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Escape to an Island on American Soil

Escape to an Island on American Soil

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Getaway Staff
Updated: Jun 30, 2022

We all dream of the perfect island vacation—the chance to escape from our hectic daily lives. The opportunity to do nothing but lounge about on a beach, swim in turquoise waters or snorkel on pristine coral reefs with the turtles.

An island vacation often means months of planning. Setting a budget and booking flights. And, most importantly, digging out the travel permit and making sure it's still valid.

But, what if there was an easier way to take a well-earned vacation? A destination where travel documents aren't needed. Somewhere where you can still experience your dream island vacation.

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01Alupang Island, Guam


U.S. citizens don't need to pack their permits when heading to the U.S. territory of Guam. Situated in the North Pacific Ocean, the island is famous for its tropical beaches. A mile off the coast is Alupang Island. The sea is so tranquil and shallow that you can wade out to the island at low tide without getting your shoulders wet.

Guam is a haven for scuba divers and snorkelers with visibility up to 150 feet and crystal clear waters. Its coral reefs are vibrant and teeming with marine life just waiting to be explored. Above the surface, enjoy a variety of water sports, including jet-skiing, banana boating, and parasailing. And, take in the outstanding beauty of the island at Two Lovers Point, a cliff-side lookout 400 feet above sea level.



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02Amelia Island, Florida

Two bridges conecting Amelia Island and Big Talbot Island, Florida. Nassau County. PETERLAKOMY / Getty Images



With more than 13 miles of pristine beaches, Amelia Island is Florida's perfect island getaway. Gallop along the sand on horseback, kayak through marshes, tee-off on a celebrity-designed golf course, or head off along miles of cycle trails.

With its blend of French, Spanish, and English cultures, the historic downtown area of Fernandina Beach is a must for history buffs and those wanting to find out more about this stunning part of Florida. When your adventure is finished for the day, watch the breathtaking sunsets over the ocean. Amelia Island really does have something for everyone.



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03St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Aerial view of Turtle Beach, caneel bay, St. John, united states virgin islands cdwheatley / Getty Images



A state-issued ID is all that's required for U.S. citizens to fly to the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John. A Caribbean climate and powdery white sand beaches make St. John a little piece of island paradise.

Snorkel in the clear sea and join turtles, octopuses, crabs, and rays swimming around the multi-colored reefs. Rent a paddleboard or kayak and head to the turquoise waters of Caneel Bay. Or simply kick back and relax on some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, including the infamous Trunk Bay.



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04Tutuila, American Samoa

National Park of American Samoa, Tutuila island, American Samoa, South Pacific



Halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand lies the U.S. territory of American Samoa. This small archipelago is made up of seven volcanic islands and atolls, the largest of which is Tutuila, an idyllic island.

A volcanic crater in the south is home to the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This remote sanctuary is a diverse marine ecosystem making it an adventure playground for snorkelers and divers. Above ground, the lush vegetation of the rainforest hides waterfalls and pools where you can cool off during your exploration.



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05Vieques, Puerto Rico



The Puerto Rican island of Vieques welcomes U.S. citizens with open arms looking for an escape. Its waters are warm, clear, and inviting, and the beaches are considered some of the best on the planet.

But, it's Mosquito Bay that's the real highlight of an adventure in Vieques. At night, the sea comes alive with bioluminescent. Rent a kayak or paddleboard after dark and gaze in wonder as your paddle stirs up tiny organisms called dinoflagellates that release bright bursts of blue light. It's an awe-inspiring sight as the bay appears to reflect the starry sky above.



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06Orcas Island, Washington

Traditional Kayaks on waters of Orcas Island,WA at Sunset. protog / Getty Images



Avoid the crowds of Seattle and head off on an island vacation to a stunning part of Washington. Orcas Island is the gem of the San Juan Islands and just a short ferry or seaplane journey from the mainland.

This lush green island paradise is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. With more than 40 miles of hiking trails, there's plenty to keep you active. Take in the panoramic views from Mount Constitution, fish for Rainbow Trout on Cascade Lake, go bird watching in Obstruction Pass State Park, or hire a kayak and patrol the coastline for passing whales.



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07Kauai, Hawaii

Tropical beach with palm trees at sunset in Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii. M Swiet Productions / Getty Images



Hawaii is an obvious choice for an island vacation. The popular destinations of Maui and Oahu are definitely beautiful. But both become overcrowded at certain times of the year. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle, then Kauai is the island to head to.

This tropical rainforest island still has plenty of beaches for lazing around on. However, the action really takes place inland. Picturesque hikes take you through deep primeval valleys lined with streams and cascading waterfalls. Kauai's dramatic coastline features steep 3,000-foot cliffs that form the backdrop for iconic movies, including King Kong and Jurassic Park.



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08Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

Pristine blue waters of the Micro Beach and the far-off Managaha Island backdrops a perfectly manicured garden with pond in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. raksybH / Getty Images



A short hop west of Hawaii is Saipan, part of the U.S. Commonwealth and the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands. Year-round sunshine means there's never a bad time to lounge around on its sandy beaches, dive into the clear blue waters, or explore the colorful underwater coral reefs.

For a change of pace, head to the north of the island. Witness dramatic landscapes and visit historic World War II sites, including Suicide Cliff, Bird Island, and the eerie Kalabera Cave.



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09Catalina Island, California



No documents are needed for a vacation in California. But, instead of staying with the hoards in San Diego, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, why not try the West Coasts' best-kept secret: Catalina Island.

Just an hour's ferry ride from LA, Catalina Island offers fun and adventure for everyone. Scuba dive in the kelp forests while interacting with playful sea lions. Enjoy the scenic views while hiking the Trans Catalina Trail. Or, discover the small island village of Two Harbors by renting a kayak or mountain bike.



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10South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images



Texas is more than ranches, barbecues, and country music. The state also boasts its own tropical paradise in South Padre Island. Thanks to it having more than 300 days of sunshine each year, South Padre is the ideal winter island getaway.

You need to experience all this beautiful part of the country has to offer. Ride across the miles of white-sand beaches on horseback. Hire a scoot coupe to whiz around and explore the island. Hit the Laguna Madre Nature Trail for some bird-spotting. Or, learn about turtles and the conservation project to rescue and protect them at Sea Turtle Inc.

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