2 South Carolina islands named best in the continental US

The ‘Best Islands in the U.S.’ list was released to the public Tuesday.

Luckily, southeastern residents have only a short journey to visit many of the top 15 Best Islands in the Continental U.S., according to Travel + Leisure.

Hilton Head Island was ranked in ninth place out of all 15 islands in the country for being the best overall and scored an 82.99, according to readers, beating out Florida favorites: Amelia Island, Captiva Island and Sanibel Island.

“This Southern oasis is a perennial reader favorite thanks to its beaches, world-class golf courses, 60 miles of walking trails, and cultural offerings that can be enjoyed in flip-flops. Rental houses abound, but there are also resorts that will cater to your every whim,” wrote Travel + Leisure about Hilton Head Island.

The islands were rated by readers according to activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.

This year, the ‘Best Islands’ category was the most competitive it has ever been, with domestic island vacations being a first choice pick for the magazine’s readers throughout the pandemic.

Kiawah Island, near Charleston, ranked as the second best island in the country, according to readers.

“Located southwest of Charleston, Kiawah, which is also on this year’s list of the best islands in the world, is a popular destination for golfers, but you don’t need to pick up a club to fall in love. Bike to the pristine beaches for sightings of dolphins and nesting sea turtles, or just watch the waves from an oceanfront room at the five-star Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort — voted by readers as the No. 1 resort in South Carolina the past two years,” wrote Travel + Leisure.

Kiawah Island was also labeled as a ‘World’s Best Awards’ honoree, earning a score of 88.49.

Even more notably, Kiawah ranked 25th with a score of 88.49 in ‘The 25 Best Islands in the World’ category.

It’s no secret South Carolina is famous for many of its beautiful locations. On Tuesday, Charleston was ranked 23rd as one of the 25 Best Cities in the World, by Travel + Leisure. The ‘World’s Best Awards’ Hall of Fame honoree scored an 88.70 in the category.

Additionally on Tuesday, ‘The 15 Best Cities in the United States’ rankings were released with Charleston being ranked the number one best city in the country, according to Travel + Leisure.

“There’s a reason people keep going back to Charleston: the city expresses the perfect balance of Southern charm, knockout food and drinks, and walkability. Many readers also found the city’s history to be a draw. Others appreciated the simple pleasures of strolling the side streets of downtown.”, Travel + Leisure described Charleston.

Hilton Head Island neighbor, Savannah, ranked fourth place in the ‘Best Cities’ category.

The 15 Best Islands in the Continental U.S., according to Travel + Leisure

  1. Mackinac Island, MI

  2. Kiawah Island, SC

  3. Nantucket, MA

  4. San Juan Islands, WA

  5. Golden Isles (Jekyll Island, Little St. Simons Island, Sea Island, St. Simons Island), GA

  6. Outer Banks, NC

  7. Mount Desert Island, ME

  8. Martha’s Vineyard, MA

  9. Hilton Head Island, SC

  10. Amelia Island, FL

  11. Florida Keys

  12. Captiva Island, FL

  13. Sanibel Island, FL

  14. Block Island, RI

  15. Longboat Key, FL

The 15 Best Cities in the United States, according to Travel + Leisure

  1. Charleston, SC

  2. New Orleans, LA

  3. Santa Fe, NM

  4. Savannah, GA

  5. Honolulu, HI

  6. New York City, NY

  7. Chicago, IL

  8. Alexandria, VA

  9. San Antonio, TX

  10. Boston, MA

  11. Austin, TX

  12. Williamsburg, VA

  13. Asheville, NC

  14. San Diego, CA

  15. Nashville, TN

This story was originally published July 14, 2022 10:00 AM.

Sarah Claire McDonald is a Service Journalism Reporter for The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette. She specializes in writing audience-focused, unique, spotlight stories about people, places and occurrences in the Lowcountry. Originally from the Midwest, Sarah Claire studied news media, communications and English at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where she graduated in 2021.