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17 Cheap Beach Vacations to Take on a Budget

Many people crave a relaxing beach vacation but think they can’t afford to make the trip. Beach destinations have gotten a certain reputation of being touristy and overpriced, but not all beach spots are the same. There are lots of great cheap beach vacations that you can take that won’t break the bank or blow your budget. Here are some of the most affordable beach destinations around the world.

Florida Panhandle, Florida Destin, Florida
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Florida Panhandle, Florida

Why Come Here: A picture-perfect Florida shoreline with emerald waters. 

Florida is a classic beach destination in the U.S., and despite its popularity, you can still find some great deals on beach trips in the state. For the best deals, look in beach towns along the Florida Panhandle and along Florida’s Gulf Coast. You can reach the popular towns of Panama City and Pensacola by flying into the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. The temperatures in Pensacola, for example, range between the 70s and 90s from April to October, which is perfect beach weather. Other great areas to stay in for your Florida Panhandle beach trip are Destin, St. Andrews, and Grayton Beach.

Gulf Shores, Alabama Gulf Shores, Alabama
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Gulf Shores, Alabama

Why Come Here: Budget-friendly accommodations as long as you avoid the spring break crowds.

The Alabama beach community of Gulf Shores is a great alternative to the popular (and pricier) Florida destinations of Destin and Pensacola. Gulf Shores is a charming spot when you’re looking to get back to the basics of what a beach vacation is all about – sand, sun, and open water! There are about 32 miles of pristine beaches here, as well as many local restaurants and lodging options to suit any budget.

South Padre Island, Texas South Padre Island
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South Padre Island, Texas

Why Come Here: A budget-friendly beach destination with a family-friendly setting.

Many people who haven’t traveled to Texas are surprised to learn that there’s an amazing beach along the southern coast of the state. One of the best beach towns in Texas, South Padre Island is accessible by road and very popular as a budget-friendly beach destination in the U.S. Families and adventurous couples can keep busy here with water parks, sailing, kiteboarding and even dolphin watching.

San Juan, Puerto Rico Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Why Come Here: A mix of stunning beach scenery, vibrant culture, and historic landmarks worth exploring. 

Unlike much of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico offers affordable prices for an amazing beach experience. You can find flights from many U.S. cities for more reasonable prices than elsewhere in the islands. There’s lots of history to learn about here by visiting the Spanish forts around San Juan and admiring the Spanish colonial-style buildings in the city. You can find a little bit of everything here in terms of accommodations, including budget-friendly hotels, chain hotels, Airbnb properties, and high-end luxury resorts.

Ocean City, Maryland Ocean City, Maryland
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Ocean City, Maryland

Why Come Here: Classic beach fun with a dose of nostalgia.

When you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia to go with your beach vacation, head to Ocean City, Maryland. This affordable beach vacation destination has a lot to appeal to the entire family. You can enjoy a few miles of boardwalk, amusement parks, and about 10 miles of white sandy beaches when you visit. This is also a great place to sample some authentic Maryland crab cakes. Free family-friendly events are common here, such as concerts on Division Street Beach, fireworks, and on-the-beach movies.

Cape May, New Jersey Cape May, New Jersey
Credit: Cape May, New Jersey by Bigstock.com

Cape May, New Jersey

Why Come Here: For its picturesque shoreline and endless activities.

One of the best beach towns in America, Cape May is an ideal destination for families and couples alike. Along with its charming B&Bs, horse-drawn carriages, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, you’ll find year-round entertainment. Visit art shows, go boating, visit the zoo, sample a taste of craft beer at local breweries, take a self-guided wine tour, or spend some time at the arcades on the promenade. This top New Jersey destination is home to beach resorts as well as romantic inns and family-friendly hotels, along with great shopping at the Washington Street Mall.

Corfu, Greece Corfu, Greece
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Corfu, Greece

Why Come Here: It’s an affordable slice of paradise with crystal clear waters. 

One of the most alluring island getaways in Greece, Corfu won’t break your bank. Corfu is a picture-perfect 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.

Phuket, Thailand Laem Sing Beach in Phuket, Thailand
Credit: Laem Sing Beach in Phuket, Thailand by © Vasilii Vodin | Dreamstime.com

Phuket, Thailand

Why Come Here: An exotic destination with beachside accommodations for affordable rates. 

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 beautiful beach 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.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica Ocho Rios in Jamaica
Credit: Ocho Rios in Jamaica by Lucky-photographer/shutterstock.com

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Why Come Here: It’s perfect for romantic beach getaways without the high prices. 

Jamaica is a top destination for couples celebrating their honeymoons and anniversaries, but it has beaches well-suited to travelers regardless of whether you’re celebrating something or not. You can find direct flights to Montego Bay from many cities, and Ocho Rios tends to be even more affordable than Montego Bay. You’ll find plenty of all-inclusive resorts here, but also small hotels that are near local restaurants and bars that offer cheap eats and drinks. While in the Ocho Rios area, you can spend lots of time on the sandy beaches and go hiking and swimming by waterfalls.

Virginia Beach, Virginia Virginia Beach Boardwalk
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Virginia Beach, Virginia

Why Come Here: A beachfront boardwalk and popular surf spots. 

Virginia Beach is another famous U.S. beach area that has a good reputation for 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!

Bocas del Toro, Panama Bocas del Toro, Panama
Credit: Bocas del Toro, Panama by © Mario Gyss | Dreamstime.com

Bocas del Toro, Panama

Why Come Here: An affordable tropical destination with exciting culture and delicious food.

When you visit Panama for your cheap beach vacation, you can combine city life with time in the sea and sand. Here you’ll find white sand beaches but at a more affordable price than other Caribbean hotspots. Some of the best places to come for your Panama beach vacation are Bocas del Toro, Contadora, and Coronado. The waters around Panama are warm and inviting for swimming and many different water sports, including parasailing, diving, and boating.

Algarve, Portugal Algarve region, Portugal
Credit: Algarve region, Portugal by © Artem Evdokimov | Dreamstime.com

Algarve, Portugal

Why Come Here: Stunning cliffside beaches with year-round sunshine. 

The Algarve is along Portugal’s southern coast and is a European favorite for holidays filled with sunshine and sand. The big city here is Faro, and Faro Airport is where you may fly for this beach trip. Along the Algarve, you’ll find quiet villages, exciting party towns, and a little of everything in between. This is a great beach trip for travelers looking for authenticity and cultural experiences that go beyond just lounging in the sand. It’s a favorite spot among travelers from the UK and Northern Europe. Take a drive along the coast to see the beautiful cliffs, and make sure to check out Cabo de Sao Vincente, the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, and Alte & Salir.

Tybee Island, Georgia Wooden walkway to Tybee Island Beach
Credit: Wooden walkway to Tybee Island Beach by © Edytamlaw | Dreamstime.com

Tybee Island, Georgia

Why Come Here: Conveniently located near Savannah with warm, gentle waters.

Tybee Island is a popular vacation spot and an affordable place to spend time at the beach. It’s fun to explore the island by bike, indulge in some ice cream, and go for a swim in the warm ocean water. This coastal community is home to sea turtles and dolphins that you can observe, while fishing enthusiasts can try their luck with a big catch.

Ambergris Caye, Belize Ambergris Caye, Belize
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Ambergris Caye, Belize

Why Come Here: For its laid-back vibes and top snorkeling and diving sites. 

The small country of Belize is one of the most affordable destinations in Central America, and it has some beautiful beaches just waiting to be explored. Ambergris Caye is the largest island that’s part of Belize and a favorite destination among divers. One of the largest coral reef systems is located near the island, which is a huge selling point for divers and snorkelers. The vibe here is very relaxing and laid back in the town of San Pedro, and there are many budget-friendly hotels and restaurants here to indulge a bit without going broke.

Cannon Beach, Oregon Cannon Beach, Oregon
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Cannon Beach, Oregon

Why Come Here: Photogenic landscapes with a range of outdoor activities. 

Not all beach trips have to be about bikinis and sunbathing, and Oregon’s stunning beaches prove that beach vacations can go beyond the stereotypes. You’ll only need to drive about an hour and a half from Portland to reach this area, but you’ll feel like you’re a world away. Haystack Rock is the iconic natural landmark here that you’ll see protruding from the ocean a couple of hundred feet from the surface. The route to get here highlights stunning views of the coastline, so pull over a couple of times to snap photos of the scenery along the way. Ecola State Park nearby is great for hiking, biking, and flying a kite.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Enjoy the shops, nightlife, and amusement park rides at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Credit: Enjoy the shops, nightlife, and amusement park rides at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina by Bigstockphoto.com

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Why Come Here: An attraction-filled coastline with endless activities for families.

Myrtle Beach has been a favorite beach destination on Atlantic Coast for decades. This is a wonderful place to visit for families, and there are lots of golf courses and nightlife options for adults too. Flight prices are often reasonable here to drive the tourism industry, and it’s also an easy drive from many cities in the South and Mid-Atlantic coast. There are lots of hotels, but also look into vacation rental options if you’re traveling with a few other people.

Manzanillo, Mexico Manzanillo, Mexico
Credit: Manzanillo, Mexico by © Donald Fink | Dreamstime.com

Manzanillo, Mexico

Why Come Here: A popular beach destination in Mexico for budget-savvy travelers. 

There are lots of beach resort towns in Mexico, but one of the most budget-friendly ones is Manzanillo. This is a port city that has a couple of five-mile bays with beaches. Here you’ll find some great seafood restaurants and a laid-back atmosphere. Plan to rent an apartment or small home with an ocean view if you’re traveling with a few people and planning to stay for a while. Smaller budget-friendly hotels can also be found in Manzanillo, and many of them are conveniently located downtown and near the bus station.

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