can see. It has the laid back feeling of Key West, but is far less built up. In fact the main thing to do there is lay on the beach, drink Margaritas, and then rouse yourself just long enough to go get some food a couple times a day. Not a bad way to spend a vacation. In fact, for the best of both worlds spending a day on the beach here while on the way to Key West is a great plan. The Chesapeake Resort is a great choice for a hotel, though a little pricey.
Santa Catalina Island, California
Tourists can arrive by boat or air to this little California island. The main city on the island is called Avalon, a romantic title it lives up to. Tourism rules the city, with residents and city buildings built away from the main bay generally. The weather is mild and there are plenty of out door activities to partake in, from hiking to diving. Water sports are especially popular and anyone who likes sailing or fishing is in luck. The island even advertises a trek along the ocean floor in a special suit, not something you can find anywhere. There are plenty of hotels and b&bs on this small island, so it just depends upon a visitors individual budget and needs.
Ellis Island, New York
There are no hotels, nor will tourists spend days on the beach here. But it’s probably the most historically important island in the United States and everyone should visit once in their life. Now that the Statue of Liberty is open to visitors again a whole new generation of citizens or proud immigrants alike can arrive by ferry and tour the spot where so many people arrived in search of a fresh start. Plus, there’s also the Immigration Museum to visit on the island, so visitors can make a day of it.