Everyone deserves a beach vacation now and then, and it doesn’t have to break the bank if you research the destination and take advantage of flight deals.
Even destinations that are not known for being wallet-friendly can be within your reach if you book budget accommodation, use public transport to explore, self-cater meals, or seek out restaurants away from the main tourist areas.
Some of our recommended beach destinations are tropical island escapes, where you can recharge your batteries relaxing on golden beaches, sipping rum cocktails, or splashing around in the surf. Others could be closer than you think, with some amazing coastal spots within the U.S. — perfect for a family road trip or romantic getaway.
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Table of Contents
Aruba is 70 square miles of paradise, with silky sand beaches, turquoise waters, and incredible sunsets. With the slogan “One Happy Island,” Aruba is known for its friendly and diverse multi-lingual locals that welcome visitors in 4 languages.
Located in the southern Caribbean, Aruba is away from the hurricane belt and has excellent year-round weather. There’s no bad time to visit, so tourists can take advantage of flight and vacation deals at any time of the year.
Return flights to Aruba (AUA) from the East Coast can be as low as $360, and vacation packages with a hotel are around $500 when booked with Expedia. For that price, you’re not going to be staying on the beachfront, but with a cheap local bus service, you can hop between the island’s stunning beaches, including Eagle Beach, Palm Beach, or Malmok Beach.
Where to Stay
- MVC Eagle Beach is a 3-star family-run hotel located just across from Eagle Beach. Facilities include a small swimming pool, terrace, tennis court, and a restaurant. Rooms are homely with outside seating and ocean views. From $261 per night.
- Aruba Boutique Apartments is a 4-star adults-only complex located 2.3 miles from Palm Beach. Units are set within lush gardens and have access to a large shared swimming pool. From $179 per night.
- Ocean Z Boutique Hotel is a 5-star luxury lifestyle resort with contemporary style. Rooms are beautifully decorated with views of either the swimming pool or ocean, which is located right across the road. From $1,093 for a 3-night minimum stay.
Hot Tip: High season in Aruba is January to March, so avoid traveling during this time if you’re looking for the cheapest flight and accommodation deals.
The beautiful Bahamas is made up of over 700 islands, with some visitors happy to relax and stay-put on 1 island for the duration of their trip and others that want to island-hop by plane or boat.
With its crystal clear waters, the Bahamas is a top diving spot for colorful reefs, blue holes, and guaranteed shark encounters at some sites. If you visit the islands of Exuma, you can choose to see some unlikely inhabitants of the Bahamas — the famous swimming pigs.
Flights from Florida to Nassau (NAS) start from around $200 return from the U.S.; however, the Bahamas is somewhere that you’ll likely save money by booking a vacation package, especially if you’re planning to visit the Out Islands.
Where to Stay
- Ocean West Boutique Hotel is a 3-star hotel located in Nassau, located 0.6 miles from Orange Hill Beach. Guests may share the use of the lovely lounge, garden, and swimming pool, and rooms are elegantly decorated, with rooms offering full or partial sea views. From $252 per night.
- Grand Hyatt Baha Mar is a large 4-star resort overlooking Cable Beach in Nassau. Facilities include 6 swimming pools, a private beach, a spa, and a variety of restaurants. From $373 per night or 20,000 World of Hyatt points.
- The Cove at Atlantis is located on Paradise Island, 17.4 miles from Nassau International Airport. This 5-star resort boasts luxury oceanfront suites with private balconies, large outdoor swimming pools, and a private beach. Guests can enjoy a range of dining options at 21 restaurants. From $571 per night or 85,000 Marriott points.
3. California — Ventura
Ventura is located north of Los Angeles and is a small town offering many outdoor pursuits. Kayaking, surfing, hiking, and camping are popular activities with locals and visitors, and year-round whale-watching trips depart from Ventura Harbor.
Often referred to as “The Galapagos Islands of North America,” some of the closest islands of the Channel Islands National Park are just an hour’s boat ride away from Ventura. The islands and surrounding waters have an abundance of wildlife, including seals, dolphins, and the island fox.
Back on dry land, Ventura is home to award-winning wineries and independent restaurants, and it has a great music program during the summer. If you’re vacationing from California or one of the nearby states, then rent a car to visit Ventura, or if you’re flying in from elsewhere, Santa Barbara (SBA) is the closest airport — around a 40-minute drive away.
Where to Stay
- Ventura Beach Marriott is a 3-star recently renovated hotel located 7 minutes’ walk from San Buenaventura State Beach. Facilities include a swimming pool, hot tub, fitness center, and on-site restaurant. From $244 per night or 35,000 Marriott points.
- Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort is well-located in the marina area of Ventura Harbor. The 4-star hotel has a year-round swimming pool, tennis court, and fitness center, and guests may enjoy a drink on the outdoor patio. From $190 per night or 25,000 Marriott points.
- Ojai Valley Inn is a beautiful 5-star hotel surrounded by hills, mountains, and its championship golf course. There’s a health spa available for guests to unwind and a family swimming pool. Located inland, Ojai Valley Inn is a 20-minute drive to Ventura Beach. From $485 per night.
4. Dominican Republic — Punta Cana
Punta Cana (PUJ) sits on the easterly tip of the Dominican Republic and has 30 miles of pristine, palm tree-fringed coastline. Family-friendly and couples-only resorts line the beaches, with fabulous all-inclusive dining and entertainment facilities.
As well as the usual beach activities, you can visit Scape Park — a natural theme park with hidden cenotes, caves, and zip-lining. Take a dip in the freshwater lagoons of the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park or enjoy a round of golf at one of Punta Cana’s many golf courses.
Although there are not many budget accommodations in Punta Cana, the value for what you get is very good. Many visitors opt for an all-inclusive resort, which for a week-long holiday from the East or West Coast can start at $700.
Where to Stay
- Occidental Caribe is a large 4-star all-inclusive resort overlooking Bavaro Beach. Rooms are nicely furnished and feature a balcony and mini-bar. The resort offers 7 restaurants, a range of watersports, and 2 lagoon-style swimming pools. From $123 per night (all-inclusive).
- Majestic Colonial Punta Cana is situated on Cana Beach and offers either pool or oceanfront rooms. This 5-star resort has a private beach, 7 restaurants, 11 bars, a large swimming pool, and a spa. From $163 per night (all-inclusive).
Hot Tip: If you would prefer to book your flights separately, check out our article on the best ways to fly to the Caribbean with points and miles.
5. Florida — Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach is on Florida’s east coast, around an hour’s drive from Orlando. It’s an action-packed, family-friendly vacation spot, offering much more than just white sandy beaches.
The boardwalk has a string of arcades, gift shops, restaurants, and amusement rides, and then there’s the Daytona Lagoon waterpark to cool off in the Florida sunshine. Motorsport fans can visit the Daytona International Speedway to get behind the wheel of a NASCAR race car or to watch one of the many racing events.
Daytona Beach is a great stopover if you’re self-driving the east Florida coastline, and there’s enough entertainment for a week-long family holiday. Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) is a stone’s throw from the beach, with flights operated by Delta and American Airlines.
Where to Stay
- Bahama House – Daytona Beach Shores is a 3-star oceanfront hotel that features a balcony and ocean view for every room. The swimming pool also offers ocean views, and there’s a manager’s reception with free cocktails, beer, and wine. From $120 per night.
- Plaza Resort & Spa – Daytona Beach is another oceanfront hotel (4-star) with a sun terrace and beach-facing swimming pool. An on-site restaurant serves classic southern American dishes, and there’s a poolside bar for lunchtime snacks. From $119 per night.
6. Hawaii — O’ahu
O’ahu is the third largest island in Hawaii and is the most developed, home to around two-thirds of the state’s population. Hawaii’s bustling capital Honolulu is on O’ahu’s south shore, but there are plenty of quiet, unspoiled beaches and jungle to explore on the other sides of the island.
O’ahu is the most accessible and cheapest Hawaiian island to visit, with the best rates in spring or fall. There are plenty of free activities such as snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, surfing (or watching the pros), hiking the incredible landscape, or visiting historic Pearl Harbor.
Flights from Los Angeles to Honolulu (HNL) start at ~$300, and it’s a good idea to book well in advance for the best prices.
Where to Stay
- The New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel is 2 minutes from downtown Waikiki, overlooking Sans Souci
- Paradise Bay Resort is a 4-star resort located on Kaneohe Bay, offering views of the Koolau Mountain Range. The resort has an outdoor pool and hot tub and offers free yoga and meditation classes. From $225 per night.
- Turtle Bay Resort is a 5-star hotel located on the north shore, famous for its sea turtles. The resort offers a variety of restaurant options and activities such as horse riding, Segway tours, and scuba diving. From $445 per night.
Hot Tip: With flights to Hawaii being one of the most expensive aspects of the vacation, you might be interested in the best ways to fly to Hawaii with points and miles.
Jamaica was named the top Caribbean destination in 2019 by TripAdvisor, and it’s easy to see why. Jamaica’s incredible island beauty, friendly locals, and warm hospitality leave visitors with lasting memories.
Dance the night away reggae-style at Montego Bay’s lively bars and nightclubs, or swim in the shallow, calm waters of Negril’s Seven Mile Beach. Enjoy a glass-bottom boat tour and see colorful fish dance below you as you sip a rum punch, or swim in the glistening waters of a bioluminescent lagoon.
Many vacation offers to Jamaica are on an all-inclusive basis, so you won’t need to worry about budgeting for food and drink once you’re there. Jamaica is warm all-year-round but is wetter from September to December, so this time comes with the cheapest rates.
Flights to Montego Bay (MBJ) and a vacation rental start from around $500 for a week, whereas an all-inclusive beachfront resort is around $800-$900.
Where to Stay
- Catcha Falling Star is a 3-star hotel perched on top of the cliffs of Negril’s west end. The hotel has a swimming pool with ocean views, or guests can follow steps down for ocean swimming and snorkeling. Many rooms include a kitchenette, and there’s an on-site restaurant serving Caribbean dishes. From $125 per night.
- Royal Decameron Cornwall Beach is a 4-star all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay. The resort has a swimming pool, hot tub, fitness center, and evening entertainment. From $501 for a 2-night minimum stay (all-inclusive).
- Jewel Paradise Cove Adult Beach Resort & Spa is a 5-star adults-only resort with a private beach. Facilities include 4 swimming pools, 7 restaurants, and the rates are on an all-inclusive basis. From $215 per night (all-inclusive).
8. Mexico — Riviera Maya
The Riviera Maya is the stretch of coastline running along the eastern side of the Yucatán Peninsula, consisting of the popular tourist areas of Cancún, Playa Del Carmen, and Tulum. Suitable for couples, groups, and families, this region has 150 miles of sandy beaches and a wide variety of hotels and resorts.
If you’re looking for a great value all-inclusive deal departing from Miami, then head to Cancún where you can nab a 7-night vacation package, including flights, from $500. Further south, Playa Del Carmen has some cheap apartments with kitchen facilities to eat-in and cut down costs.
Cancún (CUN) has a frequent flight schedule from all over the U.S., with affordable rates from around $250 round trip. You can save even more by flying to Mexico using miles.
Where to Stay
- Casa Mi Playa is an apartment located 0.6 miles from Playa del Carmen Beach. The complex has a bar and shared garden area and bicycles are available to rent to explore the area. From $109 with a 2-night minimum stay.
- Flamingo Cancun Resort is a 4-star hotel located 20 minutes south of downtown Cancún. All rooms offer either lagoon or ocean views, and can guests can enjoy music and a swim-up bar in the main pool. From $142 per night.
- The Royal Sands Resort & Spa is located along the oceanfront in central Cancún and offers sea view rooms with balconies. This 5-star hotel has several restaurants and outdoor pools, spa services, and watersports facilities. From $234 per night.
9. Puerto Rico
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach break, an island adventure, or a bit of both, Puerto Rico has it all. Its lush central mountains offer up activities such as cave-tubing and zip-lining and are also home to many coffee haciendas available to visit.
With 300 miles of coastline, Puerto Rico’s beaches vary from idyllic hidden coves to vibrant and family-friendly, offering a range of exciting activities. Take a water taxi out to the uninhabited island of Cayo Icacos and snorkel in crystal clear waters.
There are some excellent flight deals from all over the U.S. to San Juan (SJU), but accommodation, food, and drink are not the cheapest. Budgeting is possible by booking a vacation rental or doing some research to find local restaurants off the tourist strips.
Where to Stay
- Beachfront Coral Beach Condo is a 1-bedroom beachfront apartment with a balcony located 50 yards from Isla Verde Beach. The apartment complex has a shared swimming pool, a tennis court, and free Wi-Fi. From $760 for a 6-night minimum stay.
- Rincon Beach Resort is a 4-star oceanfront resort located along Almirante Beach on the west coast. The resort has an infinity pool, fitness facilities, and 2 restaurants. From $192 per night.
- Royal Isabela is perched high on the cliff tops of the northwest coastline and offers luxury cottages with sea views. This 5-star hotel has an on-site restaurant and golf course, swimming pool, and yoga classes. From $933 per night.
Hot Tip: The low season in Puerto Rico is May through November, so plan your trip then to take advantage of the lower accommodation rates.
10. South Carolina — Myrtle Beach
Situated along South Carolina’s 60-mile Grand Strand Coast, Myrtle Beach has been popular for family beach vacations since the 1950s.
Wide, sandy beaches are well-patrolled with lifeguards, and the ocean is full of swimmers and boogie-boarders. Retreat from the beach and cycle along the boardwalk, play mini-golf, or ride a go-kart at the Broadway Grand Prix.
If you’re self-driving or renting a car, Myrtle Beach is easy to reach from cities within the Carolinas, and you can also explore the full 60 mile Grand Strand Coast and surrounding attractions. Myrtle Beach has lots of vacation homes and apartments with self-catering facilities, perfect for a family stay.
Where to Stay
- Myrtlewood by Monarch Rentals has apartments with balconies, kitchens, and seating areas just a 15-minute drive from Myrtle Beach State Park. The complex has a swimming pool, bar, and can arrange grocery deliveries. From $511 for a 4-night minimum stay.
- Jade Tree Cove by Capital Vacations is a 3-star oceanfront complex with apartments featuring well-equipped kitchens. A sun terrace and swimming pool sit along the beachfront, and guests can use the BBQ facilities. From $246 for a 2-night minimum stay.
- South Bay Inn and Suites is a 4-star high-rise hotel located on the boardwalk of Myrtle Beach. The hotel has a fitness center, sun terrace, and a swimming pool with water slides. From $86 per night.
11. Texas — South Padre Island
South Padre Island is a barrier island at the southern tip of Texas, surrounded by the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This tropical island has 34 miles of white sandy beaches and is accessed by crossing the Queen Isabella Causeway.
Once a year, students flock to South Padre Island to celebrate spring break with beach parties and club nights. Families are also welcome with a range of fun activities, such as sandcastle building lessons, horse riding, mini-golf, and dolphin watching.
Less than a day’s drive from Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin, South Padre Island draws in local Texans looking to escape the city. Visitors from beyond Texas can fly into Brownsville-SPI International Airport (BRO) — located 20 miles from the beach — on United or American Airlines.
Accommodations vary, from cheap and cheerful apartments to large beachfront resorts.
Where to Stay
- Los Cabos Condos offers 2-bedroom apartments sleeping up to 6 people. The complex is just a few minutes’ walk from the beach and features a swimming pool and hot tub. From $307 for a 2-night minimum stay.
- Best Western Beachside Inn is a 3-star hotel with comfortable rooms located 5 minutes from the beach. The hotel features a swimming pool and hot tub and includes breakfast within the rate. From $72 per night.
- Peninsula Island Resort & Spa is a 4-star hotel with private beach access and balconies with every room. Guests may use the on-site spa services, swimming pool, and fitness center, and the hotel has a restaurant serving coastal Mexican cuisine. From $98 per night.
Hot Tip: Check out South Padre Island’s official website as it has a Deals and Packages page for current offers on accommodation.
12. Virginia — Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach is a great budget-friendly beach destination, especially if you’re happy to stay inland, with cheap accommodation from around $40 per night.
The town center is the place to be for daytime and evening entertainment, with shopping malls, theatres, and a comedy club, but of course, the beach is the main attraction. The 3-mile boardwalk is packed full of street entertainers, snow cone vendors, and visitors roller-blading and cycling.
Driving in from North Carolina or Virginia, visitors can explore the surrounding attractions such as the Military Aviation Museum, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, or the farmlands of Pungo.
Where to Stay
- Travelodge by Wyndham Virginia Beach Bay Beach is a 2-star hotel located just minutes from First Landing Beach. Basic rooms feature a refrigerator and microwave, and guests may use the outdoor swimming pool. From $51 per night.
- La Quinta by Wyndham Virginia Beach is a 3-star hotel located 350 yards from the beach, close to Neptune’s Statue. The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool and comfortable rooms include a refrigerator and microwave. From $81 per night.
- Holiday Inn & Suites North Beach Hotel is located right on the boardwalk with direct access to the beach. This well-reviewed 4-star hotel is perfect for families, with 3 outdoor swimming pools and 1 indoors with a lazy river. From $134 per night.
There are various ways to bag yourself a bargain beach vacation. Booking last minute can offer up some substantial discounts for accommodation looking to fill their rooms — some hotels may even offer complimentary meal upgrades to incentivize bookings.
Flights tend to be cheaper in advance, and there are lots of websites that can help you find flights at the lowest prices by allowing you to see a calendar view of prices by month or by setting up alerts for your chosen destination.
If there’s somewhere you’ve always dreamt of visiting, don’t be put off by its pricey reputation. There are ways to travel on a budget, including booking a private room in an Airbnb, eating in, dining at local restaurants or markets, and seeking out free attractions.