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From whitewater rafting to hiking the Appalachian Mountains, adventures abound in West Virginia's New River Gorge, and one of the destination's best-kept secrets is arguably its most enjoyable: The Cabin on Coney Island, a private-island getaway in the heart of this new national park.
The Cabin on Coney Island sits on the southern end of New River Gorge National Park, at the confluence of the New, Greenbrier, and Bluestone rivers. It's a floating oasis for up to 10 people, with five bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, and seven private acres of sandy beaches and forested trails.
Watercrafts, from kayaks and canoes to rafts and boats, are the only way to access Coney Island. Travelers can bring their own equipment, rent vessels from nearby outfitters, or request water transport when booking (hired separately). The closest town and watercraft put-in area is in Hinton, just a football-field length away by paddling, according to Holli Lathroum, marketing manager for the cabin's owner, MountainPlex Properties.
Quick access to town promises ease when porting groceries or stopping in for a quick bite at Lathroum's favorite, The Market on Courthouse Square. But fear not, peace seekers — town proximity does not detract from the island's serenity.
"Mostly what you hear is the river rushing by," Lathroum said. "When you rent the cabin, you're getting exclusive access to the island, which has paths that are well-manicured, but still feels like you're out in the wild. The cabin lets out right onto a sandy beach and has a fire pit. It's really an amazing place."
The Cabin on Coney Island is currently New River Gorge National Park's only private-island rental. And unlike other private islands, which cost tens of thousands of dollars for exclusive access, the Cabin on Coney Island is merely $332 per night. Plus, it boasts incredible access to bucket-list adventures.
Visitors can kayak up the New River, a famous north-flowing waterway ringed by lush green forest and the Appalachian Mountains. Paddling north from Coney Island leads to the Swell Mountain Forest and Brooks Falls. These falls are an important turnaround point for beginner to intermediate paddlers; after that (and south of Coney Island), the national park's renowned whitewater flows forcefully.
But paddling isn't the only way to explore this new national park. Island renters can head to shore for a day of sightseeing across the gorge's southern end. Highlights like Sandstone Falls, the river's largest waterfall, is a scenic 15-minute drive north of Hinton. Pipestem Resort State Park is another nearby oasis for adrenaline junkies, with nine zip lines soaring across West Virginia's Bluestone River Gorge. For even more hair-raising experiences, hire a guide like River Expeditions to enjoy New River Gorge's famed whitewater rafting.
Of course, with a private island all to yourself — not to mention Southern hospitality, including complimentary quiches, fresh fruit, and coffee upon arrival — it may be tough to leave Coney Island at all.
"It's a great place to relax and just listen to the rivers," Lathroum said. "And the night skies here are so dark, you can even see the Milky Way."
To book: airbnb.com, $332/night