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 adventures. Whether you want to relax with your toes in the sand or try surfing, there’s a perfect beach destination for you. Thankfully, you can have an incredible vacation without spending too much.
Camping opportunities and free admission mean most beaches won’t break the bank. And because of the barefoot luxury found on sandy shores, many beautiful beaches reside in quiet locales with budget-friendly rates.
Here, we’ve put together a list of affordable beach vacations around the world so you can explore the shore on a budget.
Sure, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach are popular Florida getaways, 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. The beach itself has that classic white sand and aquamarine water look Florida is famous for. And the charming seaside community that backs it makes this vacation feels 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 oceanfront Anglin’s Square, which is filled with cafes, bars, restaurants, and gelato shops — visit at night to enjoy the bar scene.
Swing by Anglin’s Beach Cafe for a fried shrimp basket with an ocean view and then grab a scoop of mint chocolate chip from Kilwins before heading back to the beach. There’s a range of affordable accommodations in the area, from boutique hotels to beachside resorts.
Panama City, Panama
If you’re looking for a tropical beach vacation, Panama is a far more affordable option than other destinations. If you visit during the offseason, you can get serious deals on flights and hotels. Nueva Gorgona, about an hour away from the city on the Pacific coast, has quiet beaches with both black and sugar-white sand and turquoise waters perfect for swimming, surfing, and floating the day away.
While in Panama City, explore the famous Panama Canal and nearby Miraflores Visitor Center, where you can view of ships passing by in the locks. Wander around Panama City’s historic district, 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.
In addition to more upscale offerings, Casco Viejo is full of charming, affordable places to stay like the Magnolia Inn. If you’re really looking to budget, the Selina Casco Viejo Panama City hostel is a backpacker’s dream with stylish interiors and a lively atmosphere.
Swap Cabo and Cancun 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.
There are also tons of shops to explore, from surfing shops to bohemian-chic clothing stores such as Revolucion del Sueno and local galleries like Evoke the Spirit. Check into the Casablanca Sayulita Hotel, the only beachfront hotel in the area, where you’ll enjoy the rates as much as the views.
This village in the Florida Keys has plenty to offer visitors, and opting for a trip here instead of the more popular islands like Key West will save you some cash while still providing a beachy escape.
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.
The Cheeca Lodge & Spa provides luxury touches without luxury prices. Take all the money you’ve saved and run up a mojito tab at the beachfront tiki bar.
Gold Beach, Oregon
Popular Oregon beach destinations like Cannon Beach can be pretty expensive, but the lesser-known Gold Beach is a great affordable alternative. The town has secluded beaches, tide pools, and ocean kayaking opportunities, 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 through. Lodgings include everything from quaint bed and breakfasts to the Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge on the banks of the Rogue.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
This lively beach town has great activities for families and a fun and vibrant downtown to explore. In addition to its championship courses, the city is a mini-golf capital, with more than 50 themed miniature golf courses in the area. Try hunting for seashells and exploring the pier at Myrtle Beach State Park, or shopping at Hudson’s Surfside Flea Market.
If you’re looking for more things to do, try chartering Enchantress, a 44-foot sail boat, going on a tour of La Belle Amie Vineyard, or exploring the shops and restaurants in Market Common. You’ll have your pick of places to stay, so you can choose the condo, rental, or hotel that works for your budget.
While Greece can be a very expensive place to visit, this small town is relatively affordable compared to the most popular islands. During your stay, explore the 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 Achilleion, a historic palace that’s been converted into 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, and is far more affordable. Tybee Island has a three-mile long beach with 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 is a more secluded beach experience with a fishing pier and great views of Little Tybee, the nature preserve just south of the barrier island. The area also has a lot of free parks, playgrounds, and hiking trails.
Thailand is an ideal budget-conscious getaway, and this beach on the lively island of Phuket is a great destination for travelers looking for a dose of partying on their beach vacation. Its curving strip of sand is bustling with cafes, restaurants and bars.
Relax on the white-sand beach and take a dip in the crystal blue water by day, and after dark, explore the city’s wild nightlife scene. Catch a Thai Boxing event or try one of the many cabarets off Bangla Road.
Walk around one of the two nearby sprawling shopping malls, Central Patong and Jungceylon Shopping Center. You can also try mango rice and coconut ice cream at Banzaan Fresh Market or pick up some souvenirs at Malin Plaza.
Palawan Island, Philippines
This beautiful island in the Philippines has so many tropical activities for even more desirable prices. Even though a flight to the Philippines can be pricey, hotels, food, and activities will be affordable once you arrive.
You could give parasailing a go, snorkel in Bacuit Bay, go on a jungle walk, or book a cave spelunking tour with Ugong Rock Adventures. Travel a bit north to visit the beautiful beaches of El Nido, and take a day trip to Honda Bay, where you can island hop.
Flower Island Resort completes your private island fantasy with tropical trappings and beachside villas for a nightly rate that’s less than you’d spend on dinner in bigger cities.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Located at the juncture of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach is a charming seaside town with a thriving creative scene and delicious coastal fare. There are miles of golden beaches for sunbathing, beachcombing, and swimming. Explore local craft breweries on the Virginia Beach Beer Trail, or grab a round of Lynnhaven oysters on the terrace at Terrapin Restaurant. And don’t miss the epic free fireworks show on the Fourth of July.
There are several elegant lodging options in Virginia Beach, but the Barclay Cottage Bed and Breakfast is an affordable, adults-only respite right around the corner from the beach.
This classically Californian beach town is an affordable alternative to the beaches of Los Angeles and San Diego. The biggest attraction may be Moonstone Beach, resplendent in tide pools, a boardwalk, and, yes, moonstones and jade.
Stop by the Boni’s Tacos food truck on Saturdays and Sundays for their famous tacos al pastor, or head to Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill for an Alaskan cod sandwich and a glass of local wine. Grab a midday pick-me-up from Cambria Coffee Roasting Company and explore the town’s boutiques, art galleries, and the Coastal Discovery Center on San Simeon Bay. You can also take a short drive to tour Hearst Castle.
The budget-friendly Cambria Pines Lodge sits on 25 acres of world-class gardens and provides access to an on-site day spa, restaurant, and lounge.
South Haven, Michigan
There are seven beaches in this West Michigan town you can enjoy on your vacation.
These are quintessential Lake Michigan beaches, with wide, flat shorelines, beach grass, and a historic, bright red lighthouse at the west end of the South Pier at the mouth of the Black River. When you’re not at the beach, explore the Michigan Maritime Museum which also features on-water experiences. In August, South Haven hosts its National Blueberry Festival, which means a parade, live entertainment, and pie-eating contests.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
A two-and-a-half-hour flight from Miami, Puerto Rico makes for a great, affordable Caribbean getaway. With cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, San Juan is the island’s charming capital. There’s a wide selection of lodging and delicious restaurants here, as well as beaches, nightclubs, and historic sites.
Spend the day relaxing on a palm-lined, white-sand beach, like El Escambrón, where swimming and snorkeling are a must. Then walk around Old San Juan’s historic landmarks like the oceanfront fortresses at the San Juan National Historic Site.
This area on Malaysia’s northwest coast is home to gorgeous beaches, jungles, farmland, and fishing villages. On Penang Island, the capital city, George Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with colonial architecture, temples, and museums (many of which are free to visit). Beaches like Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah have blue-green water and golden shorelines. They’re popular for swimming, water sports, and sunset watching.
Take a break from the shore and head into the rainforest for a ride on the world’s longest waterslide at Escape Penang. The 3,645-foot slide sends visitors down a 230-foot slope through the lush canopies. Visit the Kek Lok Si Buddhist temple or the Penang State Museum and Art Gallery in George Town for history and culture. Or, embrace the gorgeous local flora at the Penang Botanic Gardens and the Tropical Spice Garden.
Stay at the beachfront Shangri-La Golden Sands, Penang for access to Batu Feringgi and chic, affordable rooms.
St. Paul’s Bay, Malta
This quiet fishing village on Malta’s Northern coast is a great place to get away from the crowds for a good price.
The beaches in Malta are exactly what you’d expect from the Mediterranean. White sand, bright blue water, and rocky outcroppings greet you on the shore. You can take a boat excursion from St. Paul’s Bay over to Comino’s famous Blue Lagoon. If you head here toward the end of July, you’ll experience a traditional Maltese festa (or, village feast) in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows, which includes processions and fireworks. St. Paul’s Bay is also where you’ll find the Malta National Aquarium.
Cape May, New Jersey
Another quintessential summer haunt, the Jersey Shore is more than what you’ve seen on TV.
The seaside resort city of Cape May has Victorian houses and historic landmarks. The beach’s strip of soft sand is bookended by the deep blue of the Atlantic and a scenic promenade for strolling. While you’re in town, stop by the Cape May Lighthouse and shop the local boutiques at Washington Street Mall.
Escape the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh for the beachy, resort atmosphere of Essaouira a few hours away on the coast.
This long, golden stretch of sand is perfect for land and water sports alike — the cool, dark blue water is a surfing hot spot. Expect the shore to be windy, and crowded with locals and tourists riding horses and camels.
Not far from the beach is the Essaouira Medina, a calmer iteration of those found in Marrakesh and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wind through the stalls of spices, slippers, and teas. The Gnaoua World Music Festival is a major draw that takes place annually at the end of June and celebrates the culture of the Gnaoua people. Walk by the fishing boats in the harbor, before heading to dinner where you’ll be served some of the freshest fish and seafood you’ll ever have.
Old Orchard Beach, Maine
A quintessential beach town, this Maine destination is a family-friendly respite.
The beach itself has golden sand, aquamarine water, a pier, and is backed by a classic amusement park from 1902. Hit the Ferris wheel at Palace Playland to get sweeping views of Saco Bay, or just swim, sunbathe, and sunset watch along the shore. After dark, the pier comes alive with music, dancing, and drinks, plus weekly fireworks in the summer.
You’ll find quaint, no-frills accommodations in town like Deluxe Oceanfront Motel and Cottages or Alouette Beach Resort. If you want to stretch your budget a bit for a more boutique experience, you might try The Lincoln Hotel in nearby Biddeford.
Curaçao makes for a great Caribbean getaway as it’s outside the hurricane zone, so summer is always bright and beautiful. The capital city of Willemstad is known for its candy-colored, colonial buildings. At the palm-dotted, white sand beach, dip into the calm, clear water for world-class swimming and snorkeling.
Willemstad has a number of interesting attractions and architectural marvels to explore. Spend time walking around the pastel buildings in the old town center, marveling at the ruins of the faded mansions of the Pietermaai neighborhood, and take a day trip to Klein (or, “little”) Curaçao, a deserted island with an old lighthouse, shipwrecks, and ancient stone buildings to explore.
Stop by a casual restaurant for affordable Dutch and Afro-Caribbean dishes. Check into the Avila Beach Hotel for access to two private beaches.
Ocean City, Maryland
This classic summer vacation town is perfect for budget-conscious travelers. With cheap eats and carnival attractions, it’s a place both you and your wallet will love. Ocean City Beach’s powdery sand gives way to a glittering surf full of swimmers. The picturesque boardwalk is lined with funnel cake and Maryland crab stands and the Jolly Roger Amusement Park. This beach town has plenty of quaint accommodations to choose, from hotels, motels, and inns.
Come to this fishing village for whale watching, fresh seafood, and peaceful beaches.
Head to Half Moon Bay in Westport Light State Park for fishing, surfing, and exploring the Westport Lighthouse. Spend some time getting to know local history and marine life at the Westport Maritime Museum and Westport Aquarium.
Naturally, there are plenty of fishing charters that will take you out in search of salmon, lingcod, rockfish, and albacore. Westport is also known as a surfing mecca, so pack your board or pick one up when you get to town.
Orange Beach, Alabama
This Gulf Coast getaway is a southern summer haven.
The gorgeous Gulf of Mexico waters are filled with water sports enthusiasts who enjoy boating, jet skiing, kayaking, and sailing. When you’re not relaxing on the sugar sand and hiking the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, look for dolphins or paddle the Back Bay Blueway. Hit The Wharf for shopping, Ferris wheel rides, and a show at the amphitheater.
Stay with Perdido Beach Resort for beachfront rooms and access to multiple eateries when you need a quick bite before getting back to the sun, surf, and shore.