Best Affordable Beach Resorts
From the plastic palm tree–lined beaches of the Jersey Shore to the powdery white sands of Belize, beach vacations never go out of style.
“Beach destinations remain incredibly popular with travelers right now,” says T+L A-List agent Kimberly Wilson Wetty; they’re “great for the time-starved couple who needs a mini-escape and perfect for families with kids.” Best of all, that perfect beach getaway—whether it’s an exotic island hideout or a nearby home away from home—doesn’t have to cost a fortune. We found 40 amazing spots ranging from $75 to $250 a night.
“These days more and more travelers are avoiding the large resorts for a more individualized experience,” says agent Georgia Johnson of AMT American Express Travel. “People want that perfect little cottage away from the crowds.” A prime example:
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Another trend among beachgoers: requests for private spas and plunge pools. “Especially with honeymooners, people are looking for that extra bit of privacy,” Johnson explains. Thailand’s Outrigger Serenity Terraces Resort, located on Phuket Island’s lively Rawai Beach, has 78 suites that come with floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies, six with private plunge pools.
Related: 12 Affordable Private Island Resorts
If getting away from it all is your number one priority, check out some of our super-remote beach destinations. At Barefoot at Havelock, on India’s Havelock Island, you’ll find 19 secluded cottages—though you might have to share the ocean with Rajan, the resort’s resident elephant.
Fortunately, you don’t have to fly 20 hours (travel time from Los Angeles to India) for a little bit of beach paradise. Case in point: L.A.’s Hotel Erwin, with 119 super-modern rooms just 200 feet from the Pacific; or the Riviera Hotel at Miami’s South Beach, where 54 roomy suites face the ocean. And in the warmer months, the Northern Atlantic spots are just as enticing: the Surfside Cottages of Wellfleet, Cape Cod, or Long Island’s retro-cool East Deck Motel at Ditch Plains beach.
Whether you’re looking for something on the pebbled strands of a quaint French fishing town or near the azure waters of Aruba, read on: your perfect beach vacation awaits.
Rates reflect starting price for a double room during low season.
$186: Villa ScarparielloItaly
On a cliff a half-mile from Amalfi, the whitewashed Villa Scarpariello could be your wealthy Italian friend’s private retreat. All five rooms are filled with family heirlooms and artisan handiwork—antique writing desks, pink-and-turquoise Vietri tiles—and have wooden shutters that open onto the Mediterranean. If you’re looking for a stretch of powdery sand, head to Baia di Castiglione, a 10-minute walk away, though the villa’s pool and waterfront deck are just as inviting.
$110: Ocean InnAntigua
Judging by the multimillion dollar yachts moored in English Harbour, you wouldn’t expect to find an affordable hotel for miles. But that’s not the case: the intimate Ocean Inn, whose wooden walkways connect 12 bright rooms, is a steal. Try No. 3, which goes for the same price as a standard room but has a balcony thrown in for free, or one of the two suites in the master cottage, perfect for privacy seekers.
$215: Furama ResortVietnam
The Furama Resort is located on China Beach, the famous 18-mile stretch of coastline in central Vietnam. A combination of colonial-era and traditional Asian design defines this 198-room beachfront property. The resort offers everything from tai chi classes on the beach and tours of the four nearby UNESCO World Heritage sites to serene night dives with sea turtles in the South China Sea.
$100: Hôtel l’OursinFrance
Set on Cap Ferrat, between Nice and Monte Carlo, Hôtel l’Oursin is a petite, 14-room charmer with Provençal flair (embroidered toile bedspreads; carved walnut headboards). Two of the largest rooms face the harbor, with its bobbing sailboats. Walk along the sunny waterfront promenade and stop at one of the numerous outdoor cafés for bouillabaisse, or stroll through the village down to the pebbled Mediterranean beaches.
$125: Ka’awa Loa Plantation & GuesthouseHawaii
Each of the five stylish rooms at Ka’awa Loa Plantation & Guesthouse—a tiny B&B run by gregarious owners Michael Martinage and Gregory Nunn—comes with panoramic views of Kealakekua Bay. A breakfast of eggs, fresh star fruit, and coffee grown on site is served on the 2,000-square-foot wraparound porch. The nearby lava-rock beaches, Kealakekua and Puuhonua O Honaunau, are known for the best snorkeling on the Big Island.
$169: Manchebo Beach Resort & SpaAruba
The Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa—a spiffed-up former Best Western on the western coast of the island—has 71 simple rooms, most of which open right onto one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful stretches of sand. If you’re in search of palapas, azure water, and a cocktail, what more could you need? Maybe a shiatsu massage at the beachfront spa, set in a tropical garden.
$148: Calibishie CoveDominica
The diminutive Calibishie Cove—on the mountainous island’s beach-studded northeastern corner—is a colonial-style hotel with just four rooms, each with platform beds, large shutters, and a private patio overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Snorkel with sea horses and turtles in the warm waters off the near-empty Hodges Beach; or arrange for a picnic lunch of spiny lobster, borrow one of the hotel’s kayaks, and head to Treasure Island, an uninhabited islet 10 minutes away.
$143: Temple Tree at Bon Ton ResortMalaysia
Chinese tin miners, Arab goldsmiths, and durian farmers once lived in the 100-year-old villas at Temple Tree at Bon Ton Resort, on Malaysia’s Langkawi Island. Each one is named after an indigenous flower—white frangipani; yellow orchid—and most are appointed with Turkish rugs and deep wooden tubs. The golden beaches of Pantai Cenang are a 10-minute walk away; take a small boat out to Daya Bunting, one of the 99 uninhabited islands nearby.
$221: Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, DubrovnikCroatia
The glass-and-steel Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Dubrovnik is as big and bold as the yachts that cruise the Dalmatian Coast. With a 37,000-square-foot Anne Sémonin spa, 13 restaurants, three swimming pools, and its own market selling local fruit, the Radisson feels less like a resort and more like a small Adriatic Coast village. The 408 rooms—all done in blue and white with spare furnishings—overlook the hotel’s private sandy beach, just 70 feet away.
$69: Hotel Banana AzulCosta Rica
The Hotel Banana Azul, a 14-room retreat on a black-sand strand, embodies the area’s laid-back feeling. Bright wood-paneled rooms feature such tropical touches as dangling bromeliad plants and locally made easy chairs. (For $139 a night, upgrade to the Howler Suite, an airy corner room with an outdoor soaking tub and ocean views.) Hammocks are strung under coconut palms—an ideal spot for piña coladas.
$107: Hostal Sa RascassaSpain
It isn’t easy to locate the Hostal Sa Rascassa, and that’s exactly the point—the hotel is hidden above Aiguafreda, a tiny seaside cove on Spain’s Costa Brava. The quiet, tree-shaded haven has five bright rooms with tiled floors and wood-framed beds. Steps away is a small and secluded cove, though a 10-minute walk leads to a large sandy strand in the village of Sa Tuna. For dinner, your best bet is the fresh fish at the hotel’s open-air restaurant (try the grilled dorade drizzled with olive oil and lemon).
$75: Frangipani HotelBequia
Built by a sea captain for his family more than 100 years ago, the 15-room Frangipani Hotel stands at the head of Admiralty Bay. Behind the two-story main house, with its pitched roof, gingerbread fretwork, and five simple rooms, are 10 suites shaded by the hotel’s eponymous trees. The open-air bar draws a local crowd for its proximity to the sea—gentle warm waves lap right up under your table.
$106: Playa KoraliaColombia
The privacy at Playa Koralia—a complex of 19 brightly painted bungalows fronting a secluded stretch of Colombia’s Caribbean Riviera—has made it popular among Latin American celebrities such as pop star Shakira and model Natalia París. Oversize rooms are minimalist (white walls and floors; beds draped with sheer netting; pink hammocks), and a tiny spa offers spice-infused massages and mud scrubs. Ask the front-desk staff to arrange a guided trek to mountaintop waterfalls in nearby Tayrona National Park. After-hours, head for Koralia’s open-air bar, where rum and salsa music flow freely all night long.
$90: East Deck MotelNew York
Surfers and New York City media types flock to the shingled, L-shaped East Deck Motel for its retro look and unbeatable location along Ditch Plains beach, on Long Island’s South Fork. With wood paneling, floral bedspreads, and not a flat-screen TV in sight, the 28 unassuming rooms are the perfect antidote to the Hamptons. Take a morning yoga class, amble along the coastal path, or settle in on the oceanfront deck, fringed by bayberry bushes.
$122: Serenity Terraces ResortThailand
Southern Phuket’s Rawai Beach is alive with fishing boats, catamarans, and seafood vendors, and the 78-suite Serenity Terraces Resort is the ideal place to watch the bustling scene. Rooms at the 11-month-old property have floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies (six with private plunge pools). Up on the roof, check out the umbrella-studded lounge overlooking the Andaman Sea.
$85: Le Madrid’sFrance
In the tiny fishing town of Guéthary, in France’s southwestern corner, Le Madrid’s six rooms have an old-fashioned vibe—wrought-iron beds and claw-foot tubs. The Basque-inflected French food draws vacationing Parisians to the restaurant, which serves local fish, of course, but the côte de boeuf in béarnaise sauce and house-made foie gras are just as enticing.
$140: Ammos HotelGreece
A short walk from the Venetian harbor in western Crete, Ammos Hotel is a sanctuary of cool. Owner Nikos Tsepetis personalized the 33 minimalist rooms with Marimekko fabrics, hand-painted pottery, unvarnished woods, and smooth concrete floors. And he puts just as much thought into his custom day trips to see ancient Knossos or the Hellenistic and Roman ruins at Aptera. At night, settle into the seaside taverna for traditional Greek specialties, such as zucchini pie with goat cheese.
$172: Musciara Siracusa ResortItaly
In Sicily’s capital of Baroque, the portside Musciara Siracusa Resort combines rustic luxury with old-world charm. Inside the refurbished 19th-century palazzo, the 12 spacious bedrooms are painted in rich ochres and light blues. You can swim in the warm waters off the hotel’s small private beach, or take a 15-minute walk to Ortygia, the ancient city center, with its many gelaterias. After sundown, linger over an aperitivo on the hotel’s seaside terrace and watch fishermen hunt squid by the light of lanterns.
$160: Hotel Hurricane TarifaSpain
Situated right where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean, four miles from the town of Tarifa, the Hotel Hurricane Tarifa draws its name from the area’s powerful winds. The property pays homage to the region’s Moorish heritage in some of the 33 guest rooms, which are Moroccan-themed; many look out on the crescent-shaped beach, which is dotted with colorful sails, thanks to the wind- and kite-surfing school that the hotel runs.
$195: Hotel Mocking Bird HillJamaica
The restaurant at Hotel Mocking Bird Hill has become a destination unto itself, thanks to chef Melvin Laidlaw, who gets most of his produce from an on-site garden (try the coconut-and-garlic soup followed by the orange custard with wild-orange liqueur). The 10-room eco-hotel is nestled in six acres of tropical gardens. A five-minute drive away is the pristine Frenchman’s Cove, where warm salt water mixes with cold fresh water that flows from a spring in the hills, causing a natural phenomenon—vivid layers of color.
$205: Long Bay ResortTortola
Guests hardly need to leave the 52-acre, plantation-style Long Bay Resort, which has two restaurants, a spa, three bars, and tennis, snorkeling, and diving, except for a day sail to the cave-filled Norman Island, the backdrop for the 1950 film Treasure Island. The 157 rooms here—some are rustic cabanas on stilts—have wicker furniture and views of the remote mile-long beach. At the on-site restaurant, housed in a centuries-old converted sugar mill, the catch of the day is grilled to perfection.
$190: Xanadu Island ResortBelize
Near the tip of Ambergris Cay, a 25-mile-long island off the northeastern coast of Belize, Xanadu Island Resort is set along a gorgeous stretch of white sand. The hotel’s six thatched-roof casitas—surrounding a coconut palm–flanked pool—hold 19 one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites, each decked out with plush colorful sofas, full kitchens, and private balconies that look out on the Caribbean Sea or verdant gardens. Ask the staff to arrange a snorkeling excursion to the second-largest barrier reef in the world, which is teeming with rainbow parrot fish, loggerhead turtles, and octopuses.
$200: Le CaméléonCosta Rica
In a part of the country once known mainly by intrepid surfers for its waves, the splashy new boutique hotel Le Caméléon is changing the scene. All 23 sleek rooms are dressed in white and set around a manicured rain-forest garden. At the open-air restaurant, Numu, the menu is Central American fusion (try the roasted sea bass with mashed yuca and leeks).
$150: Villas CarrizalilloMexico
In the town of Puerto Escondido, on the Pacific coast, the 12 cliff-top bungalows at Villas Carrizalillo overlook a cove with the area’s prettiest beach, Playa Carrizalillo. Villas have curved Spanish-style roofs, but each is unique: some have exposed stone walls, others come with dark, polished cement floors. Sip tequila añejo at sunset at the red-tiled terrace bar.
$230: Present Moment RetreatMexico
“Serenity now” should be the mantra at Present Moment Retreat, on a sleepy, three-mile strand in Troncones, well out of sight of Ixtapa’s high-rises. The nine palapa-style bungalows have ocean views, rocking chairs, and enormous rain-forest showerheads in the bathrooms. The qigong classes in the oceanfront pavilion are a big draw, as are the Thai massages by the water and plantain-crusted mahimahi at the restaurant.
$179: Santa Cruz Dream InnCalifornia
Channel your inner Gidget at the 165-room Santa Cruz Dream Inn, a new retro-chic beachfront hotel. Light-flooded rooms have sliding green shutters, bright yellow 1960’s Panton chairs, and balconies with views of Monterey Bay. Try the fish-and-chips made with local Seabright Brewery beer at the hotel’s Aquarius restaurant.
$169: Hotel ErwinCalifornia
Overlooking Venice’s Muscle Beach, the Hotel Erwin’s 119 rooms were revamped last year to incorporate the area’s urban aesthetic, with electric-yellow mesh screens, bursts of seafoam green and aqua paint on the walls, and artful graffiti on guest-room doors. The Pacific Ocean is just 200 feet from your doorstep; for 360-degree views of Los Angeles, head up to High, the hotel’s rooftop restaurant.
$189: Coconut Palm InnFlorida
A 1940’s fishing camp has been transformed into Coconut Palm Inn, a tranquil retreat with just the right amenities (Wi-Fi; alfresco breakfasts; mangrove-ready kayaks) and an authentic old Florida Keys feel. The 20 rooms—spread across two low-slung, bay-facing structures—have hand-carved wooden furniture from Bali, sisal rugs, and sage-green walls. Outside, a palm-shaded swath of sand has Adirondack chairs for lounging.
$129: Riviera HotelFlorida
The 54 rooms at South Beach’s Riviera Hotel are surprisingly spacious (at least 700 square feet), given the prime location a couple of blocks from the ocean and near the Bass Museum of Art. Each suite comes with a separate bedroom, lounge, and kitchen, plus two flat-screen TV’s and an iPod docking station. It’s a quick stroll to the shore and some of the best people-watching around.
$139: Surfside CottagesMassachusetts
Cape Cod is a land of vintage cottage communities, collections of tiny bungalows rented by the same families year in and year out. In Wellfleet, a lovely enclave known for its briny namesake oysters and tidy town center, the Surfside Cottages make travelers feel like residents. Sprinkled throughout the dunes and neighboring woods, the one- to three-bedroom accommodations aren’t much to look at—straight out of the 1950’s, they have knotty pine walls, bamboo furniture, outdoor showers, and screened-in porches—but the price can’t be beat, with rock-bottom weekly rates, even in summer.
$69: Caribbean MotelNew Jersey
Owners George Miller and Carolyn Emigh saved the Caribbean Motel, a Midcentury gem, from the developers’ wrecking ball five years ago. The Caribbean—near the superwide sandspit and lively boardwalk—is one of the best examples of Wildwood’s signature doo-wop style. Its swooping 30-unit low-rise exterior is painted in shades of lime green and egg-yolk yellow and surrounded by clusters of the plastic palm trees for which the motel (and later the town) has become known.
$135: Daddy O Restaurant & Boutique HotelNew Jersey
Half a block from the powdery Atlantic on Long Beach Island’s main thoroughfare, the Daddy O Restaurant & Boutique Hotel is a 22-room Rat Pack throwback. Think high-gloss mahogany walls, red faux-suede banquettes, and wallpaper embedded with Murano glass. Chill out on one of the chaise longues or order a classic martini from the hotel’s hopping bar.
$169: Inn at Cape KiwandaOregon
Just 400 feet from the sand, the 35-room Inn at Cape Kiwanda is the perfect base for a weekend at the shore. Suites are cozy—gas fireplaces; down comforters—and offer amazing views of the surf crashing into Haystack Rock, a 327-foot-tall basalt monolith jutting out of the bay. Owners and beer aficionados Mary Jones and Jeff Schons make you feel right at home: on Friday nights they host a tasting of their brewery’s dark ale, made with hops grown near Mount Hood.
$129: Beachside Bed & BreakfastSouth Carolina
At Beachside Bed & Breakfast, the four quirky rooms and a tiny backyard garden are only three blocks from the Atlantic. There’s a 70’s crash pad with tie-dye décor and a tree-house room with a canopied twig bed. But the best digs are in a private bungalow that has tongue-and-groove paneling and vintage mahogany furnishings. Bikes are provided for pedaling around the island’s tiny seaside village—to buy kites or to snack on ribs in one of the local bars.
$139: Barefoot at HavelockIndia
The delicate ecosystem of the Andaman Islands is carefully guarded at the eco-sensitive Barefoot at Havelock. The 19 cottages are filled with teak furniture sourced from renewable forests, and the showers have skylights and are open to the elements. A short path through the mahua trees leads to Beach No. 7, where you can stroll along the white sand or swim with Rajan, the resort’s resident elephant.
$155: Q StationAustralia
You’d never expect that the charming and secluded Q Station, at the entrance to Sydney Harbour, was once a quarantine base for ship passengers in the 19th and 20th centuries. Sydneysiders now flock to the seaside resort, just seven miles away in the suburb of Manly. The 71 rooms and six three-bedroom cottages are outfitted with oversize beds and balconies.
$176: Eco Beach Wilderness RetreatAustralia
Even the most intrepid travelers feel like they’ve gotten away from it all at Eco Beach Wilderness Retreat, located an hour from Broome. The resort has 25 beachside villas and 30 tents powered with solar panels and furnished with bamboo floors and private verandas. Not far from your bed, the empty beach extends for almost eight miles, and from October to January native sea turtles nest in nearby dunes.