2 New England islands are among the top 10 in the continental U.S., according to Travel + Leisure readers

One is in Massachusetts and one is in Maine.

Madasket Beach at sunset.
Madaket Beach on Nantucket at sunset. –Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff

Join the fifth annual Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Island Run powered by Boston.com on Sept. 22. Choose from a 5-miler and a 5k. Then enjoy lunch, beer (must be 21-plus), and an award ceremony before a cruise home through the Boston Harbor.

Travel + Leisure magazine readers have determined that two New England islands are among the best in the United States (the continental U.S., that is — no competition from Hawaii here).

As part of T+L‘s annual World’s Best Awards, the publication released its list of the top 10 islands in the continental U.S. on Tuesday. Once again, South Carolina’s Hilton Head came out the winner. The top-ranked New England island was Maine’s Mount Desert Island at No. 4, dropping from its No. 3 spot in last year’s World’s Best Awards. Nantucket, the other New England island on the list, ranked No. 8, falling from its No. 2 spot in 2017. Last year, three New England islands made the list — Martha’s Vineyard didn’t make the cut in 2018.


“What all of these islands share is the ability to offer everything one needs for a relaxing vacation, beginning with an easy journey to get there,” T+L wrote about the 10 islands.

Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, is the largest island off the coast of Maine. Acadia’s 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain is the highest peak on the North Atlantic seaboard. Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island’s largest community, offers restaurants, galleries, shopping, and outdoor adventures that include hiking, biking, and boating.

The sun sets behind the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park in Maine. —Timothy Tai for The Boston Globe

T+L called Nantucket a popular vacation spot for its readers because of both the island’s food scene and its ambiance.

“The former whaling island is as rich in quaintness (think rose-covered cottages) as it is in stunning vistas over the red-clay cliffs to the sea,” T+L wrote.

Booking a fall trip is a good idea for travelers looking to avoid the summer crowds, editors wrote.

The 2018 World’s Best travel survey was available to readers at tlworldsbest.com from Nov. 6, 2017 to March 5, 2018. Participants scored the islands based on their natural attractions and beaches, activities and sights, restaurants and food, people and friendliness, and value. A numerical score was determined based on those ratings, and T+L tabulated the results with research firm M&RR.

Readers also rated airlines, airports, car rental agencies, cruise ships, destination spas, hotels, hotel brands, cities, tour operators, and safari outfitters. You can view the full list of top islands in the continental U.S. and other ratings on travelandleisure.com.

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