Condé Nast Traveler readers have a soft spot for Hawaii—find out which island took top honors in the Readers' Choice Awards survey.
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The largest island in Narragansett Bay is where you’ll find Newport, lined with elegant Gilded Age mansions straight out of an Edith Wharton novel. The City by the Sea is also a center for sailing.
Pro tip: The Newport Jazz Festival, held in August each year, has played host to countless musical greats—Duke Ellington, Nina Simone, and John Coltrane, to name just a few. Pay a visit during the summer to see the next big thing in jazz.
Getting there: Drive to Aquidneck Island from Providence, only about 40 minutes away.
This barrier island is the most private of the famed keys alongside Sarasota, which include Anna Marie Island and Siesta Key. Seashell enthusiasts will find a perfect vacation spot on the key, where sand dollars are plentiful just offshore.
Pro tip: The beach is a glorious 10-miles long, but most access is limited to guests staying in resorts on the key. For the full experience, be sure to stay at a hotel along the Gulf.
Getting there: The key is just a 30-minute drive northwest from downtown Sarasota.
The incredibly varied landscape of Hawaii’s largest island is staggering, from snow-capped peaks and one of the world’s most active volcano (Kilauea) to tropical coves and placid fishing villages.
Pro tip: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to three active volcanoes oozing slow-moving lava that you may or may not be able see firsthand. Still, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has more than 140 miles of hiking trails to explore, traveling through rainforests, across black lava fields, and up rugged peaks.
Getting there: Regular flights travel between Honolulu and the Big Island’s two largest towns, Hilo and Kona.
Though it’s only a short trip from downtown Charleston, this small barrier island on the Atlantic coast can feel like it’s a world away—whether you’re planning a day on the links or a day at the beach.
Pro tip: The island is dominated by the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which is home to 90 holes of golf spread over five courses, many with scenic ocean views. The PGA Championship was held here in 2012. There are also extensive tennis, spa, and dining offerings.
Getting there: It’s a 33-mile drive from Charleston International Airport to the island, which is located just off the mainland.
Rain falls on Mount Wai'ale'ale almost 360 days a year, but the weather on the rest of Kauai isn’t nearly so bad. And from rain forests to massive canyons to hidden beaches, it’s the site of incredible biodiversity.
Pro tip: Waimea Canyon has been called "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific," and the epithet fits. Ten miles across and 3,500 feet deep, it’s been carved out over eons by lava flows and water pouring down from the summit of Wai'ale'ale.
Getting there: Some airlines fly directly from West Coast cities to Kauai. If you’re arriving in Honolulu, a trip on a local air carrier takes about half an hour.
Old Southern charm—and old money—oozes from every pore of this private island just beyond the Georgia marshlands. The area is divided between two high-end resorts, the Sea Island Beach Club and the Cloister, and has played host to famous guests over the years: Calvin Coolidge, Eugene O’Neill, and Bill Clinton among them.
Pro tip: The Cloister is as luxurious as resorts come, with a Mediterranean aesthetic, a world-class golf course, horseback riding, a spa, and miles of private beach.
Getting there: It’s a 90-minute drive from either Jacksonville, Florida, or Savannah to Sea Island.
Whether it's the seemingly endless green space or the unbelievably hospitable locals, readers agree that this Florida island is a beautiful, history-filled family destination.
Pro tip: Hike a trail through Fort Clinch State Park, or explore the downtown area for seasonal festivals and shopping.
Getting there: The closest major city is Jacksonville, about 30 miles away; two bridges connect the island to the mainland.
With pristine beaches, shopping to satisfy everyone, and restaurants that could compete with major cities, it's no wonder that our readers found this South Carolina island so relaxing. When not lounging ocean-side, explore the bike trails or take advantage of the golf available for all levels.
Pro tip: Check into The Inn and Club at Harbour Town, one of the top hotels in the South.
Getting there: It's only a 35-mile drive from Savannah, GA, which also shares an airport with Hilton Head.
Hawaii’s second-largest island boasts rugged terrain, volcanic beaches, and the towering Mt. Haleakala. It’s the place to be for snorkelers, hikers, and food lovers alike.
Pro tip: To catch as much of Maui’s natural beauty as possible, drive the Road to Hana, a 68-mile scenic route featuring awe-inspiring waterfalls and ending at the breathtaking Seven Sacred Pools.
Getting there: Many mainland airlines offer direct routes to Maui from airports on the West Coast. Otherwise, it’s about a half-hour flight to the island from Honolulu International Airport.