Image source: Flickr - Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism
When people think of America, they normally think of the giant land mass stretching from cool, breezy Boston to warm, sunny California.
They very rarely think islands. Other than the Hawaiian Islands, not many people are even aware that America has some of the most stunning islands on this side of the globe.
Filled with natural beauty, wildlife and beaches, these islands dot both ends of the country. So let's take a look at the top 10 spectacular islands in the United States.
1. Anna Maria Island, Florida
Anna Maria Island is a barrier island that offers cool gulf breezes, white sandy beaches, golfing, fishing, and a whole lot more.
This island seems to beckon tourists to escape from the everyday 9 to 5, and relax in the warm ambiance that totally surrounds you.
A few notable points on the island are Bean Point Beach and Anna Maria Island Historical Museum; both are great for whiling away the hours.
2. Maui, Hawaii
Enjoy the pearl sandy beaches, majestic waterfalls, long scenic drives, and bamboo forests of the island paradise called Maui. Beach activities include water surfing, snorkeling, wind sailing, whale watching, or simply basking in the sun. The long drive to Hana, a wonderland of walking trails through lush foliage, features incredible sights that are sure to make the trip memorable. Adventure lovers can hike in Haleakala National Park, bike down a volcano, fly near stunning waterfalls, or scuba dive into the underworld.
3. Nantucket, Massachusetts
Swimming, surfing, and fishing are three of the main attractions of this 50 square mile island that used to be the number one whaling port of the world.
Nowadays, life on the island is more tranquil and laid-back. The quaint cottages, towering lighthouses, and picturesque inns are totally charming. Posh dining places rub elbows with chowder shacks and boutique stores. It truly is a vintage seaside experience.
4. Key West, Florida
Home to literary superstars like Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, this laid back island is also a favorite winter haven for U.S. Presidents, thus earning it the sobriquet of Winter White House. Scuba diving is one of the most popular draws for tourists along with gorgeous sunsets, fresh seafood, rockin' nightlife, deep sea fishing, and the Eco-Discovery Center.
There is always something exciting to do whether you are on a romantic or family-oriented vacation. The whole island has an energetic buzz that is infectious.
5. Chincoteague Island, Virginia
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most pristine islands in America and largely untouched. Wild ponies are one of the island's main inhabitants, and people leave them alone to wander the island free and unrestrained. And if you are a birdwatcher, then limber up those arms because you won't want to put your binoculars down.
This island is definitely a nature lover's dream. Hiking, biking, riding, and swimming are some of the activities that one can enjoy on the island.
It also has a wide variety of seafood to enjoy right on the beach while smelling the ocean air and feeling the gentle breeze.
6. Kauai, Hawaii
Commercially unsullied among the islands of Hawaii, Kauai offers visitors vistas of stunning white sandy beaches, charming idyllic drives, and magnificent waterfalls.
The island has more than sixty beaches; yes sixty! Some have tidal pools that are child-friendly and others are ideal for snorkeling.
Other water activities including surfing and scuba diving are also very popular. The sun is high, the breeze is cool, and the water is just right.
7. San Juan Island, Washington
Orca pods and lavender farms make this island a one of a kind paradise and definitely a must-see destination. Hop on a boat and head out to catch a glimpse of some gorgeous killer whales for a once in a lifetime wildlife experience.
During the evening, take in Friday Harbor, a busy place that houses popular restaurants, interesting shops, and some unusual sights like the sculpture garden that has 19 acres of wild and entertaining sculptures.
8. Big Island, Hawaii
If nature trekking and sightseeing is your thing, this is the island for you.
Home to the longest volcanic eruption in recorded history, this slow paced island is home to the striking peak of Mauna Kea as well as gorgeous beaches. After a hard day of hiking and climbing, stimulate your senses by eating freshly prepared poke and a cold fruity drink.
9. Hilton Head, South Carolina
Hilton Head has made its mark for being the island that hosts celebrated sporting activities all year around. This lovely island with swaying palms, draping Spanish moss, and long beaches make it ideal for golfing, swimming, and other water activities.
You also get a chance to see the famous landmark of the island, Harbourtown Lighthouse, a highlight of any trip.
10. Marco Island, Florida
Florida has ten of thousands of islands, but Marco Island is one of the state's shining stars.
The white sandy beaches promise a relaxing, rejuvenating get-away. The beautiful thing about this island is that you don't have to travel too far to reach the beach. It's a paradise that you will find you don't want to leave.
Whatever the choice, budget and inclination, these islands have the best to offer visitors. Careful planning may be best, but sometimes it's the impulsive trips that give us the most enjoyable and memorable experiences. Either way, be sure to take time out and dive in. The sun is shining and the waves are just right.
Where is your favorite American island?