The South's Best Islands 2017

Jekyll Island, Georgia
Photo: Courtesy of Jekyll Island Authority

Looking for total escape? The South's many islands are tough to beat. Some are so remote that they aren't even populated and can be reached only by boat—with the help of a guide, no less. Asked to choose their favorites, the Southern Living audience opted for more accessible destinations that have all the creature comforts—no tent required—but also give you a wonderful sense of "away." Their top choice? The "OBX."

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1. Outer Banks

Outer Banks
Peter Frank Edwards

North Carolina

This narrow spit of sand looks as if it were tugged out into the ocean from North Carolina's mainland, leaving Pamlico, Currituck, and Roanoke Sounds behind. Rent a house and stay for a week to explore Bodie, Hatteras, and Ocracoke Islands.

02 of 10

2. St. Simons

St. Simons Island
Courtesy of The Golden Isles


Picture historic architecture, moss-draped oaks, a relaxing community that never gets in a hurry, and long, flat beaches that stretch out for days at low tide.

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3. Florida Keys

Florida Keys


The sea surrounding the Keys is a particular shade of sunlit turquoise that's hard to describe. And driving the Overseas Highway is a bucket list road trip that nobody should miss.

04 of 10

4. Hilton Head

Hilton Head
Christopher Shane

South Carolina

Incorporated in 1983, Hilton Head is an upscale, planned vacation and residential community that's great for family vacations. It has 24 championship golf courses and a whopping 324 tennis courts.

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5. Chincoteague

Chincoteague, Virginia
Chris M. Rogers


Don't expect water parks, condo towers, or amusement rides. Come here instead for unspoiled beauty on Virginia's only resort island. Bike, hike, boat, and visit neighboring Assateague Island for a glimpse of the famed Chincoteague Ponies.

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6. Kiawah

Kiawah Island
Christopher Shane

South Carolina

A pristine island with an upscale resort and residential community, this sandy strip is separated from St. Johns Island by the Kiawah River, so it has river and ocean views. Kiawah Beachwalker Park is the only public beach access on the island.

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7. Jekyll

Jekyll Island, Georgia
Courtesy of Jekyll Island Authority


What once was a private retreat for the upper crust became a state park in 1947. The old Jekyll Island Club is now a hotel. Stay there to enjoy the expansive, unspoiled beaches, towering oaks, and marshlands.

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8. Sanibel

Courtesy of The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel


This south Florida island's east-west orientation makes its white beaches a magnet for shells washing in from the Gulf, especially after storms.

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9. Galveston

Wynn Myers


Come for the water and fresh seafood, and then marvel at the historic architecture in the great old Texas city that shares this island's name.

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10. Tybee

Tybee Island
Imke Lass


Hard to believe that this laid-back, bike-friendly island is just 30 minutes from one of the most popular cities in the South—Savannah.

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