Honeymoon-Worthy Islands That Don't Require a Passport
The best beaches in the United States to spend your post-wedding getaway.
There's something crazy romantic—and undeniably relaxing—about an island honeymoon. It's just so easy to unwind from all of the wedding-planning stress when you're surrounded by water, its calming waves, and your new husband or wife. But if you don't have the time or the money to fly halfway across the world to the beaches of Thailand or beyond—or else you're looking to stay close to home in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic—you'll be pleased to know that there are plenty of amazing honeymoon (or mini-moon) destinations much closer to home—no passport required.
While Hawaii is always a spectacular option for a honeymoon, we went even closer to home for the purposes of this list. The majority of our recommendations are dotted along the east coast, but locales in Michigan and Washington also make for exceptional honeymoon destinations, as evidenced by our curated list.
To help you plan an epic island getaway without ever having to leave the country—or potentially even your home state—we're sharing seven U.S. islands that we think are absolutely perfect for newlyweds. What's more, we're sharing what we love most about each. From white-sand beaches and epic sunsets to unique activities or wold-class dining, there's a lot to look forward to at any or all of these locales. And if you're looking to enjoy an especially low-key getaway, know that each of these destinations afford exactly that: Drop your towel and chair in the sand, sit back, and relax.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, located in South Carolina's Lowcountry region, is the ultimate escape for honeymooners. Tucked along the Atlantic Ocean, visitors can enjoy miles of pristine beaches, world-class golfing, and fantastic hotel and dining options. And with over 60 miles of bicycle trails, you'll have no trouble taking in all the sights during your stay.
San Juan Islands, Washington
This archipelago off the coast of Washington is made up of 172 islands—of which just four have regular ferry service. There's San Juan and Orcas, both of which provide ample opportunity to hike, kayak, and go whale watching (the best time of year to spot orcas is between May and October). Though not technically part of the San Juans, make sure to visit Lummi Island, home to The Willows Inn. The property has seven charming rooms, but its claim to fame is its chef, Blaine Wetzel, who creates a prix-fixe menu from ingredients that are collected daily (either fished, foraged, or farmed).
Shelter Island, New York
For New York City couples looking for a nearby retreat that's complete with beautiful beaches and great seafood, head to this small island, accessible by ferry from the North and South forks of Long Island. The best way to explore is by bike; you can rent one at Piccozzi's Bike Shop. As for where to stay, don't miss the new, 37-room Chequit, from the same team behind the Salt House Inn in Provincetown. With simple-yet-stylish rooms and complimentary breakfast in bed, you'll be basking in newlywed bliss in no time.
Sea Island, Georgia
For a destination that exudes Southern charm, head to this private island, which—together with Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, and Little St. Simons Island—makes up Georgia's Golden Isles. At the Mediterranean-style Cloister, splurge on a one-bedroom villa; you'll get direct beach access, an oversized balcony, and a deep tub for post-swimming soaks. You can spend your days golfing, playing tennis, horseback riding, kayaking, or going on salt marsh tours.
With cobblestone streets and lighthouses galore, this romantic isle off the coast of Cape Cod is your quintessential New England getaway—you can bike around, relax on the beach, fish, and or go whale watching. For a luxurious, relaxing stay, there's the waterfront Inn at the White Elephant (sister property to Nantucket's equally top-notch Wauwinet). For something a bit more hip, there's 21 Broad, whose mostly white rooms are punched up with pops of bright colors.
Amelia Island, Florida
Horseback riding at sunset is as romantic as it gets—even more so when you're doing it on a postcard-perfect beach. Lucky for you, this barrier island off of Florida's east coast is one of a handful of places in the U.S. that still allows it. While there are plenty of charming bed-and-breakfasts on the island, for a more traditional resort stay, there's the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Set on 13 miles of the coast, it comes complete with a fire pit that overlooks the ocean, four restaurants, and 446 guestrooms with private balconies.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
What's so romantic about this almost-four-square-mile island in Lake Huron? How about the fact that you can get around by horse-drawn carriage? Cars were outlawed in the late 1800s—but you can travel by foot and bicycle as well. It's home to historic rock formations and an abundance of lilacs (the annual Lilac Festival takes place every June), and there's ample opportunity to take to the water, whether in a kayak or on a sailboat. Book one of the new one-bedroom Cupola Suites at the aptly named Grand Hotel: it first opened in 1887, was the setting of the 1980 film Somewhere in Time (starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour), and has hosted five U.S. presidents.
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