Nine U.S. Islands to Explore this Summer

Island adven­tures are a unique breed of recre­ation. Maybe it’s the oth­er­world­ly feel­ing of water all around you, or the dis­tance you seem to cre­ate from depart­ing the main­land, but hop­ping onto an island, or island hop­ping, is one of those adven­tures you’ll nev­er for­get. If you find your­self bogged down by the heat of sum­mer and the usu­al rou­tine, the time to start plan­ning your next island adven­ture is right now.


san juan islandSan Juan Islands, Wash­ing­ton
Locat­ed in the Sal­ish Sea between Wash­ing­ton and British Columbia’s Van­cou­ver Island, the San Juan Islands are an arch­i­pel­ago that attracts a lot of deserved atten­tion. The San Juan Islands almost feel like a whole dif­fer­ent world, with astound­ing scenery and orca whales fre­quent­ly spot­ted in the waters. With 172 named islands and reefs, there is a lot to explore in the San Juan Islands, and a great place to start is any four of the islands that link up with the fer­ry ser­vice (Orcas, San Juan, Lopez, & Shaw Islands). From there you can hike, bike, kayak and explore a sea­side scenery that can eas­i­ly take your breath away.


hunting islandCum­ber­land Island, Geor­gia
Stretch­ing for 17 miles, Cum­ber­land Island is Georgia’s longest bar­ri­er island, the adven­ture oppor­tu­ni­ties it holds are only acces­si­ble by boat. The most com­mon way to get to Cum­ber­land Island is by hop­ping on the fer­ry that departs from Saint Mary, and once you make the trip, there are over 50 miles of inland and beach trails to explore. Because of its wilder­ness des­ig­na­tion, there are few ameni­ties at Cum­ber­land Island except a few restrooms and water foun­tains, so plan­ning the type of trip you want to have is essen­tial. Camp­ing is allowed and encour­aged at any one of the five camp­grounds found through­out this esteemed Nation­al Seashore; reser­va­tions and per­mits are required before step­ping foot on the island.


hunting islandHunt­ing Island State Park, South Car­oli­na
Locat­ed just 16 miles from the his­toric town of Beau­fort, Hunt­ing Island State Park is one of the most pop­u­lar parks in South Car­oli­na. Acces­si­ble by vehi­cle via Inter­state 95, this esteemed state park isn’t only pop­u­lar because it’s easy to get to, but more so because the 5,000 acres and 3 miles of beach­line it encom­pass­es offer a reward­ing chance to get away from it all. While much of Hunt­ing Island is in its nat­ur­al state, the State Park does offer select ameni­ties includ­ing chang­ing huts on the beach, a pub­lic light­house to explore, and a few camp­sites des­ig­nat­ed for RV’s and tent campers.


casco bayCas­co Bay Islands, Maine
The Cas­co Bay Islands is a large clus­ter­ing of big and small islands off the south­ern coast of Maine. The Cas­co Bay Fer­ry Line pro­vides trans­port to six of the major islands and their wel­com­ing com­mu­ni­ties. While hik­ing, bik­ing, and kayak­ing are a must in and around the Cas­co Bay Islands, as well as spend­ing the night in one of three beau­ti­ful camp­grounds, many vis­i­tors are enticed to go because of all the seashore din­ing options found through­out the area.


key westKey West, Flori­da
While the south­ern expo­sure of Key West might not be the best place to beat the heat this sum­mer, with an abun­dant shore­line, plen­ty of palm trees and a trop­i­cal sur­round­ing to indulge your­self in, even a lit­tle heat can’t spoil a good time here. Serv­ing as the south­ern­most city in the con­tigu­ous Unit­ed States, Key West is not far from the shores of Cuba. You’ll, of course, find all the typ­i­cal beach­side tourist attrac­tions here, but also an abun­dance of camp­grounds with activ­i­ties such as snor­kel­ing, fish­ing, beach comb­ing, and boat­ing.


manitou islandNorth & South Man­i­tou Island, Michi­gan
The North & South Man­i­tou Islands are part of a larg­er island chain found in Lake Michi­gan and are also part of the inland attrac­tion known as the Sleep­ing Bear Dunes Nation­al Lakeshore. While there is a lot of fun things to climb and explore inland at the dunes, the real adven­ture begins when you hop aboard a fer­ry and head for the islands. Both the North and the South Man­i­tou Islands have unique adven­tures to explore, includ­ing 15,000 acres of des­ig­nat­ed wilder­ness on North Man­i­tou, and an under­wa­ter pre­serve con­tain­ing 50 known ship­wrecks off the coast of South Man­i­tou. Camp­ing is allowed at either island with the cor­rect per­mit and reser­va­tion.


assatueague islandAssateague Island, Vir­ginia & Mary­land
Assateague Island is a bar­ri­er island off the Del­mar­va Penin­su­la oper­at­ed by two dif­fer­ent states and three gov­ern­ment agen­cies. Split between a Nation­al Lakeshore, a Mary­land State Park, and a Chin­coteague Nation­al Wildlife Refuge, Assateague Island draws many peo­ple towards its rugged land­scape. Thanks to the nev­er-ceas­ing laps of waves falling on the shore how­ev­er, the adven­ture is always evolv­ing. Vis­i­tors have an array of recre­ation­al oppor­tu­ni­ties to choose from at Assateague Island, includ­ing kayak­ing, bik­ing, and camp­ing, but most peo­ple vis­it to catch a glance at the many fer­al hors­es that also inhab­it the island.


Catalina IslandSan­ta Catali­na Island, Cal­i­for­nia
Locat­ed off the coast of Cal­i­for­nia, rough­ly 22 miles from Los Ange­les, San­ta Catali­na Island (also known sim­ply as “Catali­na”), has plen­ty of good rea­sons to draw you in. While the tourist attrac­tion draws in the aver­age vis­i­tor, those look­ing for a bit more action come for the sun­ny island scenery and easy access to adven­ture. From back­coun­try hik­ing to under­sea expe­di­tions, the options are almost end­less at this year-round adven­ture des­ti­na­tion. Camp­ing is avail­able at select camp­grounds on Catali­na Island; mul­ti­ple days are rec­om­mend­ed to explore every­thing this enchant­i­ng island has to offer.


Apos­tle Islands, Wis­con­sin
Found on the north­ern­most point of Wis­con­sin, the Apos­tle Islands are an island group­ing off the shores of Lake Supe­ri­or that pro­vide near­ly unlim­it­ed recre­ation oppor­tu­ni­ty through­out the year. Com­pris­ing of 21 indi­vid­ual islands and 12 miles of main­land, this adven­tur­ous des­ti­na­tion caters towards overnight island hop­pers and day trip­pers alike. With so many hik­ing trails and shore­line attrac­tions to do and see on each of the islands that line the shore, it’s well worth uti­liz­ing the many dif­fer­ent camp­ing options and overnight accom­mo­da­tions avail­able.