If you’re an active traveler who wants the sun and sand but not the sedentary lifestyle, put Virginia Beach on your radar. The city is renowned for its water sports (surfing, fishing, kitesurfing), its three-mile-long boardwalk—which features a separate bike path for rollerblading, biking or surrey rentals—and its sugary 100-yard-wide beach. More of an environmentalist than a beach bum? Venture out to First Landing State Park, where there are nine walking trails totaling 19 miles, and a bike path that winds around lagoons, large cypress trees and rare plants. Or simply stick around your hotel, The Founders Inn and Spa, to indulge in a pampering treatment in the spa and to treat yourself to a reasonably priced prix-fixe dinner with wine pairings at the Swan Terrace restaurant.
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.
Costa Rica has two seasons: December to April is dry season (high season) and May to November is rainy season (low season). Low season is the cheapest time to visit, when flights can be half off. It's approximately $800 to $1,000 round-trip from major cities like Atlanta and non-direct flights are slightly cheaper, about $500 to $700, from west coast cities like Los Angeles and Seattle. It's not uncommon to call hotels directly and further negotiate nightly rates. Many people prefer rainy season as the rain is short, and rain makes the rain forests and jungles more vibrant and lush. Best of all? Fewer crowds.
The value along the northern part of America’s Gulf Coast (don’t you dare call it the Redneck Riviera!) is easily the best in the country. The cheapest beach destination in the US, according to TravelBird, is Gulf Shores, where the beaches rock all the white sand and calm Gulf water of places further south in Florida, for a fraction the price. The quiet, funky beach town filled with pastel houses and legit-good food doesn’t gouge tourists, and is also home to a surprisingly diverse zoo. On Sunday, head a piece down the road to the (in)famous Flora-Bama bar.
You don’t have to go to the Caribbean or Fiji to get a taste of private-island romance: Palm Island, located on Florida’s Gulf Coast between Sarasota and Fort Myers, is only reachable by boat and seems much farther away than the six minutes it takes to cross the Intracoastal Waterway from the mainland. The Palm Island Resort has about 100 villas in five clusters around the island, each centered on public areas that include pools, hot tubs, a clubhouse, and other amenities. The island also has a full-service marina (so boating and fishing are never far away), and the tennis center offers lessons and equipment rentals. A one-bedroom beach villa would be perfect for a couples getaway just steps from the sand, and one of Florida’s best seafood restaurants, Leverock’s, is just a short water-taxi ride away.
On the far reaches of Florida’s westernmost coast sits Pensacola, an ideal place for travelers looking to avoid the megaresort and theme park atmosphere found in other parts of the state. This seaport city makes a great vacation destination for relaxing by the beach. Visitors can explore art galleries, dine on delicious food, and learn a bit about history in its colonial downtown district dating back to the 16th century. As the home of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Pensacola has fantastic fishing and boating. Inland watersports include canoeing along the Blackwater River. The city also boasts a proud military heritage, as showcased in its National Museum of Naval Aviation and Pensacola Naval Air Station. Things to Do in Pensacola
Daytona Beach is an hour drive from Orlando, Florida; travelers are known to add the beach town to their Walt Disney World vacations, either as a full day trip or overnight. Doubles at beachfront resorts are as low as $80 per night. Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach recently opened, and the introductory rates are still a steal for summer with doubles at $149 per night, which includes complimentary use of guitars and on-demand yoga via entertainment system.
Robin and Sue Ricketts, who helped create and manage such luxurious island hotels as Malliouhana and Cap Juluca. Now the Ricketts have embarked upon a new project: the 27-room Anacaona Boutique Hotel, a stylish and affordable alternative on an island that is known for its sky-high prices. The modern, tropical rooms (Frette linens; gold and lime pillows; iPod docking stations) look out onto one of two swimming pools, and those on the upper floors have vistas of the sea. The mile-long Meads Bay beach is just steps from the property.
Lately cruise ship passengers have crowded parts of this outpost of Caribbean scenery. All you have to do, though, is head a little further up from the big resorts to find yourself on one of the most underrated beaches in the region. Thick groves of palm trees lead up to shiny white sand. Venture off the beach and you’ll find funky-cute bars to enjoy a beer for only a couple of dollars.
The small country of Belize is one of the most affordable destinations in Central America, and it has some beautiful beaches just waiting to be explored. Ambergris Caye is the largest island that’s part of Belize and a favorite destination among divers. One of the largest coral reef systems is located near the island, which is a huge selling point for divers and snorkelers. The vibe here is very relaxing and laid back in the town of San Pedro, and there are many budget-friendly hotels and restaurants here to indulge a bit without going broke.
Since the economy began seriously struggling in Greece, many of the epic beach destinations became more affordable for getaways. Corfu is a Greek island that is a little less well-known than some of the other beach spots in Greece and not as pricy as those ones either. Travelers can find affordable hotels here and often inexpensive flights through small, regional airlines. If you’re traveling on a limited budget, you may need to adjust your expectations and settle for simple rooms that don’t include all the luxurious amenities.
The 17th-century pilgrim settlement of Eastham makes a tranquil Cape Cod getaway. Wander the paths along the shore taking in sweeping views of the dunes and marshes. To really get away from it all, turn off your phone, pick up your book, and make your way to Dyer Prince Beach. It’s only accessible via a rather overgrown pathway, making it a bit of a hidden gem. Here you’ll find a small beach edged with calm waters.