Island getaways are incredible. Whether you are traveling to the diverse islands of Hawaii, the Caribbean, of the rocky retreats off the coast of Maine, or Oregon there is just something special about retreating to an isolated paradise. But if you have never experienced island life before, it takes some planning and preparation to make your trip successful. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when planning your trip.
Tip 1: Prepare for higher prices
Nearly everything on an island needs to be shipped in. In the case of the Hawaiian islands, this means a lengthy freighter trip across the Pacific. But even Chebeague Island (a beautiful resort island off the coast of Maine), things need to be shipped about 10 miles across the harbor. Because of the extra shipping, prices for everything will be higher. Forget to pack the sunscreen? Sure you can buy it, but the cost will be much higher than at the store back home. In Hawaii, prices for milk and bread skyrocket. When you are packing, carefully go through your itinerary. You will pay more for essential items on nearly every island.
Tip 2: Prepare for fewer options at the store
Because square footage is often at a premium, stores carry fewer options for every product. If you forget something like socks, you may not have much of a choice when you get there. Fortunately, larger islands seem to have a good selection of personal products (toothpaste, deodorant, etc..), but on a small Caribbean island? You get what you get. Once again, packing is the key. Do not just throw a bathing suit in your suitcase and run. Think about what you need.
Tip 3: Isolation makes for tricky travel
While you may be seeking out isolation on an island, if you get bored, it can be tricky (and sometimes expensive) to do island hopping. Many islands that are close to the coast have ferries that will bring you back and forth. Martha’s Vineyard (off the coast of Cape Cod, MA) runs ferries throughout the day. But if you miss that ferry, you may be stuck. You need to be very clear on their schedules. Other places like Hawaii just do not have much boat travel between islands. Why? Because the extremely deep channels between the island make for rough conditions. Only larger ships make the crossing. If you are on Maui and want to jump over to O’ahu to visit Pearl Harbor you will need to fly.
Tip 4: Research your options and book ahead
Islands are places of adventure. The water makes this a natural fit. Snorkeling, scuba diving, spearfishing, surfing, and (for those less adventurous) whale watching. You can tire yourself out every single day if you are out on the water. Mountain climbing? Horseback riding? Ziplines? All things you find on islands. But those things usually need to be booked ahead of time (especially during peak seasons). Do your research and schedule activities before you go.
Tip 5: Consider your priorities for lodging
If you are headed to an island and plan to be running from one adventure to the next every day, maybe you do not need that room with the ocean view. If you are only going to be sleeping in your room, opt for something less expensive. On the other hand, if you plan to sleep late, order room service, and then lay on the beach, a room right on the water may be for you. Airbnb, VRBO, and similar services allow you to rent condos, apartments, and even entire houses. They are often significantly cheaper than resorts but come with fewer amenities. You will not have a housekeeper making your bed every day and there may not be a restaurant within walking distance. But you usually get much more space than a single hotel room.
It just takes a bit of research and planning before you go and your island dream vacation will be perfect.