You don’t need to travel out of the county if you’re looking for a tropical place. Sometimes getting a passport isn’t the most straightforward process and can take a long time, especially with all the delays. It took us two months to get ours, even after paying for expedited shipping.
So if you want to avoid getting one or don’t want to wait, here are many fantastic tropical places that don’t require a passport to travel to. You can find a few far-flung islands that just happen to be United States territories in the Pacific and Caribbean oceans and other unexpected places.
Visiting some of these tropical places can put you on the doorstep of Southeast Asia and Australia. However, there are mainland destinations too that provide the same tropical and warm experiences.
Best Tropical Places You Can Visit Without A Passport
Hawaii is a recurring theme in the list and Oahu is one of the top places. It’s home to the famous Honolulu and the most popular island in the chain. The home of both Waikiki and Lanikai beaches, as well as dozens of others, it has no shortage of well-kept sandy beaches and picturesque waves to enjoy.
There are endless opportunities to enjoy water-based activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, and of course, surfing. Pick up a surfing lesson and some advice on where to catch the best waves, and you’ll be off to the swells in no time. Some of the best surfing on the islands can be found around Oahu at places like Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay, and the remote Yokohama Bay.
Visiting the most popular island comes with a fair share of conveniences, like access to the best Hawaiian cuisine, affordable accommodations, and endless tours. If you are visiting to have a great time around the city, Honolulu is the beating heart of Hawaii.
Visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial to pay your respects at one of the most historical sites of WW2. Popular hikes here include the Manoa Falls Trail and Diamond Head Crater Summit Trial.
St Thomas, USVI
The United States owns several islands in the Virgin Islands, starting with arguably the most popular choice for visitors worldwide, St. Thomas. In fact, you can visit all three places without a passport. Clear water beaches with warm temperatures litter the entire coast of this U.S. island paradise.
The beaches and inviting waters make St. Thomas a dream tropical vacation for anyone looking to enjoy snorkeling, sailing, or just spending time in the year-round sunny weather. If you visit during the hurricane season, keep an eye on the forecast and plan accordingly. Many of the islands in this area see a fair bit of action.
Apart from beaches, it has many other attractions like Drake’s Seat, Blackbeards Castle, and Coral World Ocean Park. It’s also a great place to go ziplining with Tree Limin’ Extreme, which we highly recommend and was easily the best tour we went on in the US Virgin Islands.
In addition to all of the natural beauty on display, you can enjoy all of the man-made beauty at one of the many iconic golf courses in the all-inclusive resorts of St. Thomas. It’s also the best option among the islands to enjoy the nightlife scene in Charlotte Amelie, the capital of the USVI.
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Just to the east of San Juan sits Culebra, a well-kept secret Caribbean island you can go to without a passport. You can visit as a day trip from Puerto Rico or as a standalone destination for fabulous white sand beaches and snorkeling in a wildly diverse environment. It’s a perfect place to spend time next to the water, with favorable conditions for beginners and experts alike.
If you’re here for the beaches, check out Flamenco Beach on the northwest side. The beach features a protected bay that keeps the shallow waters calm and relatively wave-free for ideal swimming most of the year.
Mkae your way up the beach to the west side to find the famous Flamenco Beach tanks, which were left from when Culebra served as a military base. It’s a great spot to stop and take a photo.
While you’re here, charter island-hopping boats that take you to Culebritas, Cayo Norte, and Cayo Luis Pena for some of the more unspoiled bits of natural beauty. Be sure to see the nature preserve northwest of the island, just up the beach from Flamenco.
The hikes provide landscapes surrounded by numerous plant and animal species native to Culebra.
The Friendly Isle of Moloka’i is nestled between Maui and O’ahu within the Hawaiian chain. If you want a better idea of how the locals live and set your watch to island time, the friendly folks of Moloka’i will gladly oblige.
Moloka’i is an off the beaten path destination, allowing visitors to get some distance from the crowded towns and beaches of the other islands. You’re transported to a place with beautiful, untouched wilderness to enjoy.
The island has white sand beaches to stunning blue waters the rest of the islands possess, with far fewer people along the western edge. Inland you can find dense forests that feel like a prehistoric jungle, with miles of trails for hiking.
To the east side, jagged mountain peaks and valleys with roads winding all the way up and back are found. It’s over here where you can explore national and state parks, preserves, and even active volcanic structures.
Visiting Moloka’i might take more planning, but it’s worth the extra effort for an untouched island paradise.
Catalina Island, California
Catalina Island is a short, hour-long ride from the coastal side of Los Angeles. When you arrive, you will get a much different experience than in Los Angeles. Catalina Island is a natural paradise carefully appointed to attract visitors from all over California and the rest of the country.
Catalina Island lets visitors fill the days to the brim with adventure. Book a scenic ridgetop eco-tour to get a feeling for the powerful forces that created this island as you cruise through canyon valleys and mountains up to the East Peak for a spectacular view.
If you want to enjoy a round of golf, visit the course at Avalon Canyon. It’s a challenging, 9-hole course with the kind of views that can only be found here. For a family-friendly activity, play a round of mini golf at Golf Gardens in Avalon.
For outdoor adventures, head over to Two Harbors, and you can sink your teeth into kayaking, mountain biking, and SUP. Some pretty popular snorkeling spots are just off the shore of Two Harbors, at the nearby Harbor Reef and Bird Rock.
If you’re looking for a tropical island destination full of stunning natural wonders and all the comforts of city life, Kauai is the place to be. Spend a day hiking on the east side and explore the Wailua River State Park, Lihue-Koloa, or Kealia Forest Reserves. Head over to Waimea Canyon and hike the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls to see one of the most impressive sights in Hawaii.
Enjoy world-class surfing on the north, east, and south side of Kauai. If you’re a beginner or looking to learn for the first time, pick up a lesson from one of the many surfing schools. We went with Kauai Surf School and had a great time with them. If you’re by this area you can also hike the Mahualepu Heritage Trail at Shipwreck Beach.
Otherwise, Hanalei Bay Beach offers a beginner-friendly surfing experience due to its calm waters. Book an all-inclusive resort in Kauai to make the most of your trip.
It’s worth booking a boat tour to experience the scenic area of the Na Pali Coast that’s pictured above. Other world-renowned beaches include Kalapaki and the triple threat on the south shore of Poipu, Kiahuna, and Shipwreck. Each one provides days’ worth of leisure or action. Rent some lounge equipment and tan, or go for a quick swim in the shallow, crystal-blue waters.
St John, USVI
The island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands is a nature-lovers paradise, with a substantial portion of the island making up the incomparable Virgin Islands National Park.
The snorkeling around St. John is some of the best in the world and most of them are all along the northern edge of the island. If you want to find sea turtles, visit Maho Bay. We found an endless amount of turtles while snorkeling toward the east side of the beach and got some fantastic pictures.
Besides leatherback turtles, many rainbow-colored fish, stingrays, and vibrant coral reefs call this part of the Caribbean Sea home. Don’t miss out on Hawksnest Beach or Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay is a wonderful opportunity to follow a unique underwater snorkeling trail, perfectly suited for beginners and marked by signs.
There are still modern conveniences around St. John, primarily on the east side at Coral Bay and the west side at Cruz Bay. You can find truly fantastic resorts in St. John that serve as a great escape from the world.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan serves as the heart and soul of Puerto Rico and is known for its historical significance. No matter what corner of the city you venture through, you can find remnants of old forts, sculptures, and statues depicting scenes important to history.
Believe it or not, some of the most iconic beaches in Puerto Rico reside within San Juan, including Condado, El Escambron, and Ocean Park Beach. Spend the days on the sand and in the water and take the party into the night with dancing and barhopping.
You can easily find a convenient retreat within a few miles of the pristine beaches dotting the northern coast. Spa resorts like the Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa and Fairmont El San Juan Hotel are relaxing places to stay.
San Juan also has a vibrant arts scene, with modern art blended with the rich traditions of San Juan on display at the Puerto Rico Museum of Modern Art. There are also museums for music, sports, and literature.
Maui is the second-largest island of Hawaii and home to opportunities for outdoor exploration and leisure. The obvious highlights of any proper visit to Maui include a stop at ʻĪao Valley or a trip up Haleakalā. It’s one of the best islands that doesn’t require a passport.
There are many beautiful beaches around Maui that you may need to devote a few days to visit them all. Makena Beach along the south shore is an iconic, white sand beach that extends for almost a mile and slopts gently into the shallow waters of Ahihi Bay. On the other side of Maui is the Waiʻānapanapa State Park, home to a long stretch of black-sand beach ideal for swimming.
The west side of Maui features the incomparable ʻĪao Valley State Monument. This park boasts over 4,000 acres of towering emerald mountainsides, lush valleys, and one of the most iconic landmarks in Hawaii, ʻĪao Needle. Jutting 1,200 feet out of the ground, the ʻĪao Needle serves as a stunning centerpiece for this noteworthy park.
Whether you’re a sunrise or sunset type of person, make the trek up Haleakalā for a breathtaking view.
Far and away at one of the most remote locations, Guam is a U.S. territory in the Western Pacific. The island was a strategic acquisition during World War II to benefit allied forces in the Pacific Theatre.
As such, there is much to do and see on this island for history buffs and for those who wish to pay tribute to the soldiers who were stationed there. A visit to the Pacific War Museum, War in the Pacific National Historic Park, or South Pacific Memorial Peace Park should definitely be on your list if you enjoy places of historical significance.
If you’re visiting for leisure and recreation, take a trip to Tumon Beach, a fantastic stretch of white sand within the city limits of Tamuning. Parking is easy with multiple spots and the waters are calm, plus it’s close enough to the city to access conveniences. Many of Guam’s finer accommodations like the Westin Resort Guam reside along this beach, providing easy beach access to guests.
For a more quieter beach go take a look at Ritidian Point on the northeast side. The secluded stretch of tropical paradise goes on for miles, wrapping the entire section of the island. Plenty of space to stretch out and feel as though you’re on a private deserted island.
Anna Maria Island, Florida
Located on the Gulf side of Florida just outside of Tampa, Anna Maria Island is a great little getaway that’s easily accessible. The main attractions of Anna Maria are the beaches that pepper the entire coast in one massive stretch of carefully groomed sand.
Along the nearly seven miles of white sand are Coquina Beach, Cortez Beach, Anna Maria Beach, and Manatee Beach. The separation doesn’t appear clear because the sand goes on for literal miles. The beaches are flanked on one side by the warm waters of the gulf, and on the other by the excitement of all of the fabulous resorts, restaurants, and nightlife attractions.
There are many things to do with water activities like swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and fishing. Throughout the island, you’ll find ample vendors for rental equipment or charter a boat for a day of on-the-water fun.
One of the must-see parts of any visit to Anna Maria Island is the sunset. There is nothing standing in the way of this natural spectacle and the colors and light alone are worth a trip out. Park somewhere along the miles of beach and be awestruck.
St Croix, USVI
St. Croix resides south of the other two U.S. Virgin Islands and to the eastern side of the Caribbean. If you vacation in St. Croix, make a visit to Point Udall, a monument that was built to represent the easternmost point of the United States.
To experience something special, rent a 4×4 vehicle and venture to the east side of St. Croix for a stop at Jack’s Bay, Isaac Bay, and East End Bay. These are three separate and isolated beaches without nearly as many folks as you might see on the more crowded parts of the island. Snorkeling is fantastic off the shore at these locations, with reefs full of coral, tropical fish, and sea turtles.
A horseback riding tour that stops along the beaches is quite a popular thing to do. Last time we visited, we unfortunately had to cancel the tour since the ferry from St. Thomas to St. Croix only happens twice a day and the times didn’t work out for us.
The town of Frederiksted is found on the western side. This is where the cruise ships dock and is one of the busier parts of the island. It’s also a great spot to enjoy the local architecture and culinary scene, with a high concentration of options right around the end of the pier.
Big Island of Hawaii
The largest island within the Hawaiian chain is appropriately dubbed the Big Island and it’s an excellent way to describe all the adventure found here. It’s easy to find something for any sort of traveler.
If you want to focus on water-based activities, there are hubs on either side of the island at Kailua-Kona and Hilo. Grab any equipment from the resort you’re staying in or local gear shops and proceed to kayak, snorkel, scuba, or sail the days away.
For action junkies, there are fast-paced helicopter tours, ziplining across canyon valleys, and surfing some of the finest waves in the Pacific. Try a hike up Mauna Loa and see most of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in the process. Witness the raw power of geological forces from a safe distance in this stunning park.
After checking out some of the more stark natural wonders of the volcanic regions of the island, head back down to some of the best beaches. Visit Carlsmith and Onekahakaha beach parks near Hilo, Hapuna beach park near Kohala, and Kahala’u Beach near Kona for a chance to see native green sea turtles. Find some beautiful resorts on Big Island to stay with our guide.
Northern Mariana Islands
Out near Guam rests the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Commonwealth also acquired during World War II. As with Guam, many of the reasons to visit here are historical and would be suitable for anyone interested in seeing the remains of old war installations.
Just south of the main island of Saipan, you can find Tinian, an island that served as an American post during the war. There are relics of this not-so-distant past on all 4 sides as evidenced by intact weaponry and an amphibious landing vehicle serving as an intersection marker.
Saipan has many sandy shores to appease you. The entire northwestern coast of the island is pure beaches in fact, with Tanapag, Pau Pau, and Wing Beaches all in a row. They have soft white sand, shallow waters protected by a barrier reef, and amazing snorkeling.
Way out in the South Pacific, closer to Australia and New Zealand than the United States lies American Samoa. This tiny little island is packed with time for sightseeing without the crowds of some of the busier islands like Hawaii.
If you plan on exploring any national parks, American Samoa hosts one of the furthest away from the mainland. National Park of American Samoa is routinely the least visited national park, due to its far-out location in the South Pacific. Visitors who make the trek will be treated to rainforests, coral reefs, volcanic mountains, and crystal clear water beaches.
Outside of the national park, you will find much of the same as much of American Samoa is a tropical island paradise. Visit the amazing Two Dollar and Ofu Beaches to enjoy the abundant sunshine and snorkeling.
Around the island, there are abundant trails for hiking through some of the rainforests and mountainsides.
South Padre Island, Texas
Stretching 113 miles along the Gulf Coast of Texas, Padre Island is one of the largest barrier islands on the planet. This stretch has endless opportunities for outdoor activities, including shore fishing, swimming, and surfing.
Within the boundaries of the island rests Padre Island National Seashore, 66 miles of protected coastline full of dunes, grasslands, and gently crashing Gulf waves. Guests can camp directly on the beach at this national park. It’s a great way to soak up the sun and splash around in the gulf, and gaze in wonder at the night sky.
For the sake of convenience, it’s near Corpus Christi, a decent-sized coastal city. Pick up anything you might need for a day and head to the beach or stick around the local culinary scene, a blend of seafood with South Texas flair. Compared to all the other mentions, it’s one of the cheaper places for a beach vacation.
But for a luxury getaway, there are several vacation homes, resorts, and hotels up and down the coast that can provide all of the comforts of home in a beautiful beachfront setting. RV travelers can also park their RVs for free or for a small fee overnight in certain areas.
Lanai is by far the quietest of the Hawaiian islands for anyone looking for a relaxing retreat. Visit Lanai City for essentials before heading out for days of outdoor adventures.
To get the most out of your visit, rent a 4×4 and access many of the trails and service roads. Be advised that much of Lanai doesn’t even have paved roads because they really do keep things simple here.
Make the most of your time on the island and give back by volunteering at the Lanai Cat Sanctuary. This non-profit organization seeks to provide for the welfare of the island’s many feline citizens, and you can help.
It wouldn’t be a visit to a Hawaiian island without mentioning that Lanai has beaches galore. Visit Polihua Beach to the north of the island for spectacular views of Moloka’i and Maui. Or check out Shipwreck Beach for another awesome view of those islands as well as a large shipwreck prominently displayed.
Sapelo Island, Georgia
If you want to visit an island without a passport or without even having to leave the United States, Sapelo Island is one of the best choices. Located miles from any town of note, the long stretch of barrier island feels just right.
Much of the land is a protected area, so it’s a limited services kind of environment. This makes Sapelo Island a great pack-in, pack-out location for a day trip.
It also means very little competition for a spot along a stunning stretch of the Atlantic coastline. Get out early enough to catch a pretty spectacular sunrise over the water or birdwatch and catch sight of a Southern bald eagle in the air.
Check out the Sapelo Lighthouse to the southern edge of the island, a classic red and white beacon for the ships that approach it.
Siesta Key, Florida
Located just across the bay from Sarasota, Siesta Key is a beachfront getaway in Florida that’s easy to get to and packed full of fun.
The most obvious stop during a visit to Siesta Key needs to be the appropriately named Siesta Key Beach. This bustling beach features some of the softest sand on the Florida gulf coast and is the center of the larger stretch encompassing the entire island.
Siesta Key Beach has ranked among the top beaches in the entire United States, thanks to the super soft sand, adequate space, and the calm waters of the gulf.
You can spend a day on the water jet skiing, boating, and fishing. Luxury resorts and popular restaurants can be found all along the beachfront.
You can go on a bike tour to explore the Legacy Bike Trai or take a stroll along The Bay Park and take part in outdoor yoga classes. This is a great destination if you want to get away from the crowds and set up shop on your own little piece of the shore.
Channel Islands, California
Tucked away at the edge of the greater Los Angeles area rests Channel Islands, an oasis in a stretch of highly developed real estate along the shores of the Pacific.
The beaches are the main reason to check it out, with Hollywood Beach, Oxnard State Park, and McGrath State Beach being some of the best. Oxnard State Park even has a recreation area that has a quintessentially west coast vibe to it. Stick around for a sunset anywhere along the coast and enjoy the show.
Plan a trip to Channel Islands National Park. Out here, visitors can see an untouched wilderness. The landscape shares much of the same characteristics as the nearby cityscape without any of the people.
Hike through miles of trails with impressive scenic landscapes and observe native plant and animal species in their habitat.
Dry Tortugas, Florida
Dry Tortugas is an incredible member of the national park family just outside of Key West at the very edge of the Florida Keys. This location has bucket list written all over it, with 7 islands.
The most stunning feature of a vacation to Dry Tortugas is a tour of Fort Jefferson, a 19th-century structure built to help control the flow of ships in and out of the gulf. Visitors will be floored by the condition of this fort, having withstood hundreds of years of subsequent storms.
Do everything from swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and camp on Garden Key. Transportation to and from the islands can be arranged from Key West, or you can bring your own boat for convenience.