When you obtain your private pilot license, jetting off to a picturesque island is an attainable dream. Landing on a small landmass in a vast ocean or lake is one of the coolest experiences you can have as an aviator.
If you’re looking for a new adventure, here are 10 of the top islands in the U.S. that you can fly to once you become a certified private pilot.
1) Tangier Island, Virginia
Airport: Tangier Island Airport
The first island on our list is located in Chesapeake Bay, and known for its large crab fishing industry, unique Elizabethan English accent and the fact that it is slowly sinking into the bay in which its located. Tangier Island in Virginia is steeped in history, discovered by famous explorer John Smith in 1608, and remains as one of the most isolated and extraordinary islands in the continental U.S. today. While it may be small (and shrinking), there’s plenty to do here – from exploring museums to kayaking the shoreline to eating world-famous crab cakes – so you’re sure to have a wonderful time.
2) Fox Islands, Michigan
Airport: North Fox Island Airport
The Fox Islands are made up of the North Fox and South Fox Islands, located in Lake Michigan. Because they are uninhabited, the island is a great destination for those pilots who aren’t averse to camping. The airstrip, reclaimed in 2015, is open from dusk until dawn, so you can even roll out a sleeping bag right outside your plane and sleep under the stars, if you wish. During the day, you can hike the island and explore the archipelago’s natural scenery and lighthouses.
3) Santa Catalina Island, California
Airport: Catalina Airport
Located southwest of Los Angeles, Santa Catalina Island, part of California’s Channel Islands, is known for its abundant wildlife, outstanding dive sites and the breathtaking Mt. Orizaba, its highest peak. Two Harbors, which lies on the north side of the island, is a resort town that offers a more tourist-centric atmosphere, whereas the more laid-back Avalon on the south side offers palm tree-lined Descanso Beach.
4) Fishers Island, New York
Airport: Elizabeth Field Airport
Fishers Island is a 9-mile-long islet tucked between Connecticut’s shore and the North Fork of Long Island. A well-guarded destination secret on the East Coast, Fishers Island is known for its vast beaches that are relatively unoccupied by tourists. Even on a holiday weekend, you can fly into Fishers Island and explore the shorelines unbothered by others, providing you with the real-world escape you’ve been searching for.
5) U.S. Virgin Islands
Airport: Cyril E King Airport
The Virgin Islands may be the most exotic destination on the list, and also the hardest to get to for a private pilot, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it! The Virgin Islands are famously known as one of the best paradise spots in the world, for good reason. With white-sand beaches, expansive reefs and lush tropical landscapes, flying to the Virgin Islands will give you memories that last a lifetime. Because several different countries govern the islands of the Caribbean, you’re required to clear Customs and Immigration when entering and exiting each one – check out this Caribbean Pilot’s Guide to start planning your trip.
6) Apostle Islands, Minnesota/Wisconsin
Airport: Major Gilbert Field
Those pilots looking for an outstanding island destination in the Midwest would be wise to consider a trip up north to the Apostle Islands. Located in the greatest of the Great Lakes, Superior, this archipelago offers something for everyone. With plenty of recreational activities, from biking to kayaking to swimming, along with a lively nightlife, the Apostles are one of the most underrated flying destinations in America.
7) Whidbey Island, Washington
Airport: Whidbey AirPark
Another west-coast gem is Whidbey Island, located in Puget Sound, north of Seattle. Flying into AirPark will provide amazing views of the island, known for its rugged terrain, beaches, hills and even farmland. The highlights of the island are Deception Pass State Park, with its cliff-top views, forest trails and freshwater lakes, and Fort Casey Historical State Park to the south. While you’re there, you should also take time to explore the coastal towns of Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Langley, where you can shop, grab food and drink and soak up the culture.
8) Amelia Island, Florida
Airport: Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport
Amelia Island is part of the Sea Islands chain of barrier islands, on the U.S. state of Florida’s Atlantic coast. Pilots that fly into this island destination can explore 50 blocks of lovingly preserved architecture, luxury resorts, world-class golf courses and numerous sandy beaches. Something you must do is visit Florida’s oldest continually operating bar establishment, the Palace Saloon, opened in 1903 and known as the “Ship Captain’s Bar.” Just remember to leave the keys to the cockpit behind!
9) Block Island, Rhode Island
Airport: Block Island State Airport
Twelve miles off the coast of Rhode Island lies an island destination often overlooked when compared to other regional tourism heavyweights, like Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. However, the attractive combination of gorgeous beaches and ocean vistas, miles of hiking trails and towering coastal cliffs, history and exciting nightlife of Block Island are even better without swarms of people around.
10) Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Airport: Hilton Head Airport
Hilton Head Island has been voted the number one island in the continental U.S. for the past three years by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Which, because of its gorgeous 12-mile coastline, 33 golf courses, 250 restaurants and hundreds of years of history, makes sense. Fly into Hilton Head Airport and enjoy your time at the beach relaxing in the sun, sand, and surf, embark on a historical walking tour or spend the day shopping, playing tennis or golfing – the options are endless!
Do You Want to See the Most Beautiful Destinations in the U.S.?
Whether you’re someone that wants to learn to fly or a certified pilot that wants to further their education, Inflight Pilot Training can help you gain the freedom to explore the country’s coolest island destinations.
We are a leading flight instruction company serving Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding areas. With a reputable training program and an extensive roster of highly skilled, certified flight instructors, we can give you the freedom to fly wherever you wish.
For additional information on Inflight training programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.