Have you visited any of America's barrier islands? These skinny island chains run parallel to the mainland are most are well worth exploring year-round.
The island dunes are often beautifully rugged places that protect our mainland coastline from battering storms and everyday erosion. Since these islands get the brunt of ocean waves and storm systems, they evolve constantly -- sometimes even being split in two by particularly devastating hurricanes. Barrier islands protect only 13 percent of the world's coastlines, and many of those islands are located right here in the United States.
If you want to visit some of the globe's most stunning beaches, head to one of these recommended barrier islands and leave your passport at home.
--Andrea M. Rotondo