Discover which beautiful American islands are ideal for relaxing sand and water getaways. Southern Living readers chose their top accessible destinations with comfortable accommodations for carefree 2017 vacations. Stock up on Swimsuits Direct women’s or plus-size styles from popular designers to wear at your favorite locales.
North Carolina’s Outer Banks
A sandy coastal sliver offers 120 miles of family-friendly towns. Snag an Outer Banks (OBX) rental house to swim, explore islands and shipwreck dives, catch shrimp and crab from fishing boats, build sandcastles, and collect seashells. Travel State 12 south to quiet beaches, quaint stores, and Oracoke’s unspoiled shores with bike rentals. Spot free-roaming Spanish mustang herds, legendary 16th-century shipwreck survivors, on OBX’s northern end in Corolla or by four-wheeler access to Carova. Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial, marking their famous flight’s location. Kitty Hawk Kites lets you replicate it in a 1902 reproduction glider.
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Georgia’s St. Simons
Picture long inviting beaches and moss dripping off oak trees around historic architecture. Such charms lure tourists needing breaks from hectic city life to this easygoing community. Gorgeous sunrises and sunsets reinforce St. Simons’ Golden Isles nickname, thanks to early explorers pursuing glittering treasures.
Take a scenic Overseas Highway road trip to tick numerous fantasies off your travel bucket list. Waters surrounding the Florida Keys display an incredible sunlit turquoise shade that wows guests. Notable attractions include sandy beaches, scuba diving, coral reefs, fishing, sky diving, nature preserves, landmarks, and museums.
South Carolina’s Hilton Head
Families enjoy Hilton Head’s upscale vacation community hugging South Carolina’s coast. This boot-shaped haven with safe white sandy beaches and walkable sites borders Bluffton. Water activities range from jet skis and boating to charter fishing and dolphin watching. Sporty types frequent the surprising 324 tennis courts and 24 championship golf courses.
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The flawless beauty of Virginia’s sole resort island promises serene getaways. Swim, boat, fish, bike, or hike. To glimpse the famous Chincoteague Wild Ponies, visit nearby Assateague Island.
South Carolina’s Kiawah
Get ready for amazing ocean and river views. The Kiawah River separates this pristine isle’s sandy strip from St. Johns Island. Only Kiawah Beachwalker Park allows public access to its beach. Indulge in an upscale resort stay.
A former upper-class private retreat is now a popular state park. At the one-time Jekyll Island Club turned hotel, relish sprawling unspoiled beaches, meandering marshlands, and towering oaks.
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Tranquil waters and ample seashells draw visitors. Due to its east-west location in southern Florida, shells wash up from the gulf onto Sanibel Island’s white beaches, especially following storms.
Classic architecture and fresh seafood rival inviting beaches and warm water as Galveston’s preferred temptations. Tour world-renowned grand mansions representing Victorian extravagance.
Just a half-hour drive from beloved Savannah, enjoy long peaceful oceanfront and river beaches, swimming, surfing, kayaking, fishing, and biking. Laidback Tybee Island’s sightseeing delights include the lighthouse and forts.
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