Travel and Leisure — April 14, 2014 at 5:00 am

8 U.S. Islands You Need to Visit

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KBazin / iStock / thinkstock.com

KBazin / iStock / thinkstock.com

Want to be on island time? You don’t have to travel far and wide or dish out oodles of dollars to get it. The U.S. boasts some pretty stellar islands from the west coast to the east; here are 8 of some of the nation’s finest.

Florida Keys
For tropical bliss just travel down to the Florida Keys- any key will do as they are all absolutely breathtaking. There are plenty of salty activities whether you want to kayak the mangroves, snorkel the reefs or catch some monster mahi out at sea. Turquoise water and balmy beach weather included!

Galveston Island, Texas
This one is perfect for the whole family. Round up the whole gang and head to Galveston Island where the fun never stops. Check out Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier and ride the roller coasters, play some carnival games and fill your tummy with shrimp at the first ever-established Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant.

Mount Desert Island, Maine
This is the largest island located off the coast of Maine and it’s also the home to Acadia National Park. What makes this island special is the spectacular view- mountains, shoreline and nature all in one place. Enjoy whale watching, kayaking and hiking during the day, then check out the area’s theater, shopping and dining scene at night.

Cumberland Island, Georgia
Pristine as can be, become one with nature on Cumberland Island. Conservation of the land isn’t taken lightly here and the history is rich, with human settlement dating back to the 16th century. Explore by bike or foot and enjoy the peace and isolation. There is plenty of wildlife, and if you’re lucky, you may be treated to a wild horse spotting. Descendants of Spanish mustang have called the island home for centuries.

BeachcottagePhotography  / iStock / thinkstock.com

BeachcottagePhotography / iStock / thinkstock.com

Whidbey Island, Washington
Bird watchers- get your fowl fix at Deception Pass State Park, located on Whidbey Island, or check out other areas such as Ala Spit and Fort Ebey State Park. Take in the stunning views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands, comb the beaches and try out some wine tasting at one of the many wineries found here.

Lanai, Hawaii
This red-dirt island used to be a pineapple patch, so you know it’s a sweet place to visit (ha!). You can’t say island without Hawaii, so you know Lanai won’t disappoint. It is difficult to reach with no direct flights from the mainland, but that only adds to the appeal. You’ll get it all here- scuba, snorkel, horseback riding, golfing and hiking to name a few.  The small town gives off a quaint 1920s vibe and the locals are known to be friendly.

Bald Head Island, North Carolina
A 20 minute ferry ride from Southport will get you to this beautiful deep south island, where automobiles are banned and living is easy. Relax in a vacation rental, do some fishing and scope out the wine and music festivals that add to the charm of Bald Head Island.

Grand Isle, Louisiana
This is the only inhabited barrier island outside of Louisiana boasting some mm-mm good seafood and plenty of fishing- including the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo, one of the nation’s largest saltwater fishing competitions. It took a hefty hit from the BP oil spill, but since the catastrophic event the waves are clear and sea life has returned.

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