U.S. territories that don’t require a passport offer American travelers a taste of paradise without the international travel fuss. From the Caribbean jewels like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to the Pacific gems of Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands, these tropical destinations offer gorgeous beaches, exciting outdoor adventures, and rich cultures.
While you don’t need a passport to vacation in these U.S. territories, you must use a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, and proof of U.S. citizenship, like a birth certificate or a U.S. passport card, to gain entry.
Guam invites travelers to experience its warm Chamorro hospitality and intriguing history, seen in the Latte Stones and the War in the Pacific National Historical Park. The island’s terrain gives way to breathtaking beaches like Tumon Bay, with its coral reefs offering excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities amidst abundant marine life. For the more adventurous, the hinterlands provide challenging hikes to waterfalls and ancient ruins. Guam’s culinary scene is just as diverse, offering a fusion of Spanish, Micronesian, Asian, and American influences, often celebrated in vibrant village fiestas.
American Samoa, a group of islands in the South Pacific, offers an off-the-beaten-path vacation experience rich in unspoiled natural beauty and Polynesian culture. The rugged volcanic terrain is shrouded in rainforests, leading to dramatic cliffs and quiet coves. The National Park of American Samoa is a highlight, inviting adventurous souls to explore its remote trails, spot flying foxes, and snorkel in coral-filled waters.
In the villages, fales (traditional Samoan homes) dot the coastline, and the warm Samoan hospitality is as inviting as the island’s serene beaches. Local customs and traditions are alive and well, with opportunities to witness ritual dances, savor traditional dishes like oka (raw fish salad), and participate in ‘ava ceremonies.
Northern Mariana Islands
The Northern Mariana Islands in the North Pacific offers vacationers serene beauty and rich history. This commonwealth of the United States comprises a chain of 14 islands, each offering its own slice of paradise with stunning white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters ideal for snorkeling and diving among vibrant coral reefs. With its Garapan district, the island of Saipan provides a mix of local and international cuisine, shopping, and nightlife while offering secluded spots like Managaha Island. Tinian and Rota, quieter yet equally enchanting, offer historical sites such as ancient Chamorro settlements and remnants of World War II.
St. Thomas, USVI
St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, offers a dreamy escape to a paradise where nature, history, and culture converge. You can sunbathe on the world-famous Magens Bay Beach, immerse yourself in the rich history of Charlotte Amalie, or explore lively coral reefs. The island’s local culture, delicious Caribbean flavors, and warm-hearted residents contribute to its undeniable charm, making it an ideal destination for relaxation and adventure.
St. Croix, USVI
St. Croix, the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is where the past and present merge, with historic towns like Christiansted and Frederiksted, where Danish colonial architecture paints a colorful backdrop. Beach enthusiasts are drawn to the island’s varied coastline, which features great spots like Cane Bay and tranquil shores of Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, known for its sea turtle nesting sites. Culinary adventures are plentiful, with local rum distilleries and farm-to-table dining experiences showcasing the island’s rich flavors.
St. John, USVI
St. John is the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Over half of the island is designated as the protected Virgin Islands National Park, featuring gorgeous green hills, hiking trails leading to pre-Columbian petroglyphs, and stunning lookouts. Like the famed Trunk Bay with its underwater snorkeling trail, the island’s beaches offer soft white sand and beautiful blue waters known for sea turtles and coral reefs. The laid-back atmosphere of Cruz Bay, the island’s main town, is a delightful contrast, offering cozy restaurants and boutique shopping.
San Juan, PR
Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, hosts the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old San Juan. Steeped in history, the cobblestone streets of this colonial gem are adorned with colorful buildings, imposing forts, and centuries-old churches. Explore El Morro and San Cristobal Forts, where you can step back in time and relive the island’s colonial past. The vibrant arts scene, lively plazas, and great cuisine make Old San Juan an excellent place for a Puerto Rican island adventure.
Isla de Vieques, PR
Visiting Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico, offers beach days and natural exploration. By day, visitors can soak up the sun on the beaches of Playa Caracas or Navio. The island is also home to Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, where adventurers can explore its habitats and observe wildlife. When night falls, the magical bioluminescent Mosquito Bay comes alive, providing a must-see spectacle for vacationers as the waters glow with every movement.
Isla de Culebra, PR
Isla de Culebra, Puerto Rico, is a tranquil oasis that promises a more intimate and serene getaway than its neighbor, Vieques. The island’s crown jewel, Flamenco Beach, entices visitors with its soft white sands and crystal blue waters, frequently earning a place among the world’s best beaches. The clear waters of Tamarindo Beach and Carlos Rosario Beach offer snorkelers and divers unparalleled opportunities to explore vibrant marine life and coral reefs.
Known as the “Pearl of the South,” Ponce is Puerto Rico’s second-largest city and a hub of culture and art. Explore the vibrant Ponce Museum of Art, stroll through the historic downtown with its neoclassical architecture, and visit the Castillo Serrallés, a Spanish-style mansion turned museum. Ponce also offers a lively carnival scene, with the Ponce Carnival being one of the island’s most celebrated events. While plenty of beaches are nearby to relax on, many vacationers opt for a day trip to the secluded Isla Caja de Muertos, which can be reached by private charter or ferry.
Known as the “town of beautiful sunsets,” Rincón offers a stunning coastline where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, creating a paradise for surfers, especially at the famous Sandy Beach. Beyond the waves, the town’s relaxed vibe is complemented by a community that celebrates its unique culture with weekly art walks, farmers’ markets, and lively music scenes. Here, you can indulge in fresh seafood at beachside restaurants, explore underwater ecosystems through snorkeling or diving, and unwind in cozy beachfront accommodations.
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog, where she provides vacationers with trip ideas, travel guides, and news. She travels to experience, eat, explore, and escape! Alex’s mission is to help you find the perfect vacation destination.