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Florida is well-known for its sandy-white beaches and extended coastline which spans miles. The waters are clear and blue, the sun shining, and the temperature… usually bearable. But just off of the coast of Florida, you’ll find a number of unique islands dotting the ocean often just a few miles away. Oftentimes, the best vacation spots around are on these islands, just waiting for the taking.

Amelia Island

Just off the coast of Jacksonville, Amelia Island is home to one of the most beautiful vacation spots in the state. This barrier island offers river cruises, sand dunes, and incredible wildlife. You can find sharks’ teeth along the shore, explore Fort Clinch State Park, and relax on more than 13 miles of beaches. To top it off, there is a historic district of Victorian architecture for tourism.

Grove Isle

A 20-acre private island is home to the Grove Isle Hotel & Spa. The Bali-themed spa provides a relaxing and refreshing experience. The adults-only beaches provide a calmer and more relaxing experience than you might expect from the Atlantic. The Isle is close enough to shore that you can still see the urban views at night over the iconic Biscayne Bay.

Marco Island

You wouldn’t know it from the tropical experience, but this island is right on the edge of the Everglades. Marco Island is a six-mile stretch of canal-lined streets and usually-empty sandy beaches overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re the adventuring type, the nearby mangrove mazes are perfect for exploration with a tour guide.

Merritt Island

Home to the Kennedy Space Center, there is a unique opportunity on Merritt Island to accompany your relaxing tourism with a bit of learning and science. The island is an excellent lesson in contrasts, as it also offers up the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, which houses some of the best bird-watching sights, alongside appearances by elusive Florida panthers.

If you’re considering a Florida vacation—or if you’re a native looking for a new adventure—then look no further than just beyond the coastline. There are a number of unique and invigorating experiences that you can have, all within a few miles.