Discover the hottest spots for cooling off that can only be reached by boat. From diving sunken shipwrecks and kayaking mangrove tunnels to snorkeling vibrant reefs and embarking on whale watching expeditions, these five island destinations are the ultimate escape. And once you’ve had your daily dose of sun and salt, you can kick up your feet with a chilly concoction back at your nearby Club Wyndham resort.
Island Packers Cruises, the park’s “Official Boat Concessionaire,” offers year-round public boat transportation to Santa Cruz and Anacapa. Nature lovers can enjoy Anacapa’s scenic hiking trails, abundant wildflowers, and resident seabirds. Water lovers will find recreational fun on Santa Cruz island, from the clear waters of Scorpion Beach to the kayak tours and watersport rentals at Channel Islands Adventure Company. Be sure to pack plenty of water and enough supplies for your adventure as there are no dining or shopping facilities on the islands.
Book an island excursion at Biscayne National Park, a natural wonderland of colorful coral reefs and aquamarine waters just 20 miles south of Miami.
You can reach Biscayne National Park by car, but Boca Chita Key and Elliott Key, the park’s two most popular islands, are only accessible by boat. Luckily, the Biscayne National Park Institute has plenty of options for getting out on the Atlantic’s sparkling waters. Discover the history of Biscayne – from pirates to pineapple plantations – on a 3.5 hour Heritage of Biscayne Cruise with stops at Boca Chita, Elliot, or Adams Key.
Only 70 miles from Key West, the dazzling Dry Tortugas National Park is an East Coast treasure. Tour one of the nation’s largest 19th-century forts and snorkel crystal clear water right off the beach.
Book an exhilarating ride aboard the Yankee Freedom and arrive at the park in style. This sleek catamaran is the official Dry Tortugas National Park ferry and features a fully air-conditioned cabin, cocktail bar, open-air viewing deck, rinse showers, and even complimentary box lunches. Spend the day wandering the lush grounds of Fort Jefferson, grab your courtesy snorkel gear and hit the beach, or dive into history on a 45-minute guided tour of the fort.
Stay Here: RCI or Club Wyndham Travel
4. Outer Banks, NC
Ferry hop your way along North Carolina’s coast and explore the Outer Banks, a chain of picturesque barrier islands boasting pristine beaches and maritime attractions.
Reserve a ride with the Cedar Island Ferry, the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s ferry service between the mainland and Ocracoke Island. Enjoy biking, watersports, and shelling around beautiful Ocracoke Island or head into Ocracoke village for dining and browsing eclectic boutiques. From Ocracoke, you can ferry to the other islands, like the modern shops and artisan eateries of Hatteras Landing, or return to Cedar Island and explore white sand beaches by horseback.
Experience the wild beauty of the San Juan Islands, a stunning archipelago in the Pacific Northwest home to majestic mountain landscapes and resident orcas.
Book your passage with Washington State Ferries for a scenic ride to Lopez, Orcas, San Juan, or Shaw island, all departing from Anacortes Ferry Terminal. You can bring your car along or leave it conveniently parked at the terminal. Whichever island you choose to explore first, you can easily travel between islands on the interisland ferry. Explore the shops, restaurants, and historic attractions of charming Friday Harbor on San Juan Island or set out on a thrilling whale watching tour. Hike the emerald forests of Orcas Island. Rent a moped or bicycle and take in the sights of picturesque Lopez Island, including Lopez Village’s delightful cafes, bookshop, and historical attractions.