20+ Hawaii Alternatives Closer To The US


Regardless of where you’re from, chances are you’ve seen Hawaii being promoted as that ultimate vacation destination you need to visit at least once in a lifetime. Whether in one of your favorite movies, via internet and television promotions, or in real life, Hawaii is that popular tropical island destination everyone knows about.

Hawaiian Island Kauai Aerial

Photo credit: Sarah Fields Photography/Shutterstock.com

Picture: View of Tunnels Beach and reef system on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai

Hawaii is the only state within the United States which consists entirely of islands, yet for many people, despite its obvious appeal, a holiday on Hawaiian shores is out of reach for financial or geographical reasons. That is no reason to give up hope of enjoying a tropical vacation in a rugged and beautiful territory, however. There are many other islands which match Hawaii in beauty and in fanfare, and some of these offer attractions similar to what one obtains in the Hawaiian Islands. Many of these other choices too, are located in close proximity to the United States, so you can have that exotic experience without having to fly halfway around the world.

Some of the things people love about Hawaii are its one-of-a-kind culture, spectacular beaches, the endless room for adventure; majestic waterfalls and volcanoes you can visit, and rugged mountain landscapes just waiting to be explored. Not forgetting of course, the ‘Aloha’, also known as the welcoming spirit Hawaii and its people are known for.

Hawaii Rainbow Falls Wailuku River State Park

Photo credit: Izabela23/Shutterstock.com

Picture: Rainbow Falls, Wailuku River State Park in Hilo, Hawaii.

There are a couple of alternatives to Hawaii which offer a similar experience in one way or another. Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, Bali and even the Philippines, are often mentioned as alternative tropical island destinations. However, if you are looking for a Hawaii alternative closer to US shores, you will likely land on one of the dreamy tropical island destinations in the Caribbean, like Saint Lucia, Turks & Caicos, The Bahamas or Barbados.

Pitons Mountains Saint Lucia

Photo credit: Vyshnivskyy/Shutterstock.com

Picture: Don't be fooled, this is not Hawaii! You are looking at Saint Lucia's majestic Piton Mountains.

Saint Lucia is known for their friendly people, amazing hiking trails and stunning mountains. Of all tropical island destinations close to US shores, this beautiful island comes as close as it gets in being an alternative for Hawaii. Also consider Turks & Caicos, which is home to the most beautiful tropical beaches in the world and located within two hours from US shores. The Bahamas offer amazing snorkeling locations (Exuma!) and incredible scuba diving. Last but not least, Barbados is the ultimate surf destination close to US shores.

Choose your favourite Hawaii alternative from the lists below!


Five tropical island destinations...

...with incredible white sand beaches
...where you can enjoy amazing snorkeling and diving
...with great surf
...where you can visit exotic black sand beaches
...where you can visit an active volcano
...with spectacular hiking trails
...where you can swim at majestic waterfalls
...with luxurious all-inclusive resorts
...with a welcoming spirit

BONUS: Five tropical island destinations you can experience culture similar to Hawaii


Five tropical island destinations with incredible white sand beaches


1. Turks & Caicos

Hawaii alternative located within 2 hours from US shores.

Beaches Turks Caicos Long Beach

Turks & Caicos is filled with some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. The turquoise color of the water against white and in some cases pink sand, adds a magical touch that will truly make you feel as though you’re in paradise. These are some of the best beaches you’ll likely come across in a lifetime, and a favorite for visitors is the Grace Bay Beach which offers opportunities to try out new watersports, lounge on the beach, or even go snorkeling further offshore. You’ll be able to stay at resorts near this beach (all-inclusive resort Beaches Turks & Caicos comes with a spectacular water park) if you book early enough, which means you’ll have dibs on the best beachside spots!

  • Flight time from Miami: 1 hour, 43 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs slightly less in Turks & Caicos than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs slightly less in Turks & Caicos than in Hawaii.

2. Exuma, the Bahamas

Hawaii alternative located within 2 hour from US shores.

Coco Plum beach Great Exuma Bahamas

Photo credit: Giongi63/Shutterstock.com

The beaches in the Bahamas are among the most breath-taking in the world, with options to choose from a variety of beautiful white sand beaches to lounge on for every day of your location. Coco Plum Beach is one of the most spellbinding, and it is a popular choice for visitors to Exuma, in the Bahamas. At low tide, you can walk on the sand right out into the ocean space, picking up sand dollars along the way, and at sunset, you can witness spectacular sunsets. Coco Plum’s location in the exotic Bahamas archipelago guarantees that you will absolutely love how carefree you’ll feel in this space.

  • Flight time from Miami: 1 hour, 15 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs slightly less in Exuma than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Exuma than in Hawaii.

3. Puerto Rico

Flamenco Beach Culebra Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico has some of the nicest beaches in the Caribbean. One of these is Flamenco Beach which is the closest some people ever get to paradise. As one of the most recent reviews of Flamenco Beach reads, “No need to go to Hawaii”. This is useful advice for anyone considering where to vacation and looking for somewhere closer to home. Flamenco Beach might as well be straight from a magazine, and its calm, clear and beautiful waters will be something you’ll have a hard time walking away from once the day is done!

  • Flight time from Miami: 2 hours, 34 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs more or less the same in Puerto Rico than Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Puerto Rico than in Hawaii.

4. British Virgin Islands (BVI)

Long Bay Beach British Virgin Islands

Photo credit: Olga S. Andreeva/Shutterstock.com

The people of the British Virgin Islands have long since earned their right to brag about having some of the most charming beaches of the Caribbean. These islands are definitely in the top 5 when it comes to the places with the best beaches in the Caribbean, and the beauty of White Bay Beach adds something significant to that ranking. “Jaw droppingly gorgeous” is one of the ways people who’ve been to White Bay Beach describe its physical attributes, and that is absolutely an accurate description. Scenic with lots to do, this is a great spot to spend the day, whether you’re travelling with the entire family or just with that special someone.

  • Flight time from Miami: 2 hours, 44 minutes.
  • Insufficient cost of living information.

5. Anguilla

Sandy Ground Beach Island Anguilla

Photo credit: Kristopher Kettner/Shutterstock.com

The small island of Anguilla is located a little further out but continues to gain popularity as a vacation destination where you’re likely to have the time of your life. It’s amazing beaches add to its appeal for the thousands of tourists who go there every year. Shoal Bay, Meads Bay is one of the best beaches in Anguilla, and it is without a doubt one of the beaches in the Caribbean worthy of an award. It might be hard to believe that a beach can in fact be so perfect, but considering Anguilla overall is a stunning destination, it’s somewhat impossible to expect anything less.

  • Flight time from Miami: 5 hours, 45 minutes.
  • Insufficient cost of living information.


Five tropical island destinations you can enjoy amazing snorkeling and diving


1. The Bahamas

Hawaii alternative located within 1 hour from US shores.

Snorkeling Bahamas

Photo credit: Denis Moskvinov/Shutterstock.com

The Bahamas is a popular diving destination for people who want lots of options of places to go snorkeling or scuba diving. Visibility is usually great around the islands. Don’t miss out on the Thunderball Grotto near the Exumas! This underwater cave full of tropical fish, is unlikely to disappoint.

Insider tip: Combine your Thunderball Grotto excursion with an opportunity to swim with the pigs in the Bahamas. Want to learn more about swimming with pigs/pig island in the Bahamas? Meet The Swimming Pigs of The Bahamas!


  • Flight time from Miami: 45 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs slightly less in the Bahamas than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in the Bahamas than in Hawaii.

2. Bonaire

Bonaire Scuba Diving

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As far as diving is concerned, Bonaire may be the Hawaii alternative you’ve been searching for all along; you’ll have an easy time snorkeling on this island, as most of the good places to dive are accessible from shore. Popular snorkeling locations in Bonaire include Lac Bay (Sorobon), Klein Bonaire - No Name Beach, and Bari Reef.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 15 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs more in Bonaire than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Bonaire than in Hawaii.

3. Turks and Caicos

Hawaii alternative located within 2 hours from US shores.

Beaches Turks Caicos Snorkel

You’ll find lots of snorkeling opportunities in Turks & Caicos, but some of the best choices are in the islands of Providenciales (Provo), Grand Turk and Salt Cay. Provo is at the top of the list because of the convenience and ease of access of the island. Some of the best snorkeling spots in the Turk & Caicos are Bight Reef, Malcolm’s road beach/reef, Smith’s Reef, Grace Bay reefs and Salt Cay.

  • Flight time from Miami: 1 hour, 43 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs slightly less in Turks & Caicos than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs slightly less in Turks & Caicos than in Hawaii.

4. Belize

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Scuba Diving Belize

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Belize is home to the largest barrier reef in the Northern hemisphere, and the Blue Hole in Belize is ranked as one of the best places to dive in the world. The Blue Hole is one of several protected areas including Half Moon Caye and Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, Laughing Bird Caye National Park and Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve. The Blue Hole measures about 300 meters across and 125 meters deep. You’ll need to be PADI® Open Water certified to dive in this area.

  • Flight time from Miami: 2 hours, 15 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs less in Belize than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Belize than in Hawaii.

5. Grenada

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Sea Turtle Scuba Diving Grenada

Photo credit: Eric Carlander/Shutterstock.com

There are lots of dive sites in Grenada where you can witness fascinating coral, amazing sea life, and even some historic shipwrecks. These include Buccaneer, Rhum Runner, King Mitch and more. The Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park is also interesting to explore for divers, and amid the marine life you’ll find a few structures that were incorporated as part of a preservation effort for the reefs in this area. Intrigued? Here’s All You Need to Know About The Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park.

Insider tip: Sandals Grenada, one of Sandals best all-inclusive resorts happens to be located in St. Georges, Grenada. Offering luxurious suites and unlimited cocktails, this resort will put your right in the heart of the action for your island vacation!


  • Flight time from closest big US city: 3 hours, 40 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs more or less the same in Grenada than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Grenada than in Hawaii.


Five tropical island destinations with great surf


1. Barbados

Best Hawaii alternative for surfers from the US.

Surfing Bathsheba Barbados

Photo credit: Ralph Eshelman/Shutterstock.com

Barbados is one of the only smaller islands with a happening surf culture. This makes it a great Hawaii alternative. In fact, the island frequently plays host to surf competitions and other conventions. There are several spots you can check out if you want to go surfing in Barbados including Duppies, a surf beach where the living is easy. Duppies is on the northwestern end of Barbados. Also popular is the Soup Bowl which can be found close to the town of Bathsheba. The Soup Bowl is a popular spot and sometimes hosts international longboard competitions. Then there’s Silver Sands Beach on the south coast where the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Sea meet for some great wave action.

Insider tip: If you’re a newbie, you can learn to surf, kitesurf or windsurf with Talma’s deAction Beach Shop or Boosy’s Surf School in Surfer’s Bay.


  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 35 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs slightly less in Barbados than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Barbados than in Hawaii.

2. Dominican Republic

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Kite surfer Dominican Republic

Photo credit: LaGente. do/Shutterstock.com

The Dominican Republic being a good surfing destination isn’t a widely known fact, but it absolutely true on this island where there are great beaches with extensive coastlines. While you can find cool spots to surf year-round, in the earlier part of the year the south of the island is best for surfing it up, while in the latter part of the year, you’ll find better waves in the north, particularly around the Puerto Plata and Cabarete area. While there are lots of opportunities for longboarders, shortboarding is also popular on the island. While in the Dominican Republic, you can go to La Boya for novice or more advanced shortboarding.

  • Flight time from Miami: 2 hours, 15 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in the DR than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in the DR than in Hawaii.

3. Puerto Rico

Surfing Waves Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Jeramey Lende/Shutterstock.com

Crash Boat in Aguadilla, Pools, Sandy Beach, Antonio’s, Tres Palmas, Maria’s and Domes beaches in Rincón, Isabela’s Jobos and Middlesare all good surfing spots in Puerto Rico, but there are other less common spots which are equally as good, including Kikita Beach. Kikita offers well-structured waves in the area where Rio la Plata connects with the ocean which are not recommended for beginners. Aviones, an often-crowded beach is loved for its consistent and great waves, while La Islita which is a bit off the beaten path has good surf conditions and is great for families. Other good spots include Boca del Cibuco, or Cibuco, Los Tubos, and more.

  • Flight time from Miami: 2 hours, 34 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs more or less the same in Puerto Rico as in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Puerto Rico than in Hawaii.

4. Eleuthera, the Bahamas

Hawaii alternative located within 1 hour from US shores.

Surfing Waves Bahamas

Photo credit: ohrim/Shutterstock.com

There’s so much to do in the Bahamas, and surfing is definitely on that list. The island of Eleuthera is one of the most popular spots for surfing, primarily because it offers a consistent and powerful surf. There are particular times of year when surfing is superb here, and surfers keep track of the weather to know when the waves will be good. Surf season is October through April, when there are usually good sized and consistent waves. From May through July the waves tend to be smaller, with action mounting in the latter months of the wet season up until the end of November.

  • Flight time from Miami: 55 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs slightly less in Eleuthera than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Eleuthera than in Hawaii.

5. Jamaica

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living, within 2 hours from US shores.

Surfer riding wave Jamaica

Photo credit: Maximillian Murphy/Shutterstock.com

Surfing in Jamaica is something of an underground sport, meaning there isn’t much of a surf scene, but you’ll find good enough waves at some of the beaches located on the island. Bull Bay, just outside of Kingston is a surf spot that locals and visitors enjoy, but it is not promoted as much as some of the beaches in areas with easier access, or in closer proximity to resorts and other amenities. The popularity of surfing in Jamaica is on the upswing, however, and there is even an association called the Jamaican Surfing Association that was set up to get more young people involved in surfing.

  • Flight time from Miami: 1 hour, 45 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Jamaica than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Jamaica than in Hawaii.


Five tropical island destinations where you can visit exotic black sand beaches


1. Saint Lucia

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

black sand beach anse mamim st lucia

Photo credit: Judith Lienert/Shutterstock.com

A volcanic island by origin, Saint Lucia offers unique opportunities to visit black sand beaches that are as charming as they are intriguing. Anse Chastanet Beach in Soufriere is one of the most popular black sand beaches on the island, and it is also a great spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. This is definitely one of the beaches you’ll want to visit while in Saint Lucia, and while you’re in the area, why not visit the Sulphur Springs, home to the world’s only drive-in volcano?

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 29 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Saint Lucia than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Saint Lucia than in Hawaii.

2. Martinique

Black Sand Beach Saint Pierre Martinique

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Mont Pelee in Martinique most recently erupted in 1902 but has since then remained dormant. From Saint Pierre Beach / Anse Ceron, you’ll have an amazing view of the volcano, which can be as destructive as it is awe inspiring. Martinique has a population of 376,480, and many locals and visitors to the island say this black sand beach located in Saint Pierre is one of the best in the Caribbean.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 25 minutes.
  • Insufficient cost of living information.

3. Puerto Rico

Playa Negra Vieques Puerto Rico

Photo credit: E Rojas/Shutterstock.com

Isla de Vieques is located just off the coast of Puerto Rico, and it is on this small island that you will find Playa Negra, a black sand beach which is relatively secluded and loved by all who visit. There are quite a few beaches on the island, but you’ll have a more serene experience at Playa Negra, a gem of a beach that will reward the curiosity it takes to get there.

  • Flight time from Miami: 2 hours, 34 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs more or less the same in Puerto Rico as in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Puerto Rico than in Hawaii.

4. Dominica

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Black sand beach Dominica

Photo credit: david blais/Shutterstock.com

Dominica, or “the nature isle” as it is known is famous for both its rivers and its beaches. It is a paradise island the levels of which you’ve likely never experienced before as the island’s government pays special attention to eco-oriented and sustainable development. You’ll definitely feel that exotic island vibe, similar to what obtains in the Hawaiian Islands at tourist hot spots like Rosalie Beach, which ranks as the number one beach on the island. Rosalie beach is also a popular turtle nesting ground and joins to the Rosalie Bay River. There are nine active volcanoes in Dominica, and the last recorded activity was a steam eruption in 1997.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 19 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Dominica than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Dominica than in Hawaii.

5. St. Kitts

Black Sand Beach St Kitts

Photo credit: Sergey Kelin/Shutterstock.com

South Friars Beach in Saint Kitts offers opportunities to unwind on a beach with both black and white sand. As you walk along the beach, you’ll notice the changes in the sand color and possibly the texture, which most people find amazing. There’s good snorkeling, a beach bar, and other amenities to enjoy while you’re there.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 1 minute.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs more or less the same in St. Kitts as in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in St. Kitts than in Hawaii.


Five tropical island destinations where you can visit an active volcano


1. Saba

Saba Island Volcano

Photo credit: JohnHancockPhoto/Shutterstock.com

It’s a long hike to the top of Mount Scenery, but those brave enough get lifetime bragging rights. At 2,910ft, this is a dormant volcanic peak and climbing it is one of the more exciting adventures to be had in Saba. Its last eruption was in 1640, but this volcanic peak is still today described as “potentially dangerous.”

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 29 minutes.
  • Insufficient cost of living information.

2. Saint Lucia

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Dive in Volcano Saint Lucia

Photo credit: Gem Russan/Shutterstock.com

The Sulphur Springs is home to the Soufriere drive-in volcano, and this area has evolved over the years to become one of the coolest attractions of its kind in the Caribbean. Located in the midst of a collapsed crater visitors can drive right into this area and do tours, bathe in the Sulphur mud baths or in hots springs. The last minor eruption of the dome volcano in this area was in 1780.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 29 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Saint Lucia than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Saint Lucia than in Hawaii.

3. Montserrat

Active Volcano Montserrat

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Chances Peak is the highest point in Montserrat, and part of the complex stratovolcano known as Soufrière Hills. The Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat is still active, and last erupted in 2012. Still, there are opportunities to visit the volcano for those particularly lion-hearted.

  • Flight time from New York: 4 hours, 5 minutes.
  • Insufficient cost of living information.

4. St. Kitts

Mount Liamuiga Volcano St Kitts

Photo credit: EQRoy/Shutterstock.com

At 3792 ft Mount Liamuiga, a stratovolcano, is the highest mountain on the island of St. Kitts. It’s quite a challenge to get to the summit of this mountain, but most who embark on the journey say the view from the top makes it worth the effort. There are reports of possible eruptions in 1692 and 1843, but these have not been confirmed.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 1 minute.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs more or less the same in St. Kitts as in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in St. Kitts than in Hawaii.

5. Grenada

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Grenada island Grand Etang National Park

Photo credit: Claudio306/Shutterstock.com

Kick ‘em Jenny’s last recorded activity was in 2015, and since that time the active submarine volcano has remained in the news. Scuba divers have recorded hearing unusual sounds that have been attributed to the volcano while diving off Grenada’s Ronde Island and other areas.

  • Flight time from closest big US city: 3 hours, 40 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs more or less the same in Grenada than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Grenada than in Hawaii.


Five tropical island destinations with spectacular hiking trails


1. Saint Lucia

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Hiking Saint Lucia Pitons Mountain

Photo credit: BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock.com

Saint Lucia has lots of nooks and crannies waiting to be explored, and this includes some of the most spectacular hiking trails which allow you to experience life on the wild side. The views and the opportunities to learn about the different trees and plants are all part of what makes the hiking experience in Saint Lucia unique. On some trails, you’ll be able to see various species of animals and birds, including Saint Lucia’s national parrot, Amazona Versicolor (Saint Lucia Amazon). Some great hiking trails in Saint Lucia include the Tet Paul Nature Trail, Gros Piton Nature Trail, Petit Piton Trail, Anse La Raye Falls, Salut falls and the Barre de L’Isle Trail.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 29 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Saint Lucia than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Saint Lucia than in Hawaii.

2. Dominica

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Hiking rainforest Dominica

Photo credit: Don Cristian Ramsey/Shutterstock.com

The nature-oriented island of Dominica will amaze you with just how much of the land remains unspoiled, and how beautiful it all comes together for an experience unlike anything you could have imagined. The rolling hills and towering mountains like the 4,747 ft Morne Diablotins are a wonder to see and if you’re up for it, you’ll be able to hike up this mountain trail, which most describe as strenuous but fulfilling. Once you’re at the top, on a good day you’ll be able to see out for miles all the way to Roseau and Portsmouth. Morne Diablotins is the second highest mountain in the Lesser Antilles.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 19 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Dominica than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Dominica than in Hawaii.

3. Jamaica

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living, within 2 hours from US shores.

Hiking Blue Mountain View Montego Bay Jamaica

Photo credit: ajlatan/Shutterstock.com

Jamaica is great for a lot of things, and hiking is one of them. The island’s mountainous terrain makes it ideal for hiking, and the best part about hiking in Jamaica is the views. Some of the best hiking spots on the island are the One Love Trail, Blue Mountains Peak Trail, Holywell National Park, Catherine’s Peak and the John Crow Mountains.

  • Flight time from Miami: 1 hour, 45 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Jamaica than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Jamaica than in Hawaii.

4. Martinique

Hiking Montagne Pelee Martinique Island

Photo credit: Larwin/Shutterstock.com

Mount Pelée in Martinue is the highest mountain on the island and it is also a volcanic peak. It is possible to hike up the mountain, but if you’re looking for something a little less daunting than scaling a volcano (albeit dormant) there are other hiking opportunities on the island including La Savane des Pétrifications to the south of Martinique, Coeur Bouliki (Circuit de Rabuchon) to the north of the Saint-Joseph village, Trace des caps on the south Atlantic side, and others.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 25 minutes.
  • Insufficient cost of living information.

5. Nevis

Hiking St Kitts Nevis

Photo credit: Maridav/Shutterstock.com

Nevis, the smaller half of the nation of St. Kitts and Nevis (SKN) is a great location if you’re looking for a hike through the forest filled with adventure. One of the most talked about hikes on the island is the Nevis Peak climb which is “not for the faint hearted”. A tour guide is recommended, and you’ll want to ensure you’re in tip-top physical shape before signing up for this hike.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 1 minute.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs more or less the same in Nevis as in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Nevis than in Hawaii.


Five tropical island destinations where you can swim at majestic waterfalls


1. Jamaica

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living, within 2 hours from US shores.

YS Falls Negril Jamaica

Photo credit: Stefano Manocchio/Shutterstock.com

Dunn’s River Falls is a top attraction in Jamaica and features a waterfall which drops dramatically 100 feet down from the edge of a cliff. It is a sight to behold, and as part of your tour you can choose to walk up the areas of the Falls which aren’t as treacherous. While there be sure to check out Dunn’s River Falls Beach. Read our Dunn's River Falls guide for more information on this tour. Some other great waterfalls in Jamaica include Mayfield Falls, Reach Falls and YS Falls.

  • Flight time from Miami: 1 hour, 45 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Jamaica than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Jamaica than in Hawaii.

2. Grenada

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Annandale Falls Grenada

Photo credit: Hugh O'Connor/Shutterstock.com

Measuring 65-feet high, Concord Falls is one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean. People who visit this waterfall enjoy cooling off in the natural pools underneath the falls which are super refreshing. Water shoes are recommended. Other amazing waterfalls in Grenada include Seven Sisters Falls, Royal Mount Carmel waterfalls and the Annandale Falls.

  • Flight time from closest big US city: 3 hours, 40 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs more or less the same in Grenada than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Grenada than in Hawaii.

3. Dominica

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Emerald pool waterfall Dominica

Photo credit: emperorcosar/Shutterstock.com

Dominica promotes itself as having 365 rivers, one for every day of the year. There are likely not as many waterfalls on the island, but ones like the Emerald Pool Falls make up for that with its mesmerizing nature. Emerald Pool Falls, a 50-foot waterfall is one of the most eye catching in the Caribbean. Visitors here enjoy cooling off in the natural pools in the area after hiking to the falls.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 19 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Dominica than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Dominica than in Hawaii.

4. Saint Lucia

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Diamond Falls Saint Lucia

Photo credit: Inga Locmele/Shutterstock.com

Diamond Falls is amazing because it is not only a waterfall (though that would be breathtaking enough!) but also features botanical gardens. It’s the ideal place for a two-in-one tour activity, which will leave you more knowledgeable and relaxed, and just overall in a much better headspace!

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 29 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Saint Lucia than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Saint Lucia than in Hawaii.

5. St. Vincent

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Dark View Falls Saint Vincent Grenadines

Photo credit: otorongo/Shutterstock.com

Baleine Falls in St.Vincent is a fine natural wonder. As far as waterfalls go, it leaves nothing to be desired, which means the sparkling, clear water of the natural pools beneath the falls will reel you in, and you’ll be left wondering how you got so lucky to be in such a wondrous location in the first place. The Falls is only accessible by boat, so you’ll need to plan appropriately to get there.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 29 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Saint Vincent than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Saint Vincent than in Hawaii.


Five tropical island destinations with luxurious all-inclusive resorts


1. Jamaica

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living, within 2 hours from US shores.

Sandals Montego Bay White Sand beach

At Sandals Montego Bay, the fun never stops and the beach never ends..

There are options galore in Jamaica when it comes to where to stay for an opulent all-inclusive vacation. As this is one of the bigger islands in the Caribbean, there’s more room to explore and a wider range of all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica. You’ll find Sandals largest resort (Sandals Ochi), Sandals flagship resort (the newly renovated Sandals Montego Bay) and Sandals most enchanting resort (Sandals Royal Plantation) in this island country. Visiting Jamaica with the family? Consider Beaches Negril and Beaches Ocho Rios, both resorts feature a waterpark!

  • Flight time from Miami: 1 hour, 45 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Jamaica than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Jamaica than in Hawaii.

2. Saint Lucia

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Sandals Grande St Lucian over water bungalows

These spectacular Over-the-Water Bungalows found in Sandals Grande St. Lucian, deliver an immersive journey of the Caribbean’s finest turquoise waters.

A Saint Lucia vacation may just be the perfect Hawaii alternative for people who want a vacation that’s a mixture of luxurious and laid back. You can have the best of both worlds on this island which offers a range of accommodation from modest villas to elegant resorts. Sandals has three resorts in Saint Lucia including Sandals Regency La Toc, Sandals Grande St Lucian and Sandals Halcyon. Each of these resorts is located in a picturesque location on the island, with close access to the many national landmarks and attractions on the island. Best news, guests of any of these resorts get access to all three!

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 29 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Saint Lucia than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Saint Lucia than in Hawaii.

3. The Bahamas

Hawaii alternative located within 1 hour from US shores.

Sandals Emerald Bay Oceanfront View

Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma is the ultimate romantic getaway.

If you’re going to vacation in the Bahamas, you might as well do it big – and that means staying at the most luxurious all-inclusive resort where you know the only thing you have to worry about is getting there. Life in the Bahamas is sweet, and you’re not going to want to waste any time caught up in minor details that could have been handled beforehand. Sandals offers two five-star all-inclusive properties in the Bahamas, Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau and Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma.

  • Flight time from Miami: 45 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs slightly less in the Bahamas than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in the Bahamas than in Hawaii.

4. Turks & Caicos

Hawaii alternative located within 2 hours from US shores.

Beaches Turks Caicos Family Beach Aerial

Enjoy a 12-mile beach lapped by clear turquoise waters while you're at Beaches Turks & Caicos.

The islands of Turks & Caicos have immense appeal for travelers wanting a Hawaii alternative that measures up. These islands stand out from the rest for the simple fact that there’s so many of them – 40 small islands and cays in total. Though just eight of these are inhabited, you’ll be able to explore a few more during your visit. Beaches Turks & Caicos is a great all-inclusive resort located in the stunning Grace Bay, on the island of Providenciales.

  • Flight time from Miami: 1 hour, 43 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs slightly less in Turks & Caicos than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs slightly less in Turks & Caicos than in Hawaii.

5. Barbados

Sandals Barbados Main Pool

Experience the Royal Treatment at Sandals Royal Barbados.

The perfect holiday may just be awaiting you in Barbados, a spicy island in the Eastern Caribbean which is in some ways more developed than most. From white sand beaches to forests filled with mischievous monkeys, there’s a lot to discover in Barbados. Enjoy the rich history of the island during an all-inclusive vacation at a resort that will be your home away from home while on the island. Sandals has two properties in Barbados, Sandals Barbados and Sandals Royal Barbados, both epic resorts with a combined total of 18 restaurants and 11 bars including swim-up bars. The best part? Guests can stay at one and play at both!

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 35 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs slightly less in Barbados than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Barbados than in Hawaii.


Five island destinations with a welcoming spirit


1. Antigua

Sandals Grande Antigua People

The Caribbean is known for its warmth and friendly people, and Antigua is at the top of that list. You’ll literally feel as though you’re meeting with long lost family on this island, as everyone is so welcoming and willing to do what it takes to ensure you have the best time in their part of the world. Whether it's something as simple as helping you find your way around, or ensuring you feel right at home within your resort, you won’t soon forget the kind of hospitality you’ll experience in Antigua.

Insider tip: Staff at Sandals Grande Antigua are known to be super friendly, going above and beyond to ensure you have the most amazing vacation experience! On top of that, this romantic resort is located right on Dickenson Bay, one of Antigua’s most beautiful beaches. The resort got voted the Most Romantic Resort in the World!


  • Flight time from closest big US city: 3 hours, 10 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs more in Antigua than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Saint Lucia than in Hawaii.

2. Saint Lucia

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Sandals Grande Saint Lucian People

Saint Lucians are among the friendliest people in the Caribbean, and nearly every visitor who goes to this island returns home with fun stories of the people they met, and how blown away they were by just how amazing everyone was. Just the fact that you’re a foreigner is reason enough for everyone to want to go out of their way to see to it that you have the best experience, and that is definitely something to be appreciated.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 29 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Saint Lucia than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Saint Lucia than in Hawaii.

3. Exuma, The Bahamas

Hawaii alternative located within 2 hours from US shores.

Sandals Royal Bahamian People

The Bahamas is a vacationer’s dream, especially those seeking a holiday filled with varied experiences, opportunities to island hop and islander charm. There are 700 islands in the Bahamas, including the 365 that make up the Exumas. These islands are also called cays, and the largest is Great Exuma. You’ll have plenty to write home about after a vacation in this territory, and you’ll likely be back for a return visit.

  • Flight time from Miami: 1 hour, 15 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs slightly less in Exuma than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Exuma than in Hawaii.

4. Bermuda

Hamilton Bermuda Carnival Heroes Day

Photo credit: Charles Lewis/Shutterstock.com

Bermuda makes for a great family holiday, honeymoon or other casual getaway. It is a destination that sometimes seems too good to be true because it contains all the ingredients for a dreamy tropical paradise. Contemplate the island’s perfection while you explore its beautiful beaches and mingle with the super friendly locals!

  • Flight time from New York: 2 hours, 15 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly more in Bermuda than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs more in Bermuda than in Hawaii.

5. St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Hawaii alternative with low cost of living.

Kingstown St Vincent Grenadines People

Photo credit: Chris Allan/Shutterstock.com

Saint Vincent and the surrounding Grenadine islands have a similar sort of charm to most small islands, in that locals' welcome visitors with open arms. Tourism is a big part of the local economy, and in some unplanned ways the people, as part of their nature, just want to see to it that visitors love their island as much as they do. This results in some heartwarming exchanges, and a reminder that a place is only as beautiful as the people who live there.

  • Flight time from Miami: 3 hours, 29 minutes.
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant costs significantly less in Saint Vincent than in Hawaii.
  • A local beer costs less in Saint Vincent than in Hawaii.


Fall in love with your favorite Hawaii alternative!

It's beautiful beaches, welcoming spirit, majestic waterfalls, the awe-inspiring volcanic landscape… Hawaii undoubtedly has a lot to offer. Often, it’s the cost and long flight (it doesn’t get much closer than a 6-hour flight from LAX) associated with a trip to Hawaii that gets travelers to look for alternatives.

Panorama Pitons Saint Lucia

Photo credit: PlusONE/Shutterstock.com

Panoramic view of St. Lucia's Piton Mountains.

For those travelers, Saint Lucia might be the closest you can get to tropical island getaway that offers a similar experience as Hawaii. If you’re looking to relax on the most beautiful beaches in the world, Exuma and Turks & Caicos might be the island destination for you instead - or Barbados, if you’d like to surf. Looking for majestic waterfalls and luxurious resorts? Jamaica might have what you are looking for.

Sandals Montego Bay Couple Lounge Beach

Couple lounging and enjoying the beach at Sandals Montego Bay.

As each island is unique, you shouldn’t expect any of these destinations to give you the exact same experience as Hawaii. However, the Caribbean islands mentioned above, will without a doubt give you their own unique reasons to fall in love with. After all, the Caribbean is known to give travelers a luxurious beach vacation that is hard to match!

Overview:

Alternative with beautiful white sand beaches: Turks & Caicos
Alternative with great snorkeling and diving: Exuma, the Bahamas
Alternative with great surf: Barbados
Alternative with exotic black sand beaches: Saint Lucia
Alternative with an active volcano: Saba
Alternative with great hiking trails: Saint Lucia
Alternative with majestic waterfalls: Jamaica
Alternative with luxurious all-inclusive resorts: Jamaica
Alternative with a welcoming spirit: Antigua


BONUS: Five tropical island destinations you can experience culture similar to Hawaii

The following destinations may be a little far out, but some of their cultures are like that of Hawaii, which may be the perfect alternative if it’s the Polynesian culture that makes you want to experience Hawaii.


Samoa

Flight time from LAX: 13 hours, 19 minutes.

Pago Pago American Samoa

Photo credit: emperorcosar/Shutterstock.com

The Samoans are a happy people, and that is how they are known throughout Polynesia. How would you enjoy going to a place where people emit that natural joy and are just as generous and kind? This is Samoa in a nutshell, a land that is also (in part) the only U.S. territory south of the equator. Half of this territory is considered American Samoa, are there are different systems of government. Tradition and culture bridge all possible divides, resulting in a Samoa that hasn’t lost any of its happiness ideals, making for the perfect getaway location!

Tahiti

Flight time from LAX: 8 hours, 20 minutes.

Tahiti Polynesia

Photo credit: GagliardiPhotography/Shutterstock.com

Oh Tahiti… exotic, and just waiting for be savored by couples looking for an intimate getaway in an exotic land. That is what usually comes to mind when people think about Tahiti, but other than being a great honeymoon or romantic destination, cultural traditions here are rich and also worthy of being explored. The population is a mix of ancient Polynesian heritage and French élan, and most people speak English, as their third or fourth language. Tahiti is part of French Polynesia along with four other islands. While there, you may feel compelled to learn the tamure, a local dance that requires a lot of fast hip movements, which is often confused with the Hawaiian hula.

Fiji

Flight time from LAX: 11 hours, 32 minutes.

Fiji Tropical Island

Photo credit: Jordan Tan/Shutterstock.com

Just as exotic is Fiji in the South Pacific, an archipelago of more than 300 islands. Most people in this land speak both Fijian and English and live in traditional dwellings. Many people wear traditional wrap-around sulu or sarong, particularly for big, formal events. There are many descendants from contract labourers brought in from India by the British making up just under half of the population of Fiji, and there are also cultural mixes with Polynesians, particularly from the islands of Samoa and Tonga. Fiji has British influences, and that is one of the things you will notice during your holiday there. Overall, Fijians appreciate when you learn about and respect their culture, so it will serve you well to learn about their culture ahead of a vacation in this territory.

Tonga

Flight time from Miami: 11 hours, 9 minutes.

Vavau islands Tonga

Photo credit: Danita Delmont/Shutterstock.com

Tonga is made up of 170 south pacific islands, and there are lots of traditions in this territory that visitors will enjoy. At Tongan feasts, it is not unusual to see tables or mats piled high with food, and enthusiastic and high energy performances of lakalaka, mauluulu and other dances, which will probably have you moving and grooving yourself. Polynesians are among the friendliest people in the world, and visitors usually fall in love with this island for that aspect, and the fact that the islands are so culturally rich.

Rapa Nui

Flight time from Miami: 18 hours, 20 minutes.

Rapa Nui Easter Island Chile

Photo credit: Amy Nichole Harris/Shutterstock.com

The people of Rapa Nui on paper are citizens of Chili, but they share a strong Polynesian heritage with people from the mainland. As history tells, 1,500 years ago Chief Hotu Matu’a, led his people to the isolated island of Rapa Nui, and away from mainland Polynesia. They lived there for many generations. The name Rapa Nui (Big Rapa) was bestowed upon the island by the Chief, and today it is also known as Rapa Nui (“Great Rapa”), Te Pito o te Henua, or Easter Island. The island was designated a World Heritage Site in 1995, and this is much due to the presence of nearly 1,000 extant monumental statues or “moai” which were constructed by early settlers to the island. This island is largely remote, with a 2017 census registering 7,750 people on the island.

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Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Born on the tropical island that is Saint Lucia affords a never-ending source of inspiration. In the past 13 years, Kylie loved to work with various newspapers, magazines and blogs in the Caribbean.

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