Tropical Serenity: Unveiling the Allure of Island GetawaysNovember 9, 2023
Longing for a quiet island vacation, with dramatic cliffs, waving palms and blue seas as far as the eye can see? There’s no need to travel https://www.352walls.org/ far to the tropics, there are plenty of beautiful islands within easy reach. Your next island getaway might just be a short flight from the mainland United States.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Vehicles are not allowed on Mackinac Island
Located on Lake Huron, the small and historic Mackinac Island is famous for not allowing motorized vehicles and chain hotels. Here, transportation is in the form of horse-drawn taxis, which you can try if you’re not in a hurry.
However, if you’re in a hurry, try cycling around the island for 2km. Rent a bike, fuel up at the downtown ice cream shop, and then take route M-185 to explore the Mackinac Island State Park trails. Visit Fort Holmes, the island’s highest point, where you can learn about the War of 1812 and have a picnic with a beautiful view.
Afterward, stay at The Inn at Stonecliffe to play croquet on its lawn, away from the bustle of the city.
Santa Catalina, California
Relaxation and adventure await on Santa Catalina Island.
A one-hour ferry ride from San Pedro, Catalina offers white sandy beaches, clear blue seas and waving palm trees. You can spend your vacation relaxing every day, or go on the occasional adventure. Try traveling around the island in an open-air Jeep, scuba diving, parasailing, zip-lining or hiking to the botanical gardens. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a roaming buffalo.
There are some prestigious hotels in Avalon (one of two towns on the island), such as Hotel Atwater, a newly renovated 1920s building. The room key card can also be used to access the Descanso Beach Club, where you can rent a cabana or chaise lounge.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Wild horses in the sand on the Outer Banks beach
The Outer Banks are a chain of islands on the edge of North Carolina in the Atlantic Ocean that are rich in history. Visit Roanoke for a reenactment of the first European settlement in America and discover clues to its mysterious story. Or, try island hopping to Kill Devil Hills and where the Wright brothers first flew their airplane. You can also rent scuba gear to explore the underwater wreck of a German U-Boat from World War II.
If you’d rather observe wildlife from afar than dive right in, try the town of Corolla. There you can take photos of ponies on the beach, or ride one directly from Nags Head.
Accommodation prices are quite high in touristy areas, but the Surf Side Hotel offers affordable beachfront stays with good reviews.
Mount Desert Island, Maine
Acadia National Park, Maine
This charming little seaside town not only has a variety of chic shops, beautiful architecture and signature restaurants, but also a stunning wilderness area that is preserved like no other. Acadia National Park may be the only national park with 26 peaks to explore. Whether you prefer to walk along the beach or hike through the forest, you’ll be treated to beautiful cliff views.
The area is known for its small B&Bs, so you’ll have your pick of the best. The Elmhurst Inn is classic with its floral decor and antique furniture. Enjoy breakfast and home-made coffee on the terrace, and ask the owner for recommendations on interesting things to do that day.
San Juan Islands, Washington
One of the best locations for whale watching, with kayaking if you dare
Sandwiched between Canadian and US waters, the San Juan Islands consist of 172 named islands and reefs, but the three most easily visited by ferry are San Juan Island, Orcas Island and Lopez Island.
Orcas Island or the “Jewel of San Juan” has hilly terrain and is ideal for either backpacking adventures in the forest or lakeside relaxation. Lopez Island is flatter, making it ideal for cycling. It is also the starting point for guided whale-watching kayak tours. San Juan Island is the largest and most developed for tourism. Sample wine in the vineyards, take a leisurely stroll through the lavender fields, visit the lighthouse, or grab a bite at the Saturday farmer’s market in Friday Harbor.
On all three islands you’ll be able to find excellent accommodation. ‘Island hopping’ can also be a great strategy for exploring. Start your adventure from the elegant and modern Friday Harbor House with its harbor-view outdoor area.