No passport? No problem!
Looking for somewhere truly tropical that’s still part of the United States? While you’re probably thinking of Hawaii, there may be more options than you realize! Not only are these three islands warm all year, they also qualify as domestic travel. So no passport, no customs required—just fun in the sun!
Here are the top attractions you’ll find in our top three passport-free warm weather destinations:
In this tropical American territory, be sure to check out:
Did you know Puerto Rico has the only tropical rainforest in the United States? El Yunque is near San Juan, and it’s great for jungle exploration! Hiking trails, natural pools, and tropical animals are everywhere (like the coqui frog), but the crown jewel is La Coca Falls, once thought to be the fountain of youth.
Puerto Rico is home to, not one, but two massive, 16th-century Spanish forts. Castillo San Felipe del Morro at the tip of the city is the most famous and you can learn about its history in battles at the museum. Fort San Cristobal is the largest Spanish fortification in the Americas—plus it offers an incredible ocean view.
The food and drink
There’s no shortage of delicious eats in Puerto Rico—like traditional beef empanadillas (thicker empanadas). But you’ve gotta try a national favorite, “Mofongo.” It’s a mash of not-yet-sweet plantains, garlic, and pork rinds shaped into a ball and served in a broth with beef or even octopus. And if you like piña coladas, order the national cocktail with the island’s famous Bacardi rum.
In the “gateway to the Caribbean”, you’ll want to experience:
The beautiful bay
The gorgeous, crescent-shaped Magens Bay has the go-to beach and clear blue water that’s perfect for taking a tropical dip. For even better views, trek up Skyline Drive to the highest point on the island, where you can see the entire bay and neighboring islands on the horizon.
The underwater adventures
Whether you prefer snorkeling or scuba diving, St. Thomas is the spot. The island reefs are home to sea turtles, manta rays, and parrot fish. But what makes it unique? Shipwrecks! Besides the beautiful coral reefs, fish make their home in the many submerged vessels of St. Thomas, so snorkel above them or dive down for a closer look.
Who doesn’t love a good deal? St. Thomas is called the “duty-free shopping capital of the world,” so you’ve got to scope out the stores. Head to the many local shops in the downtown area of Charlotte Amalie to find jewelry, island rum, and crafts for souvenirs.
While part of Florida, this island is often called, “the Conch Republic,” and is actually a closer distance to Havana than Miami. It’s also a stop on mini cruises from Miami to Cozumel! Don’t miss:
There’s a second “white house” in the U.S. and it’s in Key West. Really! The “Little White House” was frequented by President Harry S. Truman and he even issued official documents there. You can learn everything about the LWH’s history in the present-day museum. But a more popular Key West home belonged to the famous writer Ernest Hemingway and visitors will learn about his life, books, and his six-toed cats.
Sun, surf, umbrellas, and food trucks—what more could you ask for? Key West’s largest public beach is lined with palms for a Caribbean feel and offers spectacular sunsets. Once you plop down in the sand, you won’t want to get up. But if you do and are feeling active, you can also rent kayaks.
Key lime pie:
These “keys” go together. In fact, Key limes are named for the Florida Keys! For the best pies? Visit Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe for perfectly tart, sweet treats. And the options go beyond pies to sauces and marinades, so you can kick up your cooking at home!