Gorgeous Tropical Islands You Can Visit Without a Passport
Around 43 percent of Americans have a passport. And while that number has risen in the past decades, many people still can't leave the country.
If this is you, or if you're stuck waiting for the ridiculously long processing time required to renew your passport, don't fret! You can still leave the country without actually leaving the country by visiting these 10 beautiful tropical islands.
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Let's start with the obvious choice. Hawaii was an independent kingdom until the U.S. invaded and incorporated it in the 20th century. While it's one of the 50 states, it has a distinct culture and language that often make it feel like you've left the country. It's also one of the most beautiful places in the entire world.
Tourists can visit six main islands: Oahu, Big Island, Maui, Kauai, Lanai and Molokai, each of which has its own charm.
Where to stay: Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach
A former Spanish colony, Puerto Rico is now a U.S. territory, meaning Americans can visit the island without a passport. On this idyllic Caribbean island, you'll find rainforests, bioluminescent bays and countless beautiful beaches.
But besides nature, you'll also get to enjoy the island's culture through its delicious food and irresistible rhythms — this is the birthplace of reggaeton, after all.
Where to stay: Casa Sol
Somehow, many Americans aren't aware that there are three other Caribbean islands that are U.S. territories. The U.S. Virgin Islands aren't far from Puerto Rico and offer access to the light-blue water of the Caribbean Sea.
Saint Thomas is the gateway to this territory, housing Charlotte Amalie, the capital. If you're looking to party, shop and stay at luxury hotels, this is the island for you. Of course, you'll also have opportunities to snorkel and dive.
Where to stay: The Ritz-Carlton Saint Thomas
The Virgin Islands were once a Danish colony, and Saint Croix's town of Christiansted was the capital. Because of this, it holds some of the most interesting historic buildings and sites. There are also archaeological sites, coral reefs and mangrove forests.
Where to stay: The Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort
The last of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Saint John is for travelers looking to get away from it all. A large part of the island is made up of the Virgin Islands National Park, one of the least visited national parks in the United States. Safeguarding marine life as well as life in the lush hills that cover the island, it's a place of wonder every intrepid traveler should visit.
Where to stay: The Westin St. John Resort Villas
If you want to travel much farther than the Caribbean, set your eyes once more on the Pacific, where the United States has taken over several territories.
Typically receiving only military personnel and the most dedicated travelers, American Samoa has volcanic mountains and seven islands. Travelers can't miss spending time in the National Park of American Samoa, which boasts both reefs and rainforests.
Where to stay: Tradewinds Hotel
Another territory where the U.S. has a strong military basis, Guam's remote location keeps most casual travelers from ever visiting. But those who make the long trip here will find historic buildings, high-end hotels and plenty of World War II memorials. Though, of course, the perfect beaches are the island's main draw.
Where to stay: Crowne Plaza Resort Guam
Northern Mariana Islands
The final passport-free island in the Pacific for U.S. travelers is the Northern Mariana Islands. Located north of Guam, the territory has 14 islands whose volcanic nature provides dramatic seaside cliffs and an impressive biodiversity.
Saipan, the largest island, receives the most visitors. But we encourage you to look to some of the other islands, where you'll find a less touristy experience and more pristine beaches.
Where to stay: Hyatt Regency Saipan
A collection of islands right off the coast of Florida, the Bahamas is an incredibly popular cruising destination. American citizens visit without a passport by taking a closed-loop cruise that starts and ends in the U.S. Since you won't be staying overnight on the island, you won't have to show a passport.
In fact, there are one-day cruises that leave from Fort Lauderdale and that let you enjoy the country's famed beaches for several hours.
Where to stay: Curacao Marriott Beach Resort
Like the Bahamas, Bermuda allows U.S. citizens in without a passport as long as they're visiting on a closed-loop cruise. The British territory is a bit out of the way, but it's worth visiting for its pink lakes, uncrowded beaches and caves.
Where to stay: Rosewood Bermuda