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Punaluu Black Sand Beach
Punaluu Black Sand Beach

Punaluu Black Sand Beach

Take a stroll along one of Hawaii’s most famous black-sand beaches. Located south of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Punaluu Black Sand Beach is home to large honu, or green sea turtles. Don’t get too close: Beachgoers are forbidden to touch these protected turtles or leave the beach with black sand as a souvenir. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea

At 33,100 feet from the ocean floor, the peak of Mauna Kea — Hawaiian for “white mountain” — is the highest point on Hawaii. Measuring base to peak, the dormant volcano is twice the size of Mount Everest, making it the tallest mountain in the world. The peak is sacred, according to Hawaiian mythology, and ancient law said that only high-ranking tribal chiefs were allowed to visit the top. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Kirk Lee Aeder  

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Be an eyewitness to nature at its hottest by exploring the 333,000-acre Volcanoes National Park. This popular park features more than 150 miles of trails through volcanic craters, petroglyphs and a walk-in lava tube, and it is home to 2 active volcanoes: Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Often referred to as a “drive-in” volcano, Kilauea spews 250,000 to 650,000 cubic yards of lava each day. 960 1280

Big Island Visitors Bureau/ Ethan Tweedie  

Puu Pehe

Puu Pehe

Staying at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay? Then don’t miss taking a short hike to see Puu Pehe, aka Sweetheart Rock. According to legend, Makakehau, a young warrior, brought his lover, Hawaiian maiden Pehe, from Lahaina to hide her in a sea cave near Manele Bay’s cliffs. Pehe drowned, and, stricken with grief, the warrior plunged to his death from the 80-foot summit. See the setting of the lovers’ tale, and you may even spot a spinner dolphin along the way. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Na Pali Coast

Na Pali Coast

You can’t leave the Hawaiian Islands without seeing the majestic landscape of the 17-mile, mountainous coastline along Kauai’s North Shore. The Na Pali Coast is the location for hikers, beach campers and kayakers. Avoid hiking in the winter, when trails become muddy from heavy rainfall, making it treacherous, especially for amateurs. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

Located on the southeast coast of Oahu, Hanauma Bay is a popular destination for snorkeling. This pristine coastline has attracted as many as 3 million visitors in a year. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Heather Titus  

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow (or Waianuenue) Falls flows 80 feet down on a lava cave, which, according to Hawaiian mythology, is the home of the goddess Hina. Look closely near the bottom, and you may see rainbows form in the waterfall’s mist. What’s the best way to get there? Park officials advise tourists to make their way to this natural wonder by following clearly marked access roads to Wailuku River State Park. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Haleakala

Haleakala

More than 75% of Maui was formed by Haleakala, a shield volcano located on the southeast side of the island. Puu Ulaula, or Red Hill, is more than 10,000 feet tall, making it the volcano’s tallest peak. Go hiking in the 30,000-acre Haleakala National Park and experience various landscapes, from tropical forests to unique desert terrain. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Diamond Head

Diamond Head

Head to Oahu to hike one of Hawaii’s most famous landmarks, Diamond Head State Monument. Used as a military lookout through the 20th century, this natural wonder is now a popular hiking destination. Diamond Head offers awe-inspiring views of Waikiki and Honolulu. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon

Waimea is Hawaiian for “reddish water.” Located on the west side of Kauai, this canyon — which stretches 14 miles long, 1 mile wide and 3,600 feet deep — has reddish soil that is traversed by dozens of hiking trails. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Road to Hana

Road to Hana

Take a road trip and hit the famous Hana Highway, a 52-mile stretch with 620 curves and 59 bridges. The road starts at Kahului and ends in Hana, but we recommend spending some extra time on the drive to take in the sights, including lush rain forests and dramatic waterfalls. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Wailua Falls

Wailua Falls

Mr. Roarke wasn’t the real star in the opening credits of the late-’70s TV show Fantasy Island. The real star was Kauai’s Wailua Falls, but don’t blink, because you might miss its cameo. This waterfall is located on the south end of the Wailua River and north of Lihue. The best views are from the road. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Papohaku Beach Park

Papohaku Beach Park

Known as Three Mile Beach, Molokai’s Papohaku Beach Park is one of Hawaii’s largest white-sand beaches. This natural wonder isn’t just for sunbathing; campers also converge on the quiet beach. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Dana Edmunds  

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls

Visit the Big Island’s Akaka Falls State Park, where you can see 2 amazing waterfalls: the 100-foot Kahuna Falls and the 442-foot Akaka Falls (pictured). The latter is Hawaii’s most famous waterfall. Take a hike, and you’ll arrive at this natural wonder in less than an hour. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson  

Palau
Palau

Palau

While the Republic of Palau is picturesque, it’s what’s underwater that makes this island so special. This group of Micronesian islands, also known as “The Black Islands,” has crystal-clear water and diverse marine life, making it one of the best scuba-diving spots in the world.  960 1280

Thinkstock  

Niue

Niue

Located in the South Pacific Ocean, northeast of New Zealand, the "Rock of Polynesia" is an adventure lover’s paradise. While there aren’t any sandy beaches to lounge on, there are plenty of caves to explore on land and in the water. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Skopelos, Greece

Skopelos, Greece

Want to escape the touristy Greek isles of Santorini and Mykonos? Head east of mainland Greece to the island of Skopelos. Often referred to as the greenest island in the Aegean Sea, this lush Mediterranean oasis is less commercialized than some of the more popular Greek isles. It also served as a filming location of Mamma Mia. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Favignana, Italy

Favignana, Italy

This butterfly-shaped island off the west coast of Sicily is home to a rocky coastline and crystal-clear water. Those who’ve discovered the island’s charms often enjoy tuna fishing, snorkeling and diving, as well as the chance to feast on the island’s traditional seafood dishes. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

This little-known island has some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Brazil. With warm, clear water and abundant marine life, diving here is an outdoor lover’s dream. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

XXXX Island

XXXX Island

The ultimate mancation destination? XXXX Island. Once known as Pumpkin Island, this 15-acre patch of land off the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef has been temporarily renamed by the popular Aussie brewer, which leased the island in 2012 for the next 3 years. Marketed as a "bloke’s island,"  the XXXX has been turned into one big man cave – with, what else, unlimited beer. 960 1280

XXXX Island  

Lofoten Island, Norway

Lofoten Island, Norway

Majestic fjords make this archipelago off Norway a Scandinavian gem. This group of islands, home to charming fishing villages, lies above the Artic Circle (on the same latitude as northern Siberia and northern Alaska), but has a much milder climate due to Gulf Stream currents. Head here between May to early August for 24 hours of daylight. 960 1280

Thinkstock   

Aran Islands, Ireland

Aran Islands, Ireland

When you think of Ireland, island hopping probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But off the western coast of Galway lie these beautiful rocky islands where you’ll find traditional customs still intact and the islanders still speaking Irish. 960 1280

Bertrand Rieger  

Socotra Island, Yemen

Socotra Island, Yemen

Roughly 250 miles off the coast of Yemen, this magical group of islands has an other-planet vibe with bizarre-looking, rare plant species. Intrepid travelers who make it here will be rewarded with pristine beaches alongside landscapes of sandstone and limestone. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Vis, Croatia

Vis, Croatia

A small island in the Adriatic Sea, Vis is an unspoiled paradise located off Croatia’s coast. Until 1989, it was still part of Yugoslavia and closed to tourists. Now it’s a dream destination for those seeking a remote romantic getaway or an off-the-beaten path adventure. 960 1280

Jadvinia, Wikimedia Commons  

Monhegan Island, Maine

Monhegan Island, Maine

This small, rocky patch of land off the coast of Maine totals a mere 1 square mile of unspoiled natural beauty. Monhegan is mostly known for its artist colony that sprung up here in the mid-1800s. The island is only accessible by boat, and there are no cars or paved roads here.  960 1280

Thinkstock  

Isla Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Isla Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Where’s the most famous deserted island in the world? Four hundred miles off the coast of Chile sits the real-life island that inspired the story of the shipwrecked sailor Robinson Crusoe. Now the isle’s population is about 500 and mostly clustered in the island's only village, San Juan Bautista. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Koh Surin Nua, Thailand

Koh Surin Nua, Thailand

Looking for an island getaway in Thailand -- that’s not trampled by tourists? Consider this pristine island in Thailand's Mu Koh Surin National Park. You won't find high-end hotels or crowds here -- just small bungalows and camping under the stars. 960 1280

Darlene is evil, flickr  

Andaman Islands, India

Andaman Islands, India

This group of more than 200 islands in the Bay of Bengal belongs to India but is geographically closer to Thailand and Myanmar. Powder-white, uncrowded beaches, lush forests and exotic marine life make travel to these remote islands worth the trip. 960 1280

Olivier Blaise  

Rabbit Island, Cambodia

Rabbit Island, Cambodia

A 30-minute boat trip will take you from Cambodia's coastal city Kep to Rabbit Island. Just a little over 1 square mile in area, this tiny gem in the Gulf of Thailand has 2 unspoiled beaches ideal for swimming and getting away from the chaos of mainland Cambodia. 960 1280

Peter Merrett, Wikimedia Commons  

Flatey, Iceland

Flatey, Iceland

In the Westfjords of Iceland, dubbed “the most famous unknown place in Iceland,” lies this mostly uninhabited island. With charming houses dating back to the 19th century, this island is brimming with history. Visit in the summer for a quiet spot to experience Iceland’s midnight sun. 960 1280

Kolbrún Ragna, Wikimedia Commons  

Fire Island Lighthouse
Fire Island, NY

Fire Island, NY

Fire Island, a barrier island parallel to Long Island, NY, is a popular summer vacation destination. Accessible by shuttle ferries, water taxis and private boats, the island is free of motor vehicles, so many visitors get around the island by walking or biking. During the summer, the 32-mile-long island is popular for surfing and sailing. However, many people enjoy visiting the National Seashore during the off-season to explore Fire Island Lighthouse, Sailors Haven and the Sunken Forest, or to collect seashells along the shore.  960 1280

Thinkstock  

Marco Island, FL

Marco Island, FL

The unspoiled beaches and lush, tropical surroundings of Marco Island -- the largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands -- attracts visitors to Florida’s Gulf Coast year-round. Find respite on one of the island’s white sand beaches, spot dolphins and manatees on a boat tour, or go shopping at the Esplanade.  960 1280

Photolibrary / Getty Images  

Amelia Island, FL

Amelia Island, FL

Amelia Island, Florida’s northernmost barrier island, is a picturesque seaport community popular for outdoor recreation enthusiasts of all ages. During the day, explore 13 miles of beautiful, white sand beaches, go kayaking in the island’s scenic waterways, or hop aboard a river cruise for views of Floridian wildlife like dolphins, manatees and alligators. At sunset, go horseback riding on the beach. Amelia Island is one of the few beach-horseback riding opportunities in the US. Before you go, dine at the family-owned and operated Crab Trap in Fernandina Beach for fresh, locally-caught seafood -- a historic downtown landmark for more than 30 years! 960 1280

Moment Open / Getty Images  

Anna Maria Island, FL

Anna Maria Island, FL

The pristine beaches and turquoise blue waters of Florida’s Anna Maria Island beckon both locals and travelers to this small island paradise on the Gulf Coast. Catch a ride on the free Anna Maria Island Trolley that travels between the island’s 3 cities -- Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria. Soak up the sun at Bean Point -- a secluded beach and local favorite in Anna Maria -- before dining at the historic Rod & Reel Pier restaurant.  960 1280

Thinkstock  

Block Island, RI

Block Island, RI

Located just off the coast of Rhode Island is a haven where locals and tourists escape for ultimate serenity. Block Island, RI, is comprised of 17 miles of pristine beaches, wildlife preserves and hiking trails, in addition to historic inns and lighthouses. New Shoreham -- the smallest city in the smallest US state -- is also located on the island. 960 1280

Block Island Tourism Council  

Santa Catalina Island, CA

Santa Catalina Island, CA

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a Catalina Island, CA, getaway. A true West Coast paradise, Catalina Island is situated just off the coast of Southern California. Hop aboard a ferry for an hour-long ride to the island, or take a 15-minute helicopter ride. Once on the island, go parasailing to see the island from a different perspective, zip 1,100 feet over the island and descend onto the beach on a zip-line eco tour, or sleep under the stars at one of the designated campgrounds. With a variety of activities and accommodations, the island is great for couples and families looking for an island escape, even if it’s just for the day. 960 1280

Santa Catalina Island Company  

Chincoteague Island, VA

Chincoteague Island, VA

Escape to Chincoteague Island -- Virginia’s only resort island -- located 3.5 hours from Richmond, VA. The small, 7-mile-long island is a fishing village famous for its oysters and clams. Visit in July to watch a herd of 150 wild ponies swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island in the annual Pony Swim. 960 1280

Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce  

Galveston Island, TX

Galveston Island, TX

Located an hour’s drive from Houston, Galveston Island, TX, is a popular vacation destination chock-full of beautiful beaches, historic architecture and a variety of family-friendly attractions and accommodations. Get wet ‘n’ wild at Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark or experience 242 acres of attractions at Moody Gardens. 960 1280

Kenny Braun  

Hilton Head Island, SC

Hilton Head Island, SC

Whether you’re looking to enjoy a few rounds of golf at one of the island’s 30 golf courses or to relax on the 12-mile stretch of white-sand beach, Hilton Head Island in South Carolina has it all. One of the largest islands on the East Coast, Hilton Head is a popular, family-friendly resort area with an abundance of activities to choose from, including water sports, outdoor adventures and museums. 960 1280

Hilton Head Island Visitor & Convention Bureau  

Key West, FL

Key West, FL

Experience the culture, history and charm of the small, 3.5-mile-long island of Key West, FL. A part of the Florida Keys, Key West is located at the southernmost point in the contiguous US, only 90 miles from Cuba. Explore Old Town Key West and the former home of famed author Ernest Hemingway, hit the water on a jet ski for a tour around the island, or watch the sunset from Mallory Square. 960 1280

Casa Marina Resort  

Mackinac Island, MI

Mackinac Island, MI

Picturesque Mackinac Island, MI, is situated in Lake Huron between the state’s upper and lower peninsulas. A great destination for the outdoorsy and adventurous, Mackinac Island has more than 70 miles of hiking and biking trails to explore. Meander through Historic Downtown to view beautiful, 18th-century architecture and to tour Fort Mackinac -- the oldest building in Michigan -- along with other historic sites. 960 1280

Mackinac Island Tourism  

Martha's Vineyard, MA

Martha's Vineyard, MA

A true New England getaway, Martha’s Vineyard, MA -- located 7 miles off the coast of Cape Cod -- lures travelers to its shores with its history, charm and natural beauty. Meander through the historic districts of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. Tour the Vineyard’s 5 lighthouses, or find respite on one of the island’s 19 scenic beaches. Avoid crowds of tourists and travel here from October to May when prices also tend to be less expensive. 960 1280

Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce  

Mount Desert Island, ME

Mount Desert Island, ME

Crashing waves and rocky coastlines meet lush, evergreen forests and granite mountaintops on picturesque Mount Desert Island, ME -- the second largest island on the East Coast. Home to Acadia National Park -- the first National Park east of the Mississippi River -- and Bar Harbor, the island welcomes millions of visitors each year. Explore more than 120 miles of hiking trails, go white water rafting or spot moose on a wildlife tour. Keep in mind, the average temperature on the island is only 67 degrees during the summer, so bring a jacket. 960 1280

E+ / Getty Images  

Nantucket, MA

Nantucket, MA

Nantucket Island, MA, may be small but it’s so full of character. With cobblestone streets, historic cottages and quaint shops and restaurants, the “Faraway Land” -- as it was referred to by Native Americans -- provides visitors of all ages with the perfect New England getaway. Meander through downtown’s historic district, charter a boat for a day of fishing, or watch the sunset on popular Madaket Beach.  960 1280

J. Coutre  

Ocracoke Island, NC

Ocracoke Island, NC

A part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, is a small fishing village only accessible by ferry, private boat or plane. The island’s 16 miles of pristine, undeveloped beaches -- protected by the National Park Service -- offer a peaceful escape to travelers willing to make the trip. Explore the tree-lined streets and 1880s architecture of Ocracoke Village and the Ocracoke Lighthouse -- one of the oldest lighthouses still in use in the US. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Orcas Island, WA

Orcas Island, WA

Lush forests, placid lakes and beautiful, craggy shorelines await the outdoorsy and adventurous at Orcas Island, in the San Juan Islands, off the coast of Washington. Stroll through some of the island’s charming waterfront villages, hike the miles of trails in Moran State Park, or go on a wildlife or marine life tour to spot bald eagles or Orca whales.  960 1280

San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau  

San Juan Islands, WA

San Juan Islands, WA

The San Juan Islands, located just off the coast of Washington, represent the best the Pacific Northwest has to offer -- lush forests, quaint fishing villages and scenic waterways. A top whale-watching destination, the island is best visited from mid-April to October when whale sightings are most popular, and when the weather is perfect for outdoor adventures.  960 1280

San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau  

Sanibel & Captiva Islands, FL

Sanibel & Captiva Islands, FL

Located off Florida’s Gulf Coast, the sister islands of Sanibel and Captiva offer travelers a tranquil, tropical escape year-round. The beautiful, shell-strewn beaches on both islands rank among the top destinations for shelling, and provide the perfect landscape to sit back, relax and watch the sun set. The island’s pristine, turquoise blue waters are also great for offshore fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving.  960 1280

Grand Affair Photography  

Sea Island, GA

Sea Island, GA

For a 5-star luxury island getaway, visit Sea Island, GA. Part of Georgia’s Golden Isles -- which includes St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, Little St. Simons and Brunswick -- Sea Island is only 75 miles south of Savannah, GA. Book a room at the island’s internationally acclaimed Sea Island Cloister Resort, play a round (or more) at one of the 3 championship golf courses, or melt the stress away with a day at the lavish Spa at Sea Island.  960 1280

Sea Island Acquisition LLC  

St. Simons Island, GA

St. Simons Island, GA

Moss-draped oaks, centuries-old historic sites and charming shops and restaurants line the streets of St. Simons Island, the largest barrier island in Georgia’s Golden Isles. Tour St. Simons Lighthouse -- a working lighthouse built in 1872 -- tee off at one of the three 18-hole championship golf courses, or stretch out on East Beach -- perfect for sunbathing, windsurfing and more. 960 1280

GoldenIsles.com  

Mustang Island, Port Aransas, TX

Mustang Island, Port Aransas, TX

Just across the bay from Corpus Christi, TX, Mustang Island is a small island community with 5 miles of coastline perfect for sunbathing, fishing, camping and more. With one of the highest bird counts on the Gulf Coast, it’s also a popular destination for avid birdwatchers. Visit in February for the annual Whooping Crane Festival to get a close-up view of the endangered bird species.  960 1280

Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images  

Shelter Island, NY

Shelter Island, NY

Located on the eastern end of Long Island, NY, Shelter Island is a quiet island with secluded beaches and one of the richest nature preserves in the northeast. Go boating, sailing or fishing along the island’s 17 miles of coastline, ride a bike to secluded Shell Beach, or explore the miles of trails in the Mashomack Preserve -- a nearly 2,100-acre preserve that makes up 1/3 of the island.  960 1280

Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images  

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