The best US island hotels that don't require a passportGet the Full StorySometimes, you just want to slip away to a remote island. But long flight times and expensive prices don't make it easy to jet off to the Maldives or Bora Bora.
Fortunately, there are plenty of stunning islands right here at home in the US. We rounded up the best US island hotels from coast to coast, including luxe retreats, family-friendly resorts, historic inns, and affordable hotels for budget holiday-seekers.
Our top properties are well-rated and meticulously researched; they are easy to access from the mainland, offer close proximity to beaches and nature, include desirable vacation amenities, and range in price from 90 to 269 to start.
Read all Business Insider hotel reviews here.
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There's nothing quite like slipping away to a secluded, stunning island oasis. In many cases, however, that requires lengthy flights and expensive transfers and hotels.
Fortunately, there's no need to pack your passport or even book a plane ticket in some cases to have a real island vacation.
Plenty of fantastic island getaways are available close to home, from the summer colonies of New England to the beachy enclaves off the southern Atlantic coast, and the mountain wilds of California's Catalina Island. Some are an easy bridge crossing by car, while others require a scenic ferry ride, which only adds to the allure.
Of course, you'll want to hit the beach, and some of the best ones are found on US islands like Nantucket's sea grass-lined shores, or the creamy white-sand beaches of South Carolina's Kiawah Island. Similarly, Maine boasts miles of dramatic rocky coastline in the Casco Bay islands, and the Outer Banks' Ocracoke Island offers pristine, protected national seashore, plus the chance to spot wild ponies.
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We've chosen our favorite island hotels in the US based on factors such as personal travel experiences, and hotels that are easy to access from the mainland, so you can spend more time relaxing. The best island hotels offer close proximity to beaches and nature, include desirable vacation amenities, feature fascinating architecture and history, and range in price from 90 to 269 to start. Plus, they're beloved by fellow travelers and well-rated and reviewed on sites such as Trip Advisor, Hotels.com, and Booking.com.
These are the best island hotels that don't require a passport, sorted by price from low to high.The Ocracoke Harbor Inn - Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Book The Ocracoke Harbor Inn starting at 90 per night
At the southernmost tip of North Carolina's Outer Banks, Ocracoke is one of a few in a string of barrier islands that can only be reached by ferry. Its relative isolation and pristine beauty makes it ideal for those wanting a true island escape. Most of the island is undeveloped Cape Hatteras National Seashore, where wild ponies roam free.
Shops, restaurants, and bars are clustered around the village of Ocracoke, where you'll find this quaint, family-owned inn with spectacular views overlooking Silver Lake Harbor. There aren't a lot of bells and whistles, nor is there an on-site restaurant, but the sprawling waterfront terrace is a great spot for watching the sunset with a glass of wine. There is also a patio deck with gas grills for cooking and a private dock for fishing.
Rooms are spacious and all have balconies, while larger suites offer big decks, whirlpool tubs, and kitchenettes. Most rooms have harbor views, but there are cheaper rooms facing the front of the inn. The decor won't wow you think basic beachy motel with wood furniture and floral bedspreads but rooms are clean and comfortable. A continental breakfast is included in the rate and the hotel is open seasonally, from mid-March through November.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 2 out of 9 hotels in Ocracoke
Booking.com Rating: 9.2 out of 10
Pros: The inn has a fantastic harbor-front location and is a short walk to all the restaurants and shopping in the village. Guests praised the warm, friendly service.
Cons: The decor is a bit dated and feels far from contemporary. Some ground-floor rooms overlook the parking lot.
The Gates Hotel Key West - Key West, FL
Book The Gates Hotel Key West starting at 119 per night
The southernmost point in the mainland US, Key West is famous for its candy-colored Victorian and Queen Anne houses, eclectic bars, and spectacular sunsets. It's also beloved for its eccentric residents, including six-toed cats and roaming roosters.
While the historic Old Town is its most charming district, New Town, at the island's entry point, has its own distinct vibe and far more affordable hotel options.
That includes The Gates Key West, an upscale boutique hotel whose star attraction is Rum Row, a buzzy poolside bar and lounge decorated in a funky beach-shack style with a huge selection of rum cocktails. Sample conch every which way at the on-site food truck or puff on a stogie in the cigar lounge. Rum Row also hosts live music nightly Wednesday to Sunday.
Rooms are bright and modern, with hardwood floors, exposed beams, whitewashed pine platform beds, and colorful original photographs by an acclaimed local photographer.
Standard King rooms are spacious at 300 square feet, but we recommend upgrading to the Scene category for a private poolside terrace or views of the bay.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 32 out of 51 hotels in Key West
Hotels.com Rating: 8.4 out of 10
Pros: The rum-based "Mary Pickford" welcome cocktail sets a fun, breezy tone from the start, and the lively Rum Row lounge is a great alternative to the jam-packed bars along Old Town's Duval Street.
Cons: Gates Hotel is far from all the Old Town attractions though there is a free daily guest shuttle , and there is no full restaurant on-site. Many lower-category rooms overlook the parking lot.
Pavilion Hotel - Catalina Island, California
Book the Pavilion Hotel starting at 151 per night
Located 22 miles off the Southern California coast and an hour-long ferry ride from Long Beach, Catalina feels like a tropical island retreat with its palm-fringed beaches and sparkling blue waters.
The picturesque town of Avalon is the gateway to this mountainous island. There, you'll find most tourist attractions including the Art Deco Catalina Casino and the white-sand Descanso Beach.
The four-star Pavilion Hotel is ideally situated in Avalon, mere steps from popular South Beach and the bustling Pleasure Pier. The highlight is its tranquil courtyard, a cozy spot with a fire pit surrounded by palm trees and tropical flowers. There, guests gather to enjoy free nightly wine and cheese socials with great views of Avalon Bay. Other perks include access to the Descanso Beach Club, free use of bicycles, and complimentary luggage service to and from the Avalon ferry terminal, which is a necessary amenity you'll be glad to have.
Rooms are fairly traditional in style with dark wood furnishings, beige carpeting, and blue accents. Entry-level standard accommodations measure a roomy 322 square feet, but the basic bathrooms could use an upgrade. It's worth the extra 40 to upgrade for the Superior category, which offers outdoor space. Pricey suites feature spacious balconies with ocean views.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 4 out of 20 hotels in Avalon
Booking.com Rating: 9.4 out of 10
Pros: There are plenty of freebies included in the room rate though there is a daily 30 resort fee per room that add value, including complimentary breakfast, free use of bikes, Descanso Beach Club access, and a free tour of the historic casino.
Cons: Standard rooms lack views and many guests found that the hotel overall felt a bit dated. There is no on-site restaurant or bar, though the Avalon Grille where breakfast is served is just around the corner from the hotel.
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