Escape to tropical paradise: here are 10 best U.S. vacation spots for sun, sand, and adventure

Dora Abena Dzaka June 16, 2023
Maui, Hawaii. Photo CREDIT:

The tropics are renowned for their year-round heat, making them an ideal summer vacation spot if you’re not keen on long flights. The lush flora, soft island beaches, glittering waves, overgrown orchids, bougainvillea, and birds-of-paradise are just a few of the captivating features of the tropics. While the United States is too far north to be considered a true tropical region, you’ll be amazed at the number of destinations that offer balmy weather and sugar sand beaches to escape to.

From Hawaii to Puerto Rico, U.S. citizens can travel without having to renew their passports, although passports are required. Whether or not these destinations are geographically accepted as tropical, these U.S. islands, beach towns, and resorts provide the perfect tropical-style vacation:

Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii. Photo CREDIT:
Maui, Hawaii. Photo Credit:

The tropical region of Maui, Hawaii, is renowned for its breathtaking picturesque backdrop and cozy beaches. If you’re traveling this summer, consider taking a trip on the scenic road to Hana to explore the area’s black sand beaches, upcountry farms, and luxurious resorts. Alternatively, you can embark on a hiking adventure to discover misty waterfalls and vibrant rainbows. With its golden coastlines, vast nature preserves, and stunning cliffs in every direction, the Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua offers the perfect summer tropical escape, complete with palm-shaded areas, rocky shorelines, and championship golf courses.

Kauai, Hawaii

Not far from the Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua lies another tropical destination—Kauai. Home to some of the world’s best islands and boasting blue lagoons, Kauai features dazzling rainforests, waterfalls, and breathtaking hiking trails. The scenic view from the shore is the epitome of a tropical respite.

Amelia Island, Florida

For beach lovers looking to stay closer to home, a trip to Amelia Island off the northeast coast of Florida is an excellent vacation choice. Start your day by searching for turtle nests in the morning, collecting shark teeth and seashells on the flat beaches, and then head to the charming downtown area for a strawberry ice cream cone to beat the rising heat in the afternoon. To relax, kick back at The Ritz-Carlton and indulge in their signature spa treatments.

South Padre Island, Texas

Escape to tropical paradise: here are 10 best U.S. vacation spots for sun, sand, and adventure
South Padre Island. Photo credit:

While Texas might be associated with cowboys, South Padre Island off the southern tip of the state offers a year-round oasis with its white-sand beaches, clear warm waters, mild weather, and abundance of activities. Visit the Nature Center and Alligator Sanctuary, try your hand at fishing or take a boat ride, or simply enjoy the island’s beauty while sipping a margarita and watching a beautiful sunset at the beachfront cafe of Isla Grand Beach Resort.

Catalina Island, California

Adventure enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities to explore on Catalina Island. With its hot and lush climate, this island offers sandy beaches, mountains, and numerous campsites. Whether you’re snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, diving, boating, mountain biking, zip-lining, or hiking, there’s no shortage of activities to keep you entertained on this tropical island getaway.

Tybee Island, Georgia

While the Sahara desert meeting the ocean might be far off in Namibia, Tybee Island brings together the grassy sand dunes and a historic black-and-white striped lighthouse, creating a quaint coastal feel with a touch of desert adventure. Access to seafood is as easy as finding a subway hotdog, and you can enjoy a basket of fresh shrimp and a cold Tropicál cocktail at a beachfront restaurant while watching the sun set behind pink and orange clouds.

Molokai, Hawaii

Molokai is a hidden island tucked behind a barrier reef in remote Hawaii, making it a great tropical vacation option for holidaymakers seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience. It boasts the world’s highest sea cliffs and Hawaii’s tallest waterfall, offering endless opportunities for outdoor adventure in a tropical environment. When it comes to accommodations, Hotel Moloka’i offers Polynesian-style bungalows for a unique stay.

Escape to tropical paradise: here are 10 best U.S. vacation spots for sun, sand, and adventure
San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo credit:

Las Vegas, Nevada

While Sin City is renowned for its desert-like adventure, complete with numerous casinos and a vibrant nightlife, Nevada’s desert is no mirage. The famous landmark and resort, The Palm, features a palm-like pool where you can indulge in a variety of cuisines to your heart’s content. Even though it’s situated in the middle of the Nevada desert, The Palm provides a cozy tropical oasis at every turn. So, on your next Las Vegas vacation, take a break from the bustling nightlife and enjoy a tropical experience at Mandalay Bay to bring a taste of the South Pacific to your trip.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico offers the Caribbean getaway of your dreams, with palm trees, white-sand beaches, and the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. national forest system. Just a few miles from Miami and visa-free for U.S. citizens, a trip to this tropical island promises hiking adventures in the rainforest, sunbathing on the island’s humid beaches, or exploring the Old City of San Juan. For accommodations, the popular Condado Vanderbilt resort offers five-star comfort and oceanfront views.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama

This summer, the southern shores of Alabama can be considered a bona fide tropical vacation destination. Although most U.S. beaches can’t compete with the aquamarine waters and soft sands of the Gulf Coast, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach in Alabama provide the perfect setting for relaxation. Whether you’re reclining on the fluffy white beaches with a rum punch in hand, embarking on deep-sea fishing adventures, or simply catching some sun by your own private pool at Kiva Dunes Resort and Golf, these destinations offer a taste of the tropics.

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: June 16, 2023


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