Looking for a nearby escape that feels far-flung? Puerto Rico is just the ticket—especially if you’re budget-conscious. Though the island was hit by back-to-back Hurricanes Irma and Maria last September, vacationers are now starting to trickle back in as hotels and restaurants have reopened their doors. Flights from the mainland are inexpensive (compared with those to nearby islands like Turks and Caicos and the BVI), and there are plenty of wallet-friendly stays offering style, comfort, and top-notch service. Our fave? El Blok, a 22-room eco-hotel with a rooftop plunge pool, Caribbean Sea views, and a curvilinear concrete façade that’s inspired by the coral reefs on the island. Hit the beach, or embark on a two-hour $30 snorkeling tour through mangrove forests and bioluminescent bays via Abe’s Snorkeling & Bio-Bay Tours. Then, watch the sunset and chow down on burgers and frozen rum drinks at Bananas Guesthouse, a divey beach bar with killer happy hour deals.
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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.
Myrtle Beach has made a name for itself as a thrilling waterfront destination with endless options for entertainment. Book a vacation rental to save money on the front end, and spend that extra cash on memorable experiences like a ride on the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, a baseball game at TicketReturn.com field, or a game of mini golf at one of 40 different courses. Pre-book your tickets to Ripley’s Aquarium or 5D Moving Theater to save yourself some hassle.
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.
We’ve never found a beach we didn’t love, so to help us narrow down the list, we asked Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, better known as Dr. Beach, to lend us his expertise. Every year, he picks America’s top 10 beaches after considering factors such as sand softness, water temperature, pollution, and views. Dr. Beach is currently the director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research, but when he isn’t working, he retreats to his favorite seashore, Cape Florida State Park.
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.
This small cliff-lined beach near one of the world’s cheapest beach towns is a secluded spot that, if you hit it on the right day, feels like your own private slice of paradise. The massive cliffs and small caves that sit just off the sand give it a deserted-island feel. On summer weekends you might find yourself sharing it with a good number of in-the-know locals.
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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.
Virginia Beach is another famous U.S. beach area that has a good reputation of being budget friendly. To save some money and enjoy the nature that surrounds you, plan to set up camp in a tent or RV at First Landing State Park. You can walk to the beach from your campsite and avoid many of the crowds that visit the actual Virginia Beach nearby. Of course, Virginia Beach itself is fun too and has a great boardwalk that’s peaceful to stroll along. There are many hotels right along this beach, but if you’re willing to bike or drive a bit further, you can find more affordable accommodations farther away from the prime tourist area. Surfing is popular here, and you might even be able to check out a surfing competition in the summer!
This charming beach town is super accessible, particularly for Houstonians who only have to drive 45 minutes to get there. And once you arrive, you can get just about anywhere by foot, so there's no need for pricey cabs or rental cars. Learn about the historic island city, one of the country’s leading ports in the 19th century, at Moody Mansion, the former home of one of Galveston’s founding families, or at the East End Historical District, where you’ll find a dazzling string of restored Victorian landmarks. From there, tuck into a diet-busting feast of hush puppies, corn on the cob, and three-pound platters of steamed crawdads at Benno’s on the Beach, a casual waterfront hang with an outdoor patio and wallet-friendly prices. Your Victorian-inspired digs at the Tremont House are the perfect place to kick back and relax after a long day of exploring.
It takes effort to reach the beaches of Panglao Island—an hour-long flight from Manila to Bohol Island followed by a 25-minute drive. But the payoff comes when you check-in to Ananyana Beach Resort, where the 12 luxe thatched-roof huts have bamboo-framed king-size beds and the lounge is outfitted with regionally made rattan and abaca furniture. The resort has a prime spot on a mile-long stretch of beach.
It takes effort to reach the beaches of Panglao Island—an hour-long flight from Manila to Bohol Island followed by a 25-minute drive. But the payoff comes when you check-in to Ananyana Beach Resort, where the 12 luxe thatched-roof huts have bamboo-framed king-size beds and the lounge is outfitted with regionally made rattan and abaca furniture. The resort has a prime spot on a mile-long stretch of beach.
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.

Myrtle Beach has made a name for itself as a thrilling waterfront destination with endless options for entertainment. Book a vacation rental to save money on the front end, and spend that extra cash on memorable experiences like a ride on the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, a baseball game at TicketReturn.com field, or a game of mini golf at one of 40 different courses. Pre-book your tickets to Ripley’s Aquarium or 5D Moving Theater to save yourself some hassle.


For diversity of nature on a budget, few beaches in the western hemisphere can rival this little island in the Lighthouse Reef atoll on the Belize barrier reef. Half Moon Caye is a national park, with crystal clear waters and world-class wall diving. Because the area is completely undeveloped, it’s absolutely teeming with marine creatures and birds. It happens to be the breeding ground for the hemisphere’s only red-footed booby colony.
Everyone in central Florida who wants to have an epic beach day makes their way here on the weekend. What results is one of the best beach parties in America, a sand-borne tailgate party where instead of playing football, people play in the ocean. If you find yourself on a landlocked Florida vacation to theme parks or otherwise, spending a day here is affordable and a whole lot of fun.
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).
A popular spring break destination, South Padre Island can be touristy, but it’s not without its charms. Snag a table on the patio at The Café on the Beach to tuck into fresh shrimp tacos, crab cakes, grilled snapper and tortilla soup, or opt for a grab-and-go meal at Ceviche Ceviche (the mahi mahi with fresh mango and avocado is to-die-for). When you want to venture outdoors, there’s the boardwalk along the Laguna Madre Nature Trail, the beachfront Isla Blanca Park (a popular picnic spot), and the 70-mile Padre Island National Seashore, the world’s longest undeveloped barrier island, just three hours away. The Hilton Garden Inn South Padre Island is steps from the beach and offers spacious rooms from $130/night.
Oahu: When planning a vacation in Hawaii, the first step is to decide where to go. Each island is different, offering a choice of accommodation, activities and scenery. The most famous destination in Hawaii is Waikiki on the island of Oahu. It's home to numerous hotels and resorts, some right on the sandy shore and others a just a few blocks from it. Travelers come here for their honeymoon, on a family trip and to learn how to surf. The Royal Hawaiian is decorated all in pink. Because of its historic ambiance and romantic atmosphere, the hotel is especially popular with honeymooners. Next to the Royal Hawaiian is the 1,695-room Sheraton Waikiki which offers many rooms overlooking the ocean. If you are looking for a more secluded getaway, reserve a cottage at Turtle Bay on the north end of the island. The resort has two golf courses, a spa and a kid's club.

Located in the heart of Cape Cod, Dennis Port is the perfect spot to enjoy the wind and waves while catching up on a little culture in between. Take a break from the surf with a scenic afternoon drive along Route 6A, a highway dotted with renowned art galleries, or cap off a sunny beach day with a theatrical performance at the Cape Playhouse. Watch for “Free Fun Fridays” at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, a summer event offering complimentary activities for kids including face-painting and pottery-making.
Australia: Kewarra near Cairns offers a beautiful sandy bay, a garden filled with exotic birds and pristine rainforest surroundings. Thala Beach Lodge, also near Cairns, is a unique getaway with two pools, waterfalls, spas and grottos. Lizard Island has 24 secluded beaches, a freshwater swimming pool, snorkeling and scuba diving on its own coral reefs. Ask for a room right next to the ocean.
Deep in the heart of the Caribbean, the island nation of Jamaica has miles of unspoiled beaches, lush rain forests, and green mountains — it's been called "the biggest little island in the world" for good reason. The edges of the island are lined with resorts, while the interior is verdant and blossoming with all manner of flora and fauna. Laze on the sugar-soft sands of any one of Jamaica's many beaches or take an invigorating hike through the lush Blue Mountains. On the west end of Jamaica, Negril boasts seven miles of beaches and serene waters to go swimming, snorkeling, or jet skiing in. At night, the discos are packed in Negril. You can also swim, play golf and tennis, and go to the spa at most of the island's resorts, and explore Jamaican culture in the city centers. In Kingston, Jamaica's capital, reggae fans can take a tour of the Bob Marley Museum at 56 Hope Road. In town, don't miss your chance to taste authentic Jamaican street food — try some spicy jerk chicken and wash it down with a Red Stripe.
Arguably the most exotic city Americans can visit without a passport, Miami is home to sun, sand and irrepressible style. The city's 1970s boom has resulted in a flourishing economy. Home to many Cuban-Americans, Miami is a thriving multicultural metropolis that revels in its Latin American roots. Miami Beach's white sands welcome you to a tropical paradise where you can soak up the rays, boat, water ski and windsurf. Attend a music festival, enjoy world-class cuisine, browse in fabulous shops and dance all night to the sizzling Latin beat. Hundreds of restored Art Deco buildings await admiration in South Beach, the first 20th-century district on the National Register of Historic Places. Noteworthy attractions in ethnically diverse downtown Miami include the Miami-Dade Cultural Center, containing the city's main art museum, historical museum and library; the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, a grand movie palace and concert hall; and the Freedom Tower, a key site for Cuban immigrants.
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.
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."
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.

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.


North Carolina’s Outer Banks don’t actually end at the Virginia state line. Sandbridge, 25 minutes south of Virginia Beach, sits at the northern tip of the OBX, where you’ll find a tiny residential community with a couple of restaurants, an outfitter for kayaking, and a chic condo next to the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. Bring a bike so you can explore the refuge and the state park (which lacks an access road). sandbridgebeachva.com
Get the peaceful retreat you deserve by booking your own vacation rental from TripAdvisor—the option that gives you an entire home for the duration of your stay, stocked with all the amenities you could wish for. And once you decide on a destination, you can book all your tours, activities, and attractions right on TripAdvisor, too. Plus, our new 24-hour cancellation policy means you can pre-book before arriving, but still have the flexibility to cancel if your itinerary changes.
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