Whether you’ve lost your U.S. passport or just haven’t gotten around to renewing it, you can still plan the perfect island getaway! While many believe you need a passport if you step outside the contiguous states, U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands all allow Americans to visit without a passport.
From stunning beaches and underwater adventures to great hikes and history, these gorgeous island getaways are worth checking out! Below, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite places to travel without a passport– with things to do!
Visit U.S. Department of State – Travel Information for the most up-to-date information.
#1 – Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
Recommended by Kez of K-In-Motion.com
Saipan is the largest island of the U.S. Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), near the world-famous Mariana Trench in the Western Pacific region. As an island, it’s not the easiest or cheapest place to get to from the continental U.S., but it is full of beaches, scenery, history, culture, and friendly island vibes.
There are also a few casinos. You could call it the Las Vegas of the Pacific. But if gambling isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other things to do in Saipan. If you like hanging out at the beach, Saipan’s got you covered. The island has 14 miles of beaches! Some are publicly accessible, while some are in private resorts. All are guaranteed to impress.
Did you know that Saipan played a significant role in the second world war? You can head to the American Memorial Park to see memorials and find out all about the Battle of Saipan. Or perhaps you’d prefer to learn about Chamorro and Carolinian Islander history at the NMI Museum of History.
If you want a bit more naturally with your history, you could always visit the old Japanese Hospital and Sugar King Park to explore some of the island’s Japanese history. The park is home to a memorial, a temple with a peace bell, and a nature trail leading to a Japanese shrine.
Speaking of trails, you could take a leisurely walk up to Mount Tapotchau (1545ft), the island’s highest point, for awesome views. You could wind down while taking in a bit of culture in front of the I Love Saipan store in the Garapan District. Or sit down and watch a Polynesian-esque show with dinner at a beach resort.
#2 – St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Recommended by Rachelle of Adventure is Never Far Away
The US Virgin Islands offer a tropical getaway from the mainland USA without having to get a passport. The US Virgin Islands include St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, and are all located in the Caribbean, just east of Puerto Rico, and are a great stepping-off point for travelers looking for more adventurous experiences.
The island of St. Thomas is perhaps the most well-known island of the US Virgin Islands due to its port of Charlotte Amalie being a popular cruise ship stop.
Downtown St. Thomas is a great place to buy gold, jewelry, and duty-free items, but there is so much more to Charlotte Amalie and the island than a one-day shopping stopover.
If you’re a fan of history, Charlotte Amalie is the place to be. A handful of historical estates still stand around town, including the Estate Brewers Bay, and offer a narrative tour of St. Thomas.
Head into the heart of Charlotte Amalie to check out the historic Fort Christian, the oldest structure still standing in the USVI.
Interested in piratical history? Walk up the iconic 99 Steps to Blackbeard’s Castle, take a tour of the castle, dip in the pool, and imagine life during the golden age of piracy.
Looking for a more tropical getaway? Hop on a boat at the docks and embark upon a snorkeling adventure to check out the sea life that also call Charlotte Amalie home.
Walk along the coast and pop into the numerous cafes and coffee shops as you check out the local markets. Or spend the day at Brewer’s Beach and marvel at some of the most transparent waters in the Caribbean. Whatever your ideal tropical getaway looks like, you’ll find it in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI.
#3 – St. John, US Virgin Islands
Recommended by Chantelle of FlannelsOrFlipFlops.com
St. John in the US Virgin Islands is an excellent getaway for US citizens without a passport! It is not too far away from the mainland, its accessible, safe and incredibly beautiful!
St. John is the smallest of the US Virgin Islands, and most of the island is part of Virgin Islands National Park. While visiting St John, you will have access to some of the worlds best beaches, along with historical ruins, and friendly people.
While you don’t need a passport to visit St. John, it takes some special planning since there isn’t an airport on the island. You can fly into St. Thomas and then take the Red Hook Ferry over to Cruz Bay, St. John, for your stay.
There are plenty of open-air taxis available in St. John so renting a car shouldn’t be necessary. You can stay at one of the many luxury resorts in Cruz Bay or even camp in the park near the beach!
Without a doubt, the most popular activities on St John involve the beach, or being in water. There are excellent boating, fishing, and snorkeling activities in the crystal clear waters surrounding St. John. The best beaches on St. John include:
- Trunk Bay– Often voted the most beautiful beach in the world and has a snorkeling “trail” to follow underwater
- Cinnamon Bay– large, wide, sandy beach excellent for spending the day
- Maho Beach– great snorkeling with grassy ocean floors popular with turtles
Don’t forget to spend some time discovering the history of St John while you are there. Numerous hikes lead to ruins from the sugar plantations and original communities of people that settled here first.
Stop by the National Park’s visitor center located near the ferry dock for a map and locations to the best hikes and beaches to help you explore!
#4 – St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
Recommended by Taryn of ChasingTrailBlog.com
Although St. Croix is the biggest of the three islands, it’s arguably the most underrated — which means fewer crowds and “tourist traps,” a low-key vibe, affordability, and a more authentic island feel.
St. Croix has two very different sides to the island, and I highly recommend splitting your time between both.
Christiansted in the northeast is the much more commercially developed hub of the island. You’ll find seaside hotels, restaurants, and shops, and most island excursions, such as snorkeling and parasailing, depart from here.
Frederiksted is the far west end of the island, a vibrant, low-key town where locals live and hang out. Beaches and snorkeling are better near Frederiksted (don’t miss Rainbow Beach!).
As far as activities on St. Croix, the island has no shortage of adventure! One of the best things to do is a hike to the Annaly Bay tide pools. The trailhead is nestled right between Christiansted and Frederiksted so that you can fit it into any St. Croix itinerary.
Check a tide table and plan for low tide, or you won’t even see the pools. Afterward, take a quick detour to see the beer-drinking pigs at the nearby Mt. Pellier Domino Club.
Kayaking the Salt River Bay, St. Croix’s “bio bay,” is also a must! St. Croix is one of just a handful of locations on Earth with bioluminescence and during new moon cycles, guides take paddlers out at night to experience it.
Another can’t-miss on St. Croix is snorkeling. The island is home to Buck Island Reef National Monument, one of only a few underwater national parks in the world!
The only way to visit is to book a guided excursion from Christiansted. You can also rent gear and snorkel on your own right offshore near Frederiksted!
#5 – San Juan, Puerto Rico
Recommended by Michelle of MoyerMemoirs.com
San Juan Puerto Rico is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that Americans can travel to without a passport. San Juan is filled with things to do and see– the history of the capital city of Puerto Rico is evident in the architecture of the buildings, the colorful streets, and the city wall that once totally surrounded the city for protection.
It is such a walkable city that you can explore San Juan in a day with just your two feet as you wander the historic city streets with no need for a car.
While walking along the cobblestone streets, you can see the forts built by the Spanish to preserve their Puerto Rico stronghold that controlled shipping throughout the Caribbean. El Morro is the fort overlooking the port of San Juan.
It has a large grassy area in front of it that is perfect for a picnic with the backdrop of a beautiful view of the harbor. San Cristobal is the more extensive fortification built within the city of San Juan to protect it from a land attack.
Because of its easy access to the harbor, San Juan has become a common port city, with many cruise lines choosing it for embarkation. The ships dock at its newly renovated piers and passengers are able to experience the old city of San Juan and the authentic Puerto Rican food and nightlife.
While the main tourist beaches are east along the coast of Puerto Rico, San Juan does have some sandy shores that are enjoyable. San Juan has a tropical climate that is always perfect beach weather.
You can appreciate the ocean breeze, soak up the sun’s rays, and frolic in the waves at Playa Pena, directly across from the stunning Capitol Building and San Juan Bautista Plaza.
Choosing San Juan for your next vacation destination is a great idea and will be a holiday trip for everyone to enjoy.
#6 – Rincon, Puerto Rico
Recommended by Taylor of TeaNSea.org
Puerto Rico is definitely one of the best Caribbean destinations to travel to without a passport, but when people think of Puerto Rico, many times the image that comes to mind is San Juan.
Puerto Rico offers so much more to see and do than the major city of San Juan. A little hideaway that’s a surfer’s paradise is Rincon, located on the Western side of the island. Some of the best things to do in Rincon are visiting the beaches, even if you’re not surfing!
There are tons of beautiful beaches to experience, from Domes Beach, Steps Beach, and Playa Doña Lala. Whether sunbathing or taking surfing lessons, you don’t want to miss the beaches!
Other famous landmarks in Rincon include the nuclear power plant, the Domes at Domes Beach, and the Faro Punta Higüeras lighthouse!
If you’re a foodie searching for some local dishes, look for some Puerto Rican coffee, and if you eat meat, give a pinchos stand a try! Pinchos are “street kebabs,” usually of chicken or pork, and are served on the side of the road, but I promise they’re delicious!
There are tons of little local shops to visit, and if you meet some locals, try the Coquito (if you’re of age to consume alcohol!)
Rincon is also home to some beautiful diving and snorkel spots, so check out some of the Rincon dive shops to book an underwater excursion! While you’re in Puerto Rico, add Rincon to your list of places to travel without a passport, you won’t be disappointed!
#7 – Culebra, Puerto Rico
Recommended by Nikki of SheSavesSheTravels.com
It’s surreal that as an American, you can travel to Culebra, Puerto Rico without a passport. Nestled in the Caribbean, this island is gorgeous. Located just off the mainland Puerto Rico, there’s no passport required to enjoy this tiny island.
The mainland of Puerto Rico is amazing. Touring Old San Juan, visiting El Yunque National Forest, or submerging yourself in the culture in Ponce, there’s so much to do and see in Puerto Rico. Culebra is home to the incredible Flamenco Beach Puerto Rico, which has been ranked as one of the top beaches in the Caribbean over and over, and it’s worth a visit!
There are a few options to get to Culebra Puerto Rico. The first is a day trip from San Juan or Fajardo. However, because this island is so incredibly beautiful, it’s recommended to stay at least one night to enjoy it to its fullest!
To get to Culebra with luggage, you’ll need to take the ferry from Ceiba or a small passenger plane from San Juan. The ferry is more affordable but the plane is quicker, especially if you’re coming from the main international airport in San Juan.
Flamenco Beach is a crescent-shaped beach with some of the softest, whitest sand you’ll ever see in your life. The coastline is completely undeveloped, so it’s a naturally beautiful beach, too, complete with rolling hills to create the most picturesque backdrop.
Flamenco Beach is the island’s top attraction, so you can rent beach gear like chairs and an umbrella, plus eat at one of the food trucks on site.
To experience more of Culebra, go snorkeling at Playa Tamarindo Grande, go to the secluded Zoni Beach, go shopping downtown or feed the tarpons at Dingy Dock’s. Be sure to book your accommodations early, as there are limited options on the island.
#8 – Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Recommended by Allison of EternalArrival.com
Did you know that you can see one of the only places in the world that has bioluminescence year-round without needing a passport? That’s right — you won’t need anything other than your state ID to fly to Puerto Rico and head to Fajardo, a beautiful town on the eastern side of Puerto Rico. It’s a must-see on your Puerto Rico itinerary!
Fajardo is the departure point for kayaking tours of the Bioluminescent Bay, also known as Laguna Grande, where you can take a kayak and watch as the water turns electric blue as you move through it!
The bioluminescent Pyrodinium Bahamense phytoplankton causes this effect: it lights up blue in the water when it is “activated” by the movement of the kayaks and paddles!
Besides enjoying the Bioluminescent Bay, many other beautiful things to do in and near Fajardo. You can take a catamaran tour and go snorkeling by the island of Icacos; you can take a day trip into the El Yunque Rainforest and natural waterslides, or explore the nearby beaches of Luquillo Beach, Playa Escondida, and Seven Seas Beach, amongst dozens of others!
Fajardo is a departure point to two of Puerto Rico’s smaller islands, Culebra and Vieques, both of which boast some of the most stunning beaches in the world.
Want even more bioluminescence? Head to Vieques on a ferry from Fajardo, where you can see the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay, which is even brighter than Laguna Grande!
Tip: The darker the sky, the better you’ll be able to see the bioluminescence! Try to time your trip for a new moon.
#9 – Bermuda (Close-Looped Cruise)
Recommended by Carrie Ann of ShouldBeCruising.com
From the northeast or mid-Atlantic states, a cruise to Bermuda is an easy way to escape—and no passport is required! With a closed-loop cruise (a voyage that starts and ends at the same U.S. cruise port) all you need is a government-issued photo ID and proof of citizenship. Please note that if you want to get off the ship in Bermuda, you will need a passport.
Less than 700 miles off the coast of North Carolina, Bermuda’s warm climate and gorgeous beaches make it a popular cruise destination. Most seven-day Bermuda cruises will include an overnight or two in port, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the archipelago.
Cruises run throughout Bermuda’s tourist season (April until early November) from east coast ports including Boston, New York, and Baltimore.
Most cruise ships dock at the Royal Naval Dockyard on Bermuda’s northwestern tip. There you’ll find a picturesque eighteenth-century naval base converted into shops and restaurants. There’s also the National Museum of Bermuda, Dolphin Quest, and Snorkel Beach, all just a quick walk from your ship.
Outside of the cruise port area, there are lots of things to do in Bermuda! The pink sand of world-famous Horseshoe Bay Beach is easy to get to via the inexpensive minibuses that pull up to the pier. Or take the ferry to spend a day in historic St. George’s or Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital city.
Adventurous types will want to head out to Hamilton Parish on Bermuda’s eastern side to explore Walsingham Nature Reserve, known to locals as “Tom Moore’s Jungle.”
You can swim in an underground cave, cliff jump, and hike through coastal mangroves, native palmetto, and cedars. On your way back to the ship, stop at Crystal Cave, a spectacular natural attraction with glistening stalactites and a subterranean underground lake.
#10 – Kauai, Hawaii
Recommended by Allison of EternalArrival.com
If you’re looking for a place to visit that feels like another world without needing to use your passport, Kauai, Hawaii is the place for you! Nicknamed “the Garden Island”, Kauai was the setting of much of Jurassic Park, and once you arrive, you’ll see why — it truly feels like you’ve not only landed in a different world, but also a different time.
Kauai’s landscape is jaw-droppingly beautiful and lush, and it’s unique amongst the Hawaiian Islands. It has everything from rugged emerald-green cliffs of the Na Pali Coast to 400-foot tall waterfalls only visible by helicopter to a canyon so vast it’s called “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”
So much of Kauai’s beauty has been left preserved due to its inaccessibly steep and mountainous landscape, and for that reason, it remains one of the more undeveloped Hawaiian islands, with no major cities and a real small-town feel virtually everywhere you go on the island, even in the island’s capital.
There’s so much to do in Kauai you could easily fill up a week in Kauai or just spend several action-packed days there. One of the must-dos is seeing the waterfalls and Na Pali Coast from above on a doors off helicopter tour of Kauai. It’s a bucket list item you’ll never forget!
If you are a hiker, you should also hike a portion of the Kalalau Trail in Ha’ena State Park (advance reservations required) or hike into Waimea Canyon via the Kukui Trail (doable as a day hike or permits required or camping overnight).
Other things to do include snorkeling with sea turtles off of Poipu Beach, exploring the charming small town of Hanapepe, admiring rainbow eucalyptus trees at the Keahea Arboretum, and walking the beautiful stretch of beach along Hanalei Bay.
Places to Travel Without A Passport
If you want to enjoy the excitement of travelling without having to worry about a passport, there are plenty of options available within and around the United States! From the sun-drenched beaches of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, an American can find all sorts of remarkable places to explore without a passport.
You May Also Like…
- 15 Stunning Greece Vacation Destinations For Your Next Getaway
- 11 Fun Things to Do in Destin, FL on Your Beach Vacation
This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex.
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel a little easier.