It’s also perfectly possible to splash out in a trendy destination like Panama, and still come in within budget. Donald Trump’s curving skyscraper in Panama City should do the trick—with a deep-soak tub and high thread count included. Pair that urban beach experience with a stay along the Pacific coast beaches—fantastic for surfing—at the rustic-but-stylish El Sitio (from $99 per night).
Need a break from the real world? There’s no better place to relax than on a warm, sunny beach—but for most travelers, it’s not relaxing to spend a fortune on your getaway. Luckily, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path beach vacations that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Check out these lesser-known beach destinations that go easy on your wallet.
Hobe Sound may not be an obvious choice for best beach vacations in America, but it’s truly an unspoiled paradise—just what you want when you need to escape the daily grind. Don’t miss Blowing Rocks Preserve, where at high tide you might get to see sea water spraying up through holes in the limestone that’s embedded in the sands here. Running right alongside Hobe Sound is the long, narrow stretch of Jupiter Island, where you can bike your way along the beach or join a tour and watch baby turtles hatching.
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Jamaica is a top destination for couples celebrating their honeymoons and anniversaries, but it has beaches well-suited to travelers regardless of whether you’re celebrating something or not. You can find direct flights to Montego Bay from many cities, and Ocho Rios tends to be even more affordable than Montego Bay. You’ll find plenty of all-inclusive resorts here, but also small hotels that are near local restaurants and bars that offer cheap eats and drinks. While in the Ocho Rios area, you can spend lots of time on the sandy beaches and go hiking and swimming by waterfalls.
Want to tick another state off your visited list? Then make it Alabama, where Gulf Shores offers nature (it's home to 6,500-acre Gulf State Park), entertainment (outdoor concerts) and foodie fun (from shrimp to barbecue). In total, there are 32 miles of white-sand beaches that let you explore the region's beautiful landscapes as you spy on seabirds (eagles, too), alligators and even black bears. Accommodations include condo rentals, B&Bs, motels, hotels and campsites.
Girls who grew up loving horses will be in heaven in Del Mar, California, a San Diego suburb that’s home to the exquisitely beautiful Del Mar Race Track, the Del Mar Horse Park (a mecca for riding events), and the Fairmont Grand Del Mar resort, which has its own equestrian center and stable of horses reserved for guests. Racing and riding stays can be built around golf outings, spa treatments, surf lessons, dining at the hotel’s Relais & Chateaux Addison restaurant, and late-night dancing at Club M. The Del Mar racing season only runs a few precious weeks each year, but visit anytime to enjoy miles of riding and hiking in the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, located just outside the windows of your luxury Fairmont suite. Book it here: Fairmont Grand Del Mar.
You might be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped back in time when you arrive on Anna Maria Island. Local residents are proud to have a hometown that feels like Florida from long ago, with its super-relaxed, quaint feel and its Mom and Pop stores. It also has seven miles of wide sugar-sand beaches to explore—Bean Point Beach is an especially secluded spot.
Best Beach Vacations - Time of Year: When can you get away for your well-deserved beach holiday? If you are taking off work in the summer, best beach vacation ideas are just a short drive or flight away. In the winter, you will have to travel to the tropics or to the Southern Hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand) to enjoy warm weather and sunny days. While you can still find great last minute deals, cheap airline tickets and room specials, you should be prepared to pay more. This is probably why most people on a budget plan their beach vacation in the summer.
Unlike much of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico still offers affordable prices for an amazing beach experience. You can find flights from many U.S. cities for more reasonable prices than elsewhere in the islands. There’s lots of history to learn about here by visiting the Spanish forts around San Juan, as well as architecture from the Spanish colonial-style buildings throughout the city. You can find a little bit of everything here in terms of accommodations, including budget-friendly hotels, chain hotels, Airbnb properties, and high-end luxury resorts.
Even as more vacationers have discovered the appeal of the Gulf Coast, the beach communities here have retained their sincere hospitality and Southern charm. --> The Alabama Gulf Coast is a beach lover’s dream with 32 miles of sandy beaches spanning from Orange Beach to Fort Morgan. Visitors can find fantastic restaurants, eclectic shopping experiences and plentiful watersports providers sure to create a family fun vacation like never before. Boating fans will feel at peace walking around the well-appointed marinas, while golfers can find sanctuary in the world-class courses adorning the coast.
Thailand has been a favorite vacation destination among budget-minded backpackers, but it’s also a great place for a beach vacation. The big cost here is the flight, especially if you’re coming from the U.S. But if you can find a good deal on a flight, then the rest of your trip should be well within your budget. Phuket is a beach town that is famous for luxury resorts, but you can often find very reasonable prices on splurge accommodations or settle for low-key accommodations for an even lower price. Popular beach areas here include Racha Yai Island, Naithon Beach, and Patong Beach.
There are plenty of Airbnbs, where rentals can go as little as $75 a night, and doubles at the only luxury hotel, The Asbury, are $210 a night during summer. The hotel has "quad" (four bunk beds) and "octo" (eight bunk beds) accommodations that bring the rate down a lot cheaper per person. A quad averages $280 per night ($70 per person) and octo averages $580 per night ($72.50 per person).
While it's hard to argue with the universal appeal of simply basking in the sun on beautiful white sand beaches (with maybe a frosty drink in hand), there's just so much to do on an island vacation. Active explorers can survey coves and ruins, take jeep tours, parasailing lessons, or set out on day cruises. For water enthusiasts, there are scuba diving, snorkeling, diving, and sea kayaking opportunities galore in most any island vacation spot. And if you're in search of dynamic nightlife, island travel is just the ticket: a beach vacation just wouldn't be complete without nights of feasting on fresh seafood, dancing the night away in after-hours clubs, or just chilling poolside at the cocktail bar at sunset. Soak up the serenity of unspoiled landscapes and enjoy the variety of activities that come with a beach vacation.
The most immaculate resort in Myrtle Beach is waiting at the beautiful Bali Bay Resort! Guests can experience the ultimate in a Myrtle Beach vacation among one of their elegant and sleek condos, ranging from two bedroom oceanview condos to deluxe seven bedroom oceanfront penthouse villas. With tremendous accommodations and second-to-none location right on the sandy shores of the Myrtle Beach shoreline, a higher class of Grand Strand getaway is guaranteed.
Known for its family-friendly attractions, its proximity to Baja Mexico and its gorgeous coastlines, San Diego makes a perfect Southern California escape. The oldest port on the West Coast, San Diego is home to such famous attractions as the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld. In the heart of the city is Balboa Park, one of the finest urban parks in the country, home to numerous museums, gardens, galleries and theaters. Take advantage of this vacation spot's perpetually idyllic climate and stay outside: you can swim, surf, kayak, bicycle, in-line skate, golf, and more in California's second largest city. But it's not just about the endless beaches or Shamu the whale: San Diego also boasts a vibrant art scene and hopping nightlife. Go to the historic Gaslamp Quarter (so-called because of the gas lamps that lined the streets) to check out both the well-preserved Victorian architecture of many modern storefronts and an array of fashionable restaurants and bars. Since San Diego is just 16 miles from Mexico, be sure to sample some tasty Mexican fare while you're there.
They don’t call this “The World’s Most Famous Beach” for nothing, but it’s so much more than the ultimate spring break destination. Clean, compact sand, trained lifeguards and areas designated for “on-the-beach” parking—no need to haul your gear all the way from the car—make this beach a great spot for families. The boardwalk and small theme park are both kid-approved attractions.
With pristine, white-sand beaches and a heavy dose of Southern charm, Pensacola is your quintessential all-American beach escape. It’s also wildly affordable, thanks to the many direct flights from major cities and its wide range of budget-minded hotels and restaurants. We love the Margaretville Beach Hotel, a sprawling beach resort done up in coastal hues of whites and blues, and overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. There are plenty of freebies—including WiFi and beer coupons—and the rooms are bright and breezy, with expansive balconies and sweeping ocean views. After you’ve hit the beach, stroll through the city’s historic downtown, where you’ll find restored Colonial-and Victorian-era buildings and an array of cool restaurants—like Al Fresco, a unique outdoor dining experience comprised of five food trucks serving everything from ice cold oysters to mahi mahi tacos.
There’s a reason San Diego consistently ranks as one of the most family-friendly beach destinations in the States: it’s beautiful, it’s affordable, and you’ll never run out of things to do—especially if you bed down at the funky Hotel La Jolla. The high-rise hotel sports a retro coastal design (think: wood paneling, '70s beach photography, and mid-century furniture), and features an outdoor pool, spa services, a poolside bar, and a bike and hula hoop-borrowing program. A popular place to start the weekend is The Cottage—a sunny eatery known for its lively atmosphere and mouth-watering lemon ricotta pancakes. Grab your camera and continue on to La Jolla Cove to watch sea lions bathe on sandstone rock formations, or check out the latest exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
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Set next to the blue waters of the Grand Traverse Bay is Traverse City, known for its Cherry Festival, scenic driving territory, and quiet cycle and hiking trails with unspoiled views. You’ll want to make a stop at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to discover its beaches (North Bar Lake Beach is particularly stunning), sand dunes, and forests. If you’re more of a lakeside cabin person than sandy beach house, Spider Lake is the perfect spot for kayaking, canoeing, or lounging on the dock.