Best Affordable Beach Resorts 2011
Picture yourself waking to the warmth of sunshine slanting through your window, then enjoying the sound of gently crashing waves as you take your morning coffee out on your beachfront terrace.
Fortunately, putting yourself in this idyllic setting doesn’t have to break the bank. There are affordable beach resorts all over the world—from Florida to Greece—where a night’s stay doesn’t cost much more than dinner and wine with friends at your favorite local restaurant. Every year, Travel + Leisure staff scours the globe to find great, inexpensive coastal resorts; none of the properties on our list costs more than $250 a night (and some cost much less).
Related: 27 Affordable Beach Resorts
Most of this year’s best affordable beach resorts are just what we envision when we daydream about holidays in the sun. At the Anacaona Boutique Hotel on Anguilla, for example, waiters deliver rum punch right to your beach chaise beside the clear turquoise waters of Meads Bay. And at the romantic Tambor Tropical, on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, you and your sweetie can retire to a private mahogany-and-teak villa after a day of snorkeling and sea kayaking.
Of course, you don’t have to leave the U.S. to find a great affordable beach resort. The 94-room Costa d’Este Beach Resort is a window into 1950s Florida, with Art Deco–style furnishings and elegant rattan furniture. With a night’s stay just $139, you can afford to shell out for the spa’s signature Hot Lava Shell massage (taken beachside, of course).
Related: 12 Affordable Private Island Resorts
If you’re looking for an affordable beach resort that’s not quite the traditional palm-shaded retreats you see in Corona beer advertisements, we have you covered there too. At the Tott Hotel Visby, for example, set on the Swedish island of Gotland, the starkly modern, glass-walled rooms and villas overlook the (often bracingly cold) Baltic Sea. And at The Beach House, a colonial-chic mansion perched on Newfoundland’s blustery Avalon Peninsula, you’ll spot migrating humpback whales rather than tropical fish.
So no matter when—or where—you’re planning on traveling, this is the list to check out if an affordable beach resort is on this year’s itinerary.
Anacaona Boutique HotelMeads Bay, Anguilla
On an island where $1,000-a-night rates barely raise an eyebrow, the recently reopened Anacaona Boutique Hotel manages to feel like a splurge. There’s rum punch at check-in, Frette linens and free Wi-Fi in the 27 tropical-chic rooms, two pools—and even waiter service on the beach.
Don’t Miss: Thursday nights at the hotel’s Fire Fly Restaurant & Bar, when a local troupe performs Afro-Caribbean dances.
Cooper Island Beach ClubBritish Virgin Islands
You won’t find shops, nightclubs, casinos, or even televisions in the rooms at this resort located on Manchioneel Bay on the northwest side of 480-acre Cooper Island. A casual beachside restaurant and bright but simple rooms with kitchenettes, radios, ceiling fans, and private baths with outdoor showers are about all there is here—but that’s enough. Don’t expect much more than palm trees, a sandy beach, clear water, and potent rum drinks.
Don’t Miss: Many guests say the restaurant is their main reason for coming back—try the local specialty of conch fritters served with a spicy dip.
Sheraton Nha TrangNha Trang, Vietnam
At first glance, the 284-room Sheraton Nha Trang could be an upscale hotel anywhere in the world. But a closer look reveals local art at every turn and views of island-studded Nha Trang Bay. The hotel’s restaurants cook up a range of cuisines (from street food to European pastries), and you can have snacks delivered to your lounge chair on the palm-dotted, sugar-sand beach.
Don’t Miss: An on-site cooking class, where you’ll learn how to make beef pho and shrimp rolls.
Present Moment RetreatTroncones, Mexico
A still-authentic beach town on Mexico’s Pacific coast is hard to come by, but tiny Troncones, about 20 miles north of Ixtapa, fills the bill. At this Zen-inspired retreat, 10 thatched-roof bungalows, each with a white canopy bed, private wooden deck, and meditation garden, surround a pool that overlooks the beach. Wellness is the focus here, from the health-conscious menu and Ashtanga yoga classes to beachside massages and even life-coaching sessions.
Don’t Miss: A surfing lesson on Saladita Beach, a nearby surfer’s paradise.
—Mary and Lucy Firestone
Anemomilos ApartmentsCyclades, Greece
Perched atop the cliffs of Folegandros island, you’ll find the family-run Anemomilos Apartments. Whitewashed walls, private patios, and vistas of the Aegean more than make up for the sparsely decorated rooms. The real draw, however, is the lovely stone-terraced pool and pergola lounge.
Don’t Miss: A short boat trip from Karavostasis harbor to remote, quiet Katergo Beach.
—Mary and Lucy Firestone
Les CaranquesCollioure, France
Artists, including Matisse, have long flocked to the colorful fishing port of Collioure for its scenic vistas. And the views are just as enticing as ever, especially from the patio at this hotel, built into a dramatic cliff overlooking the Mediterranean. The 22 light-filled rooms are simply (and patriotically) decorated with white wooden furniture and blue and red accents. Unwind on a rattan chaise longue on one of the small terraces carved out of rock, with winding stairs that lead to small white sand beaches.
Don’t Miss: A stroll along the town’s Fauvism walking trail to see 20 reproductions of vibrant paintings by Matisse and Derain in the spots where they were first created.
Las Olas Beach ResortChiriquí, Panama
A 50-minute plane ride west of Panama City, Las Olas Beach Resort has 14 miles of volcanic-sand beaches and a mangrove forest. With paintings by local artists and cream tiled floors, all 48 rooms face the Pacific. Board the resort’s 34-footer for some of the world’s best sportfishing, or head to top breaks with the in-house surf pro.
Don’t Miss: Nearby Coiba National Park’s 355-acre reef (coibanationalpark.com).
Golden Palm Tree Sea Villas & SpaSepang, Malaysia
A 90-minute drive south of Kuala Lumpur, the just-opened Golden Palm Tree Sea Villas & Spa pays homage to its name: 392 villas are raised on stilts in eight palm-frond-like rows that stretch out into the Straits of Malacca. The hotel offers a range of activities (morning walks; kayaking trips), but you’ll be just as content by the infinity pool.
Don’t Miss: A traditional acupressure-focused Malay massage at the hotel’s spa.
Dune Hua HinHua Hin, Thailand
The tiny size of the five-room Dune Hua Hin makes for intimate service, even if its pool and restaurant are on the wee side. That’s a small price to pay for sexy, minimalist rooms right on a coveted stretch of beach along the Gulf of Thailand.
Don’t Miss: Spotting langurs and macaques at Khao Sam Roi Yot nature reserve (dnp.go.th), an hour away.
Les 3 ChameauxMirleft, Morocco
The village of Mirleft, on the southern Atlantic coast, has one of Morocco’s most dramatic beaches. Between the pounding surf you’ll find Les 3 Chameaux, a rustic-chic maison d’hôte with Berber furniture and carpets.
Don’t Miss: An exfoliating black-soap body treatment in the hammam.
Hotel ParacasPisco, Peru
Adjacent to the Paracas Nature Reserve on Peru’s central coast, this resort hotel offers beach views of the protected reserve’s coastline. The 120 bright and spacious rooms feature bamboo walls, decorative Incan textiles, and private terraces. Those who upgrade to a suite enjoy 24-hour butler service.
Don’t Miss: Lounging by the infinity pool in a cabana or wandering to the poolside bar for a mid-afternoon Pisco Sour.
Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach ResortSan Juan, Puerto Rico
Not 10 minutes from the San Juan airport, the Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort meets all the requirements for an easy Caribbean getaway. Beach? You’re right on Isla Verde, probably the city’s prettiest strand. Ocean views? All 260 rooms look out on the Atlantic. And there’s a casino, an ice cream parlor, and a swim-up bar to boot.
Don’t Miss: Live salsa music plus free dance lessons in the lobby lounge on Thursday evenings.
Costa d’Este Beach Resort Vero Beach, Florida
The 94-room Costa d’Este Beach Resort, in Vero Beach, is a window into 1950’s Florida. Expect Art Deco–style furnishings including tea lights set in travertine marble walls, elegant rattan furniture, and built-in portholes that recall the Fontainebleau.
Don’t Miss: The spa’s signature Hot Lava Shell massage, beachside.
Malecón HouseVieques, Puerto Rico
Located directly on the Malecón—the island’s seafront promenade—in the tiny village of Esperanza, the duplex property inhabits a restored former private home with 10 comfortable, contemporary interiors. Each of the whitewashed rooms is air-conditioned—many with promenade-front balconies and others facing a tranquil, tropical flower–filled garden.
Don’t Miss: Enjoying a breakfast of ripe local fruits and homemade muffins served on the hotel’s airy patio. Head to Esperanza’s numerous nearby cafés for heartier dining options.
La Casa del CaminoLaguna Beach, California
Last year, the Spanish-inspired La Casa del Camino, in arty Laguna Beach, launched the Casa Surf Project, 10 one-of-a-kind suites dedicated to surf culture. The suite that’s inspired by the apparel company Quicksilver looks like it belongs to a surfer on a European ski holiday, complete with fur throws.
Don’t Miss: Home décor shop Trove (370 Ocean Ave.; 949/376-4640) for folk-art stools and mohair blankets.
—David A. Keeps
Paia InnMaui, Hawaii
Set on Maui’s “Windsurfing Capital” North Shore, this small boutique hotel—with its yellow exterior and original tin roof topped with sparkling white Christmas lights—fits in perfectly amid the town’s eclectic shops, art galleries, and eateries. After a long day in the sun, relax in one of eight rooms or seven cottages starting from “Petite” with fine cotton sheets, bamboo floors, and local vibrantly colored paintings.
Don’t Miss: Ogling professional big-wave surfers riding swells as high as 80 feet at famous spots like Jaws or Peahi.
Villas Eva LunaLas Terrenas, Dominican Republic
Unlike the D.R.’s better-known tourist enclave Punta Cana, the Samaná Peninsula is still wild and jungly. Villas Eva Luna epitomizes the area’s charms, with five casitas surrounding a palm-shaded pool. Linger over an alfresco breakfast, then wander down to Playa Las Ballenas, where the snorkeling’s best.
Don’t Miss: The Haitian Caraïbes Gallery (159 Avda. Duarte, Las Terrenas; 809/240-6250), which stocks jewelry made from locally sourced amber.
Casina Li FoggiGallipoli, Italy
Situated just outside the ancient (and newly chic) town of Gallipoli in Puglia, this renovated early 20th-century manse opened in 2010. Three airy guest rooms and a large suite have been lovingly created on its two levels: whitewashed walls, majolica tile floors, and iron beds fill the breezy, high-ceilinged space, while tall windows give way to views of olive groves and the deep-blue Ionian sea beyond.
Don’t Miss: A lunch of fresh-from-the-water crustaceans at the old-school Trattoria La Paranza in Gallipoli’s fish market.
Abaco InnHope Town, Bahamas
Between two white sand Out Island beaches on the narrowest section of Elbow Cay, you’ll find this beach hideaway in all its low-key Caribbean glory. Its 20 tropical-yet-minimalist rooms have expansive views of the Sea of Abaco or Atlantic Ocean. Take a break from lazing by the ocean-side pool to refuel on the restaurant’s dynamic Bahamian fare (standouts include the deep-fried cracked conk and the grouper sandwich).
Don’t Miss: Chartering a sailboat from Cruise Abaco (321-220-8796; day sails from $675) for a day of island hopping and snorkeling.
Coral LodgeSan Blas Islands, Panama
Overlooking an isolated bay with white sand reef, the lodge’s six over-the-water thatched-roof bungalows—inspired by local Kuna Indians’ houses—look like a row of giant coconuts. The barefoot property prides itself on its lack of high-tech amenities, and features purposely underdesigned rooms (think rattan furniture, twin beds, and the colorful, embroidered Kuna prints known as molas). The open-air spa has ayurvedic-inspired massages, and the chlorine-free pool uses ozone-cleaning technology to keep its waters pure.
Don’t Miss: The resort’s snorkeling/island-hopping day trip in the San Blas archipelago, a necklace of 365 coral islands northeast of the mainland.
Hotel EspléndidoPuerto de Sóller, Spain
In the 1950s, this grand hotel was the place to stay in the low-key village of Puerto de Sóller on Spain’s Costa del Sol. After falling into decay for more than a generation, the 80-room property was recently resurrected by a Swedish couple with a surprisingly fresh take on the Mediterranean hideaway, including graphic fern-printed wall coverings and pastel furnishings. Spend your days in a low-slung canvas chair on the beach, or on a chaise longue by the adults-only pool, watching the sailboats bobbing in the harbor.
Don’t Miss: The small lobby boutique, where you’ll find a well-curated selection of local artisanal goods, including limited-edition jars of fleur de sel, harvested at nearby Es Trenc Beach.
Tott Hotel VisbyGotland, Sweden
The windswept island of Gotland has long been an escape for Sweden’s elite. Check in to the strikingly modern Tott Hotel Visby, where eight white-on-white suites and 71 stand-alone villas overlook the inky Baltic and beachfront pool.
Don’t Miss: A strawberry mojito at the hotel’s open-air Visby Beach, just steps from the sand.
—Ingrid K. Williams
Tidewater MotelVinalhaven, Maine
Set in the artists’ colony of Vinalhaven, the Tidewater Motel was a mill and blacksmith’s shop in the 1800’s. Today, the 19 light-filled rooms evoke a quaint Maine cottage with quilted bedspreads and the occasional rocking chair. The nearby docks and quiet side streets make this tiny island, accessible by ferry from Rockland, the perfect New England escape.
Don’t Miss: A lobster roll at the Harbor Gawker (26 Main St.; 207/863-9365; lunch for two $20).
Set on a crescent-shaped stretch of sand in Goa, Ciaran’s literally rebuilds its 17 thatched-roof cottages after the annual monsoon. And with each iteration, the hotel adds luxuries such as rooftop daybeds and an open-air library.
Don’t Miss: A morning swim to nearby Kankon Island to see swimming monkeys.
Tambor TropicalTambor, Costa Rica
Nicoya Peninsula is known for its uninterrupted beaches, charming villages, and large, family-oriented resorts. Enter Tambor Tropical, an intimate, adults-only hotel with 12 teak-and-mahogany villas. Wraparound windows provide tantalizing views of the Pacific, but the hotel’s biggest draw is its long list of activities, from watersports to voluntourism opportunities.
Don’t Miss: A six-hour kayaking and snorkeling excursion with Seascape Kayak Tours (seascapekayaktours.com; $135).
Nueva Vida de Ramiro EcolodgeTulum, Mexico
For all its laid-back charm, lodging in Tulum can be a bit scrappy. Nueva Vida de Ramiro Ecolodge takes it up a notch. Its spartan-but-chic suites, many in two-story, thatched-roof units, are clean and elegant, with rustic furnishings made of tropical woods.
Don’t Miss: Traditional Mexican dishes at Nueva Vida’s own Casa Banana restaurant, a Tulum hot spot.
Caves Beachside ResortHunter Valley, Australia
Wine connoisseurs love the Hunter Valley, two hours northeast of Sydney, for its Chardonnays. Beach connoisseurs love it for the stretches of creamy sand. Either will be happy at the new Caves Beachside Resort, with 18 neutral suites and private patios over the water.
Don’t Miss: Exploring the sea caves at the southern end of the beach.
—Susan Gough Henly
Gordon Hotel & LoungeTel Aviv, Israel
Housed in a Bauhaus building from 1937, the Gordon Hotel & Lounge is a bold architectural statement on Tel Aviv’s waterfront. Israeli design firm Studio B6 kept the original whitewashed façade—the better to appreciate the views of the sea.
Don’t Miss: The new Herta and Paul Amir Building at the Tel Aviv Art Museum.
Beach HouseSt. Philip’s, Newfoundland
Canada’s easternmost island typically brings to mind windblown landscapes and fisherman’s sweaters, but the Beach House will make you think again. Perched on a rugged crag on the Avalon Peninsula, the red, Cape-style mansion has two whitewashed cottages and seven chocolate-hued suites—all with private patios that look out onto the Atlantic, where you can spot humpback and minke whales.
Don’t Miss: Renting a kayak for a trip to nearby Cape Broyle, where you’ll find hidden coves and waterfalls.
Trevalsa Court HotelSt. Austell, England
On a bluff overlooking Cornwall’s Mevagissey Bay, Trevalsa Court Hotel just received a top-to-bottom makeover. The 14 spiffed-up rooms are stylish and cheery, with sleigh beds, oak paneling, and colorful wallpaper. There’s also a farm-to-table restaurant and a cozy bolt-hole of a bar—an ideal place for an afternoon Pimm’s Cup.
Don’t Miss: A trek along the South West Coast Path, which wends along seaside ridges.
Prices reflect starting rates on doubles.
Idyllic Concept ResortSatun, Thailand
On the 1.5-square-mile island of Koh Lipe—part of the Butang island cluster in Tarutao National Marine Park, this resort is, quite literally, a place where you go to get away from it all. The family-run property divides its 16 minimalist bungalows, with their polished concrete walls, into three categories: sea (with beachfront access), sky (with panoramic sunrise views), and garden (tucked into the island’s lush greenery). No matter which you book, you’re guaranteed an ever-present vista of the Andaman Sea, not to mention an outdoor rain shower and a private sundeck.
Don’t Miss: A private boat trip to the nearby island of Rua Bai, where you can take a dip in a hidden freshwater pond.