8 Hawaii Alternatives Closer To US Mainland


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 or even better to what one obtains in the Hawaiian Islands. Many of these other choices too, are located in close proximity to the United States Mainland, 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 waiting to be explored. Not forgetting of course, the ‘Aloha’, also known as the welcoming spirit Hawaii and its people are known for.

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.

There are a couple of alternatives to Hawaii which offer a similar experience in one way or another. If you are looking for a Hawaii alternative closer to US Mainland, you will likely land on one of the dreamy tropical island destinations in the Caribbean. Most of these tropical island destinations are within a 3 hour flight from US shores!

Good Hawaii alternatives include Caribbean islands like:

  • Saint Lucia
  • Turks & Caicos
  • Exuma (The Bahamas)
  • Jamaica
  • Barbados
  • Nassau (The Bahamas)
  • Antigua
  • Grenada

Compared to Hawaii, the prices of a meal and a drink are significantly lower in Saint Lucia, Jamaica and Grenada.

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!


Tropical island destination...

...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



Tropical island destination with incredible white sand beaches


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.


Honorable mention: 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.


Tropical island destination you can enjoy amazing snorkeling and diving


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.


Honorable mention: 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.


Tropical island destination with great surf


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.


Tropical island destination where you can visit exotic black sand beaches


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.


Tropical island destination where you can visit an active volcano


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.


Tropical island destination with spectacular hiking trails


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.


Tropical island destination where you can swim at majestic waterfalls


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.


Honorable mention: 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.


Tropical island destination with luxurious all-inclusive resorts


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.


Honorable mention: 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.


Island destination with a welcoming spirit


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.


Honorable mention: 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.


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 (perhaps even better) 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 or Grenada might have what you are looking for.

Sandals Grande St Lucian Main Pool

Sandals Grande St. Lucian is often described as the "closest vacation to a picture-perfect postcard".

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!

Read More Travel Guides

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.

View Comments