It seems pretty obvious to mention the amazing islands of Hawaii as exotic places to travel without a passport but I am always compelled to include them for various reasons.
First of all, there are 8 main islands in this archipelago of over 130 islands. The islands are, in fact, the tip tops of the highest mountains in the world, most of which are submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean.
The lush and tropical climate hovers in the 70-85-degree temperature range making it wonderfully warm and comfortable for exploring, beach life and generally relaxing.
Second, did you know that one-third of all the pineapples in the world are harvested in Hawaii?
This will be no surprise as you will find this delicious fruit (technically it’s a cluster of berries) accompanies some of the best cuisine and beverages on the islands.
At Exceptional Villas we have some fabulous Hawaiian Villas that can become your home from home. We are particularly fond of the luxury villas Kauai has to offer. There is a hammock with your name on it, just waiting for you!
Each one of the islands has its own unique personality and your ‘no passport’ vacation experience can include some island hopping to take in all of the diversity of the US’s 50th State.
Never underestimate the beauty of these islands.
Perhaps it’s their unique geographical location making them the most isolated population centre on the face of the earth (2,390 miles from California; 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China; and 5,280 miles from the Philippines) that contributes to the matchless experience.
The Hawaiian alphabet may only contain a mere 12 letters but they all spell ‘sublime’!
At 5 hours from LAX to Honolulu, you can so easily get away from the everyday USA experience. Aloha!
Mariana Islands and Guam – Out of Conflict comes Calm
The last destinations that I am going to focus on that fall into the category of exotic vacations without passport are some military outposts across the far margins of the Pacific that have evolved over time into a fascinating tourist destination.
The Northern Mariana Islands and Guam are island outposts in the Philippine Sea. Seemingly unremarkable little islands, they had the geographical misfortune to lie at the heart of some of the greatest naval and land battles of WWII.
For anyone with an interest in the tragic history of the Battle of Saipan or the two battles of Guam, there are war memorials on the islands and military fortifications – some still in use today – to remind us of this small US outpost keeping watch from the distant reaches of the Pacific.
In under 8 hours you can fly from Honolulu non- stop to Guam.
Regardless of your interest in the military past of these tropical islands, there is a fabulously untouched quality to these pretty places. Remote beaches, gorgeous coral reefs that create a calm lagoon, the local colour of the native life all adds to your adventure. The world-famous Grotto along the Saipan coast, the largest of the Mariana Islands, is a diverse dream.
The perfectly blue underwater conditions light up incredible rock formations and colourful sea life. These islands are part of what is called Micronesia. You might have to look it up to really understand what that means in terms of both geography and culture but if you want a trip like no other, this might be the very destination for you.
I am now going to focus on places you can travel to without a passport without getting on a plane. The contiguous USA enjoys land borders with two spectacular and wildly different countries. Canada and Mexico.
Can you travel to Mexico without a passport?
Now that we’ve covered off the serene destination that is Canada, let’s look at something quite different. In my opinion, one of the best places to vacation without a passport has to be Tijuana, Mexico.
A short drive from San Diego, and you will be transported into another world entirely, full of culture, delicious foods and Mexican villa rentals.
There can be a lot of opinions on Mexico, most of which have been inflamed by Netflix’s desire to create popular shows that focus on drug cartels and violence.
There’s a great deal more to Mexico than this and Tijuana is a fun introduction to the authentic flavour of Mexico in a manageable bite.
Many thousands of US tourists make the border crossing each year.
Weekends in Tijuana being extremely popular for young travellers who want to enjoy a laid back vibe and party scene. Tequila, craft beers, melt in the mouth tacos, music … it’s all waiting for you.
Art and design are two key features of this city whether you look for it in cool galleries or in the architecture. Turista Libre is a great way to see the city.
Leap onto these old school buses / mobile bars and get a good understanding of Tijuana and its history and culture. It’s a noisy, busy, fun place to visit.
The same rules of behaviour and safety apply here as they do back home. It’s not some lawless outpost. It’s a slice of a rich and ancient culture that you can enjoy!
As you can see, there are many options for US citizens to travel without passports from mainland USA onto foreign and exotic shores.
I’ve listed here the best places to travel without a passport, so you can start your adventures immediately without having to get that passport issued or replaced. The US is such a large country offering sun and snow, dessert and forest but sometimes, it can all just be a bit same-y.
It might be time, to reach a bit beyond your borders to see what’s happening in your neighbour’s yard.
About Mairead Moriarty
Born and raised in Co Kerry, lived in London, New York, San Francisco, Dublin. Owner of one very battered suitcase, a well-worn passport and a million memories.
It seems very fitting for a travel writer that my surname translates as ‘Skilled Navigator’. Apart from an occasion when, aged 3, I got lost in a Supermarket in Tralee, I have managed to live up to my name! Curiosity is probably the driver that has sent me on magical mystery tours around the world. I want to ‘feel’ a place. I want all my senses to be engaged: from the history and geography that has influenced a country or city, the arts and achievements of its natives, anything and everything really. Regardless of whether I am on a local train travelling through Morocco, or poking around in Marconi’s study in Bologna or on a canal boat weaving through the heart of the English countryside, the same rules apply - ask questions, talk to locals, eat what they eat, sit quietly with nature and simply be. Assimilate as much as is possible so as to understand the soul of a place. That is my passion. That is the compass by which I navigate.