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.
The most famous beach in the DR is also the cheapest in the Caribbean; once you get there, you can coast on $20 a day. The beaches here are all the bright white sand and turquoise waters of your Caribbean fantasies, and only a few hours flight from most US cities. It’s also home to some of the best golf courses in the islands, and a marine park where you can swim with dolphins or play with manatees.
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.
A private, pristine shore located a few miles outside Saint Augustine, Crescent Beach is known for its soft, sugar-fine sand and tranquil atmosphere. Walk the beach early in the morning to spot natural treasures like whole seashells, sand dollars and starfish. Drive into Saint Augustine for a day of mini-golf and shopping before retreating to this quiet haven for another day of savoring the sun.
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.
These barrier islands offer miles of pristine beaches along a coastline accented by amazing architecture. The natural splendor of Seabrook Island with its rich equestrian history, Isle of Palms’ upscale yet charming developments, and Kiawah Island’s alluring attractions make this area wonderful for a relaxing getaway to a semi-tropical setting. Sullivan's Island is the closest beach island to Charleston, and Folly Beach boasts some of the best East Coast surfing. Isle of Palms Sandy beaches, serene scenes and close proximity to city attractions make Isle of Palms an ideal vacation spot. A local marina provides a place to plan a fishing trip or rent a kayak. Kiawah Island Boasting unspoiled beaches, superior biking trails and natural beauty, this gated community is perfect for a beach vacation built around recreation. Seabrook Island Seabrook Island offers visitors an uncrowded and tranquil escape. A local equestrian center and nearby marina provide unique recreational experiences, while two golf courses and a tennis club ensure that visitors will have plenty of fun between relaxing on the beaches and enjoying the Atlantic breezes. Sullivan's Island Featuring historic forts, a one-of-a-kind lighthouse and breathtaking beach views, Sullivan’s Island is a picturesque paradise. Folly Beach Riding the waves on the East Coast doesn't get any better than surfing at the Washout in Folly Beach. While Folly Beach is known for its nostalgic air and beachy, laid-back vibe, it's only a 15-minute drive from the rich culture and Southern charm of historic downtown Charleston. Wild Dunes A gated community on the northern tip of the Isle of Palms, Wild Dunes offers gorgeous beaches, natural beauty and abundant resort amenities—all in a peaceful setting away from the crowds. -->
Unique touches like Segway tours and an on-property Dolphin Connection program are added insurance that family members of all ages will stay entertained, and it’s a smart move to enroll the kids in the Camp Hawk Environmental Education Program—a curriculum-based half- or full-day program for kids ages 5-12 that focuses on the Keys ecosystem with a mix of hands-on learning and fun activities.
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.
If you’ve always dreamed of carving up the surf like a pro, Surf City’s family-friendly beach—where the summertime waves are small and gentle—is the ideal spot to take a lesson or two. Pack up your beach gear before sunset to catch the vivid clouds from stroller-friendly Surf City Pier. And don’t forget to pop into the souvenir shop for some hand-dipped ice cream.
There are more than 700 islands in the Bahamas, but the vast majority of travelers never get beyond the mega resorts of New Providence (home to Nassau), Paradise, and Grand Bahama islands. That means there are plenty of lightly trafficked “Out Islands” to choose from for off-the-beaten-path beach vacations. For glassy, gem-colored water, condo-free beaches, affordable accommodations, and some the best sailing grounds in the world, head to Staniel Cay, a two-square-mile island within the Exuma Cays.
Named the “Most Beautiful Place in America” on ABC's Good Morning America by 100,000 public votes, Sleeping Bear Lakeshore is an outdoor-lover’s dream. During a visit to Sleeping Bear, vacationers can explore the area’s natural wonders, including sandy beaches, deep forests, shimmering lake views, and bluffs jutting 450 feet over Lake Michigan. Sleeping Bear makes the perfect camping destination while also offering a choice of charming inns, bed and breakfasts, resorts, and hotels at affordable rates. Other attractions include an island lighthouse, hiking on the Manitou Islands, or exploring the historical maritime village.
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).
All Inclusive Beach Vacations: If you don’t want to worry about the cost of activities, food, extra resort surcharges and other fees, the best way to go is all-inclusive. Certain resort chains like Couples resorts are popular with couples on their honeymoon, anniversary or romantic trip who want to know the final cost of their vacation before they leave home. You can find all inclusive packages that include all or some meals, an array of fun activities and adventures, and all resort fees in the cost of the stay. You don’t have to book an all inclusive vacation through a travel agent. In some cases, the resort offers all inclusive pricing with airfare.
Whether you're into surfing, sailing or touring Gilded Age mansions, Newport is a beach vacation destination with a star-spangled pedigree. Its largest beach, Ruggles, is sweeping crescent of sand favored by surfers, while its historic Thames Street is lined with antique shops, pubs and seafood restaurants. Choose from an array of romantic inns (The Chandler at Cliff Walk and Forty 1 North, for instance) or full-service hotels (Newport Marriott or Hotel Viking). For active sightseeing, stroll or jog the scenic 3½ -mile Cliff Walk with grand mansions on one side and the sailboat-studded waters of Narragansett Bay on the other.
The “Spice Island” has something for everyone, including Afro-Caribbean culture, one of the Caribbean’s prettiest colonial cities, fragrant spice plantations, dozens of beaches and bays, and a mountainous national park great for hiking. In the capital of St. George, you can walk along narrow colonial streets lined with a rainbow of pastel-painted houses and shops and watch masted ships sail in and out of the harbor. While in town, browse the spice and food markets and visit the 18th-century French fortification Fort George.
Daytona is full of fun, campy dining spots with retro or tiki themes — like Jimmy Hart's Hall of Fame Bar and Tiki Deck and Burgey's Tiki Hut — that offer bang for your buck. A 1/2-lb beef burger at Burgey's is only $9. Local haunt Mai Tai Bar, with live music and blazed-up tiki torches, offers happy hours from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. where domestic pints are $2.50.
“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.”
Whether you prefer a good siesta or fiesta, there are enough beaches in Mexico to satisfy every travel whim. The beaches along Cancun, for example, thrum with activity all day and night, but those of Tulum can lend some much-needed peace. And Orbitz has plenty of beach resorts all over sunny Mexico that beckon with soft, white sand and those beautiful ocean waves.
Visiting the rustic beach towns in Brazil’s northeastern state of Alagoas feels like uncovering a fantastic secret (most tourists still head south to Bahia). Around São Miguel dos Milagres, the white-sand beaches are dotted with crystalline tide pools. The nearby light-filled Pousada Patacho beckons with five intimate, whitewashed rooms amid coconut palms and vine-draped terraces.
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
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.
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.
If the fictional Anne of Green Gables were to visit her hometown of Cavendish on Prince Edward Island today, she might turn her freckled nose up at the mini amusement parks, go-kart tracks, and other typical roadside attractions that have sprouted up since the area became a tourist magnet for Anne fans. She’d probably feel more at home on the underdeveloped eastern side of the island, Points East Coastal Drive, an area of rolling farmland, pine forests, tiny towns with white gabled country houses, and quiet red- and white-sand beaches.
Kauai: The island of Kauai in Hawaii offers several great options. The St. Regis Princeville has a sandy shore and luxury accommodations. The Resort Butler service at The St. Regis includes guest welcome upon arrival, personalization of the guest suite, unpacking and dining reservations. Sheraton Kauai Resort offers snorkeling, landscaped gardens and a choice of rooms and suites.
The tiny surf town of Cayucos is refreshingly underdeveloped, with vintage shops, a 1,000-foot pier, and longtime institutions like the restored 1867 Cass House. Each room has standout features, whether cast-iron soaking tubs, canopy beds, fireplaces, or a private terrace. The farm-to-table restaurant serves four-course dinners infused with herbs, vegetables, and fruit from the garden.
Once home to sea captains and ship builders, Dennis Port Village is now known for its coffee shops, boutiques, markets, and sandy south side beaches that overlook Nantucket Sound. This quaint village invites visitors to eat at one of its many New England-style restaurants and enjoy a post-dinner concert on the Village Green. Dennis Port is also a popular spot for windsurfers and kite boarders, who use the southwesterly breezes along the sound’s shoreline to their advantage. Overnight guests who want a true Cape Cod experience can stay in one of Dennis Port’s cozy bed and breakfasts or charming inns.
To find the best cheap beach vacation, think local, someplace where you can drive to, like a nearby ocean beach or a lake, perfect for a weekend getaway. The cost of transportation is often the highest percentage of the trip expense, especially with a family. If you pick a spot where you can drive, the holiday will be much cheaper. The second place to save money is accommodations.
This pretty South Carolina barrier island offers ten miles of rolling sand dunes and sea grasses, not to mention pristine and mercifully quiet golf courses. One of the best beach vacations for families, Kiawah Island is kid-friendly but not overrun—just what you need to chill. Try Kiawah Beachwalker Park where you can walk through pine trees and yucca plants before emerging onto the sands.