The 15 Best Islands in the Continental U.S.

Americans don’t have to go far to find themselves on one of the best islands in the continental U.S., but those who live in the Southeast will have the shortest journeys. Year after year, readers give resounding applause for destinations in Florida, which is home to five of this year’s best islands. Four more favorites sit off the coasts of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It’s also worth noting that this category was the most competitive it has ever been, as domestic island vacations were many Travel + Leisure readers’ first choice for vacations throughout the pandemic.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.

In addition to its natural beauty, Amelia Island (No. 10) has several historic sites, including American Beach, an area that served as a haven for Black families during the Jim Crow era. In Fernandina Beach, visitors can spend an afternoon strolling through the lively town or kayaking. The popular oceanfront Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, has a spa, a standout kids’ club, and an 18-hole championship golf course.

Sanibel Island (No. 13) has beaches with more than 250 types of shells and a 6,000-acre national wildlife refuge. The Sanibel Moorings Resort, which consists of 122 suites, has a private beach and a six-acre botanical garden, and guests can go on guided walks with a botanist or a marine biologist.

For all the Southeast’s appeal, this year’s top spot on the list of the best islands in the continental U.S. was taken by a Midwestern haven. Continue reading to learn about Mackinac Island, which also earned a place on our list of the world’s best islands.

1. Mackinac Island, Michigan

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Eighty percent of this roughly four-square-mile island on Lake Huron is protected as a state park. The family-friendly downtown has many restaurants, fudge shops, and galleries. There are also

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