5 Ferry Trips To Idyllic East Coast Isles

5 Ferry Trips To Idyllic East Coast Isles
Today’s travelers are looking for spectacular drive-to destinations where they can escape the crowds, rejuvenate and relax. Luckily, some of the most unspoiled island vacation spots in the southern United States aren’t well known and are easily accessible by boat or ferry. These lovely isolated isles are filled with places where it’s easy to find your own place in the sun, enjoy nature’s scenic beauty, and recharge.

When you feel it’s appropriate to travel, consider sailing away to one of these five sublime islands along the southeastern shores of the United States.

North Captiva Island, Florida. While many of Florida's coastal vacation spots are packed with people, one of South Florida’s isles retains its original peaceful charm. North Captiva Island lies across Redfish Pass from posh Captiva Island and is just a short private ferry ride away from the Florida mainland. Vehicles cannot access the island, although the island’s air strip is accessible to small private planes. Transportation on the island is via electric golf carts. About half of this barrier island is part of the Florida State Park system, so it’s easy for couples and families to find their own secluded spot. North Captiva’s five miles of white sand beaches are covered with shells and both dolphins and manatees are often spotted in the surrounding waters. Popular activities include boating, fishing, biking, tennis and beachcombing. There are no hotels on North Captiva Island, but vacationers can rent private homes and villas here. Some pet-friendly options are available as well.

Little St. Simons Island, Georgia. Little St. Simons Island is one of Georgia’s Golden Isles and is accessible only by boat. This spectacular 11,000 acre private island is a secluded nature sanctuary filled with abundant wildlife, seven miles of white sand beaches, maritime forests and marshlands. Vacationers can stay at The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island, an idyllic all-inclusive retreat. This special resort accommodates only 32 overnight guests and is a paradise for families and nature lovers. Rates at The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island include three full meals each day, non-alcoholic beverages, unlimited island activities and use of recreational gear, daily naturalist-led outings and boat transfers to and from the island. A Junior Naturalist Program for children is also offered during the summer months.

Cumberland Island, Georgia. Cumberland Island National Seashore is a stunning private spot accessible only by ferry. Filled with wildlife and over 17 miles of isolated white beaches, Cumberland Island is rich in history and natural beauty. American business magnates once made their homes on Cumberland Island and John F. Kennedy Jr. was married here in 1996. Wild horses make their home here and loggerhead turtles nest on the beach. Visitors to Cumberland Island can explore the dramatic ruins of Dungeness, formerly the home of Lucy Carnegie. Those who wish to vacation on the island can camp or stay at the all-inclusive Greyfield Inn, built by the Carnegies in 1890. Rates at this 15-room luxury property include round-trip ferry boat transportation, three full meals daily, non-alcoholic beverages, unlimited access to bicycles and kayaks, and much more.

Bald Head Island, North Carolina. Located at the convergence of North Carolina’s Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean, this 12,000-acre subtropical island can only be reached by ferry or private boat. No cars are allowed on the island and transportation is available by tram, bicycles or golf carts. The island is known for its 14 miles of wide sandy beaches as well as its extensive recreational activities. Loggerhead turtles nest along the shores during the summer months and the island’s 10,000 unspoiled acres of scenery are inviting. Vacationers enjoy climbing Old Baldy, North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse, as well as hiking, kayaking, fishing, sailing, and playing golf or tennis. A wide variety of vacation rentals is available on Bald Head Island, including some pet-friendly accommodations.

Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. Ocracoke Island was once the secluded refuge of Blackbeard the pirate, and it’s still a top escape for vacationers today. Officially part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke’s sandy strands are legendary. Ocracoke’s Lifeguarded Beach has been named as the second best beach in the U.S. by Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, for the last three consecutive years. This laid-back island is accessible by three different ferry routes, by boat, or via private plane. Vacationers can rent private homes and cottages, camp at the National Park Service Ocracoke Campground, or stay in small inns and lodges. While automobiles are allowed, vacationers can also get around the island by bike, tram or golf cart. Fishing, beachcombing and a wide variety of watersports are popular here. Visitors can look for Ocracoke’s wild ponies while staying on the island as well.

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