The 10 Best Island Vacations in The U.S. — No Passport Required
Island vacations are the perfect getaway – once you actually get away. However, it can take a bit of work to get to your island retreat, especially if getting there means crossing international borders.
If you haven’t had a passport before, or if your passport is long expired and you don’t have eight to 11 weeks for a renewal, you’ll likely be looking stateside for your island fix.
Fortunately, there are several beautiful island destinations where Americans don't need a passport to enjoy some sun, sand, and shoreline.
Also read: Does Travel Insurance Cover Passport Issues?
U.S. Island Vacations
Here are some of the best island vacations for Americans – no passport required:
A vacation-rental haven and a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico offers a taste of multiple Caribbean destinations with an extra dash of history and urban style. San Juan is having a moment as an arts, food, and history center, and the rest of the island offers amazing beaches, rainforests, mountains, snorkeling, fishing, and much more. Puerto Rico is an underrated destination; visit and see for yourself.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands are an underappreciated Caribbean gem. While the British Virgin Islands get much of the press, the U.S. Virgin Islands offer much the same experience – breathtaking beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a relaxed island lifestyle – without the need to cross international borders.
Hawaii is a U.S. state, so you don’t need a passport. And the islands are incredible, with everything from active volcanoes to pineapple plantations to world-class surfing to some of the best ecotourism on the planet. And we haven’t even mentioned the golf! Really and truly, Hawaii is the star of all domestic island vacations.
If you want to venture a little further afield and still not have to dig out the passport, consider Guam. It’s a U.S. territory and an adventure-seeker’s paradise, with caves, waterfalls, and hidden beaches waiting to be discovered. The diving is great and the culture offers a little bit of everything, from Portuguese to Pacific Islander to U.S. military.
A U.S. territory in the South Pacific Ocean, American Samoa is known for, of all things, its national parks and seashores. The National Park of American Samoa, the westernmost park in the U.S. and its territories, includes secluded villages, rainforests, rare plants and animals, and coral-sand beaches on parts of three islands—Tutuila, Ta'ū, and Ofu. In addition, about 4,000 acres of the national park is underwater, offshore from all three islands. The territorial capital of Pago Pago is worth exploring as well.
Northern Mariana Islands
While the Marianas technically include Guam, the islands north of Guam are collectively their own U.S. territory. These tiny islands offer true isolation as well as a bracing dose of history: Saipan, the largest island in the Northern Mariana chain, was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II – and reminders are still easy to see.
Key West, Florida
The last of a long chain of islands at the tip of Florida, Key West is renowned as the place to toast Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Buffett and watch the sun set over the ocean. There’s more to Key West than that, of course – charming old homes and warm back alleys – but that’s a great place to start.
Catalina Island, California
Once the playground of chewing-gum tycoon William K. Wrigley, Catalina Island is a stunning island located off the Southern California coast. Accessible by boat or plane, Catalina offers tourist-friendly activities like mini-golf, ziplining and glass-bottom boat tours as well as the opportunity to venture into the island’s wild interior. The island’s historic casino is also a must-see.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
While the northern half of the Outer Banks is technically a peninsula, Roanoke Island, Ocracoke Island and everything south of the Bonner Bay Bridge are all islands. That gives you lots of great options for a slightly more private Outer Banks experience. Whether you opt for the wild, windswept expanses near Cape Hatteras or the laid-back beach vibe of Manteo, there’s sure to be something on the islands of the Outer Banks to suit you.
South Bass Island, Ohio
One of several islands off the shores of Cleveland, South Bass Island and its main town, Put-In Bay, are like a trip through the looking glass to a time of white-painted buildings with black shutters and band concerts on the village green. While the island offers plenty of places to let loose a little, there are also places where you can let the rest of the world just be a low hum in the background. It may not be tropical, but it sure is nice.
No matter what type of island retreat you’re looking for – even something thick with pine forests, like Kodiak Island, Alaska, or San Juan Island, Washington – there’s a place for you under the Stars and Stripes.
And all these island getaways have one other thing in common: You can travel there with peace of mind with travel insurance from Generali. Our plans cover island vacations domestic and international (except Cuba).
Get a quote today.