Over half of Americans do not and have never had their passport. This makes it difficult to travel overseas to fabulous international destinations around the world. The good news is that there are a handful of really great destinations to which Americans can easily travel without a passport. These range from the Hawaiian Islands to American Samoa and Guam in the Pacific to Key West in the far south of Florida, to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.
7 Places to Travel to Without a Passport
Oh the places that you could go if you only had a passport! Fortunately for the more than half of Americans who have never found enough motivation to apply and pay for their very own U.S. passport, there are still selections of seven great destinations to which you can travel these days with nothing more than your state photo identification on your driver’s license or state ID card. Read on to learn the tropical overseas destinations for those of you who still are holding out against obtaining your very own passport.
1. Puerto Rico; San Juan
Puerto Rico is the Commonwealth island territory owned by the United States since the end of the Spanish American War of the last few years of the 1800s. Found in the Caribbean’s northeast, it lies just to the east of the Dominican Republic and to the west of the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as the British Virgin Islands.
The island of Puerto Rico may only be 100 miles in length by 35 miles in width earning it the distinction of being the tiniest island in the Greater Antilles, but it makes up for it with great attractions that are well worth going to see on your next vacation without a passport.
This island is also an archipelago that includes interesting islands like Vieques, Mona, and Culebra. The tropical climate here means that temperatures year-round range from 70 degrees to 80 degrees, perfect weather on earth scenario all year long.
Puerto Rico remains among one of two destinations of the Caribbean which does not need a passport from U.S. citizens. Though the island was pretty much destroyed by two hurricanes several years ago, it has rebuilt since. While crowds are less now, the finest beaches are immaculately clean, and all tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, and clubs are open for business.
Why you should travel to Puerto Rico? The island of Puerto Rico boasts a wealth of postcard-perfect beautiful vistas for you to take in while here. The variety includes the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. called El Yunque, mountains, and waterfalls. The biggest city and island capital is San Juan. It is rightly famous for the strip of fine beachfront hotels, casinos, and beach bars and cafes. Old San Juan was built by the Spanish Empire in the days of its glory, meaning that the Spanish colonial-style architecture found throughout the city is world-class. The two imposing fortresses that stand guard over the harbors and town, La Fortaleza and El Morro are open for sightseeing. What could be more impressive than a nearly five-hundred-year-old Spanish fortress? The old Spanish town simply oozes charm from every street and back alley.
Meanwhile, the rest of the island boasts more than its expected share of charms and attractions. There are simply miles of pristine powder white sand beaches, verdant valleys and lush mountains, exotic hidden spots, and countless wonders of nature to take in while here. The 500 years of authentic Spanish history is complemented by the wonderful, friendly people of Puerto Rico too.
Puerto Rico boasts more than enough one of kind sights and attractions to keep you busy for at least a few weeks. People who come here consistently wonder how much they can do today rather than what they will do that day. Among the attritions not to be missed while here are the Bacardi Distillery, Old San Juan district, two UNESCO world heritage Spanish colonial forts, and zip lining happily through the El Yunque Rain Forest. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of downtime to experience great local Caribbean drinks at a beachfront bar, try the excellent local cuisine and seafood in a restaurant, and enjoy simply lazing away the hours on the beach and in the sea. There is plenty of swimming, snorkeling, and diving to be done while you are here as well.
2. U.S. Virgin Islands; St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John Islands
Many Americans are not even aware that the United States has its own Caribbean islands playground. This three tropical island paradise is called the U.S. Virgin Islands, made up of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John. In fact, these Virgin Islands remain among the most popular and heavily visited tourist destinations in all of the Caribbean to this day. They are found in the northern Lesser Antilles of the Eastern Caribbean Sea. The territory comprises around 50 islands and cays.
The islands endured a turbulent past before settling in the unlikely hands of Denmark. Around the First World War, the United States purchased them as a potential Eastern Caribbean naval base. Today, they are graced by Neoclassical Danish architecture that simply reeks of Old World charm. The natural beauty is another characteristic of the three main islands. They share tropical forests, verdant mountains, powder sand beaches, and rocky inlet coves throughout their shores and territories. The pristine waters draw in boaters, swimmers, divers, and snorkelers again and again.
Each of the three main islands possesses its own character and unique charm. St. Thomas remains the most heavily visited destination of the three. As the airport gateway to this archipelago, its capital is the primary town Charlotte Amalie, a Danish built gem of a colonial city. The town proves to be a huge cruising port of call that boasts a wealth of dining, shopping, and entertainment options for all ages. Meanwhile, over on St. Croix the biggest island. tourism is less a mainstay of the local economy than on its sister islands. The top attractions here include the main town Christiansted and its old town historical district, as well as gardens, sugar plantation ruins, and Heritage Trail with its coastal scenery. St. Croix also boasts the stunning Buck Island Reef, site of the country’s original underwater monument.
Over on St. John, you could easily be on another planet. Ecotourism lovers will adore this paradise oasis in the Caribbean. Fully two-third of the entire island is part of the Virgin Islands National Park. You can partake of the great diving, snorkeling, fishing, swimming, kayaking, and hiking here. The park boasts so much to see here, including protected sheltered bays, underwater sea gardens, petroglyphs, and even historical sugar mills and plantation ruins. Besides this, there are in excess of 800 different species of plants and fully 30 different tropical birds species living within the park’s borders. This includes a wealth of bay rum trees, coconut palms, and sea grapes, as well as the night blooming cereus that lures in both moths and bats using its intoxicating scent of vanilla. Wildlife that you can spot here includes geckos, iguanas, hawksbill turtles, and a huge amount of under the water life. Best spots for diving and snorkeling include Maho Bay, Watermelon Cay, Cinnamon Bay, and Caneel Bay.
The U.S. Virgin Islands as a whole draw in over a million visitors every year. If you are not able to choose only one of these three Virgin Islands to come visit, then simply extend the length of your vacation and then try them all! St. Thomas will deliver the world class shopping and architecture, St. John the Caribbean snorkeling paradise, and St. Croix the foodie heaven with authentic Caribbean mouthwatering island cuisine that you will not soon forget. The locally produced Cruzan Coconut Rum will cause you to fall in love with these three islands and make you wonder why it took you so many years to discover them for yourself.
3. Hawaii; Kailua, Oahu and Honolulu, Oahu
Hawaii has the unique claim to fame of possessing the only tropical climate islands that are also an American state. It only takes a six hour flight out of LAX to reach the Aloha state on your next vacation without a U.S. passport. The beauty of nature here is unparalleled within the U.S., and besides this you can look forward to one of a kind cultural experiences of their impressive Honolulu China town, Japanese-American based population, and lingering traces of the real native Hawaiian culture.
The state is exceptional for more than simply the always reliable climate and laid back Polynesian culture. Stunning volcanic landscapes vie with verdant mountains and plunging waterfalls for the prize of best scenery on the islands. From Kilauea volcano to the exotic Hawaiian flowers dotting the forests so green that they will make your eyes hurt and waterfalls cascading down mountain side from ancient rivers carved into the old bedrock wonders like the Waimea Canyon, the views here promise to overwhelm your senses. The Big Island boasts an active volcano, while Oahu remains the home to the thriving capital Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, and Pearl Harbor with the rich and varied history that you will not want to miss. Your biggest problem in coming to Hawaii is always which island will you visit (or visit first). Whichever one you ultimately settle on, the Pacific Ocean brings you a wondrous world of ocean flora and fauna that you can enjoy while diving, snorkeling, or even just swimming. It is the Hawaiian people though who make this place so special. Their unique welcome always makes sure that you feel you have really touched down in paradise on earth.
The island which most visitors come to is Oahu where over 90 percent of the Hawaiians live. No wonder, with its stunning and world-famous Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, and famous capital city of Honolulu. Waikiki proves to be a suburb of greater Honolulu and is famed justifiably for its huge resorts, restaurants, shopping, and never-ending entertainment. You can hike the Waikiki Historic Trail to see history including the story of Waikiki’s most famous son Duke Kahanamoku, who was an Olympian winner of gold medals for swimming and a renowned surfer who helped make the sport truly international.
Visitors always love the boardwalk called the Waikiki Beach Walk which is strewn with entertainment and cafes of all types. KalaKaua and Kuhio Avenues are the place for many excellent boutiques and fine restaurants. At the end of beautiful Waikiki Beach, you will reach the Diamond Head State Monument. This used to be the key vantage point for the island’s defenders. The hike is a steep one that finally takes you up to the old artillery control station and bunkers. Your reward for the strenuous exercise is a striking and unforgettable panoramic view.
It all brings us back to which of the islands will you ultimately choose to spend your time on this next vacation? Kauai is the state’s famed Garden Island that is ideal for those seeking the best most epic views from the mountains, the incredible tropical rainforests, and plunging waterfalls. You can even see it all by helicopter as if you were in Jurassic Park (also filmed here). For the best of romance, with glorious sunsets and world famous beaches, Maui is the top choice. If you are more interested in a cosmopolitan shopping and dining experience, Oahu is for you. Here the best of local cuisine, shopping, and ATV riding to the Kualoa Ranch (where Pearl Harbor and Jurassic Park were both filmed) are awaiting your visit.
4. American Samoa; Pago Pago
You may want to go farther afield than even Hawaii but without having to get your first passport. Thanks to the American Samoa territory, you can do this. Samoa is a place to go to get away from your boring everyday life. Polynesia never felt so good as when you needed only your standard state ID and a pocket full of American dollars to enjoy it. This beautiful U.S. territory comprises seven glorious South Pacific islands that look like they are straight out of a movie set. They lie roughly 1,600 miles away from New Zealand and 2,200 miles off of Hawaii’s shores.
The biggest island here is Tutuila. This is where all of the action and the capital of Pago Pago is. Its natural harbor has a backdrop of volcanic peaks such as the Rainmaker Mountain at 1,716 feet high. The National Park of American Samoa is a stunning reminder of the territory’s predominantly tropical rain forested landscape with its forests, reefs, and beaches. It stretches across islands Tutuila, Ta’u, and Ofu.
When you fancy the final real tropical escape that lies within American hands, this is American Samoa. Ninety percent of its stunning surface is still virgin untouched landscape. The heritage of the Samoans is also well preserved. You can learn all about the Pacific story of World War II out here, take in the beautiful tropical scenery everywhere, dive and snorkel through the crystal clear pristine waters, and immerse yourself fully in the ancient and colorful Samoan culture while here.
The nature here is unparalleled within the United States. You can hike through this ancient and still-wild rain forested landscape down to beaches and coral reefs which are still naturally all teeming with wild animals. While on Tutuila island, there are so many good natural attractions from which you can partake. These include sunbathing on Two Dollar Beach, hiking Mount Alava, , taking in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, shopping, and partaking of the local cuisine in Fagatoga Square and Pago Plaza. If you are coming here mainly for solitude, Ofa Island offers you nearly deserted beaches that will take you to a whole other place. This is the island for September to October peak months of whale watching. Sea turtles and dolphins ply these waters year round.
5. Tropical Tumon Bay, Guam
Another great American held destination in the deep Pacific Ocean is Guam. Beloved for its pristine ocean waters and powder white beaches, this is the ideal destination for honeymooning couples, families, snorkelers and divers, and any individual who really wants to escape from their everyday life. The direct flights that come here arrive daily from cities throughout the U.S.’s Hawaii, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong in mainland China, and the Philippines and require only about four to five hours to arrive. Guam has never been so convenient and easy to reach as it is now, and best of all, you do not need to bother getting your passport to enjoy it.
Guam is actually an American islands territory found in the Western Pacific Micronesia. Tropical beaches, Chamorro culture and villages, and ancient world latte-stone pillars set it apart from anywhere else on earth. The importance of this island in the Second World War can not be missed when you go to the War in the Pacific National Historical Park. Sites that are important and not to be missed here include the Asan Beach, once a WWII battlefield. The island also boasts a rich and lasting Spanish influence as they ruled here for hundreds of years and built such colonial architecture that is well-preserved to this day, as with the Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad. This crowns a hilltop in Umatac. The capital of Guam is Hagåtña.
The destination of Guam is so much more than simply sand, sun, and sea. The history here goes all the way back to the Latte Period from 2,000 B.C. This was the native Chamorro period that predated the arrival of the Spanish under Portuguese explorer the famous Ferdinand Magellan who arrived here on March 6th of 1521, forever changing the island. The island boasts an incredible 180 individual sites that are found within the National Register of Historic Places. All of them reveal the incredible story of the island’s triumph and tragedies, resilience, and staying power of the natives through the millennia. The island’s interesting history covers the Spanish colonial period, the American takeover and rule, the Japanese occupation of the Second World War to make Guam into the fascinating place that it is today. The real gem of its history is the native island Chamorro culture that still lingers on here.
If you are like the typical tourist here, you will remain in the tourist center of Tumon where there are beaches, excellent cuisine, and high-end boutique styled shopping. Pack for the year round heat. Temperatures and humidity are always high, making it an ideal location for the many sun worshippers who throng to Guam.
6. Key West, Florida
Key West is the southernmost city in the continental United States. It is also a unique destination unlike any other in the mainland U.S. At a mere 90 miles to the north of Cuba, the city is almost in the Caribbean Sea. It is justifiably known for its conch styled pastel themed homes, coral reefs and excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities, cruise ship port ambience, and rollicking wild drunken party atmosphere after dark. You can reach the island by boat, cruise ship, or the Overseas Highway. This is not the best place to come if you are looking for good sandy beaches, which it conspicuously lacks.
The history of this tiny two miles by four miles island is colorful to say the least. It has called such literary luminaries as Ernest Hemmingway residents over the years. From poverty to prosperity, Key West has morphed into a tourist hub from its previous pastimes of sponge fishing and wreck salvaging of ships that had run aground here in the shallow waters. Many of the local homes are constructed from coral rock or even ship boards salvaged from the sea. It makes the architecture distinctly Caribbean. Some houses were even imported straight out of the Bahamas after being dismantled so they could be shipped and re-constructed in Key West. Cuisine is unique with its influence of African-Caribbean and Spanish. The town just feels tropical.
Parties here are let it all out in nature and the lifestyle is completely laid back. It remains a popular place to escape as well as to relocate to for many repeat visitors. The main street for strolling here is iconic Duval Street. One unique feature of the street is its many Key Lime pie bakeries and shops. The town also boasts an exciting Pub Crawl experience through the town’s most beloved pubs and bars. You do not want to miss the original Jimmy Buffet owned and themed bar Margaritaville here, or his fun Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant.
Adventure awaits you in Key West as well. You can snorkel the beautiful waters that surround the Dry Tortugas National Park, dive the local waters, or go for a day sailing excursion. Be sure to travel back through time in the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the place in which the internationally renowned author lived during the 1930s. Mallory Square is the place to mix with the locals in the late afternoon and evening. This special place is overflowing with shops, restaurants, entertainment, and museums. It is the spot to which everyone flocks to take in the end of day special sunsets.
7. The Caribbean by Cruise Ship
While you can not fly to the Caribbean nations without a passport, you can cruise there without one. Take a look at the many exotic destinations in the crystal clear Western Caribbean Sea that you can go to as a port of call without having to apply for your international passport:
- Cozumel, Mexico
- Cancun, Mexico
- Costa Maya, Mexico
- Montego Bay, Jamaica
- Grand Cayman Island
- Ocho Rios, Jamaica
- Belize City, Belize
There are even more wonderful destinations awaiting you on a cruise to the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, such as:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Dominican Republic
- St. Lucia
- St. Martin/St. Maarten
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
There are several destinations that will not let you come on a cruise ship without having your passport though. These include Guadeloupe, Barbados, Martinique, Trinidad and Tobago, and St. Barths. It is a good idea to double-check with your cruise ship operator before leaving so that you are not barred from the exciting day trip ports of call on your particular cruise.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you travel without a passport?
You can travel without a passport to American overseas destinations and cruise ship ports of call. This means that you can go to Hawaii, American Samoa, and Guam in the Pacific Ocean or to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean without needing a passport. Cruise ships will also allow you to disembark for the day on all of their Caribbean international ports of call with the exceptions of Barbados, Guadeloupe, and Martinique.
How to travel without a passport?
Traveling without a passport to other countries is only possible via cruise ships. Going to overseas U.S. destinations in the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean requires either a cruise ship, boat excursion or airplane from a U.S. airport.
Americans who refuse to get their passport are not entirely out of luck when it comes to traveling overseas. The good news is that America owns several glorious territories worth of tropical playgrounds in both the South Pacific and the Caribbean Sea. These include Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. You can also enjoy a wonderful Western Caribbean or Eastern and Southern Caribbean cruise and spend all day long in the various international Caribbean playground ports of call, so long as you do not try to disembark in Guadeloupe, Martinique, or Barbados. For these three destinations or to travel to any of these Caribbean nations by airplane, you will require your U.S. passport.