The besT


islands Close to Home

of the world

if you don’t yet live in paradise, you can still find it right next door. Many beautiful islands lie just a bridge, ferry ride or short flight away. Even from inland states, you can be in a dreamy island setting within half a day or less, at bargain prices, and without all the planning an international trip demands (though you’ll still need the sunscreen and beach towels). The islands listed here — from Key Biscayne, Florida, to Whidbey island, Washington — can be reached in hours, mere minutes in some cases. now quit checking your watch. as soon as you cross that bridge, you’re on vacation.
b y m at t h e w m i l l e r


will And deni mcintyre/corbis

the sun rises over “America’s beach,” as north carolina’s outer banks bills its history-rich coastline.

Ju l y/Au g u s t 2 0 0 9 isl a n d s . c om

Ju l y/Au g u s t 2 0 0 9 isl a n d s . c om

cape florida lighthouse, key biscayne

tHe best

The rest of the island is a bit more laidback. The 1890 lighthouse in Gasparilla state Park at the south end of the island is still functioning. Open to the public, it exemplifies the Florida vernacular style, with elevated floors and high ceilings for green cooling invented before green was green. in the same system of barrier islands, sanibel to the south offers some of the same atmosphere. But Gasparilla gets you a little closer to away from it all.

This all-american island perfecTion barely fiTs inTo a long weekend. Key Biscayne, Florida
Best FOR cOmmuting

island escape in the world, at least if you live in Miami — it’s 18 minutes from downtown over the causeway Best FOR RelaxatiOn and onto the key, and it’s only 27 from Gasparilla Island, Florida Miami international. Visit one of the � There’s Old Florida, and then, across country’s best swimming beaches, at the Boca Grande Causeway, there’s Bill Baggs Cape Florida state Park (that Gasparilla island, Florida. a little farunruly sea grass keeps the water clean). ther out of the way, this one-time haunt Boater’s Grill on no name Harbor in of J.P. Morgan and Henry Ford seems to the park has good seafood and great views. lie a lot farther back in time. Gasparilla Or peruse donut Gallery; it doesn’t serve values tradition, and the tradition it valdoughnuts, but does have great burgers. ues is luxurious Gulf-side relaxation. For accommodation, choose between at the center of island culture since the Ritz-Carlton and the silver sands it was built in 1911, the Gasparilla inn Beach Resort, a midcentury motel close & Club embraces that ethic, as a retreat to Florida’s resort roots with terrazzo from the stresses of modern life but not floors and doors that still use keys. from civilization: Jackets are required Watch for iguanas sunning in roadside in the dining room during the island’s vegetation around 4 p.m. They also hang “social season” from december to april. out on the beach and the golf course. if For non-guests, the inn offers tours of it gets cold enough, they may even fall the historic property twice a week.

� This may be the most convenient

from the trees. But it’s rarely cold in Key Biscayne. When it’s time to leave, just keep on relaxing — you’re almost home.

including Bishops Palace (1892) and the Grand 1894 Opera House, which is still used for performances from pop to classical. and for pure prefabricated, zerointellect thrills, there’s schlitterbahn Waterpark. authentic island culture? Maybe not, but take the watery 40 mph freefall on the Cliffhanger speed slide
gasparilla island lighthouse


Ju l y/Au g u s t 2 0 0 9 isl a n d s . c om

f r o m t o p : wA lt e r b i b i k o w / c o r b i s ; l Au r e n c e pA r e n t / p h o t o g r A p h e r ’ s d i r e c t

� less than an hour from downtown Houston, Galveston island is 32 miles long and has 32 miles of beach. That means it’s all beach. Well, there’s also shopping and dining in the Historic downtown strand district. and there’s the lone star Flight Museum with a collection of one-of-a-kind aircraft and a concentration of Victorian architecture nearly unmatched in the United states,

Galveston Island, Texas

Best FOR vaRiety
A l A n t i d e p h o t o t r Av e l / c o r b i s ; o p p o s i t e : dAv i d b r o w n e l l / p h o t o g r A p h e r ’ s d i r e c t

tHe best

and see if you care. and Moody Gardens offers an aquarium and a tropical rainforest enclosed in a 10-story pyramid. But the rest is beach (not counting too much other stuff to mention here). The longest continuous sidewalk in the United states lines the 10.5-mile seawall section, restored after Hurricane ike in 2008. ike wasn’t as bad as the great storm of 1900, after which they built the elegant Hotel Galvez — now run by Wyndham with a renovated spa — to symbolize the destination’s undaunted vitality. The island survived ike too. and it’s relaxing and super fun. Right there next to downtown Texas.

The steamship authority — in business since ships ran on steam — runs ferries almost hourly dawn till dark between

� summer is the season on the Vineyard.

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Best FOR Biking

saturday mornings in summer, proof of the Vineyard’s devotion to local (and delicious) produce from its dozens of small farms. Continue to the “up-island” township of aquinnah, on land martha’s vineyard owned by the Wampanoag tribe, to see the striking striated red clay of the Woods Hole on the mainland and Vine- aquinnah Cliffs. Get lobster rolls from yard Haven (without a car it’s $7.50 per Menemsha Fish Market in the fishing person). Known as a vacation escape since village of Menemsha and sit on the adjawhaling died out here in the 19th century, cent public beach to watch the sunset. the island is a great place for a leisurely This all-american island perfection bicycle tour. Bring a bike on the ferry barely fits into a long weekend. Better for an extra $3, or rent one at Martha’s make it a week. Bicycle Rentals a block from the dock. Pedal a picturesque loop: Vineyard Best FOR HistORy Haven, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown Outer Banks, North Carolina form the island’s “urban” backbone. � Kitty Hawk at the north end of the For an island escape within an island Outer Banks is just 79 miles south of escape, continue to Chappaquiddick the airport in norfolk, Virginia, and island by ferry and leave by bike along even the drive from Washington, d.C., the sand spit to Katama (if your bike can be done in a long afternoon. Cape is beach-capable). West Tisbury has Hatteras to the south was declared the a farmers market Wednesday and United states’ first national seashore in

1953, and the Outer Banks calls itself “america’s Beach.” largely protected from development, the 70-mile expanse of sand is packed with historic spots (and picnic spots to match). Blackbeard (Edward Teach) allegedly hid out in the area, and yes, he probably buried treasure, but don’t waste your weekend digging in the sand. Established in 1584, the English colony on Roanoke island preceded Jamestown by more than 20 years. The Waterside Theatre’s play The Lost Colony will reinforce that hint of the Elizabethan era. in summer, climb the seemingly endless cast-iron steps of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, the nation’s tallest at 208 feet and still guiding ships at sea. after paying homage to flying pioneers at Wright Brothers national Memorial in Kill devil Hills, you can be like them (sort of ) by doing some low-altitude hang-gliding at Jockey’s Ridge state Park on nags Head. Or fly a kite on the beach.

bar harbor, mount desert island
Best FOR cOlORs

� Home to acadia national Park, Mount desert is an island for all seasons. The carriage trails through the park offer pleasant hiking and biking in spring, and cross-country skiing in winter. in the summer, park on the east side of northeast Harbor and climb the stone steps up the cliffs called asticou Terraces to the asticou and Thuya gardens. The greenery and stone benches create a contemplative atmosphere you may not recognize from your morning commute. Cadillac Mountain is the highest peak on the U.s. atlantic Coast at 1,530 feet, and it’s the first place in the United

Mount Desert Island, Maine

states to see the morning sun, but the autumn views from the summit top it all, with foliage in red and gold stretching to the horizon. Propane-powered island Explorer buses run from late June to mid-October, providing a free, lowstress way to tour the island and reach trailheads, beaches and other places both in the park and out. Revel in some of america’s oldest luxury at the spa at the Bar Harbor Club. Built by J.P. Morgan in 1929, stockmarket tribulation notwithstanding, the club stands as testament to the enduring value of retreat.

to american cities without including the place so many new Yorkers look to for summer escape. driving east from JFK airport to picturesque Montauk Point state Park, home of (continued on p. 86)

� it’s impossible to list islands convenient

Long Island, New York

Best FOR name-dROpping

Virgin Islands
S T. C R O I X



S T. J O H N


S T. T H O M A S



S T. C R O I X

S T. C R O I X

S T. T H O M A S

S T. T H O M A S

Best Places toStay Gold List, 2008
Located on a quiet stretch of beach in St. Croix, the Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort combines privacy and relaxation with modern style and amenities. Spacious beachfront guestrooms and deluxe hillside suites offer private balconies with stunning views. Resort features full service spa, casino and PADI 5-Star scuba diving. 877-773-9700 / Fax: 340-773-6802

Still rated #1 condominium resort by! Located on 500 ft. of sandy beach and 5 minutes from downtown shopping. 46 spacious, deluxe units: studios, 1 to 4 bedroom suites, all facing the beach. Includes private balconies, kitchens, central A/C, ceiling fans, CATV, phone, free WiFi by the pool, lighted tennis courts and laundry. Rates from $105.00. 800-524-2049 / 340-718-5345

It’s no secret why guests return to enjoy our true island hospitality. Our all-suite oceanfront resort is set among the palms of our crescent shaped beach. Studio, one and two bedroom suites are fully equipped and feature private patios or balconies. On site tennis, dive/watersports, fitness center and seaside restaurant. Discover the difference! 800-524-2250 / 340-775-6550

Villa-style suites with private balconies and stunning views, a favorite honeymoon resort. 15 lush acres with two beaches, three pools, free tennis. Two award-winning restaurants, complimentary snorkeling, kayaks and introductory scuba lessons. Each air-conditioned suite has living/ dining areas, kitchen, phones, TVs, accommodating 2-6 guests. 800-524-2300

Condé Nast Traveler Magazine

0.& 1-"8 0/ "5*;3 #&34 #&"$) "/% &/+08 $0.1-*.&/4"28 "7"**"/ $5-452"- "$4*6*4*&3 /*()4-8 )5-" 3)073 "/% " '2&& $)*-%2&/;3 120(2". !052 6*3*4 */$-5%&3 " 7&-$0.& #2&",'"34 "/% '"2&7&-- -&* /-8 "4 ":"/"1"-* &"$) 04&- 7)&2& 8052 %2&".3 #&$0.& )"118 .&.02*&3

Nightly Rates from $169
Based on availability

00, 07 "6& "4&3 '20. 1&2 /*()4
#06& 0''&23 "2& #"3&% 0/ "6"*-"#*-*48 "/% 30.& 2&342*$4*0/3 ."8 "11-8

9 777,#)."5* $0.
York’s oldest lighthouse, could take two hours. (Hear that derisive laughter? add time if a million or so others escape with you.) Fire island Wilderness off the south shore and accessible by ferry and bridge offers new York’s only designated wilderness area. dr. stephen leatherman, aka dr. Beach, named two of long island’s beaches in his 2008 list of best U.s. beaches: Coopers Beach in southampton and Main Beach in East Hampton. Those familiar with long island from The Great Gatsby — and innumerable other depictions — have their highflown expectations to answer to, but the island’s variety provides a backdrop for whatever story unfolds. Visit the birthplace of Walt Whitman in Huntington, plus the houses of Jackson Pollock in East Hampton and of Teddy Roosevelt at Oyster Bay. Billy Joel, Calvin Klein, Martha stewart, Howard stern and steven spielberg also have homes out
(continued from p. 83) new

tHe best

prince edward island oysters

here somewhere, but they’d rather you didn’t visit. Maybe you’ll see them at the beach.

a Canadian province unto itself, is the most remote island in this list. Crossing the bridge from new Brunswick feels like entering another world. (You can also get direct flights here from Boston, new York and other hubs.) The surrounding Gulf of st. lawrence and newfoundland to the northeast give the island a milder climate than mainland Canada. Warm, usually dry

� For U.s. readers, Prince Edward island,

Prince Edward Island, Canada

Best FOR seaFOOd

summers seem to suggest a whimsical literary idyll. anne of Green Gables, the island’s favorite fictional daughter, came here by mistake, then had an unspeakable amount of fun. The farmhouse that inspired author l. M. Montgomery still stands in Prince Edward island national Park, which offers a variety of landscapes — sandbars, wetlands, forests and cliffs. Meanwhile, Prince Edward island’s clean, nutrient-rich waters support a world-renowned shellfish industry — oysters, mussels and lobsters abound. Visit the recently opened ship to shore restaurant in darnley on the north shore’s Malpeque Bay. Co-owner and two-time north american oyster-shucking champion John Bil runs the kitchen. nobody shucks like Bil, and he can cook too. The scenic Confederation Trail runs the length of the island along an old railway right of way, traversing gentle hills and running through small communities populated with friendly island

Emerald Palms
Boutique oceanfront resort minutes from the world’s third largest barrier reef. Fabulous fishing, diving, stunning villas and hotel rooms, miles of private beach. Perfect wedding, reunion, retreat setting. Emerald Palms. Eat, fish and be merry.

Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort & Villas
Untouched…undiscovered…barefoot elegance in paradise. Enjoy luxurious accommodation, scrumptious cuisine and feel your stress slip away as mile after mile of silky sand beach stretches before you and majestic sunsets and calm waters embrace you.

Pelican Bay at Lucaya
Stay 3 nights in one of our Waterside State Rooms for $209 p/n and get the 4th night FREE! Located on the water, furnished in rich mahogany décor, in-room espresso, steps to beach and minutes to the best shopping on Grand Bahama.

Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort
On the Caribbean’s finest white-sand beach, Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort offers a complete vacation experience, with Bahamian hospitality, thoughtful amenities, varied dining and abundant activities. “Sunsational Savings” 4th night FREE - Up to $200 in resort credits – breakfast for two.

i A n b At c h e l o r / g e t t y i m Ag e s
folk exuding a mystical quality that harried city folk sometimes refer to as inner peace. as you drive north from Clinton, accumulate a locally sourced picnic lunch — wine and cheese from Greenbank Farm (you can also get married in this lovely spot if you bring your betrothed), loganberry pie from the adjacent Whidbey Pies Cafe and smoked salmon from seabolt’s smokehouse in Oak Harbor. The views of deception Pass are spectacular, even from above. But hiking down through the state park (entrances at both ends of the bridge) to the estuary can be transformative. Passing through ancient northwest forest, you might see bald I s L a N D s . CO M / best eagles and other birds that stay through winter for the temperate microclimate. leave yourself some hours to eat that picnic on the shore. The drive from bridge to freeway and south to seattle may seem longer than the trip up. That’s because it’s 70 miles instead of 25, but also because you’ll be sad to leave.
frAns lAnting/corbis

tHe best

coast of California 500 years ago? The five island jewels — san Miguel, santa Cruz, santa Rosa, anacapa and santa Barbara — that comprise Channel islands national Park offer a glimpse. although it lies close to the megalopolis that is southern California, the archipelago remains remote and well preserved. The park was created in 1980 for the protection of the unique ecosystem, which includes Torrey pines and the endemic island fox. Unlike other islands in our list, the Channel islands are by nature hard to reach. Visitors here (fewer than 90,000 landing per year) come by plane and boat. Channel islands aviation, Truth aquatics and island Packer Cruises

� How did the Pacific look from the

Channel Islands, California

Best FOR wildliFe

Anacapa island, channel islands

bring day-trippers and overnight campers (there are no hotels). From the boat landing on santa Rosa island, hike to the ridge for a view of the Pacific so broad it seems to reach back in time. is this what Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo saw landing here in 1542? it’s probably pretty close. and it’s very close to home.

� it’s about 25 miles from downtown seattle to the dock in Mukilteo, but once you’re on the ferry to Clinton on Whidbey island, the commute is over and Puget sound views begin.

Whidbey Island, Washington

Best FOR views

Elbow Beach, Bermuda
A Mandarin Oriental managed property - is the ultimate island getaway. A combination of main hotel and cottage colony, the resort enjoys prime locale overlooking stunning South Shore.
1-800-223-7434 441-236-3535

Grotto Bay
Full service recently renovated resort spread among 21 lush landscaped acres along the water’s edge. Tennis, watersports,diving, nearby golf, spa, 3 great restaurants! All Inclusive package available. Special: Save $400 on 4 nights or more. BERMUDA’S BEST VALUE!

Rosedon Hotel
Quiet, friendly and relaxed, Rosedon offers the most discerning visitor a wonderful vacation away from it all. Surrounded by lush tropical gardens, Rosedon Hotel offers 44 rooms individually decorated with traditional English and Island flair. Located in the heart of Bermuda, within walking distance of Hamilton.
1-800-742-5008 441-295-1640

W W W. B E R M U D AT O U R I S M . C O M