Want to go to an exotic location but not technically leave the USA? There are some very special far flung places that are territories of the US that might surprise you.
Lying 350 miles from the nearest continental land mass, you can typically only visit the Palmyra Atoll as a volunteer working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of as a member of a research program. If you seek prior permission, it is sometimes possible to visit this idyll on a multi-day sailing trip from Hawaii. Remote and totally tourist free, this is one of the most exotic US locations you could ever travel to. Lush vegetation and a rich wildlife make this an unforgettable adventure.
Saipan, a 14-mile long island, may be part of the USA, but it is much closer to Japan and the Philippines, which is why tourism on the island is mainly from East Asia and not the US. Resorts, shops and restaurants all cater for Japanese travelers. Step away from the tourist-infested areas and travel into the island's rugged interior, however, and before you know it you're in one of the most exotic US locations. Be sure to bring your U.S. passport to prove to the island's authorities that you are a US citizen. Wonderful tropical beaches await your inspection!
Like with most outlying U.S. territories, American Samoa needs to see proof of US citizenship, so be sure to have your passport ready. In addition, authorities also want to see a valid return ticket. Far less visited by tourists, American Samoa, once you're away from the main city of Pago Pago, is awash with spectacular high mountain ridges, crystal clear waters teeming with maritime life and beautiful coral reefs. Try the unspoiled beaches of the outlying islands Ofu, Ta'u and Olosega for some of the most exotic US locations you can dream of.
The 7-mile long island is located just 17 miles from the main island of Puerto Rico and inhabited mostly by a few thousand permanent residents seeking tranquility rather than an ever-changing throng of tourists. You won't find chain restaurants or large hotels here or shopping malls. Instead, Culebra offers you the chance to watch seabirds, leatherback turtles and the native giant Culebra anole in their natural habitat. It's a laid-back place full of exotic flavors, sounds and sights. Independent shops and restaurants, a non-commercial culture and great natural beauty make this a wonderful place for total relaxation.
When you see pictures of the Great Sand Dunes National Park you expect to see Omar Sharif appear out of the haze, riding a camel out of the Sahara. However, this is a landscape, albeit camel-free, at the New Mexican border, a stretch of unique landforms in the south of Colorado. The tallest of the dunes is more than 700 feet high, ideal for sand-boarding, dreaming of "Lawrence of Arabia" and enjoying spectacular views over a lunar landscape that stretches for 30 square miles. Join a ranger-guided hike to learn more about this amazing place.
The Aleutian Islands in Alaska may not immediately spring to mind when you're drawing up a list of exotic US locations, but they are about as remote and deserted as it gets, even by Alaskan standards. Active volcanoes, rich wildlife and unforgiving weather conditions that whip up the sea will make you feel like an arctic explorer. The National Wildlife Refuge is a great place for trekking, but be sure to hire proper equipment and guides in this deserted area, typically only accessible with bush planes or travelling the Alaska Marine Highway, a ferry service linking the islands of the Eastern Aleutians.
If the above made you shiver, try picturing yourself in the capital city of Hagåtña on Guam, a large island in the Mariana Archipelago. While the capital is modern and resorts dominate the north of the island, the south is rural and charming, with picturesque villages sitting at the foot of smoldering volcanoes. Go trekking in lush and verdant valleys, marvel at towering, cascading waterfalls and follow signposted hiking trails to enjoy the best views. Scuba diving and snorkeling, swimming and sailing are some of the classic water sports in this exotic US location.
Did you know about these amazing places? Would you like to visit any of them?
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