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American Island Getaways

Back roads that lead to salt ponds, bluffs, lighthouses and empty beaches lure cyclists to this island, a New England classic 12 miles out to sea. Have drinks on the porch of one of the Victorian-era hotels overlooking the harbor, with its yachts and charter fishing boats. Then spend the night at the Sea Breeze Inn. The Block Island Ferry makes the 1-hour crossing from Point Judith as many as 10 times a day in season, from June to August. (2-night minimum);

American Island Getaways

From Onancock, on Virginia’s eastern shore, board the Joyce Marie II, the 25-passenger former lobster boat that serves as the summer ferry for this charming and quirky car-free island, 12 miles out in the Chesapeake Bay. Spend your days lazing on the beach, paddling a kayak through the shallow channels or watching the watermen go out in search of blue crab. Dine on their fresh catch at the Fisherman’s Corner and check into Shirley’s Bay View Inn, a collection of 9 cottages adjacent to a historic main house.;;

Four miles off the mainland, this island in the western basin of Lake Erie draws beachgoers, cyclists and sea kayakers. Scuba divers come here to explore the lake’s many shipwrecks, and anglers arrive in search of walleye. At the end of the day, stop for a feast of “perch by the pound,” an island classic at the Village Pump restaurant. Passenger and car ferries make the 20-minute crossing several times a day from Marblehead.;

The largest of the 4 San Juan Islands, Orcas is a rural, mountainous gem, protected from harsh weather by the mainland. Take a boat trip to search for its namesake whale, go sea kayaking around Puget Sound or climb 2,409-foot Mount Constitution, the highest point in the archipelago. Kingfish Inn in bucolic Eastsound village. Orcas is served by the big boats of the Washington State ferry system, which leave from Anacortes several times a day.;

Part of the state park system, this hilly, bird-rich San Francisco Bay sanctuary, once an important immigration station, is just 10 minutes by passenger ferry from Tiburon in Marin. Bike the 5-mile Perimeter Road, fish from the pier or make the 2-hour hike to the top of Mount Livermore for sweeping views of the Bay Area. There are no hotels on the island, but there are 11 campsites, which must be booked in advance.;

American Island Getaways

NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.