Ready to escape to an island paradise but don’t want to spring for airline tickets? That may seem like an impossible dream, but there are quite a few islands off the U.S. coast that are accessible by car. These islands are all close enough to the mainland that you can get there by bridge. Now you can put your family in the car and enjoy a road trip with a beautiful island destination.
Many of the drivable islands on the East Coast are in the Florida Keys. Islamorada is a local favorite, about two hours’ drive from Miami. Islamorada boasts a casual, laid-back island lifestyle, but the real draw for this locale is the abundant underseas wildlife that thrives offshore. Islamorada bills itself as the Sport Fishing Capital of the World, but snorkelers and scuba divers enjoy the wildlife here, too.
Anna Maria Island, Florida
Another treasure in the Florida Keys is Anna Maria Island, which offers a serene, relaxing beach getaway. About an hour’s drive from Tampa, you’ll find another world, with cottages and beach houses to rent, rustic paths to stroll, and otherworldly sand dunes. The island offers bike rentals, galleries and boutiques, tidal pools for the kids, white sand beaches, and clear blue water.
The West Coast has some drivable islands as well. The island city of Coronado is just minutes from downtown San Diego, but offers a lazy island vibe and a magical landscape, featuring a long stretch of mica-laden beach that sparkles in the sun like diamonds. The island features a charming Main Street and lots of water recreation, including sailing, surfing, kayaking, and Venetian-style gondola rides.
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
A short drive across a drawbridge brings you to one of North Carolina’s favorite beach destinations, Wrightsville Beach. This East Coast island paradise offers shopping, surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, harbor cruises, sailing, deep-sea fishing, jogging trails, and more. Check out the wide variety of hotels in Wrightsville Beach for all budgets and styles of travel.
Tybee Island, Georgia
Another East Coast treasure lies just a short drive from Savannah, Georgia. Tybee Island is so easy to reach, you won’t even realize you’re on an island — until you get there. Whether you enjoy a leisurely walk along the shore collecting shells or prefer a more active afternoon of kite surfing and kayaking, keep your eyes peeled for the dolphins who hang out just off shore.
Chincoteague Island, Virginia
This island was made famous, at least among schoolgirls, by a series of books about the wild ponies who are born here and the humans who love them. The island is part of a national wildlife refuge, so the ponies grow up untroubled here. You can see them on a tour or come in late July to watch them being herded by “saltwater cowboys” on their annual swim migration. The island is also known for its deliciously salty oysters.
These drivable islands offer everything you could want in an island getaway, plus the accessibility of being a short drive away from civilization.