4 U.S. Islands to Visit Besides Hawaii
The islands of America are a spellbinding blend of natural landscapes, historic towns and cultural hubs. With the presence of warm sunshine, rugged coastlines and sandy shores, these must-visit paradisiacal destinations other than the obvious Hawaii will lull you to a languid pace of island life.
Dispersed off the coast of Washington equidistant between the metropolises of Seattle and Vancouver, Canada in scenic Puget Sound, the horseshoe shaped Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juan islands. Catch the ferry that departs from Anacortes, 80 miles north of Seattle, and explore the charming waterfront villages, verdant forests and mirror-like lakes that constitute the island’s 57 square miles. Orcas Island's biggest draw is Moran State Park, where its more than 30 miles of forested trails pave the path to the summit of Mount Constitution, Orcas Island's highest point of 2409 feet that commands a view over the Salish Sea and snow dusted peaks of Mount Baker. The island’s craggy shorelines and hilly roads that weave between its natural landscape and historic villages present endless outdoor possibilities for adventurous hikers and bikers. Eastsound is Orcas Island’s hub for culture and art, a modest collection of galleries that celebrate the paintings, handcrafted jewelry and delicate ceramics of local artists.
Santa Catalina Island
For residents of Los Angeles, Santa Catalina Island is a tranquil respite from the city’s harried frenzy of gridlocked traffic and seemingly endless smog. Twenty two miles off the coast of Southern California, the island is easily accessible by ferry from San Pedro, Long Beach, Newport Beach and Dana Point on the mainland, delivering passengers to the ports of Avalon, Catalina’s main settlement, and Two Harbors, nestled on the island’s remote west. Enclosed by sparkling waters, the island is a West Coast favorite for parasailing, scuba diving and snorkeling, where encounters with horn sharks and black sea bass are abundant. Catalina’s restricted use of vehicles encourages visitors to explore the compact island by bike or foot, a blissful change of pace for those traveling from the mainland. Revel in the fresh air and bask under the radiant sun on a day long excursion, or sleep under the stars at one of the island’s designated campgrounds on an extended getaway.
A popular summer destination located 30 miles south of Cape Cod, Nantucket attracts the high-profile CEOs and high roller socialites of nearby Boston and New York City. A characterful destination of quaint cottages and elegant Greek revival mansions connected by cobblestone streets, Nantucket was once a whaling port that witnessed the influx of merchant ships, and reached its height of prosperity in the early 19th century. Main Street serves as the main thoroughfare of Nantucket Town, where its collection of fine dining establishments and energetic bars buzz with activity. It's a convenient two-hour ferry crossing from Hyannis Port on Cape Cod, a journey to Nantucket to witness sunset on dune-backed Madaket Beach, or to embark on a day of fishing makes a classic New England getaway.
Mount Desert Island
Bursting with natural beauty, Mount Desert Island houses 108 square miles of rocky coastline and a stunningly diverse landscape of dense spruce and fir forests, freshwater lakes and granite cliffs - thanks to the glaciers that carved this island some 18,000 years ago. Two thirds of the East Coast’s second largest island is dedicated to Acadia National Park, and its 120 miles of rugged trails, white water rafting and wildlife spotting opportunities serve as Maine’s most famous attraction. Mount Desert Island’s coastal vistas invite scenic drives, and leisurely shoreline strolls and pleasant hikes present endless possibilities to encounter bald eagles, beavers and seals. Budget time for a cool escape to the sandy stretches of Sand Beach.