5 surprisingly cool island destinations in the US

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.

Blake Island, Washington

The view from Blake Island. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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.

Madeline Island, Wisconsin

Madeline Island.Photo: uwwees/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/13265018@N03/3950688178

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.

Camp at Big Bay State Park, get coffee at Farmhouse and kayak around the coves and caves.

Deer Isle, Maine

Stonington Harbor on Deer Isle is a bit of East Coast seclusion. Photo: Alan Schmirer/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/sloalan/3824307328/in/photolist-6PSoNR

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.

Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

A post shared by Nate Birtwell (@natebirtwell) on

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.

Whiskey Island, New York

You could own a piece of prohibition history … for just under $3 million. Photo: Courtesy of privateislandsonline.com

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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