15 US Islands You Don't Need A Passport To Visit

3. Oahu — Hawaii

Allan Baxter / Getty Images The island of Oahu may be home to the state’s capital, but don’t be fooled into thinking the island is all about the city. You can benefit from Honolulu’s food and nightlife (and Waikiki’s surf) before heading to the quieter north shore where you can swim, cage-free with sharks. Yes, you read that right.

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Hilton Head Island: Don’t Miss

Coligny Beach is one of the most popular stretches of sand on Hilton Head — it’s clean, picturesque, and boasts plenty of amenities like showers and nearby restaurants. And be sure to rent a bike and explore the island’s miles of flat, well-maintained bike trails — you can even ride on the beach at low tide. Related: 50 of the Best Beaches in America

San Juan Islands: Don’t Miss

For the quintessential San Juan experience, a whale-watching trip is a must. Orcas, humpbacks, minke whales are frequent sights, as are bald eagles, sea lions, seals, and porpoises. You’ll also find scenic byways for driving or bicycling that provide a great overview of the islands. Related: 14 Budget-Friendly Places for Whale Watching on the West Coast

United States Virgin Islands

napa74 | Adobe Stock
napa74 | Adobe Stock

The U.S. Virgin Islands lie mere minutes away from Puerto Rico by plane. Made up of three main islands—St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John—plus a scattering of smaller isles, the U.S.V.I. relies heavily on tourism, and has slowly made a comeback after hurricanes in recent years.

Each island has its own unique appeal. St. John, with its national parkland and legendary diving, will charm true escapists. St. Thomas is a shopper’s dream, with countless boutiques and jewelers, as well as two bustling cruise terminals. And Danish-flavored and diverse St. Croix is a favorite of luxury-seeking honeymooners.

Stay: Find accommodations of every stripe including the smart Ritz-Carlton on St. Thomas.

St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly

Looking towards Porthcressa Beach, St Mary’s, Isle
Looking towards Porthcressa Beach, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly. (Picture: Shutterstock)

Need sun? Scilly has your back. The cluster of islands off the Cornish coast are covered in sandy beaches and lush greenery, but they’re also very quiet. Scilly has a population of just under 2,200 people, making it a more peaceful alternative to Cornwall in the summer.

How to get there: Skybus, the island’s own airline, is the quickest way to get to the island Flights from Newquay airport (which is an hour’s flight from London) take just half an hour, and an hour from Exeter.

 

6. Block Island — Rhode Island

Photo By Bob Gundersen / Getty Images An easy 45-minute ferry ride from the mainland will bring you to Block Island, home to miles of beaches and the Mohegan Bluffs, impressive clay cliffs that rise almost 200 feet above the sea. Spend the morning boogie boarding at Mansion Beach before refueling with a lobster roll from Southeast Light Delights, and finish off the day watching the sun drop from Charlestown Beach.

Isle of Man

The town of Douglas from Douglas Head, Isle of Man
The town of Douglas from Douglas Head, Isle of Man. (Picture: Shutterstock)

The Isle of Man is home to 35 windswept beaches, 17 stunning national glens and a small population of 88,000. This means nature takes centre stage, as more than 40% of the island is completely uninhabited. It’s a favourite of thrill-seekers. There’s no national speed limit on the island, and its winding country roads are home to a nail-biting international motorcycling race.

How to get there: Flights from London to the Isle of Man last just over one hour, while a ferry from Liverpool lasts two hours, 45 minutes.

 

US Virgin Islands

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These stunning Caribbean islands are now an organized and unincorporated US territory thanks to an agreement struck with Denmark in 1916. Tourism is the island’s main industry, with some 2m visitors enjoying the pristine scenery each year. Typical activities include swimming, diving and sampling rum, one of the main industries on the island that is best consumed in cocktail form while lying on the beach.

Lazarus Island ($15 for a return ferry ride)

No, it’s not full of lepers. If you’re visiting Lazarus Island, you’ll have to first take a ferry to St John’s Island, the more well-known of the two. From St John’s Island, you simply take a short walk across a narrow strip of causeway and you’ll be on Lazarus. 

The island has a nice beach and is usually deserted, making it one of the few places in Singapore not plagued by crowds. Though it’s usually touted for its pristine beaches, there are spots where you can see trash 🙁 

Don’t expect to find any amenities here either, so make sure you use the toilets on St John’s Island first before heading over. 

Price of return ferry to Lazarus Island via St John’s Island: $15 (adults), $12 (kids up to age 12) per round trip. A one-way ride takes 30 minutes. 

Ferry operating hours:Check schedules at Marina South Ferries and Island Cruise. (*Note: Island Cruise charges an additional $1 fee per purchase.)

Are There Any Exceptions?

Be careful with flight routings. If you’re not going to be traveling with a passport, make sure that you buy a direct flight to the U.S. Virgin Islands or one that only passes through the U.S. or U.S. territories on a layover. If you were to buy a flight with a stopover in say, Costa Rica, you’ll need to have your passport, as this would count as traveling internationally. In this case, you wouldn’t be allowed to board the plane if you couldn’t show your passport. 

Likewise, on your way home, if you were to book a flight that would stop over in Bermuda or Mexico (or any other international country), you would need to have a passport in order to board that flight. 

Pulau Ubin ($8 for a return bumboat ride)

This is the best known and most-visited (by tourists, not NS men) island after Sentosa. But it couldn’t be more different from the latter. You’ll be rewarded with one of Singapore’s last kampungs, surrounded by jungle and mangrove swamps, and flanked by views of the sea.

So what to do on Pulau Ubin? Why, cycling of course. Rent a bicycle from any of the bicycle shops along the road from the ferry arrival area. Prices range from $8 to $20 per day but it’s advised to take a sturdy mountain bike. 

A popular route is to ride out to the Chek Jawa Wetlands, a unique ecosystem that includes beaches, mangroves, forest and more. The seven-storey high Jejawi Tower there is also worth the climb for a panoramic view of the jungle. 

NParks holds guided tours on weekends but they’re all fully booked for now. You can try your luck and register for the waitlist and pray that people drop out. A tour costs $60 and accommodates a maximum of 5. 

For the more adventurous thrill-seekers who know what they’re doing, the Ketam Mountain Bike Park is where you can clock a solid 10km around the Ketam Quarry. The quarry is one of 5 inactive quarries on the island that you can cycle to some for some birdwatching, or you know, to get that Instagram pic.

Guess what, you can also camp on Ubin at designated campsites (Jelutong, Mamam, Urban Living Lab) and can even bring your own food to cook. Unfortunately, NParks has suspended camping for now due to Covid-19.

Price of bumboat tickets to Pulau Ubin from Changi Point: $4 each way since mid-2020, which adds up to $8 per round trip. Bring cash! 

Operating hours: 7am to 7pm (recommended to leave before sunset)

Bicycle rental: approx $8 to $20 for a day. Prices and timing vary at individual shops. 

Tip: Opt for sturdy mountain bikes and don’t always go with the cheapest option as the bikes may not be in the best condition to navigate the Ubin trails. Get a helmet too and heed the signs that tell you to dismount your bike and push as there have been fatal accidents.

Where to eat on Pulau Ubin: There are 4 main restaurants near the Ubin jetty — Encik Hassan, Cheong Lian Yuen, Sin Nam Huat, Season Live Seafood. Around the village are also several stalls selling snacks, drinks, fruits and local desserts.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by David (@pingo_david) on Nov 25, 2018 at 12:21am PST

Canada

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US citizens looking to enter Canada by land or sea are able to do so with a valid Passport Card or Nexus card. Although air travelers can still use the Nexus card, the Passport Card cannot be used, and a Passport Booklet will be needed instead. The Nexus card is great for those who regularly travel between the two countries, as it is designed to expedite the process and costs less than a Passport Booklet.

2. Puerto Rico

There’s never been a better time to visit Puerto Rico, and bonusU.S. citizens don’t need passports to visit this island in the Caribbean! Explore the history, culture and colorful architecture in Old San Juan, plan a day trip to El Yungue National Forest, take a glass-bottom boat tour on Bioluminescent Bay and sip piña coladas (said to have been invented in Puerto Rico!) on any one of the island’s beautiful beaches.

Recommended Hotel: Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach ResortThis recently renovated, oceanfront resort offers swimming pools, kids’ activities and six onsite dining options. The best part? This resort has an optional all-inclusive plan!

San Diego, California

About 70 miles of coastline, adorable sea lions and seriously talented surfers? When you’re ready to travel again, head west and you’ll find a SoCal paradise in San Diego … and you may wonder why you ever considered traveling further. La Jolla Cove is enough reason to visit; it’s a Pacific Coast dream featuring scuba diving, white sand beaches, underwater reefs and plenty of seal spotting as the Children’s Pool transforms into a safe haven for newly-born seal pups from December to May each year.

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

Let’s not forget about the city’s immersive zoo experience, where visitors can get a glimpse at more than 4,000 animals including koalas, giant pandas, Galapagos tortoises and much more. A stroll through Balboa Park and dinner in the Gaslamp Quarter can round out your day before enjoying another incredible sunset in a place where summer never seems to end. Get the beachside vibe you’re looking for with a stay at the one-of-a-kind Hotel del Coronado.

Mackinac Island

At the top of Lake Huron in Michigan, this tiny 3.8-square-mile island is 80 percent preserved state park and has prohibited the use of motor vehicles since 1898, making it a seriously endearing retreat. Activities here are unsurprisingly laid-back. Think: biking, swimming, and lounging on the beach, interrupted from time to time for a leisurely game of bocce or tennis. The town’s main attraction? An abundance of fudge purveyors, hawking their sweet treats. Stay at the grand (and newly renovated) Mission Point, an 18-acre property that offers every activity imaginable (golf, croquet, arcade, flower-pressing classes, you name it), lending it a wonderful old-school summer-camp vibe.

5. American Samoa

Unless you live in Hawaii, the American Samoa is a long tripit’s about a five-hour flight from the islands. But it’s a fantastic no passport vacation option for families who are up for the adventure. Popular activities include exploring the National Park of American Samoa and visiting the island’s many beaches, such as Ofu Beach, famous for its coral reefs.

Recommended Hotel: Tradewinds HotelThere aren’t any major resorts on the American Samoa, but Tradewinds Hotel is a nice home base for families. The beachfront hotel offers modern guestrooms and suites, a swimming pool, internet cafe and laundry facility.

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