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.

Maybe it's April (snow) showers, or the fact that summer's still months away, but we need a beach vacation, and we need it now. Where to find a gorgeous stretch of sand without breaking the bank (or using up too many of our precious vacation days?) We've put together a list of 9 stateside beach vacations—complete with activity ideas, restaurant recommendations, and hotel options—to guide your next sandy retreat.
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.
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.
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It’s worth experiencing both Tobago’s beaches and its wild interior. Tobago was purportedly the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe, and even though the deserted beaches described in the novel were based on observations made almost 300 years ago, you can still find such beaches on the island today. Try going to Pirate’s Bay, which was used in the 1954 film version of the novel.
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.
Asbury Park has been experiencing a renaissance, now with a hip hotel, modern restaurants and cool attractions (like Asbury Lanes bowling alley and concert venue, which opened in May) and more crowds, thanks to a revitalized waterfront. Ranked No. 1 as Budget Travel's coolest small town in America last year, it's the former stomping ground of iconic American musician Bruce Springsteen, who's first studio album is entitled "Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J."
A half-hour drive from Myrtle Beach’s high rises brings you to a little beach town full of rambling rental houses. Sunset Beach proudly preserves its undeveloped beachfront with wide setbacks―that means a spacious beach. Lofty sand dunes stretch 3 miles south to the inlet connecting the Carolinas on Bird Island state nature preserve. sunsetbeachnc.gov
Asbury Park has been experiencing a renaissance, now with a hip hotel, modern restaurants and cool attractions (like Asbury Lanes bowling alley and concert venue, which opened in May) and more crowds, thanks to a revitalized waterfront. Ranked No. 1 as Budget Travel's coolest small town in America last year, it's the former stomping ground of iconic American musician Bruce Springsteen, who's first studio album is entitled "Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J."
Uluwatu might be the world’s cheapest hard-core surf destination, home to five world-famous breaks and subject of the 1971 Australian documentary Morning of the Earth. The surfing is high-level stuff, so nobody’s going to blame you for relaxing in a beach shack and enjoying a cheap beer next to the breaks. While you’re here, definitely check out the Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple, an 11th-century Hindu temple atop a hill with the best views of the beaches.
OK, so getting here might be a little trickier than it was a few months ago. But if you can finagle it, a flight to Varadero is about $200 from Miami. Varadero Beach is relatively unspoiled; the diving here makes you feel like you’re the first human who’s ever been underwater. Add in some of the friendliest people in the world working along the sand, and you’ve got the best all-around beach day in the Caribbean.
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.
Built in 1932 to connect remote fishing villages, Nova Scotia's 185-mile Cabot Trail also offers a connection to the past. Cape Breton Highlands National Park provides the scenery; the French Acadian, Scottish, Irish, and First Nations people who live in the towns and own the restaurants and shops provide the traditions and conversation. While the scenery will astonish you all along this route, don't rush. Consider pulling over in Cape Breton for a for a whale watching tour with Oshan Whale Watch (the tours are equipped with a hydrophone so you can actually hear those magnificent sea mammals below you). Or stretch your legs on the 2½-mile Middle Head Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which leads to the end of a long peninsula and offers sweeping views. Bed down at Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa, where the cozy cottages have their own fireplaces; 902-285-2880 or kelticlodge.ca. Book it here: Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa.

Southerners love the beach. But if you are looking for vacation ideas that can take you far away from the crowds, here is our list of the best secret beaches where you can stretch your toes in the sand. Part of the pleasure is the journey, like the hour-and-fifteen-minute boat trip to secluded spots like West Ship Island, 11 miles southeast of Gulfport, Mississippi. Traveling over water is also the only option if you want to see the secret beaches of Keewaydin Island. If you prefer vacation ideas with a sense of adventure, plan to ride horses along Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, or take a four-wheel-drive excursion along a 55-mile-long stretch of Padre Island National Seashore. If your idea of the perfect secret beaches in the South are simply secluded places to unwind and relax, stroll along any of these wonderful shores and get your toes wet.
For summer R&R that includes gallery hopping, wine sipping and spa going, this upscale beach community located about 90 minutes north of San Diego is ideal. Several large resorts — Montage Laguna Beach, The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel and Surf & Sand Resort among them — are set along the area's picturesque cliffs and are perfect for a romantic couple's escape or a girlfriends' getaway. The town is a longtime art colony (with more than 100 galleries), so it's easy to find a one-of-a-kind souvenir, while the region's focus on healthy California cuisine means you'll eat well, too.
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.
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.

Each pristine rental condo at Bali Bay Resort will delight Myrtle Beach travelers with designer furnishings and decor. Luxury touches like brushed metal lighting fixtures, granite counters and custom tile floors will allow you and your guests to indulge in the finest Myrtle Beach accommodations available. Contemporary conveniences like wall-mounted HD televisions with cable and high-speed wireless internet ensure the modern traveler's needs will be satisfied. All condos also feature private oceanfront or oceanview balconies with spectacular views of the Myrtle Beach coast and Atlantic Ocean. Deluxe kitchens with stainless appliances and full cookware and flatware setups are available in all Bali Bay Resort condos, providing further convenience for you and your guests. For larger groups, the premier Myrtle Beach penthouse experience is available in Bali Bay Resort's stellar seven bedroom condos. These palatial units offer two-level floor plans with up to 5,000 square feet of living space and giant private balconies with breathtaking ocean views.


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.
You’ve heard of pop-up shops and restaurants. Now meet the pop-up hotel, developed by the Berlin-based Design Hotels brand. Papaya Playa’s 99 thatched-roof cabanas are outfitted with local textiles and hammocks and attract visiting artists, designers, and DJs. They collaborate at a beach amphitheater, spin at Mayan full moon parties, and share freshly baked bread from the clay oven.

The brainchild of American-born Beverly Deikel and her Dominican partner, Patris Oscar, the eco-friendly property is a microcosm of the island—and its first great place to stay. Set on 22 lush acres, its 28 cottages, each with carved mahogany and red-cedar four-poster beds, face onto a rocky beach or the Rosalie River. One of the world’s few carbon-negative resorts, Rosalie Bay not only relies on solar panels but has its own wind turbine, organic gardens, and spring-fed onyx-colored swimming pool.

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).
If boardwalk fishing or putt-putt golf comes to mind when you picture a traditional beach vacation, mix things up with a trip to this decidedly unique spot on the Big Island. Spot tropical fish as you snorkel at the Kapoho Tide Pools, take a dip in the hot springs at Ahalanui Park or visit Lava Tree State Park (which is just as intriguing as it sounds). All fired up? Try a Hot Lava Hike over crackling terrain and into the jungle.
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.

Families should look for family-friendly resorts which offer facilities such as kids’ clubs, protected beaches with calm water, pools, kid-friendly restaurants and connecting rooms. During the summer holiday season (May, June, July and August), many resorts offer extra activities for family travelers which are typically not available during other times of the year. If you plan your family getaway on the fringe of the busy and off-season, you can find great packages and deals.
Hang 10 with your finest friends in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, which hosts surfing camps and lessons year-round in one of the best watersports destinations on the East Coast (and is a short drive from Wilmington). Combine mind, body and spirit at the Women’s Surf, SUP, & Yoga Retreat in August, where you’ll learn to surf and standup paddleboard, or just sign up for a lesson while you’re in town: they’re offered daily between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The waters off the laid-back village of Wrightsville Beach are also a great place to kayak or sail; fuel up for your next activity with coffee and acai bowls at the newly opened Sun Days Cafe; get an afternoon espresso and shop for gorgeous shark teeth jewelry at The Workshop, and then settle in for outrageously delicious, Panamanian-inspired cuisine (and cocktails) at Ceviche's.The perfect stay on Wrightsville Beach is the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, a classic 60s beach hotel redone in great boutique style (and the new culinary home of star chef Jessica Cabo).

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.
At only seven square miles, the island is easily explored by dune buggy. Pack some snorkel gear and head to beaches like Baia do Sancho and Baia dos Porcos, where you’ll see stingrays, sea turtles, and a wide variety of colorful fish just feet from the shore. Without a doubt, the water surrounding the island—a national marine park—is Fernando de Noronha’s top attraction. Take a snorkeling or diving tour to experience it first-hand. In the evenings, head to Vila dos Remedios, the island’s historic heart, where you’ll dance the night away to traditional Brazilian music at the popular and cheap Bar do Cachorro.

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.
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