U.S. travelers to the Caribbean really should get a passport as soon as possible; it's the best way to avoid hassles when reentering the U.S. But if you want to travel soon and don't have a passport, don't worry: It's still possible to have a fabulous Caribbean vacation even if you don't yet have a valid passport. Here are your options for traveling to the Caribbean with just a birth certificate and driver's license or other form of primary ID:
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Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth of the United States, making travel here just like crossing a state border: no passport is required for U.S. citizens. Plus, you don't have to clear Customs, either! Puerto Rico has the best air service
in the Caribbean, with international flights into San Juan, Aguadilla and Ponce
, and can provide a wide range of experiences from the urban sophistication and history of San Juan
to the wilds of the El Yunque rainforest
. Add in a side trip to Vieques
, and you'll get to experience three Caribbean islands without ever leaving the U.S.
Caneel Bay Resort, Rosewood Resorts
The U.S. Virgin Islands -- St. Thomas
, St. John
, and St. Croix
-- are U.S. territories that are passport-free for U.S. citizens. St. Croix, the largest of the islands, has two major towns (Christiansted and Frederiksted), a rain forest, and preserved historic plantation homes. Bustling Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas is the most popular cruise port and shopping destination in the Caribbean, while two-thirds of St. John is preserved as a tropical national park.
The British Virgin Islands are a mere stone's throw away from St. Thomas and St. John, and accessible by ferry or private boat. However, you will need a valid U.S. passport to visit the BVI.