October 19, 2021

The Best Islands Located Within the United States

The Best Islands Located Within the United States

The secret’s out! Your next island getaway doesn’t require you to search through desk drawers for your passport, and it’s all thanks to Travel + Leisure and their 2021 World’s Best Awards. This year, the travel publication has curated a list of the Top 15 Islands in the Continental United States.

Each year, Travel + Leisure issues their acclaimed World’s Best Awards where the T+L readership is surveyed about the best travel experiences around the globe. What results is a hefty list of 64 total categories announcing the top U.S. national parks, airlines, airports, car-rental agencies, cities, cruise ships, destination spas, hotels, hotel brands, islands, tour operators, and more from around the globe.

For this year’s Best Islands in the Continental U.S. Ranking, the East Coast had quite the spotlighted feature with a majority of the top 15 spots going to the eastern seaboard. Most notably is the obvious standout that is Florida, as “the Sunshine State” claimed five of the top island spots. Though ultimately, South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island topped the list with overwhelming support for the much-celebrated weather, scenery, and atmosphere in which to enjoy days on the beach, town, or golf course. If you’re looking for inspiration for your next vacation outing, check out the full list here and the rankings below.

  1. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
  2. Outer Banks, North Carolina
  3. Sanibel Island, Florida
  4. Block Island, Rhode Island
  5. Captiva Island, Florida
  6. Florida Keys, Florida
  7. Mackinac Island, Michigan
  8. Mount Desert Island, Maine
  9. Golden Isles, Georgia
  10. Nantucket, Massachusetts
  11. Longboat Key, Florida
  12. San Juan Islands, Washington
  13. Amelia Island, Florida
  14. Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  15. Hilton Head, South Carolina

As you can see above, there are plenty of island experiences for United States citizens to find and enjoy without ever stepping foot in an airport’s international terminal, and while many of those islands listed are generally located in a similar area of the country, they each offer a specific ambiance and experience that cannot be found elsewhere.

Furthermore, it is clear to see that the Travel + Leisure readership didn’t discriminate against groups of islands making their way onto the list as Washington State’s archipelago, the San Juan Islands made a high-ranking placement as the only representative of the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, Georgia’s Golden Isles, which consists of Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, Sea Island, and St. Simons Island, was also featured as #7 on the list, and the notorious Florida Keys rounded off the top ten.

This year’s survey, which was developed by the editors of Travel + Leisure in association with the M&RR research firm, was administered to the publication’s readership from January 11 through May 10, 2021. The editors note that for the Islands list in particular, that while the survey was administered at a time in which many destinations worldwide were lifting COVID-19 restrictions to travel, accommodations, etc, they still believe their data to be a true reflection of the date measured. This is because the survey traditionally allows readers to reflect on the past three years of travel experiences when responding.

For those living in the land-locked states around the country, the thought of vacationing on a serene, sun-warmed beach often is set on an international isle, but it turns out that the United States is home to several much-sought-after islands. These top 15 destinations are all located within the continental United States, meaning that the chart-topping Hawaiian Islands don’t cast an overbearing shadow on this year’s most popular U.S. islands and all of their amenities.

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