International beach vacations were once reserved for that unapologetically wealthy tech scion in your freshman dorm who casually mentioned his “summer on the Côte” while everyone else hoped to scrounge gas money to Panama City. And, true, trips to St.-Tropez aren’t exactly going at a deep discount these days. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take a solid beach trip on a moderate budget -- inside the United States, especially.
Roatan, a minnow-shaped island within Honduras’ Bay Islands, attracts divers who come to experience the world’s second-largest barrier reef and those looking for a cheap, off-the-beaten-path beach vacation in the Caribbean. The island is one of Central America’s once-hidden, now-on-the-rise beach destinations, but thankfully it still lacks big chain resorts and some of the other trappings of mass tourism.
One-size-fits-all isn’t usually a winning strategy for planning an multigenerational getaway, so the Lodge at Kukui’ula on Kauai has transformed the typical resort tour desk into a personal island concierge to customize activities that meet the needs of every family. Start by booking one of the resort’s cottages, bungalows or villas, all standalone accommodations where you can have your whole group under one roof. Resort highlights include a Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course, a spa, and farm-to-table dining; when you’re ready to explore the Garden Island of Hawaii your built-to-order tour options range from hiking to hidden waterfalls and on the Kalalau Trail, to sailing a traditional Hawaiian canoe.
Wyndham Vacation Rentals offers the largest selection and variety of vacation rentals on Northwest Florida’s beautiful Emerald Coast. -->Northwest Florida's Gulf Coast is renowned for its soft, sugar-white sand and clear, emerald-green water. Featuring top-ranked beaches along the gorgeous coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, along with attraction-rich cities and charming beach communities, Northwest Florida is the perfect destination for your beach vacation. We offer thousands of vacation rentals in Northwest Florida, including gulf-front condos and full-service resorts. Our luxurious private homes can accommodate family reunions and groups of just about any size. Our Vacation Specialists are ready to help you plan your Florida Panhandle beach vacation.
Looking for the next Costa Rica? Just head down the coast a few miles to Panama and the Isla Bastimentos, part of the Bocas del Toro archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, a 20-square-mile island that’s a microcosm of some of Panama’s top tourism offerings. Here you’ll find virgin rainforests home to sloths and monkeys, offshore coral gardens and mangrove islands perfect for snorkeling, and stunning beaches pounded by Hawaii-sized waves.
Each of the four bungalows at Milarepa Hotel, on the southern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, is outfitted with teak furniture and antique four-poster beds with mosquito netting, imported from Indonesia. Surrounding the resort are miles of deserted pale-gold beaches and natural tide pools for swimming. For meals, on-site, open-air Soma restaurant serves a blend of southern French and Costa Rican cuisine.
Huntington Beach, otherwise known as Surf City U.S.A. is a mecca for surfers of all ages and abilities. Lessons and equipment rental are available for individuals and groups at the Banzai Surf School, an accredited member of the National Surf Schools & Instructors Association. Beachgoers who would rather catch some rays than catch a wave can stretch out on a beach towel along 10 miles of award-winning sandy shoreline. Beach volleyball is a popular waterfront sport and tournaments are held throughout the year. For bicycle rentals and burger baskets, tourists can hit one of the concession stands along the beach. Things to Do in Huntington Beach
From white sandy shorelines to first-class wineries, Pismo Beach has lots to offer vacationers. This classic beach town in California’s central coast sits right along the Pacific Highway, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Pismo Beach has no shortage of outdoor activities as visitors have their pick of golfing, horseback riding, surfing, body boarding, and fishing. Suntanned shoppers can grab great deals at Pismo Beach Premium Outlets. Meanwhile, the award-winning boardwalk gives guests a chance to soak in the sun while satisfying their stomachs at the many restaurants and food stands.
Often travelers don’t understand exactly what kind of a vacation they are booking and what best beach vacations mean to them. For example, during our stay at a secluded resort on Maui, many people complained that there was nothing to do. The hotel manager helped them arrange a vacation on the much busier West Side, but most resorts won’t be this accommodating, so be sure to research your destination before you book your stay. The actual resort may offer pools, beaches, golf, tennis and other activities, but if it is pretty isolated like in the case of East Maui, where the drive to the nearest nightclub or shopping takes several hours, that may not be for everyone.
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Surf City is the cultural center of Topsail Island, a long barrier island off the coast of North Carolina. For visitors looking to surf in the aptly named city, there are plenty of sporting goods stores to suit your needs. The larger area is known for its organic blueberry farms, with some farms allowing guests to come out and pick their own fresh pesticide-free blueberries. Guests can unwind in Surf City’s cozy bed and breakfast spot overlooking the ocean waves. For the outdoorsy types, the area has an array of campgrounds where visitors can pitch a tent or park their RV.
Mexico Beach is a small, lively coastal city in Bay County, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, known for its mile-long wonderful white sandy beaches, slow pace of life, and the nostalgic vibe of Old Florida. They made sure that the development is restrained and that everyone has a wonderful view of the beaches unobstructed by massive concrete towers. The stores are small, there are charming mom-and-pop eateries and boutiques, the waters are crystal clear, and the nature is lush and unspoiled. You can spend your time fishing, diving, swimming, shelling, kayaking, and parasailing, or you can stretch out on a beach chair under a colorful umbrella and enjoy a good book. Nature lovers can take one of many eco tours and go looking for ospreys, bald eagles, endangered sea turtles, or dolphins. There is always some festival to make things lively, such as the Fourth of July Best Blast on the Beach, Music in the Park, Beach Blast Triathlons, Gumbo Cook-Off, Art & Wine Festival, and Christmas Celebration of Lights.
Wellfleet sits on a strip of land just two miles wide, flanked by pretty beaches and kettle pools. It’s criss-crossed with nature trails, where adults and children alike can learn about Wellfleet’s natural environment. Back in the quaint town center you’ll find many tiny art galleries, and you’ll want to stop and taste the famous Wellfleet oysters, too. Check out secluded Bound Brook Island Beach, one of the most tranquil places in Cape Cod, and consider finishing the day with a relaxed sunset sail.