Some places just make you go ahhh, and these neighboring islands on the west coast of Florida are among them. Their endless white-sand beaches — many scattered with delicate sea shells — offer panoramic views of the clear, calm waters and golden sunsets of the Gulf of Mexico. Sanibel has a distinctly casual charm with small traditional beachfront motels, while Captiva is golf-cart-friendly, with legendary eatery The Bubble Room and the large South Seas Island Resort offering activities of all kinds.
You don’t have to go to the Caribbean or Fiji to get a taste of private-island romance: Palm Island, located on Florida’s Gulf Coast between Sarasota and Fort Myers, is only reachable by boat and seems much farther away than the six minutes it takes to cross the Intracoastal Waterway from the mainland. The Palm Island Resort has about 100 villas in five clusters around the island, each centered on public areas that include pools, hot tubs, a clubhouse, and other amenities. The island also has a full-service marina (so boating and fishing are never far away), and the tennis center offers lessons and equipment rentals. A one-bedroom beach villa would be perfect for a couples getaway just steps from the sand, and one of Florida’s best seafood restaurants, Leverock’s, is just a short water-taxi ride away.
The reefs surrounding the islands are among the most biodiverse in the Caribbean, including dozens of species of coral and hundreds of types of fish. Above water, the islands shelter numerous bird species (such as red-footed boobies and pink flamingos) and also host nesting sea turtles. Los Roques’ reliable trade winds also make it a good spot for sailing and kitesurfing. As for deserted-island dreams, many posadas can arrange for a day trip or picnic lunch to one of Los Roques’ uninhabited islands.
Just 10 minutes from Punta Cana airport on the new 33,000-acre Cap Cana development, this hotel is the ideal family getaway. You can swim right out of many of the 299 Mediterranean-style villas, which all have kitchens, sofa beds, and either a balcony or patio. Horseback riding, paintball, sailing, fishing, and the Jack Nicklaus–designed Punta Espada Golf Course are in easy reach.
Wellfleet sits on a strip of land just two miles wide, flanked by pretty beaches and kettle pools. It’s criss-crossed with nature trails, where adults and children alike can learn about Wellfleet’s natural environment. Back in the quaint town center you’ll find many tiny art galleries, and you’ll want to stop and taste the famous Wellfleet oysters, too. Check out secluded Bound Brook Island Beach, one of the most tranquil places in Cape Cod, and consider finishing the day with a relaxed sunset sail.