There’s something special about an island. Surrounded by water and often only accessible by one causeway road across a bridge, the remoteness adds a feeling of isolation that is hard to come by in today’s super connected, WiFi world.
While some of the world’s most exotic islands will require a long plane ride and a passport for US travelers, there are plenty of islands waiting to be discovered just off the Florida coastline.
Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island offers a private island feel. Located about 20 minutes west of Bradenton, Florida off the Gulf Coast, you won’t find a plethora of convenience stores or chain restaurants on Anna Maria Island. You also won’t find – and probably won’t miss – the lines and crowds often associated with Florida tourism.
Marco Island is located about 30 minutes south of Naples, Florida. This is the largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands. You’ll find white sandy beaches, beautiful waters, and world class resorts eager to cater to your every need for the duration of your vacation.
Sanibel Island is one of the few islands that lies east and west, instead of north and south. This is what accounts for it’s infamous sea shell laden beaches. Tourists come from all over the world to hunt for unique shells along these beaches. Sanibel Island is also a favorite destination for beach weddings and honeymooners.
Amelia Island can be found on Florida’s northeast coast, about an hour north of Jacksonville. It’s a 13 mile barrier island favored by Florida residents for weekend getaways. Amelia Island was ranked #6 among Top 10 North American Islands by Conde Nast Traveler’s 2008 Reader’s Choice Awards, making it the highest ranked island destination in Florida for two consecutive years.
Islamorada is part of the Florida Keys. It’s actually a chain of six islands including Plantation Key, Windley Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Lower Matecumbe Key and the offshore islands of Indian Key and Lignumvitae Key. Islamorada offers first class fishing – and of course excellent seafood at the local restaurants.
Key Largo is the northernmost island in the Florida Keys. This island is best known for it’s excellent diving opportunities and sport fishing. It’s also a favorite destination for film producers!
Singer Island is named for the founder of the Singer Sewing machine, who is rumored to have purchased the island originally as a gift for his mistress. Today, it provides an upscale vacation experience for celebrities, socialites and travelers looking for a taste of the good life.
Fisher Island lies 3 miles off the Miami, Florida shore and is only accessible by boat or ferry. It’s home to an exclusive, wealth community. In fact, it is believed that Fisher Island has the highest per capita income of any location in the United States. Visitors to the island can stay at the exclusive Fisher Island Hotel and Resort.
Captiva Island considers itself a “sister island” to the larger Sanibel Island near by. It boasts a mysterious history filled with pirates, conquistadors and Calusa indians.
Big Talbot Island State Park
Big Talbot Island State Park is an island you visit for a day rather than sleep on for a week. It’s just 23 miles from Jacksonville and offers the natural experience you’d expect from an undeveloped island that’s been conserved as a state park. Think drift wood and empty expanses of sand as opposed to luxury resorts and gift shops.
St. George Island State Park
The last island on the list, St. George Island, is another Florida State Park. This park provides 9 miles of beach that is still untouched by resort developers. Visitors to the park can swim in the Gulf of Mexico, lay on the white sand, hike, or fish. Even camping is allowed on the island in the designated campground.
Remember that while The Travel Channel will amaze you with exotic locations in far away lands, a genuine island experience is as close as the Florida coastline!