Nothing says summer like a beach vacation. A trip to the coast is the classic family outing, the ultimate romantic getaway or girls’ trip, and even great for a solo adventure. Whether you want to relax with your toes in the sand or try surfing, there’s a perfect beach destination for you — and one that won’t cost you too much.

Camping opportunities and free activities mean most beach trips can be made affordable. Some oceanfront destinations are even easier on your wallet because they’re set in quiet or under-the-radar locales with lower hotel rates. Here, we’ve put together a list of affordable beaches you can visit around the world without breaking your budget.

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida

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Sure, Miami and Palm Beach are popular Florida getaways, but this lesser-known beach town is far more affordable. It’s virtually hidden on Florida’s east coast, tucked between Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach, offering the classic white sand and aquamarine water Florida is famous for. Plus, the charming seaside community that backs it will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The beach pavilion decorated with rainbow-colored umbrellas and surrounded by mid-century modern buildings gives off ’50s vibes.

Free and inexpensive things to do include strolling through oceanfront Anglin’s Square, which is filled with cafes, bars, restaurants, and gelato shops. 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. 

Coronado, Panama

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If you’re looking for a tropical beach vacation, Panama tends to be one of the more affordable places to go. Visit during the offseason for serious deals on flights and hotels. About an hour and a half’s drive from Panama City, the beach in Coronado is uncrowded, has gentle water perfect for swimming, and is known for its beautiful salt-and-pepper sand.

The town of Coronado, popular among American nomads and expats, has no shortage of affordable places to eat and stay. If you want to get away from people, head just outside of Coronado to the town of Nueva Gorgona, whose turquoise waters are great for swimming, surfing, and floating the day away.  When you want a break from the sun, grab a cold one from the Sandbar Gastropub or go for a walk under the canopy of the Coronado Dry Forest.

Sayulita, Mexico

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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 be on a board to enjoy it — instead, spend your time on one of the beautiful beaches, like Sayulita Beach, Playa De Los Muertos, and Carricitos, or take a a 20-minute drive to La Lancha.

There are also tons of shops to explore in Sayulita, from surfing outfitters to bohemian-chic clothing stores and local galleries like Evoke the Spirit. Check into the Casablanca Sayulita Hotel, where you’ll enjoy the rates as much as the views.   

Islamorada, Florida

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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 Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, which has an exposed coral reef and nature trails that snake through mangrove forests.

The Cheeca Lodge & Spa provides luxury touches without the high prices. Spend some of the money you’ve saved on mojitos at the beachfront tiki bar.  

Gold Beach, Oregon

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This 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 like Endicott Gardens to the remote Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge on the wooded banks of the Rogue. 

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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This lively beach town has great activities for families and a vibrant downtown to explore. In addition to its championship courses, the city is a mini-golf capital, with more than 50 miniature golf courses in the area. Hunt for seashells and explore the pier at Myrtle Beach State Park, then go shopping at Hudson’s Surfside Flea Market or Market Common. You’ll have your pick of places to stay, from high-rise condos with kitchens to hotels with their own water parks.

Corfu, Greece

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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.

When in Corfu, you can stay in five-star properties for a budget-friendly price. We recommend The Olivar Suites and Domes of Corfu for your beach week.

Tybee Island, Georgia

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Just a half-hour drive from historic downtown Savannah, 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 area with a fishing pier and great views of Little Tybee, the nature preserve just south of the barrier island. There are also a lot of free parks, playgrounds, and hiking trails.

Tybee has a range of vacation rentals to choose from, and, of course, one of the perks of a beach destination is the stellar camping opportunities.   

Patong, Thailand

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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 vacation. Its curving strip of sand is bustling with cafes, restaurants, and bars.

Relax on the white sand and swim in the crystal-blue water by day, then 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. You can also try mango rice and coconut ice cream at Banzaan Fresh Market or pick up some souvenirs at Malin Plaza.  

Book a room at the affordable Burasari or the Amari Phuket for gorgeous views. 

Palawan Island, Philippines

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Even though a flight to the Philippines can be pricey, hotels, food, and activities are usually affordable once you arrive. On this beautiful island, you could go parasailing, 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. Along the way, Honda Bay is a great jumping-off point for island hopping.

Flower Island Resort completes your private-island fantasy with tropical trappings and beachside villas for a nightly rate that’s less than you’d probably spend on dinner in bigger cities.  

Virginia Beach, Virginia

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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 order a charcuterie board 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.  

Cambria, California

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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, known for its tide pools, boardwalk, and, yes, having moonstones and jade.  

Stop by the Boni’s Tacos food truck on a weekend for its famous tacos al pastor, or head to Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill for an Alaskan cod sandwich and 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

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This West Michigan town has seven quintessential Lake Michigan beaches with wide, flat shorelines and beach grass. The historic, bright-red South Pierhead Light stands 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 offers a range of boat rides from sunset sailing tours to cruises in a Disney-famous lifeboat. In August, South Haven hosts its National Blueberry Festival, which includes a parade, live entertainment, and pie-eating contests.  

Book a thrifty room at charming local establishments like the Historic Hotel Nichols or the Yelton Manor Boutique Hotel Bed-and-Breakfast.  

San Juan, Puerto Rico

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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.  

Penang, Malaysia

This area on Malaysia’s northwest coast is home to gorgeous beaches, jungles, farmland, and fishing villages. On Penang Island, the capital city of 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.  

When you’re ready for a break from the beach, 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 Ferringhi 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 ride 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 (a 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.

Accommodations will be both comfortable and affordable, from the DoubleTree by Hilton Malta to the bay-front Gillieru Harbour Hotel.   

Cape May, New Jersey

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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 boutiques at Washington Street Mall

The historic Congress Hall is a glamorous beachfront icon with an umbrella-lined pool, wide lawn, and charming rooms. Grab a table at the hotel’s Blue Pig Tavern for crab cakes and deviled eggs. 

Essaouira, Morocco

Escape the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh for the resort atmosphere of Essaouira a few hours away on the coast. This long, gold-sand beach is perfect for land and water sports alike. It’s a surfing hot spot and popular for riding horses and camels.

Not far from the beach is the UNESCO-recognized Essaouira Medina, a calmer iteration of Marrakesh’s market. Meander through the alleys packed with stalls selling 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 probably ever have.  

The area is known for its traditional houses that have been converted into small hotels, like the popular and affordable Riad Emotion and Riad Baoussala.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

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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 watch the sunset along the shore. After dark, the pier comes alive with music, dancing, and drinking, plus weekly fireworks in the summer.

No trip to Maine is complete without a lobster roll or two. Grab a seat on the deck at The Shack or snag a box of hot, crinkle-cut perfection from longtime local favorite, Pier French Fries.  

You’ll find quaint, no-frills accommodations in town, like 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. 

Willemstad, Curaçao

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Curaçao makes for a great Caribbean getaway as it’s outside the hurricane zone, so summer is usually 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 (aka “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

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With cheap eats and carnival attractions, this classic summer vacation town is 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, plus it’s home to the Jolly Roger Amusement Park. There are plenty of hotels, motels, and inns to choose from that will fit into your budget.

Westport, Washington

Visit this fishing village for whale watching, fresh seafood, and peaceful beaches. You can cast a line or surf in Half Moon Bay in Westport Light State Park, which is also home to the Grays Harbor 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.

Accommodations like The Glenacres Inn and Loge Westport are economical and convenient.  

Orange Beach, Alabama

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The gorgeous Gulf of Mexico waters at Orange Beach provide endless opportunities for water sports enthusiasts who enjoy boating, jet skiing, kayaking, and sailing. When you’re not relaxing on the sugar sand or 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 at Perdido Beach Resort for beachfront rooms and access to multiple eateries when you need a quick bite before getting back to the shore.


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