Vibrant reefs, sun-drenched forests and miles of beaches: 15 of the best islands in the US - ForumDaily
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Vivid reefs, sun-drenched forests and miles of beaches: 15 of the best islands in the US

US residents don't have to leave the country for blue waters and powdery sands. With 50 states and five territories in the country, there is something for every island lover, whether you want unobstructed beaches, sun-drenched forests, vibrant reefs, or year-round whale-dwelling waters. From the majestic mountains of Maine to the visually opulent beaches of the US Virgin Islands - Edition Trip savvy has collected 15 of the best islands in the United States where you can leave your worries behind.

Photo: IStock

Oahu, Hawaii

Hawaii is remembered as one of the best places for a family vacation paradise. For centuries, these palm-lined Pacific islands have beckoned travelers to their sparkling shores.

The largest and most visited island, Oahu is home to the state capital of Honolulu and its world-famous beaches, breathtaking hiking trails and thirst-quenching ice stalls. Do you want fabulous waterfalls? Skyscrapers caressing the clouds? Living in a tropical city? Waves ready to surf? Oahu has it all. Grab your loved ones and head to one of the island's sandy beaches - all of which are public.


Puerto Rico is an island 100 miles (160 km) long. This is the perfect place if you love historical locations and a calendar full of highlights. Most of your Enchantment Island adventures begin in San Juan, a delightful capital city with something to offer around every corner. Fans of nightlife should not waste time and should immediately go to the fashionable district of Santurs. Here, while sipping a pina colada, you can enjoy murals, street food and parties on cool nights. This cocktail was created at the Caribe Hilton in 1954.

On the subject: Caribbean vacation: you can visit a little-known but charming island where there are more flamingos than people

Nature lovers and adventurers will want to head to the El Yunque National Rainforest to take a dip in natural pools and spot coca frogs and orange-plumed parrots, yellow-bellied sapsuckers and red-tailed hawks. Meanwhile, beach lovers will be happy to know that there are almost 300 beaches on the island, each promising crystal clear waters and orange sunsets.

Santa Catalina Island, California

Do like Marilyn Monroe and many other Hollywood celebrities and call Santa Catalina your temporary home. This laid-back island is very popular for day trips. After an hour-long ferry ride, you can explore the two Catalina cities of Avalon and Two Harbors by bike, golf cart, or on foot.

Here you will find parasailing, glass bottom boat trips and sea lion, dolphin and whale watching expeditions during their migratory season. On land, you can nestle under swaying palm trees or zipline under the sky dome. You can have a good time dining on Mount Hell, the former home of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., who formerly owned the island.

Martha Vineyard, Massachusetts

Photo: IStock

Contrary to popular belief, Martha Vineyard is not owned by entrepreneur Martha Stewart. This small island off Cape Cod has timeless appeal, a distinct lack of chain restaurants, vibrant summer festivities, and a succession of incredible public beaches. The island consists of six villages. Oak Bluffs and Edgartown in the "lower part of the island" are shops, bustling bars and first-class restaurants. Between the two cities is the 3,2 km long Joseph Sylvia Beach, where Jaws filmed the iconic shark pandemonium. The "Upper Island" is more rural, containing the Aquinna cliffs, which are orange-red in color.

Saint John, US Virgin Islands

Come to the US Virgin Islands for Caribbean magic, rum and sunshine. This heavenly archipelago consists of the islands of Santa Cruz, St. John and St. Thomas, as well as dozens of small fabulous islands and reefs. All three main islands boast eateries, year-round warm weather, and beaches of unspeakable beauty, but St. John's has the upper hand. The Virgin Islands National Park occupies two-thirds of the island and enchants with its historic ruins, dozens of hiking trails and underwater trail.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

It was at the Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks that the Wright brothers made their momentous, world-changing first flight in 1903. Today, these delightfully remote barrier islands in North Carolina continue to make history. The one and only Dr. Beach (also known as coastal expert Dr. Steven Leatherman) ranked the life-saving Ocracoke Beach number one on his annual list of America's Best Beaches in 2022. Lighthouse Beach is also in the top ten.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Car-free, Michigan's family-friendly and charming Mackinac Island is full of shops, colorful façades and century-old living quarters. The Grand Hotel is one such building. It has been impressing both residents and visitors since 1887 (its 660-foot (201 m) porch is said to be the longest in the world). Mackinac floats in Michigan's Lake Huron, and over 80% of the island is part of Mackinac Island Protected Park, meaning it's well-preserved for its modest population of 500 residents. Since cars have been banned since 1898, you'll have to explore this Victorian-style island on foot, by bike, on horseback or in a wagon.

Kauai, Hawaii

The Hawaiian Island is known for its rich biodiversity, legendary mountainous coastline, and has been featured in over 100 films, including Jurassic Park. The island is home to the Waimea Canyon. This is the coldest place where cocoa trees can grow, which usually grow in a humid equatorial climate, earning the island the nickname "North Cacao Pole". Helicopter flight over its cinematic cliffs is an unforgettable experience that every traveler dreams of.

San Juan Islands, Washington

Nestled between three major cities (Vancouver, British Columbia, Victoria, British Columbia, and Seattle), the San Juan Islands in Washington State are a hotbed of outdoor activities. Many come to see the black and white killer whales that inhabit the archipelago all year round. Fishing expeditions, boat trips, hikes, and breathtaking scenic drive in the San Juan Islands also keep visitors busy. Lopez, Orcas and San Juan are the three main destinations on the island. Head to Friday Harbor any day of the week to start your adventure. It is the only city in the archipelago with many boutiques, bookstores, cultural centers and museums.

Vieques, Puerto Rico

A trip to Vieques should be on your Puerto Rico itinerary. More than half of the island is a national park with over 750 horses roaming freely, as well as invigorating hikes, bike rides and even turtle-watching expeditions.

But if you only have time to see one thing, go to Mosquito Bay. Mosquito Bay is one of Puerto Rico's three bioluminescent bays and was officially listed in the Guinness Book of Records in 2006 as the brightest on the planet.

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Hilton Head attracts beach lovers with its 12 miles (19 km) of silky sandy beach, golfers (20 golf courses), and cyclists with 64 miles (102 km) of public nature trails. Don't leave the island without looking at the Harbor Town Lighthouse, which has 114 steps leading up to the top for panoramic views.

Key West, FL

“This is the best place I have ever been,” Ernest Hemingway said of Key West. The city is the southernmost point in the United States. Its historic Old Town is a pleasure to stroll around on foot. You will find many admirable Victorian duplexes built from the spoils of a long-extinct recycling industry. Mallory Square and its adjacent Sunset Pier is the place to be if you don't want to miss the Key West sunset. And for fans of Hemingway there is a former house of the author. Spend an afternoon at the Hemingway House Museum or enjoy an author-inspired drink at one of the Southernmost Beach Resort's four bars.

Mount Desert Island, Maine

Photo: IStock

Head to the island to see bears, moose, coyotes, and lynxes in Acadia National Park, which is mainly located on Mount Desert Island, the largest island in Maine. You can go kayaking, rock climbing, biking and hiking all day long on the famous peaks of the park. When you're hungry, sample lobster in all its forms at one of the island's coastal villages such as Bar Harbor and North East Harbor, or embark on a delightful sunset cruise.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

When one thinks of Nantucket, seafood comes to mind, along with inviting dunes, pebble-roofed houses and historic lighthouses. This popular summer resort is a charming cobbled town whose whaling museum offers insight into Nantucket's past as the whaling capital of the world.

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Drive around the island to find your favorite cafe, stop by an oyster bar or relax on the beach. From December 2022, topless sunbathing is allowed for everyone on all Nantucket beaches. Interested in learning to surf? Beginners should visit the surf school on Nantucket Island.

Maui, Hawaii

Maui is the second largest and second oldest island in the state of Hawaii. Filled with volcanic beaches, spectacular waterfalls, charming towns, stylish oceanfront resorts, and restaurants that push the culinary frontier, this is a gorgeous destination.

Attractions on the island include the aptly named tiered pools Oheo Gorge (Oheo means "something special" in Hawaiian) and Haleakala, the world's largest dormant volcano. Many choose to enjoy the scenic scenery of the island on the road to Hana, a 52-mile (83 km) route consisting of 59 bridges, 620 turns and breathtaking seascapes.

Those looking for a less adrenaline rush can relax and enjoy the sand on Maui's 30-mile (42 km) beaches, which are delightfully painted in shades of gold, black and even rusty red.

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