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    15 Beautiful US Islands That'll Make You Forget All About Traveling Abroad

    Who needs Martinique when you've got Marco Island?

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    1. San Juan Island — Washington

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    You don’t have to visit British Columbia to see killer whales in the wild — a pod of orcas live year-round in the San Juan Islands archipelago, just off the northwest coast of Washington. You can spot these giant, black-and-white mammals from Lime Kiln Point State Park on San Juan Island — or better yet, from a kayak. If whales aren’t your thing, there's plenty of hiking, biking, and fishing to keep you entertained.

    2. Martha’s Vineyard — Massachusetts

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    You’ve probably heard of this Massachusetts island, which is frequented by stars, politicians, and ~socialites~. And there’s a good reason why: The food scene is top notch — try the chowder from Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company and a donut from Back Door Donuts (not necessarily together) — and the beaches are clean and broad. For views, ride your bike along the clay Aquinnah Cliffs, which were carved by glaciers a loooong time ago.

    3. Oahu — Hawaii

    Aerial view of Kahana Valley on the Windward coast of Oahu
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    The island of Oahu may be home to the state’s capital, but don’t be fooled into thinking the island is all about the city. You can benefit from Honolulu’s food and nightlife (and Waikiki’s surf) before heading to the quieter north shore where you can swim, cage-free with sharks. Yes, you read that right.

    4. Hilton Head Island — South Carolina

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    If you golf — even a little — chances are you know of this island, which is just barely off the coast of South Carolina. When you're not hitting the greens, check out Coligny Beach or visit the iconic lighthouse (with ice cream in hand) in Harbour Town.

    5. Nantucket — Massachusetts

    a row of cute houses along the waterfront at dusk
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    Just 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, you’ll find the the dunes and beaches of Nantucket. This tiny, remote island is a true summer destination, boasting excellent fishing and Nantucket Bay scallops. You can explore the island by bike, go for a hike, or brave the waters with a lesson at Nantucket Island Surf School.

    6. Block Island — Rhode Island

    rocky cliffs by the ocean
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    An easy 45-minute ferry ride from the mainland will bring you to Block Island, home to miles of beaches and the Mohegan Bluffs, impressive clay cliffs that rise almost 200 feet above the sea. Spend the morning boogie boarding at Mansion Beach before refueling with a lobster roll from Southeast Light Delights, and finish off the day watching the sun drop from Charlestown Beach.

    7. Mackinac Island — Michigan

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    Mackinac Island is a bit different to most other islands on this list. Rather than being in the middle of the salty ocean, it's found floating in Lake Huron and surrounded by freshwater. And since the island is car-free, don’t be surprised if you see horses trotting the streets downtown — that’s the norm on Mackinac.

    8. Maui — Hawaii

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    Maui is home to the Haleakala volcano, the scenic Hana Highway, and the waterfalls of Oheo Gulch. Oh, and there's also 30 miles of beaches. ‘Nuff said.

    9. Roanoke Island — North Carolina

    A lit up pier with a building at the end and soft dusk light
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    Roanoke Island has captivated the imaginations of visitors for centuries. The 12-mile long island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks was the landing place of a group of English settlers who mysteriously disappeared in 1590. The result is an island destination with an edge — you can't help but feel a twinge of excitement in knowing that the beach you sit on may have played a part in the island's great unsolved mystery.

    10. Fire Island — New York

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    Just off Long Island’s southern shore is a long, thin spit of land called Fire Island. On the west end you’ll find Robert Moses State Park and its iconic 5-mile stretch of beach, while Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness — the only federally designated wilderness area in the state — is to the east. In between are a handful of tranquil, car-free communities only accessible by ferry.

    11. Marco Island — Florida

    a sunset over the still water with palm trees in the shadows
    Mit4711 / Getty Images

    Sandwiched between Naples and the Everglades on the Gulf Coast is Marco Island — a barrier island full of canals and wide, sugar-sand beaches. You can search for shells on Tigertail Beach and South Beach, or simply bask in the near-perfect tropical climate, where the water temperature at the beach averages a balmy 78 degrees, and the weather rarely drops below 50.

    12. Mount Desert Island — Maine

    Rocks and trees leading down to the water at Schooner Head
    Cynthia Farr-weinfeld / Getty Images

    For a Maine coastal experience (hello, lobster rolls!) head to Mount Desert Island, home to the iconic Acadia National Park. The 47,000-acre park has enough terrain to keep you entertained for hours, and, if you're lucky, you might even spot a rare whale, moose, or bear while you're there. When you’ve had enough exploring, retreat to the town of Bar Harbor for some serious R&R.

    13. Channel Islands — California

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    Okay so technically this is a group of islands, but if you’re up for a true adventure, look no further. This unassuming archipelago is found off the coast of Los Angeles, but unlike Catalina Island, which gets all the attention (and all the tourists), the Channel Islands are delightfully remote. Often referred to as the “Galapagos of America,” the eight islands — five of which are part of Channel Islands National Park — are home to animals and plants found nowhere else on Earth thanks to the islands’ isolated locale.

    14. Captiva Island — Florida

    a beautiful sunset and pathway to the beach
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    Off the coast of Fort Myers, Florida, is a series of barrier and coastal islands in the Gulf’s warm waters. Among these is Captiva Island, a beach-y sliver of land that spans just 5 miles in length. The tiny island is all about the outdoors — bird watching, biking, sailing, fishing — and remains surprisingly tranquil considering the ease of access from the neighboring Sanibel Island.

    15. Isla Vieques — Puerto Rico

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    Puerto Rico is obviously a small island in and of itself, but Vieques is an even tinier island just of Puerto Rico's eastern coast. It's got all the appeal of a trip to the tropics: gorgeous beaches, warm weather, rainforest vegetation, and truly incredible food (seriously). But Vieques is also home to one of the few natural bioluminescent bays in the world, Mosquito Bay. Visit at night on a kayak for an aquatic light show you'll never forget.

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