Last Updated April 26, 2022 4/26/2022

10 Best Island Vacations That Don’t Require a Passport

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You’re dreaming of vacationing on an island, but there’s one little problem, you don’t have a passport. And, you’d really like to escape sooner rather than later, which means you’d rather not go through the hassle of getting one either. What can you do? Consider one of these spectacular islands that Americans can visit without one.

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American Samoa
Pago Pago, American Samoa

American Samoa

American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the U.S., and not only do you not need a passport to visit, but you’ll also have the chance to experience some of the world’s most pristine beaches, unspoiled reefs, and fantastic marine life. This remote cluster of islands sits in the South Pacific, about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. Just one of the not-to-be-missed sights here includes the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary, made up of a fringing coral reef ecosystem nestled within an eroded volcanic crater on the island of Tutuila. Extremely remote, this tropical reef is believed to contain the greatest diversity of marine life of all protected sanctuaries. Tutuila is also home to Take Nu’uli Falls, a magnificent waterfall in the heart of the rainforest that tumbles 150 feet over jagged rocks – and at its base, which is surrounded by lush foliage and flowering frangipanis, is a pool that’s perfect for taking a dip.

Vieques, Puerto Rico
Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

Vieques, Puerto Rico

As Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and Vieques, in particular, is known as one of the most breathtaking islands on the planet, it makes an ideal isle to visit for Americans without a passport. It offers it all and then some, including warm, crystal-clear waters that sit at the edge of some of Puerto Rico’s best beaches, and the chance to experience the magical glow of Mosquito Bay with its bioluminescent light. After dark, kayak underneath a starry night’s sky as your paddles light the waters. In rare bays around the world like this one, the right set of factors, including high temperatures, nutrient-rich waters, shallow depth and low circulation, create the perfect conditions needed for the proliferation of tiny creatures known as dinoflagellates. While it’s difficult to capture on film, when agitated, they release a spark of brilliant blue light that creates a constellation of stars in the dark waters of the island’s lagoon.

Key West, Florida
Smathers Beach, Key West

Key West, Florida

Key West is renowned as one of the best places, if not the best, to experience the Caribbean without leaving the states. With a long list of things to do, it offers a similar tropical climate with frequent brilliant blue skies, swaying palms, picturesque beaches, and a laid-back island vibe. Whether you’re looking to let loose and get wild, or you want to enjoy peace and relaxation, you can find it here. Partiers enjoy the year-round hopping nightlife, and those who want to enjoy the outdoors can participate in activities like golf, fishing and diving. Fabulous entertainment can be had simply by heading to Mallory Square to enjoy a glorious sunset, where just before the sun goes down, the host of jugglers, animal acts and tightrope walkers entertain the crowd.

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Trunk Bay, St. John

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands are just a hop, skip and a jump from Puerto Rico, and while each one, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, all offer their own unique appeal, St. John is the ultimate paradise for those who truly want to escape the modern world. Enjoy amazing snorkeling and an in-depth look at the two coral reefs, or rent a kayak and paddle through the glistening turquoise waters of Caneel Bay. You can rent just about any type of watercraft and enjoy nearly every type of activity on the water – then, when it’s time for a snooze, stake out a spot on a powdery soft sandy beach. Make sure to add Trunk Bay, one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, to the top of your itinerary.

Guam
Guam

Guam

Guam is also in the Marianas, the largest and southernmost island in the archipelago. It offers a ton of things to see and do for visitors, like Tumon’s beaches, renowned for fantastic snorkeling with seas teeming with life, also famous among divers, with visibility of up to 150 feet. The water is crystal clear and, unlike much of the world, the coral reefs are thriving. Piti Bomb Hole includes incredibly lush and perfect coral craters that look as if it was sculpted by bombs. Between Apra Harbor, where World War I and World War II ships sank on top of each other, to Gun Beach, where stingrays go for breakfast, divers and snorkelers are guaranteed to never get bored. Head to Two Lovers Point, a cliff-side lookout, and you can soak up jaw-dropping panoramas from 400 feet above the sea.

Hawaii
Honolulu

Hawaii

Of course, the Hawaiian Islands are a pretty obvious choice, and you’ll have your pick of some spectacularly stunning isles, like the Big Island of Hawaii, Oahu, Lanai, Maui, Kauai and Molokai. They’re all beautiful in their own way, but each offers its own unique flavor. No matter which you choose, you’ll find incredible beaches and delicious eats, but if you’re looking for waterfalls and tranquility, Kauai may be where you want to go. The Big Island is home to new land being birthed by volcanoes and a number of jet black sand beaches, while Oahu offers the chance to get swept up by the capital’s kinetic energy and Maui tends to offer a little something for everyone. In rural Molokai, native Hawaiian traditions run strong and on Lanai, you can escape to the ultimate in resort luxury.

Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Ocracoke Island

Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

The outermost island of the Outer Banks, Ocracoke is a remote isle that was settled in the mid-18th century and houses the oldest operating lighthouse on the east coast – the second oldest in the entire country. It can be seen throughout the village of Ocracoke, offering postcard-perfect photo opportunities from the land and the sea. Ocracoke also hosts over 250 historic structures, most using materials from scuttled ships, and it attracts countless visitors with its beautiful beaches, wild ponies, great dining with plenty of fresh seafood served at locally-owned eateries, shopping for authentic crafts from woodcarvings to quilts, and a happening nightlife too.

Saipan, Mariana islands
Saipan

Saipan, Mariana islands

Saipan is the most populated of the Northern Mariana Islands, and it’s been a U.S. commonwealth since 1978.  Located just north of Guam, south of Japan, east of the Philippines and west of Hawaii, it’s lined with beautiful, sandy beaches and an offshore coral reef, which makes up a large lagoon. While the south end of the island is largely clustered with hotels and shops, the north is flush with scenery and World War II sites, like the haunting Kalabera Cave, Bird Island, Suicide Cliff and the Japanese “Last Command Post.” No matter which beach you visit, you won’t be at a loss for ideal spots to snorkel, swim, or simply lounge on the sand. Lau Lau Beach is an expansive stretch of sand that’s divided by rock formations and features shallow waters and gentle waves that boast one of the island’s largest reefs on the island, with a spectacular colorful underwater world just waiting to be explored.

Amelia Island, Florida
Beach on Amelia Island, Florida

Amelia Island, Florida

This barrier island off of Florida’s northern coast is an enchanting blend of French, Spanish, English, and Mexican influences. You’ll find tons of fun things to do here, as it’s home to 13 miles of picturesque beaches and offers the chance to saddle up on a horse and ride across the sand, cycle miles of trails, sail or paddle through marshes and tidal creeks, or play a round or two of golf. History lovers won’t want to miss hopping aboard a horse-drawn carriage to discover historic points of interest in Fernandina Beach’s historic downtown, and to check out one of the most well-preserved forts in the country at Fort Clinch State Park.

San Juan Islands, Washington
Friday Harbor marina and passenger ferry terminal, San Juan Island

San Juan Islands, Washington

The San Juan Islands are an easy jaunt from the mainland, yet feel as if they’re world’s away. Located off the west coast of Washington State, the archipelago can be reached with a scenic ferry or seaplane trip. Visit Orcas Island, a lush green paradise often referred to as the “gem of the San Juans,” where you can enjoy hiking nearly 40 miles of trails, including one that leads to the top of Mount Constitution, the island’s highest point. Here, hikers get to enjoy a jaw-dropping panoramic view of the island-filled waters and snow-capped Mount Baker. The most populous island, San Juan Island, is home to the charming seaport town of Friday Harbor, where streets are lined with independently-owned shops, art galleries and outstanding eateries, many of which boast world-class chefs serving items made with locally-grown ingredients. In addition to hiking, activities on both islands include kayaking, whale watching and biking.

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