The tourism sector in the Caribbean is rebounding after the pandemic. In 2021, there was a 52.4% increase in tourist arrivals, making the Caribbean a perfect getaway place for American citizens to visit. But what if you don’t have a passport for the much-needed weekend getaway in the Caribbean?
Several Caribbean islands are US territories or commonwealths of the US, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Since these places are US territories, you can visit and experience their pristine sandy beaches, vibrant culture, and beautiful landscape without a passport.
So, let’s explore the Caribbean Islands that don't require a passport in 2023, activities you can do during your visit, places you can stay, and the required documentation you need in place of a valid US passport.
Alternatives Documentations for Passports
Is the hassle of acquiring a US passport hindering you from traveling outside the US continental mainland? Maybe you need a replacement or a new passport for a vacation to the tropical islands of the Caribbean. Worry not! According to the TSA, you can use the following government-issued photo IDs to travel to the tropical islands of the Caribbean;
- Permanent resident card (for green card holders)
- S. Department of Defense ID
- Border crossing card
- HSPD-12 PIV card
- State photo ID card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles including a driver’s license
- S. passport card
- Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
- S. Merchant Mariner Credential
- Transportation worker identification credential
- Foreign-government issued passport
- State-issued Enhanced Driver’s license
- DHS trusted traveler cards (SENTRI, Global Entry, FAST, NEXUS)
- S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
- Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
- An American Indian card or Tribal ID that’s federally recognized.
The above government-issued photo IDs act as alternative travel documents for accessing the tropical paradises of the Caribbean. Don’t let a lack of a passport limit your perfect getaway experience in the Caribbean.
How to Get to the Caribbean Without a Passport
You only need a recognized government-issued ID card and a valid travel ticket to get to the Caribbean islands. You can travel to the US territories of the Caribbean using the following routes:
You can take many direct flights from the mainland US to the US territories in the Caribbean. This has made international travel easy and convenient for US citizens looking to explore the turquoise waters and vibrant cultures of the Caribbean islands without a passport.
You can book your flight from New York, Miami, and Atlanta to the US territories in the Caribbean. The flights include almost 20 non-stop flights to San Juan, the Northern Mariana Islands, and other Caribbean getaways.
When you want to experience a fun voyage of Caribbean getaways, consider traveling by sea. You can use a closed-loop cruise from the only living barrier reef in the US to the turquoise waters and white sandy beaches of travel destinations like Puerto Rico, and Nassau in the Bahamas.
The cruise ships set their voyage from one destination, stop over other Caribbean islands, and end their voyage at the destination where they started from. This way you can tour other Caribbean islands in one trip without a passport.
Places to Visit in the Caribbean Without a Passport
You can visit several places you can go in the Caribbean without a passport for a vacation. They include the following;
US citizens don’t need a passport to explore the diversity of Puerto Rico. Many non-stop flights from the US mainland land at San Juan- the capital of Puerto Rico.
History buffs will fall in love with 16th-century Spanish architecture as they visit Old San Juan. The place is home to UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Castillo San Cristobal Spanish fortress, La Fortaleza, and El Morro.
You can go surfing on Rincon Island, which happens to be one of the best snorkeling places on the west coast. Mosquito Bay is a great place for kayaking as you explore the bioluminescent bay at night in a glass-bottom kayak. You can also go hiking in the tropical rainforest of El Yunque and explore serene waterfalls.
Other things to do in this tropical destination include visiting the thermal pools of Coamo Hot Springs and enjoying the Criollo cuisines, music, drinks, and dancing at great restaurants like La Casita Blanca.
If you love beaches, the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel is the perfect place to explore the popular beaches of Puerto Rico. You could also visit the Lazy Parrot if you’re planning to hike the mountainside. While at it, be sure to watch out for the local weather during the hurricane season while in Puerto Rico.
US Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands are a group of four unique islands. You can do some island hoping to gain the best holiday life experience in this US territory. Nature lovers will enjoy the ecosystem of the only living barrier reef in the US as it cuts across the US Virgin Islands. These islands include;
i. St. Thomas
St. Thomas is the gateway to the US Virgin Islands, as the capital, Charlotte Amalie, is located here. The Island has amazing historical and cultural sites to explore. Make sure you don’t miss visiting the watchtower of Blackbeard’s Castle, Fort Christian, and the Pirates Treasure Museum.
Plenty of water activities include snorkeling, swimming, and diving in the clear blue waters. You can also hike to the top of Drake’s Seat or zipline at the Tree Limin’ Extreme Zipline Park for a scenic view of the Caribbean.
You can stay at the Bolongo Bay Beach Resort for an all-inclusive resort experience. The resort offers sailing trips for the best Charlotte Amalie sunset views, snorkel excursions with turtles, and private charters for destination weddings.
Or, you can stay at the Emerald Beach Resort, where plenty of jet-skiing activities and kayak rentals exist.
ii. St. John
St. John is a great place to unwind for travelers in the Caribbean Sea and nature lovers. The island has a national park with hiking paths for a bird-watching expedition. You can also swim in its coral reefs and interact with a sea turtle if you’re lucky.
The water activities at Cinnamon Bay include kayaking, windsurfing, and snorkeling. Cruz Bay offers exceptional eateries and shopping places with drinks half-priced during happy hour.
The places you can stay in while in St. John include Gallows Point Resort and the Westin St. John Resort Villas.
iii. St. Croix
St. Croix is the largest island of the US Virgin Islands. You can explore it on a dune buggy, horseback, or an ATV. The most attractive site on the island is Sandy Point, but it only opens on weekends and is closed during the sea turtle-nestling period.
Water activities are available in Buck Island Reef National Monument, while the Salt River Bay National Historic Park has the best bioluminescent bay experience on the island. Historic sites on the island include the St. George Village Botanical Garden and the Caribbean Museum Centre for the Arts.
You can find accommodation at the Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort or the Fred- an adult-only resort.
iv. Water Island
If you want a laid-back holiday in the Caribbean, Water Island is your place of choice. It’s the smallest island among the US Virgin Islands with a close community where everyone knows everyone.
Some of the things to do on the island include swimming, hiking, fishing excursions, kayaking, or enjoying lazy days overlooking the beautiful shorelines.
The Bahamas is known for its “hype” and is a great place for US citizens to visit without a passport. Made up of 700 islands, The Bahamas offers an alluring mix of land and sea activities. You can play golf on a seaside fairway from Nassau to Eleuthera, dive into dramatic wrecks and reefs, and sail in crystal-clear water.
It is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, including Pink Sands Beach and Treasure Cay Beach. You can also go snorkeling or diving in the crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas and explore the coral reefs and marine life.
The Bahamas also offers duty-free shopping and delicious local cuisine. Other things to do in the Bahamas include visiting historic sites, like the Queen's Staircase, and enjoying the vibrant nightlife.
Accommodations run the gamut, from simple inns to sophisticated retreats, practical fishing lodges, and romantic honeymoon hideaways. And for those who look a little closer, there's a fascinating and diverse culture to be explored. With 16 major islands, The Bahamas is an unmatched destination, a heart-pounding adventure across 100,000 square miles of the world’s clearest ocean.
St. Martin/ St. Maarten
St. Martin is popular with travelers who like to eat well, party hard, and shop duty-free between beach trips. The north side, St. Martin, is controlled by the French government and is home to the island's tastiest restaurants and party beaches. Cosmopolitan St. Maarten shelters the most animated casinos, bars, and clubs.
For all the excitement, St. Martin and St. Maarten still foster a stress-free vibe – starting with how easily you can pass between both sides of the island. So catch a few morning rays on a quiet Dutch-side beach; later, take a leisurely afternoon stroll through a French-side mountain.
The Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands is an interactive and informative site of three compelling islands: Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. Featuring one-of-a-kind events for every season of the year, the Cayman Islands always has a reason to celebrate on the horizon. Keep up with the festivities by checking the official calendar for updates regularly.
Enjoy nonstop flights on National Carrier from New York (JFK), Miami, Tampa, Denver, and Los Angeles. There are currently no COVID-19 travel restrictions in place for the Cayman Islands. All travelers—vaccinated and unvaccinated—are permitted to enter the Cayman Islands, via air or sea, without needing additional documents or health-related steps due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Turks and Caicos
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a small tropical archipelago nation found south of the Bahamas. It’s home to spectacular beaches, a pristine marine environment, luxury resorts, friendly people, and fine dining. The Turks and Caicos have forty islands and cays, with nine inhabited. They are about double the size of the Florida Keys.
Providenciales, also known locally as Provo, is home to the spectacular Grace Bay Beach, the most luxurious and all-inclusive hotels and resorts, and is the destination of choice for most overnight tourists. The TCI welcomes direct flights from many cities in the United States and Canada, London, and many countries in the Caribbean.
Northern Mariana Islands
The Northern Mariana Islands are located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You can visit this string of islands and explore World War II memories, scuba dive, snorkel, and hike Mt. Tapotchau to see the Stone Jesus at the top.
You can also explore The Grotto, a massive underwater limestone cavern, where you’ll meet some sea turtles and reef sharks.
Jamaica is a well-known stop-over for closed-loop cruise ships. US citizens can visit this Caribbean nation without a passport and hike the mountainous side of Jamaica.
You’ll also get to experience majestic waterfalls, all-inclusive resorts, beautiful sandy beaches, a reggae-rich music culture, and the infamous blue mountain coffee.
If you love water activities, there’s snorkeling, diving, surfing, and sailing in Jamaica.
Nowadays, international travel is easy with the relaxation of stringent measures such as a passport. This has increased the number of tourists and flights to tourist destination sites.
US territories in the Caribbean are among the best tourist destinations places for US citizens without a passport. They offer great cuisines, a diverse local culture, white sandy beaches, historic sites, bioluminescent bays, incredible wildlife, and year-round water activities.
Closed-loop cruises offer the best experience of the Caribbean without a passport.