The holiday season has a way of wrecking people’s bank accounts that makes summertime vacations seem like a distant fantasy. But with the right location and adherence to a preset budget, diligent travelers can find themselves soaking up the sun on the beach of their dreams a couple of seasons from now.
Cheap beach vacation ideas aren’t limited to the usual exhausted destinations that leave no breathing room between mobs of tourists and piles of trash. This list includes hidden gems that are highly underrated despite possessing all the same amenities of established tourism hotspots. Our adventure-seekers will also find regions with untouched beaches ripe for exploration.
Let’s take a look at 20 destinations with the most beautiful beaches (you can actually afford to go to).
20 Algarve, Portugal
The first place on our list is this sunny region on Portugal’s southern coast. According to Travelocity, the country is one of the cheapest in Europe to visit. Deep blue waters and rocky outcroppings on beaches like the Praia de Marinha pictured above support a booming local tourism industry.
19 Gozo, Malta
Islands in the Maltese Gozo region are connected by inexpensive ferry rides across the Mediterranean Sea. Visiting the tropical islands in winter won’t change the weather, but it will change the prices. Off-season travelers also benefit from an unobstructed view of the gorgeous Blue Lagoon seen in this photo.
18 Corfu, Greece
Little pockets of the Mediterranean Sea are captured in Corfu’s lush lagoons. Each enclosure sinks visitors into the exotic ecosystem. According to TravelSupermarket, there are plenty of affordable hotels in the area, but the overall low cost of the region makes apartments a possibility for longer trips.
17 Penang, Malaysia
Malaysia is a destination known for the ancient temples and delicious food it serves up at a low rate. Penang state is responsible for quite a few of its best beaches including Monkey Beach in the Penang National Park where adorable crab-eating macaques roam free, according to Lonely Planet.
16 Fort-de-France, Martinique
As an established tourism destination, some of this Caribbean island’s beaches can get pricy. Travelers on a budget will discover the good deals along the southern shores of the bay. Lodging in this region won’t put you far from the grassy hills of Anse Dufour, the beach shown up above.
15 Merrakec-Asfi, Morocco
Climb onto the back of a camel to be taken for a tour of the coast. Up the price you’re willing to pay to venture into deserts, mountains, and the countryside. Afterward, try some of the local specialties in beachside restaurants or go even cheaper with food carts further inland.
14 Goa, India
This image exemplifies Goa’s renowned beaches. Lush greenery spills out onto the sand, giving shade to the stands of vendors who send tourists home with handmade souvenirs. Religious restrictions also give vegetarians the freedom to chow down to their hearts' content at food carts without paying specialty prices.
13 Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
There are many established beaches in the Dominican Republic near comfortable resorts and hotels, but Puerto Plata province captures a nice selection of what the island has to offer. After resting up in the secluded beach town of Sosúa, try the Damajaqua Cascades for more stunning scenery.
12 Paracas, Peru
Swathes of desolate, flat sand give the coasts of this Peruvian peninsula a unique look. Playa de la Mina, where the above photo was taken, is a popular area for the locals and tourists alike. Try the crimson Playa Roja for a quieter beach experience with an equally stunning view.
11 Bocas del Toro, Panama
The beach representing the Panamanian province of Bocas del Toro in this photo is on Zapatilla Island. Declared one of the safest countries in the Americas by Travel Safe-Abroad, this region offers inexpensive activities like snorkeling, surfing, and educational nature trail hikes perfect for a spring break family vacation.
10 Oregon, United States
Many locations on this list could still break the bank for travelers flying in from the opposite side of the world. For travelers starting out in the Americas, the clear shallows and elevated islands of this city will be an inexpensive surprise in one of the United States' overlooked regions.
9 Palawan, Philippines
Budget lodging on Palawan Island adds to the experience with traditional thatch-roofed hotels located right on the beach. The sound of waves crashing over the white sands might make it hard to get out of bed, but flavorful street food found inland won’t allow you to stay put.
8 San Juan, Puerto Rico
Friendly locals and warm waters welcome newcomers to San Juan’s shores. Coastal Airbnbs are available from hosts whose bilingualism makes it easy to feel at home while enveloping yourself in a new culture. We recommend stopping by Old San Juan for a beautiful look at the local history.
7 Kep, Cambodia
Low-cost bungalows in the towns that dot the shores of Kep Province are reminiscent of the traditional architecture still common in certain parts of the country. Pricier huts reach out into the water on stilts for a bird’s eye view into the aquamarine ocean depths.
6 Phuket Island, Thailand
This location popping up on our list might come as a surprise since it's known to break the Thai standard of cheap travel. With a little research, you’ll uncover inexpensive hotels recommended by Just A Pack, cheap itinerary items like an Old Town visit, and budget cuisine at street carts.
5 Willemstad, Curaçao
This Dutch island located in the Caribbean puts a tropical twist on a European vacation without incurring the usual costs. Dutch architecture dressed up with bright paint soars up along the Willemstad promenade pictured above. This seaside town can entertain water sports enthusiasts and land-dwellers at the same time.
4 Hvar Island, Croatia
This island’s pristine beaches attract thousands to its shores in summer. Avoid the crowds by slipping away to secluded bays tucked behind low cliffs like this one. As the safest destination on this list according to U.S. government advisories, it’s an ideal choice for cheap family beach vacations.
Grenada doesn’t get much love from the tourism industry despite diverse beaches and a low crime rate relative to its surroundings. This has allowed it to remain an inexpensive location with many hidden coves to explore. Interest is rising every year so it’s best to get your trip in fast.
2 Uluwatu, Indonesia
Dramatic cliffs dip down into sandy beaches all across the coastline of Bali. Uluwatu is one of the most beloved areas due to its temples that look out onto the sea where surfers glide across the waves. Visiting some of the temples built in the water is also worthwhile.
1 Baja California, Mexico
Most of Mexico presents itself as an option when you’re seeking out cheap vacation home rentals or preparing for purchase, but the state of Baja California stands out in particular. Elegant granite rock formations line its coast and inexpensive seafood pulled in fresh make every day delicious.