Historic lighthouses, wild horses and scenic flights in open-cockpit biplanes above the spot where the Wright Brothers first flew — a vacation in the Outer Banks can include all this, and more. With a large inventory of beach house rentals (and quite a few resorts and inns, too) towns such as Duck, Corolla, Hatteras, Nags Head and Kitty Hawk are scattered along this series of sand-dune-studded barrier islands, making it a top spot for leisurely getaways with friends and multi-generational family vacations. Fresh seafood is plentiful and activities include hang gliding, bike riding and deep-sea fishing.
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.
With the emerald hills of Scotland at its back and the turquoise sea at its front, this serene five-room cottage hotel on the Isle of Lewis draws hikers, sailors, surfers, and divers. Reclaimed merbau hardwoods and bath products of local lavender and Hebridean seaweed bring the outside in. Guests gather by the lounge’s wood-burning fireplace or recap the day’s adventures over fig and walnut pudding at dinner.
ArtCanvas,Framed Art,Mixed Media,Photograph...33979 BathBath Accessories & Sets,Bath Rugs,Bath S...6461 BeddingBed Pillows,Blankets & Throws,Comforter...4582 Floor Care & CleaningBrooms, Mops & Dusters,Vacuums765 FurnitureAccent Furniture,Baby & Kid's Furniture...10674 Heating, Cooling & Air QualityAir Conditioners,Air Purifiers,Dehumidif...3053 Home AppliancesIrons & Garment Care,Sewing Machines,Sma...7297 Home DecorCandles & Holders,Home Accents,Lamps & L...15882
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.

About an hour’s drive south of Los Angeles, the Blue Lantern Inn is where New England tradition meets kicked-back southern California. Neutral tones decorate the 29 airy rooms, many of which overlook the Pacific. French doors open to the ocean air in the downstairs sunroom, where a breakfast of artichoke quiche and fluffy pancakes is served. Spend your day biking along the point’s coastal paths, playing board games in the library, or reading in the gazebo or at the beach.
A young Dutch couple, Martin Franken and Nicole Roomer, run this 10-room inn just south of this Dutch Antillean island’s main town, Kralendijk. It’s not much to look at from the road, but there’s an inviting pool in the courtyard, lounging space under the thatched-roof bar, and bright rooms accented in yellows, reds, and greens. In the evening, order the fish Creole or garlic shrimp, cooked on the spot by local ladies in a hut beside the pool.
Located along Florida’s Atlantic Coast just north of Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach gained its claim to fame as the “Birthplace of Speed,” where Henry Ford first tested his automotive innovations. Today, Ormond Beach hosts annual events with reenactments of its early racing days along sandy speedways. Still, Ormond manages to maintain its small-town tranquility and doesn’t allow vehicles on the northern end of the beach. Vacationers can spend the day swimming and sunbathing or go canoeing and fishing. Ormond Beach accommodates a variety of budgets, with options like upscale vacation rentals and reasonably priced motels.
TravelBird put together what it calls the Beach Price Index, an attempt to compare the cost of a day at the beach in 310 places around the world, accounting for water, food, sunscreen, snacks, and local currency. Some of those spots are in hard-to-reach locales, others offer beaches a bit more on the rugged side than powdery sand and swaying palms. But of the places you can reasonably fly to from the States -- and some even within the USA -- we’ve picked out 15 exceptional yet dirt cheap beach jaunts you can take this year.
Alabama’s Gulf Coast isn’t all about the beaches: the 6,000-acre Gulf State Park between Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, for example, has six different ecosystems, including wet pine flatwoods, live oak maritime forests, coastal dunes and swales, longleaf sand ridges, freshwater marshes, and coastal hardwood swamps. You can explore them all by foot or bike on the paved, 15-mile Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, keeping a sharp eye out for white-tailed deer, foxes, and alligators. After a day of pedaling, geocaching, and birding, settle down for the night at one of the park’s new outpost campsites, built on platforms and equipped with bunk beds, grills, and canvas tenting. Not into roughing it? Segway tours of the trail are available, too. 
The National Park Service typically posts lifeguards here from Memorial Day to Labor Day, along with chair and umbrella rentals (you’ll find a restroom and cold-water showers too). The ferry has a snack bar, but most folks bring a small cooler (you must pack out what you bring in). On the island’s west end, explore Fort Massachusetts, which dates to 1866.
Maui: For those who like dry sunny weather, the resorts of West Maui offer plenty of activities. Kapalua has three beautiful bays, three golf courses, tennis, spas and other activities for guests of all ages. Makena Resort is located on a more secluded spot, surrounded by scenic views. If you are looking for a place that will let you get away from it all, try the quiet town of Hana on East Maui. The only luxury resort in town, Travassa Hana, has a relaxing spa and a restaurant that serves dishes made from organic ingredients. Visitors can spend their days relaxing on the tropical Hamoa Beach.
The city of Newport in Oregon has lots to offer at a reasonable price. The rugged seacoast provides the perfect place for exploring tide pools, hunting for fossils, or spotting a grey whale. Guests can drop by the city’s two lighthouses, one of which is the largest in the state. The Oregon Coast Aquarium houses all sorts of sea creatures, from sharks to sea otters. The museum’s Secrets of Shipwrecks exhibit dives into the mysteries of the deep with lots of activities for children. The nearby Hatfield Marine Science Center continues the educational afternoon, letting visitors examine local marine life in touch tanks or gaze at a giant Pacific octopus.

Raise a glass with your favorites on a tour of Long Island, New York’s wine country, a compact but fruitful region running from Riverhead to the end of the North Fork at Orient Point (where there’s a ferry that’s convenient for joiners heading down from New England). Most of the 40-odd wineries are located off Route 48 and Route 25, making it easy to do a day of vineyard-hopping to favorites like Martha Clara in Riverhead, Macari in Mattituck, and Pellegrini in Cutchogue. A limo or designated driver is a must, because you’ll want to hang around for evening live music in the tasting rooms. Shinn Estate is a winery and inn powered by alternative energy and sustainable farming where you can sleep alongside the vines after a day of bonding.

© 2018 Meredith Corporation Travel & Leisure Group. All rights reserved. TravelandLeisure.com is part of the Travel & Leisure Group. Travel + Leisure is a trademark of Meredith Corporation Travel & Leisure Group, registered in the United States and other countries. Travel + Leisure may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice. | EU Data Subject Requests
“Nature has sculpted eastern PEI’s coastline with an abundance of points of land that frame the bays and shelter the beaches,” says Joan Perrin, owner of Moonlight Cottage By-the-Sea, a vacation rental near the town of Montague. “Going for a drive along the coastal touring route is the best activity. Each day, one can head out for an excursion in a different direction—go to a beach or two, stop at a craft shop, buy an ice cream, walk around a few wharves, talk to the fishermen, visit a lighthouse.”
Or there's Punta Monterrey, just 20-minutes drive up the coast. Right on a private beach, this rustic resort has cabins and bungalows with rates starting at $80 per person per night. The rate includes all home-cooked meals (produce and ingredients come straight from the garden in their jungle, as well as free use of kayaks, and another hidden beach you can have all to yourself with a short hike through the jungle (the resort straddles jungle and beach).
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.
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.

If you're looking for a beach vacation destination that offers active summer sports as well as easy access to a city famous for its history and quirky charm, check out Hilton Head Island. Located 45 minutes from Savannah, Georgia, it has carved a niche with its focus on golf, tennis, biking and nature walks, along with a plentiful supply of hotel rooms (major resorts include Marriott, Sonesta, Omni and Disney) and condo and house rentals in all price ranges. Day trips to Savannah add antiquing, historic home tours and lowcountry cuisine (shrimp and grits, anyone?) to the mix.


Raise a glass with your favorites on a tour of Long Island, New York’s wine country, a compact but fruitful region running from Riverhead to the end of the North Fork at Orient Point (where there’s a ferry that’s convenient for joiners heading down from New England). Most of the 40-odd wineries are located off Route 48 and Route 25, making it easy to do a day of vineyard-hopping to favorites like Martha Clara in Riverhead, Macari in Mattituck, and Pellegrini in Cutchogue. A limo or designated driver is a must, because you’ll want to hang around for evening live music in the tasting rooms. Shinn Estate is a winery and inn powered by alternative energy and sustainable farming where you can sleep alongside the vines after a day of bonding.
Sunshine and cool breezes slowly turn to sultry, starry nights. This is the beach vacation of your dreams, where you’ll reach that blissful state of ‘ahh’. Your stress-free, no-itinerary days may include lounging at Myrtle Beach resorts or swimming with dolphins on your Hawaii vacations. But whether your trip is romantic or rooted in family fun, we’ve got the perfect beach resorts for you.
ArtCanvas,Framed Art,Mixed Media,Photograph...33979 BathBath Accessories & Sets,Bath Rugs,Bath S...6461 BeddingBed Pillows,Blankets & Throws,Comforter...4582 Floor Care & CleaningBrooms, Mops & Dusters,Vacuums765 FurnitureAccent Furniture,Baby & Kid's Furniture...10674 Heating, Cooling & Air QualityAir Conditioners,Air Purifiers,Dehumidif...3053 Home AppliancesIrons & Garment Care,Sewing Machines,Sma...7297 Home DecorCandles & Holders,Home Accents,Lamps & L...15882

This new gay-friendly hotel stands out among the South Beach crowd for its cheeky, fun design sense—a giant polar bear holding a beach ball greets guests in the lobby. Rooms may be modest in size, but they make a big splash with yellow striped upholstery and large silkscreen prints of Cleopatra. It’s a quick stroll to the beach, and even quicker to access the hotels’ trio of pools on a semi-secluded patio.
Sayulita, about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, is a charming, low-key beach town that remained undiscovered by tourists until recently (cruise lines now offer walking tour shore excursion). Even with more foot traffic, it's still very cheap year-round, and it's crawling with young hippies, yogis and surfers, especially in summer when flights are affordable to Puerto Vallarta (direct, round-trip fare from LAX is around $260). Summer is rainy season, but the rain usually starts in the morning and lasts a short time.
When planning your dream beach vacation, be sure you know what you want and what you are getting. This may seem obvious, but during our travels we’ve talked to enough disappointed vacationers to say that this is the most important point when choosing the best beach vacation for you. While a resort on the beach in Thailand may sound fun and exotic compared to Southern California, be sure to consider everything that the trip entails: the cost, long airplane flight, recommended vaccinations, etc.
Outside your luxurious rental property, your Myrtle Beach vacation continues with great resort amenities and ideal location near popular Grand Strand attractions. Escape the heat in their sparkling oceanfront outdoor pool, located only a few steps from the sandy Myrtle Beach shoreline. And when you and your guests are ready to experience all the fun and excitement Myrtle Beach offers, fantastic destinations like the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, Broadway at the Beach, Family Kingdom Amusement Park and Myrtle Waves Water Park are mere minutes away. World-class shopping venues like the Market Common and Coastal Grand Mall are within a short drive and delicious dining options are around around every corner, with over 1,800 area restaurants located throughout the Myrtle Beach area. Enjoy the ultimate oceanfront penthouse and condo accommodations on your next Myrtle Beach vacation at Bali Bay Resort!
AromatherapyAccessories,Aromatherapy Sets,Diffusers...706 Bath & BodyAccessories,Aromatherapy,Bath Soaks & Bu...3266 CosmeticsBags & Cases,Body,Brushes & Applicators...8482 FragranceFragrance Gift Sets & Coffrets,Kids Frag...13045 Hair CareHair & Scalp Treatment,Hair Accessories...6649 Health CareCompression,Daily Living Aids,First Aid...5105 MassageAcupuncture & Acupressure,Foot & Leg Mas...1541 Men's Health & BeautyMen's Bath & Body,Men's Hair Care,Men's...3982
• Napili Beach, Kapalua, Hawaii: The compact size and crescent shape of this northwest Maui beach keep kids always in view, and the swimming, boogie boarding, bodysurfing, and snorkeling keep them happy. “Low-key” sums up the Napili Kai Beach Resort (808/669-6271 or napilikai.com) and other quiet condo resorts that perch above the sand. Bonuses: great sunsets and a cove full of turtles.
Baby DiaperingChanging Pads & Covers,Changing Tables,D...644 Baby FeedingBaby Food & Formula,Baby Food Prep,Bibs...778 Baby Toys1008 Baby's FashionBaby's Fashion Accessories,Clothing,Sock...950 Bath & PottyBaby Bath Tubs,Baby Toiletries,Baby Wash...516 Books, Music & MoviesKid's Music,Kids & Family Movies,Kids Bo...382 Car SeatsBases,Booster,Car Seat & Stroller Toys,C...181 Gear & ActivityBaby Carriers,Diaper Bags,Entertainers &...463
Mendocino is a fun and funky destination for a drive north of San Francisco that takes in the majesty of the redwoods and the magic of the Pacific Coast Highway. Perched on scenic headlands overlooking the ocean and the Big River, this laid-back town is full of quirky shops and surrounded by parkland where you can hike, bike, and camp in splendid settings from old-growth forests to driftwood-covered beaches. The exclusive, 48-room Heritage House Resort sits on 37 acres of unspoiled Mendocino coastline, offering couples the option of unwinding on a private beach, cuddling on Duxiana beds in oceanview rooms, or drifting away at the resort’s soon-to-open spa. Book it here: Heritage House Resort.

Budget for the trip: TAP is doing its part to pump up Portuguese tourism, and round-trip flights to Lisbon are regularly $600 or less from the East Coast. For about $50, two trains take you from Lisbon to Algarve. Once you’re there, the famous cheap food, wine, and beer of Portugal are at your disposal, and your costs will be minimal. Hotels aren’t bad, either -- as little as $40 a night.
Budget for the trip: TAP is doing its part to pump up Portuguese tourism, and round-trip flights to Lisbon are regularly $600 or less from the East Coast. For about $50, two trains take you from Lisbon to Algarve. Once you’re there, the famous cheap food, wine, and beer of Portugal are at your disposal, and your costs will be minimal. Hotels aren’t bad, either -- as little as $40 a night.
Pickleball proves that active sports and competition don’t have to end when you get older: this mix of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong has exploded in popularity in recent years, and seniors comprise the majority of competitors. The well-regarded tennis center at the Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, has eight pickleball courts as well as five POP Tennis courts (the latter appeal to young and beginner players, since it uses a bigger ball eliminates the challenging overhead serve); pickleball packages include instruction, villa stays, bike rentals, and daily court time. The resort also has a trio of 18-hole golf courses, kayaking on an 11-mile inland lagoon, surfing, and other water sports. 
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.
×