On Island Time
Host to many artists over the years, Monhegan Island is nearly picture perfect.
Monhegan Island, Maine
Hermits, artists, fairy houses. No, this isn't a young adult fantasy novel, it's Monhegan Island, Maine. The hermit, Ray Phillips, lived on the hillside of adjacent Manana Island for 40 years. The artist studio roster has included Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent and three generations of Wyeths, from N.C. to Jamie. And the faeries, well they live in Cathedral Forest, at least that's where you'll spy their many homes constructed of acorns, lichen and other green sources. The century-old Island Inn greets the other ferries as they enter the harbor. The grand weather-beaten building, with sweeping veranda, serves boxed lunches from the café if you're eager to visit the many artists' studios, chase faeries or observe the dwelling of a hermit who sailed into the harbor one day and never left. Will you?
Assorted wildlife abounds around St. Vincent's distinct habitats.
St. Vincent Island, Florida
No one is surprised to hear of wolves in Isle Royale on the Canadian-American border, but wolves also roamed the southeast. Today, St. Vincent Island is home to one of the last populations of the endangered red wolf. The 12,490-acre national wildlife refuge features 10 distinct habitats for migrating wood storks as well as several threatened species including gopher tortoises, nesting loggerhead sea turtles and indigo snakes. The island is also a first stop for migrating neotropical migratory songbirds that touch down eager to feed after flying all night from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Like the native herons, visitors come to fish on the refuge lakes and collect shells on the gulf beaches. Even with 10 environments from which to choose, a colony of bats has ignored the natural habitat to occupy the attic of an old (thankfully unoccupied) hunting cabin.
Escape to this romantic retreat just 26 miles outside of Los Angeles.
Santa Catalina Island, California
Santa Catalina Island and Alaska's Aleutian Islands are rarely spoken of in the same sentence, except when one learns that the eponymous Russian fur traders, the Aleuts, eventually settled on the California island, driven by the desire for still more sea otter pelts. Located just 26 miles physically but a world away spiritually from Los Angeles, romantics have escaped to this 22-mile by 8-mile member of the Channel archipelago for generations, where they can rent bikes, snorkel or hike the newly constructed 37-mile Trans-Catalina Trail. Those looking for still more remoteness should travel north to Santa Cruz Island, the largest island in Channel Islands National Park. Kayak in the sea caves with Aquasports, or spend the day roaming this remarkable park after taking an Island Packers ferry.
Follow Crai S Bower on Twitter @craisbower.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Which of these extreme outdoor sports would you be brave enough to try?
- BASE jumping
- Ice climbing