Top 5 U.S. Island Getaways: Beaches and Beyond - United Hub
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Top 5 U.S. island getaways: Beaches and beyond

By Bob Cooper, September 09, 2016

An island getaway is always an appealing plan, but you don't have use your passport and trade your dollars for foreign currency — or wait for winter when everyone else goes. Here are five U.S. islands you'll enjoy visiting without having to travel to another country.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Unless you count islands within five miles of the U.S. mainland — Long Island, for example — Nantucket is the largest island off the East Coast. It's also far enough away to feel like a distant island even though it's only 25 miles from Cape Cod. Why go? First, there's the historic district of the island's only town (also called Nantucket), the whaling museum, the shipwreck museum and three lighthouses to visit. Second, there are the 23 beaches with good swimming, kayaking and surfing, and all of them can easily be reached on two wheels. Bikes can be rented in town and bike paths fan out over most of the 14-mile-long island, so it's easy to go car-less.

Harbor in Avalon, California

Catalina, California

One hour after departing Long Beach harbor aboard a Catalina Express ferry, you'll reach an island where L.A.'s traffic and pollution have vanished. Island traffic is mostly electric golf cart rentals and the air is ocean-cooled and clean. This will inspire you to hike into the hills of the 22-mile-long island (95 percent of it undeveloped), soar down a 4,000-foot series of ziplines over a canyon, take an ocean kayak out on the water — or just lay on the beach to people watch. Avalon, the town where you'll disembark, has many inns, restaurants, the historic Catalina Casino, the 1,184-seat Avalon Theatre (nightly movies) and the newly expanded Catalina Island Museum — which tells the history of the island, a haven for midcentury film stars.

Lighthouse on San Juan Island in Washington

San Juan, Washington

San Juan Island offers far more than cool breezes along its 73-mile shoreline. After the flight to Seattle, a nearly two-hour drive to Anacortes, and a one-hour scenic car ferry to Friday Harbor, you'll want to rest up at your inn for the days ahead. Lovers of the outdoors can be filled with whale-watching from land at Lime Kiln Point State Park (orcas visit through September) and strolling two-mile-long South Beach at American Camp, part of the island's San Juan Islands National Historic Park. Art-lovers will prefer the 20-acre San Juan Islands Sculpture Park and recently opened San Juan Islands Museum of Art. Additional attractions are The Whale Museum, wine-tasting, an alpaca ranch and a lavender farm.

Aerial View of Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu, Hawaii

“Hawaii Five-0" paints a distorted picture of Hawaii, which has the sixth-lowest crime rate and second-lowest murder rate of all 50 states. But safety is not the main reason why Hawaii's most populated island, Oahu, is a favorite of vacationers. The island's beaches are legendary, from big-wave surf spots on the North Shore to Honolulu's Waikiki, perfect for beginning surfers and advanced sunbathers. Rainforest hikes in the mountains are breathtaking. Family attractions are abundant, topped by the Polynesian Cultural Center and Kualoa Ranch. The blend of American, Asian and Native Hawaiian cultures is reflected in everything from the fusion cuisine to the fashion scene. And the energy of the Waikiki tourist district pulsates day and night, with new rooftop restaurants cropping up every week.

Ocean View, St. Thomas

St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.

Unlike most Caribbean islands, no passport is required to visit St. Thomas, the most populous and popular of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The dollar and the English language have reigned for generations, with 2017 marking the centennial of U.S.V.I.'s admittance to the U.S. But the main reasons to visit are the dozens of beaches; snorkeling and kayaking in the aquamarine waters just off shore; Caribbean-cuisine restaurants and nightlife in the harbor city of Charlotte Amalie; and the views and exotic plants at Phantasea Tropical Botanic Garden (opened in 2015) in the mountains. There's also plenty of history — two castles named for infamous pirates and a Danish fort, all three built in the 17th century — if you can drag yourself away from the beach.

If you go

Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your island getaway.

United Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

By The Hub team, March 19, 2021

On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.

Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.

"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.

We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

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