8 of The Best Florida Island Escapes Perfect for Your Next Staycation

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You want to talk about Florida charm? Just look at these eight drop-dead gorgeous barrier islands practically in your backyard. From the Panhandle down to the Keys, the Sunshine State is brimming with tropical island perfection. The best part? They’re all just a drive (or a boat ride!) away. Here are the most stunning Florida islands worth visiting this summer.

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1. Little Gasparilla Island

As one of the last bridge-less barrier islands in Florida, visitors can only reach Little Gasparilla via boat. Located between Sarasota and Ft. Meyers, the island is a 10-minute sail from land—though it feels like a whole world away. This is the place to go if you’re looking for a beachy escape without actually going that far. Sandy pathways and golf carts take the place of traditional roads and cars. Pro tip: There are no stores or restaurants on the island either (though there are waterfront dining spots nearby accessible via water taxi)—so if you’re booking a vacation rental, make sure to pack appropriately.

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2. St. George Island

Located off the Florida Panhandle in the northern Gulf of Mexico, St. George Island is made up of more than 25 miles of pure Sunshine State beauty. Featuring quiet, expansive beaches, this island is perfect for boating and water sports, beach walks and wildlife spotting. With a fair share of beach rental homes and restaurants, this is a great place for a serene weekend getaway.

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3. Hutchinson Island

Made up of two barrier islands off of the coast of Martin County, Hutchinson Island is all about too-good-to-be-true beaches, quiet nature parks and quaint restaurants and hotels. It helps that the island is home to Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa, named among the top 30 resorts in Florida by Condé Nast. Pro tip: Book a sunset horseback riding session on the sand.

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4. Siesta Key

Off the coast of Sarasota, pretend you’re on the cast of MTV’s Siesta Key for a weekend by visiting this eight-mile island. With shops, restaurants, buzzy nightlife spots and beaches galore, you won’t be short on things to do here. But seriously: The beaches are next level here. Nothing like a 24-hour livestream to inspire some vacay FOMO.

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5. Key Biscayne

No time to get down to The Keys? Don’t worry—Key Biscayne is the next best thing. Right off the shoreline of downtown Miami, Key Biscayne has got all the makings of a private island… right in your backyard. Spend a day here lying on the gorgeously soft sand at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and then grab a bite at the iconic Rusty Pelican.

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6. Sanibel And Captiva Islands

Consider this a two-for-one deal: Just off the state’s peninsula on the Gulf of Mexico, Sanibel is a perfect seaside vacation spot, with miles of crystal-clear waters for boating, fishing and snorkeling. With beaches spanning for more than 15 miles, Captiva Island is its own tropical paradise, too. Together, these islands also include more than 25 miles of beachy bike paths, 250 types of unique seashells and 0 (!!!) stoplights.

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7. Amelia Island

Established in 1562, Amelia Island is a timeless city with rich history. It’s home to more than 13 miles of quiet beaches, next-level golf courses, shore excursions and a historic district with ghost tours, art museums and waterfront restaurants. Looking for a slice of heaven? Head to Fernandina Beach for date night and explore the sparkling shoreline.

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8. The Keys

This list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to The Keys. With picturesque sunsets, quirky charm, small-town restaurants and quiet beachside hotels, this island chain off the coast of Florida is what beachy dreams are made of. From Key Largo and Islamorada to Duck Key, Big Pine Key and the one-and-only Key West, you seriously can’t go wrong, no matter where you decide to land (or more likely, park).

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clarissa buch

Miami Editor

Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor based in Miami. Focused on food, lifestyle, and travel, her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Bon Appétit, and...