Fashionable beach retreats and bargains aren’t always mutually exclusive. From a sandy retreat in Mexico to a shingled Cape Cod inn, here are our favorites for $250 or less.
Credit: © Anne Menke

At India’s Wild Orchid Resort, you rise from your hand-carved bed and spend a day soaking up the sun of Havelock Island while gazing out at the crystalline blue waters of the Andaman Sea. At night, you sit down at an open-air restaurant with an ever-changing menu, making for a delightful guessing game. And the next day, you head to a nearby beach for great snorkeling or to see an elephant that swims in the sea.

Cost? Just $80 a night.

No matter the time of year, a beach escape always helps us reset. The combination of sandy stretches, rolling waves, and open seas brings a measure of tranquility that’s increasingly essential in these harried times. But prime beach-accessible property, of course, doesn’t always come cheap. So we’ve rounded up this year’s best beach resorts that offer all the upsides—and go easy on the bottom line.

To find these affordable beach resorts, there’s no need to travel to destinations as far-flung as India. Cabbage Key Inn, for example, is an intimate Florida property with just seven waterside cottages, set on an island accessible only by boat. Rooms start at $119.

Over on the opposite coast, take in sweeping Pacific Ocean views for only $155 per night at Treebones Resort, set on a bluff near Big Sur, California. Guests sleep in 16 large yurts and can dine at the outdoor Moroccan restaurant, where the dishes’ ingredients come from the resort’s own organic garden.

If your beach dreams do tend toward the exotic, we have you covered. You can do St. Bart’s for $190 a night if you stay among the pink bougainvillea at Salines Garden Cottages, just minutes from the picturesque Anse de Saline beach. Over in France, affordability ($180 a night) comes with beach views and a dash of chic at the eight-suite Villa L’Arche, in the tiny town of Bidart. And at Thailand’s Koyao Island Resort, you can take in views of the dramatic limestone islets from one of 15 open-air villas for $245 a night.

So grab your sunscreen and beach towel, pick a destination, and enjoy a vacation that won’t break the bank.

Edited by Clark Mitchell, with Jennifer Flowers and Bree Sposato. Reported by Tom Austin, Alexander Basek, Rocky Casale, Jennifer Chen, Jennifer Coogan, Kristina Ensminger, Charlene Fang, Eleni Gage, Sarah Kantrowitz, David Kaufman, David A. Keeps, Shane Mitchell, Maria Schollenbarger, Valerie Waterhouse, and Jarret Wrisley.