10 Cheap Beach Vacations the Whole Family Will Love
Nothing says summer like a trip to the beach. Beach vacations are the classic family vacation, but they're also great for romantic getaways, trips with friends, or even solo trips. Whether you want to relax with your toes in the sand or try surfing and snorkeling, there's a perfect beach destination for you. Thankfully, you can have an incredible vacation without spending too much — we've put together a list of cheap beach vacations so you can enjoy the sand and surf on a budget.
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Sure, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach are popular destinations in Florida, but this lesser-known beach town is far more affordable. It’s hidden on Florida's east coast, tucked between Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach, and visiting makes you feel like you've stepped back in time.
While in town, be sure to take a stroll down the beach pavilion to the pier. You can walk through Anglin’s Square, which is filled with cafes, bars, restaurants, and gelato shops — visit at night to enjoy the bar scene.
If you are looking for an exotic beach vacation, Panama is a far more affordable option than other tropical destinations. If you fly in the offseason, you can get serious deals on flights and hotels.
While you're here, explore the famous Panama Canal and the nearby Miraflores Visitor Center, which has a four-story museum and a view of the locks where ships pass. Wander around Panama’s historic district, called Casco Viejo, which has a history that goes back to the 1600s. Today, it is filled with restaurants, local shops, and wine bars, plus historic churches to tour.
Swap Cabo, Cancun, or other popular vacation spots in Mexico for the beach town of Sayulita, a cheaper (and more relaxed) destination. Situated on the west coast of Mexico near Puerto Vallarta, this town is famous for its surfing. But you don’t have to hit the board to enjoy it — instead, spend your time on the beautiful beaches like La Lancha, Playa De Los Muertos, Carricitos, or Sayulita Beach.
Be sure to visit the famous Don Pedros and Sayulita’s Fish Tacos. There are also tons of shops to explore, from surfing shops to Bohemian-chic clothing stores such as Revolucion del Sueno, and local shops like Artefakto and Evoke the Spirit.
This tiny island in the Florida Keys is only 20 miles long, but it has plenty to offer visitors. Opting for a trip to this island instead of the more popular islands like Key West can save you some cash while still providing a beachy escape.
You can explore the 11-acre Indian Key Historic State Park, where the remains of a shipwreck that dates back to the 1800s are on display. Also check out the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, which has an exposed coral reef and self-guided nature trails that wind underneath the mangrove forests.
Gold Beach, Oregon
Popular Oregon beach destinations like Canon Beach can be pretty expensive, but the lesser-known Gold Beach is a great affordable alternative. The town has secluded beaches, tidepooling, ocean kayaking, and the nearby Rogue River offers jet boat tours and fishing. Try visiting between March and May, when you can catch a glimpse of northbound pods of migrating gray whales as they pass.
For dinner, get the freshest seafood without breaking the bank at Spinners’ or Barnacle Bistro.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
This lively beach town has great activities for families and a fun and vibrant downtown to explore. The city is known as the mini-golf capital of the world, with more than 50 themed miniature golf courses in the area. Try hunting for seashells and exploring the pier at Myrtle Beach State Beach, and go shopping at Hudson's Surfside Flea Market. If you’re looking for more romantic activities, try chartering Enchantress, a 44-foot sail boat, visiting La Belle Amie Vineyard, or exploring the shops and restaurants in Market Common.
While Greece can be a very expensive place to visit, this small town is relatively inexpensive compared to the most popular islands. During your stay, explore the small alleyways and winding streets in Corfu’s Old Town, which is home to museums like the Archaeological Museum and Casa Parlante, a mansion that’s been made into a museum with decorations dating back to the 1800s. Also visit Achillieon, a historic palace that’s been converted to a museum with a giant painting of Achilles pulling Hector from his chariot.
Tybee Island, Georgia
This beach destination is just 20 minutes from historic downtown Savannah, but it is far more affordable. Tybee Island has a 5-mile long beach, with several distinct areas. The North Beach is a great place to watch birds and ships, Mid Beach is the spot to hunt for seashells and shark teeth, South Beach is the busiest area with volleyball and dolphin-spotting, and Back River has a more secluded beach experience with a fishing pier and great views of Little Tybee.
The area also has lots of free parks, playgrounds, and hiking trails. Plus, during the summer, the City of Tybee hosts free family-friendly movies in the park.
Thailand can be a cheap place to visit, and this beach on the lively island of Phuket is a great destination for travelers looking for a dose of nightlife on their beach vacation. Relax on the white sand beaches and take a dip in the crystal blue water during the day, and at night, explore the city's vibrant nightlife scene.
Palawan Island, Philippines
This beautiful and secluded beach town in the Philippines has so many tropical activities to try. You could give parasailing a go, scuba dive in Bacuit Bay, go on a jungle walk, or book a cave spelunking tour with Ugong Rock Adventures.
Tavel a bit north to visit the beautiful beaches of El Nido, and take a day trip to Honda Bay, where you can island hop between Pandan Island, Cowrie Island, Luli Island, Starfish Island, and Verde Island. Even though a flight ticket to the Philippines can be pricey, hotels, food, and activities will be cheap once you arrive.