Other than danger posed by hurricanes, there isn’t much to dislike about island communities, with their seafood, beaches, nature sanctuaries, houses on stilts, submersed shipwrecks, and often with their pirate lore and history.
Thanks to paparazzi following celebrities and politicians on their vacations, some island vacation destinations like Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Mass., and off the left coast, Catalina, are fairly well known. We decided to take a look at some other water-bound locations, beautiful isolated hamlets on land masses surrounded by water. Using the Census Bureau’s most recent data (2010) for average household income, some are tourist-economy playgrounds for the very affluent and some are more geared to year-round residents. They may be connected to the mainland by bridge, or they might be even more isolated and only accessible by ferry or helicopter.
By Colleen KanePosted 20 June 2012
Average household income: $99,380
Located 13 miles south of the coast of Rhode Island, and 14 miles east of New York’s Montauk, the island also known as New Shoreham was called one of “The Last Great Places” by The Nature Conservancy. This tourist-friendly year-round community is accessible only by ferry from Montauk; New London, Conn.; or Newport, R.I.; or by 12-minute flights from Westerly, R.I. It has over 300 fresh-water ponds and more than 17 miles of beaches and is especially popular as a destination during the Race Week regattas and on Independence Day.
Average household income: $60,210
Oak Island is both the name of a barrier island located on the southern end of North Carolina’s coast, and the town located on the island and on the coast. It’s the largest coastal community in the state. Oak Island attracts many nature lovers, with its sprawling live oaks, 50 lakes for fishing, swimming and boating, easy access to the Intracoastal Waterway, and the nature preserves including loggerhead sea turtles, which lay their eggs on the beaches.
Average household income: $102,386
Shelter Island is that 12-square-mile land mass between the North and South Forks of Long Island, in the Long Island Sound. The population multiples in the summer, and tourists have vacationed in the summer cottages of Shelter Island Heights since the late 1800s. Notable residents include fashion commentator Simon Doonan, actress Julie Kavner and the author Robert Lipsyte.
Average household income: $493,705
Jupiter Island Town is on the barrier island of the same name off Florida’s east coast. Celebrities including Tiger Woods and Celine Dion have called it home, as can anyone with $13 million to spend on this seven-bedroom mansion currently on the market. More than 500 acres of the island are a nature preserve. Jupiter Island also has two nine-hole golf courses.
Average household income: $716,554
Fisher Island is just a third of a square mile; it's located south of Miami Beach and is accessible only by boat or ferry. At first it was a one-family vacation island, originally traded to William Kissam Vanderbilt II by developer Carl Fisher for a luxury yacht. The 1980s brought more development and residents, and today it remains an exclusive residential getaway, with the highest mean household income in this list. Prominent residents have included Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts and Boris Becker.
Average household income: $126,497
Bainbridge Island is in the Puget Sound, located west of Seattle. It’s a 35-minute ferry ride to Seattle, making it a bedroom community. At the high end of local real estate, there is a mansion for sale for $12.8 million.
Average household income: $65,023
Dauphin Island is off southern Alabama in the Gulf of Mexico, and is accessible by ferry and air. The island is home to the Civil War–era Fort Gaines, several bird sanctuaries as well as Dauphin Island Sea Lab marine education and research center and public aquarium, the Estuarium, and of course, several beaches.
Average household income: $41,429
The village of Ocracoke is at the southern end of Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks. Due to its trade route location, the island has a history of pirate activity, including the naval battle where Blackbeard was killed in 1718. Today the tourist destination has almost 250 historic structures still standing, as well as many seasonal businesses angled at tourists. The locals can be identified by their unique brogue. For example, if you hear someone say “hoi toid” that translates to “high tide.”
Average household income: see below
Just off Newport Beach’s Balboa peninsula, a footbridge leads to the 2-mile-long Bay Island. The carless residential island has fewer than two dozen beach homes overlooking Newport Bay. There are also botanical gardens, a tennis court and two large private beaches on either side of the island. One of those limited collection of houses, an Asian-inspired luxury five-bedroom home, is for sale for $21.9 million.
The average household income in Newport Beach City is $177,189, but likely skews much higher for the Bay Island community.