If your idea of an island vacation is a remote, tropical white-sand beach, you’re missing out.
You don’t have to go to the middle of the Pacific to get the solitude and beauty of island time. There are plenty of close-in, easy-to-get-to islands to explore in the U.S., even in landlocked states, and a lot of them get overlooked.
Here are some surprisingly cool options.
Just off the coast of Seattle, close enough that you can kayak or canoe there, Blake Island is a state park with several campgrounds that’s accessible only by boat.
The 476-acre island has hiking and biking trails, fishing, diving and clamming. From the east side you get views of the city; on the west side you’re looking straight at the Olympic Mountains, and it feels like you’re in deep wilderness.
Turns out the Midwest can get pretty wild. Madeline Island, the biggest of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, has sandy beaches, excellent sailing and an extra-cute downtown.
The Maine coast is sprinkled with gemmy islands (check out the Maine Island Trail Association for access to a lot of them) and Deer Isle is one of the most beautiful.
It has hiking trails, kayak-able coastline and one of the coolest hostels in the U.S. You can get there by bridge, so it’s a little easier to access than some others.
Car-free Daufuskie Island, the southernmost sea island in South Carolina, is a mellow, historic place to relax and get a glimpse of 9,000-year-old native artifacts, along with more modern history. It’s prime for biking.
Want your own dang island? Whiskey Island, in upstate New York’s Thousand Islands, is currently for sale.
At this old bootlegger’s camp right on the Canadian border — hence the name — divers scour the waters off its shore looking for shipwrecks from the Prohibition era.
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