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 travelers looking for a vacation without breaking the budget, Nags Head, North Carolina, provides the ideal family holiday. Single family cottages are plentiful in this historical Outer Banks beach town just south of Kitty Hawk. Nags Head boasts 11 miles of sandy shoreline and has much to offer in terms of watersports. During a trip to Nags Head, visitors can go fishing off two public piers, sailing or kayaking along the coast, snorkeling past sunken shipwrecks, or hang gliding above the sandy dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park. This destination works for couples, solo travelers, or families.
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.

Further afield, you, too, can find your bliss among the beaches of Goa, India, which have welcomed bohemian types since the ’60s. Amarya Shamiyana, a collection of four Moghul-inspired tents in a palm-shaded oasis—just down the beach from Jade Jagger’s boutique—channels that carefree, chic spirit. The hotel bursts with color, from playful hand-painted damask murals to metallic beanbag chairs, and puts you within walking distance of the beautiful party people (from $110 per night). 

While most Americans have never heard of it, Fernando de Noronha is regarded by many Brazilians as having the most beautiful beaches in the country—and that’s saying a lot coming from a nation full of sand and sun connoisseurs. With its steep bunny-ear hills that soar up from undeveloped white and gold beaches, Fernando de Noronha might look more at home alongside Bora Bora and the other islands of French Polynesia than it does hundreds of miles from mainland Brazil. But unlike those Pacific islands, Fernando de Noronha is cheaper and easier to get to, at least from the East Coast of the U.S.
The most affordable beach in Spain is on the western shore of the island of La Gomera in the Canary Islands. The dark sandy beach sits at the end of a long valley shaped by imposing cliffs, which during the summer make a striking contrast to the blue sky. The little villages along the road make for a charming cultural experience on your way to the water. A couple of days here feels more like a remote island escape than most of the other islands in Europe.

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.
Although it’s situated in a gated luxury community of golf courses and vacation homes, there’s an untouched beauty to the surrounding nature trails and mangrove forests. That means guests at Magdalena Grand Beach Resort enjoy the thrills of back-to-nature adventure combined with the perks of a large resort development. All 178 rooms have marble baths, high-def flat screens, and ocean-view balconies.

This popular vacation destination has nearly 2 miles of inviting sandy beaches along Florida’s Gold Coast. Watersports enthusiasts can rent equipment right on the beach or along Atlantic Avenue, the city’s main thoroughfare. Everyone from snorkelers to surfers will find a place that caters to them. The city’s parks and recreation department maintains more than 40 public parks and facilities that are open to residents and tourists including pools, sports fields, skate parks, tennis courts, golf courses, dog parks, and playgrounds that offer affordable fun for everyone! Dining options in downtown Delray Beach range from food trucks to four-star restaurants.

Even among a coastline dotted with numerous hotels and condominiums, the properties of Beach Vacations stand out from the rest. Whether you are looking for a cozy one-bedroom condo near the beach for your getaway or a deluxe five-bedroom oceanfront villa for the entire family, we stand ready to meet the needs and desires of your vacation. Combining the expertise of our knowledgeable staff with our extensive list of properties stretching from the south end of Myrtle Beach all the way up through the beach communities of North Myrtle Beach, we have the utmost confidence in finding the best and most affordable beach vacation for you!
Many people who haven’t traveled in Texas are surprised to learn that there’s an amazing beach along the southern coast of the state. South Padre Island is accessible by road and very popular as a budget-friendly beach destination in the U.S. Accordingly, this area has become famous for its spring break parties, but the beach is very calm and serene if you visit in September or October. In the early fall, the crowds disburse but the temperatures are still warm enough to spend your days at the beach. Families and adventurous couples can keep busy here with water parks, sailing, kiteboarding and even dolphin watching. The town of Galveston is also a fun place to visit for a beach trip because it’s only 45 minutes from Houston and has a nice beach, winery, parks, and gardens.

Explore the rich history and architectural treasures of proud Charleston when you vacation on one of her nearby resort islands on Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island or Isle of Palms. Stroll a three-mile boardwalk, complete with bandstand and carousel, and take advantage of tax-free shopping at the "Quiet Resorts" of Bethany Beach, Delaware. Play 18 holes on world-famous Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island, or improve your tennis game with a lesson from the professionally certified instructors at Destin's TOPS'L® Beach & Racquet Resort.
Set among the cranberry bogs it’s well known for, Harwich delivers an authentic Cape Cod experience with bonfires on the beach, boating, and baseball. The village has six fresh water beaches and 17 saltwater beaches along Nantucket Sound. Permits for bonfires are issued by the Recreation and Youth Commission. Boats can be rented with or without a captain at NautiJane’s in East Harwich for a relaxing day at sea. Sports fans can spend an afternoon watching the Harwich Mariners take on another team from the Cape Cod Baseball League followed by a casual dinner of local favorites at Brax Landing in Harwich Port.
Brimming with art galleries, shingled storefronts and charming mom-and-pop restaurants, Cannon Beach has become one of Oregon’s must-see beach towns. And thanks to the area’s abundance of natural scenery, you won’t have to shell out your savings to keep busy. Hit the more than five miles of sand between Ecola Creek and Arch Cape for unbeatable views of Haystack Rock, one of the state’s most recognizable landmarks, or bike the 16-mile trail to Manzanita, stopping to take in dramatic coastal views in Oswald West State Park. After, grab a broiled shrimp sandwich and a slice of apple walnut cake from Lazy Susan Café, then check out the town’s buzzy art scene at White Bird Gallery, the oldest fine arts gallery in the area. After a long day of exploring, rest your head at The Ocean Lodge, an affordable family-friendly resort with 45 water-facing rooms, a free continental breakfast, and a cozy library stocked with books and movies.
No matter how you picture it, there’s something memorable about setting up camp at a beach house. Whether you’re on the hunt for a family-friendly getaway or a coastal hot spot with incredible nightlife, we’ve combed the country for 20 seaside adventures that won’t break the bank. Better yet, booking an affordable vacation home through TripAdvisor Rentals means you’ll have a little extra cash in your pocket for all the other great attractions these areas have to offer.
Lara is a travel writer and editor with a closet full of musty thrift store finds from all over the world. Her ideal vacation is a big city one packed with live music and good food, but she admits there’s also a place for relaxing by the pool. Her all-time favorite getaway was a month hiding out in Brooklyn, getting the best museum, gallery and foodie fixes. The udon noodles at Samurai Mama still haunt her dreams...
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