Living on a tight budget but still looking to for a paradise beach vacation? Well, fortunately, it’s easy and super possible to enjoy both sand and surf without worrying too much about emptying out that bank account. There are plenty of tropical destinations all across the globe offering affordable, fabulous, and sun-filled-coconut tree-aplenty havens that’ll have you wondering why you don’t just pack up and move to the beach for real.
Get the best bang out of your buck with an oh-so-relaxing massage or some of the freshest fruit juices around, all while listening to the sounds of gentle waves and staring out into gorgeously colorful sunrises-- or sunsets. So forget about expensive tourist traps and expand on that inner world trekker by jetting off to these paradisiacal places. Here are the top twenty-one beaches around the world even budget travelers can enjoy.
Head To Paradise On These 21 Budget Beach Vacations
1. Corfu, Greece
The country, by itself, may very well be embroiled in deep economic troubles, but at least for travelers, their loss is really our gain. Greece’s financial crises has made this beachy hotspot one of the cheapest and most affordable destinations in the world, making it a super popular alternative to the glamorous vacation resorts of France and Italy. Find accommodations for as low as seven dollars in areas such as Halkidiki, Zakynthos, Thassos, and of course, Corfu. Chow down on some satisfying gyros at a local taverna for as low as ten dollars. Plus, there’s always ample amounts of crystal clear waters and white sandy shores for you to relish in. Make sure to book your vacation ahead of time (typically by mid-March or April) to get even bigger discounts!
2. Hosnasand Beach, Stokkøya, Norway
It truly is ones of the finest beaches on the Norwegian coast, boasting fantastic temperatures, endless ocean views, and some of the best collections of design-meets-eco-chic cottages and huts catering especially to young travelers hoping to spend time by the sea and a bar at the very same time.
Seriously, The Beach Bar is fronted by glass and built right along—you guessed it—the beach. What’s more is that the camping friendly island also provides beautifully unspoiled countryside landscapes lined with mountains, caves, and lakes waiting to be explored. It’s also an especially suitable spot for windsurfing and kayaking, and offers some of the best quality seafood cooking around—at shockingly reasonable prices. This one’s definitely a catch.
3. Ambergris Caye, Belize
There may be only one town on this large island in the tiny Central American nation of Belize, but the streets are literally made of sand, the locals get around simply by golf carts, and it's impossible not to sit back, relax, and relish in some down time. This budget-friendly fave also features the second-largest coral reef system in the world, and the longest in the Western Hemisphere, attracting divers and snorkelers of all sorts from all around the world. And though luxury-style resorts have sprung up in and around the town of San Pedro in recent years, there are still more than enough affordable hotels and eateries on the island to choose from to make it a beach getaway both you and your wallet will love.
4. Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Not only is it way more peaceful, quiet, and low key—not to mention less crowded—that its party-centric sister, Cancun, this affordable Mexican favorite offers loads of budget-friendly, all-inclusive resorts with rates too good to pass up, even during peak seasons like spring break. Nice deals on hotel accommodations can easily be found, as well as inexpensive but totally fun day trips to spots like Cozumel and the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum. Unleash that inner explorer.
Though you wouldn’t consider Poland an idea place for any beach vacation, there are, along the Baltic coast, miles of sandy shores (including some of the biggest sand dunes in Europe) and beach resorts costing only a fraction of the price of their Mediterranean counterparts. It’s been deemed the “Polish Riviera” and is filled with plenty of seaside hotels, beachfront bars and restaurants, and vibrant waterfront promenades that’s been particularly popular among many German tourists. Since one US dollar equals 3.22 Polish zloty, rooms can be found at under twenty bucks, even in a peak season. Plus, a beer in town shouldn’t set you back more than about two dollars and an entree at even the most posh of gourmet restaurants is generally under fifteen dollars. Let’s not even get started on the array of casual fare that’s widely available—and even more wildly cheaper.
6. Puerto Rico
Though it has a tropical, Caribbean vibe, this beach hotspot just happens to also be a U.S. commonwealth-- therefore flights to the island from the mainland are often inexpensive, especially when compared to those to nearby islands such as Caicos, Turks, and the BVI.
Golf courses, huge shopping malls, and bustling casinos meet head-to-head with tropical rainforests and beautiful white-sand beaches. There are also all too many well-preserved 15th-century Spanish forts to gawk at over in the array of charming nearby towns that all happen to boast some incredibly colorful colonial-style buildings. No matter your vacation style-- wildly party-centric or super laid-back-- those on a tight budget are sure to find a more than satisfying beach retreat.
It may be the choice winter destination for Europeans looking to get some fun in the sun, but this one’s equally enjoyed during the summer months, especially since prices just happen to be so much lower. Popular resorts such as Sharm el Sheikh offer one of the best spots for diving you can find anywhere in the world, and you needn’t look too hard to discover clean double rooms or guesthouses available for as low as twenty dollars. Dining costs can fluctuate from a few bucks for street food and market meals to a bit more at higher end restaurants. But all in all, it’s a safe bet for any weary budget traveler just looking to soak up some good old sun.
It’s located on the shores of the Black Sea and offers a much cheaper and warmer beach destination than Romania, as well as a good alternative to Greece or the Turkish Riviera. For those on a lower budget, Albena, Balchik, Nessebar and Sunny Beach are fantastic options—each boast the typical sun, sand, surf, and partying experience we all know and love but on a much smaller budget. Accommodations in Albena or Nessebar can start at just over ten bucks per night, with breakfast included. Dining and drinking options here are just as inexpensive. You and a friend will be able to fine wine, dine, and have a beer (which costs less than a dollar each!) with just a twenty dollar bill. Really, that alone may be enough to entice even the most seasoned traveler to this Central European paradise.
With beaches facing both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, there are plenty of accommodations available for as cheap as twenty dollars and meals for as low as a couple of bucks. Hotspots like Colón Island or Balboa are also small enough to move around by foot, which will save you the hassle of transportation costs.
Panama definitely is a hidden gem in Central America, not to mention one of the most attractive emerging tourism destinations in the world, since it just so happens to be a whopping thirty percent less to vacation in than in Costa Rica. Plus, it’s always got the best conditions for surfing and snorkeling, with places such as Playa Venao and the marine park of Isla Iguana boasting favorable waters even for beginners.
10. Punta Cuna, Dominican Republic
For those who want to spend an easy breezy vacation on sandy beaches but don’t want to burn major holes into their pockets, this one’s the place for you. Play in some wildly surfable waves or in some lush green jungle forests—get active with surfing lessons, jungle wildlife tours, moss-covered hiking excursions, and so much more. It’s the ultimate adventure destination. Plus, room rates can start at a little over thirty dollars a night for a twin private, while cold beers on the beach cost just about a buck fifty. There are also plenty of inexpensive local food options to pick and choose from.
11. Southern Coast, Sri Lanka
With some of Asia’s cheapest and most surfable beaches, this one’s chock full of rustic architecture, cool breezes, scrubby palm trees, cute little cottage collections, and freshly barbequed seafood that you and the locals can share at long communal outdoor tables and hammocks located right on the southwestern coast. It certainly is the place for that pure-surfer casual vibe you’re looking for-- the perfect hotspot to hang loose with a lassi. Plus, there are jam-packed popular hotels all along the shore that range from bare-bones to eco-chic. Take in that glittering Indian Ocean without worrying too much about the bills piling up. Major score.
Sure, it may share the Iberian Peninsula with Spain, and often competes with neighbors like Italy and France, especially when it comes to beach destinations, but this one offers excellent local cuisine, several regions for wine tasting, diverse landscapes that range from white sand beaches and verdant valleys to rolling plains and rocky cliffs, as well as impeccable weather that allows you to travel here no matter what season to still enjoy some sun and sea--- all at hugely affordable prices.
Beach accommodations can be had at for twenty euros or less in many towns of the Algarve, and, like everywhere else in the country, food and drink is a bargain when compared to Spain. A glass of port or local wine can be found for about two euros and a platter of fresh local fish is generally under ten euros. Amongst all of South Europe’s beaches, budget travelers should definitely choose this one.
For years it’s remained one of Europe’s biggest secrets-- it doesn’t get the same attention as France or Italy, but it sure has its fair share of superb beaches and excellent diving conditions, as well as historic fortifications and interesting churches.
Most travelers come here for the fantastic snorkeling, but you’re also sure to spot many just hanging around on the beach soaking up the always-shining sun. Plus, the area’s off-the-radar status keeps the prices super low, with rooms starting at around fifty dollars per night during the summer months. So if your ideal beach retreat includes everything from café culture and fab design to casual fish shacks and gorgeous jungles, look no further than Malta. Plus, there’s always The Blue Grotto, a series of sea caverns on the southern coast, to check out. So cool.
With revered food, a tropical climate, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, this one’s a preferred destination for budget travelers looking to head towards Southeast Asia for not only a huge variety of landscapes to look at, but tons of things to do—not to mention low costs and easy travel!
Options are endless, with secluded backpacker paradises like Koh Chang, or super cheap beach bungalow (as low as $5/night!) choices at Lonely Beach. If you want to chow down on some local Thai food, it’s not hard to spend only about a buck per meal, and if you’re looking for diving and snorkeling opportunities, Koh Tao is the top spot to do so. Plus, it’s not far from party hotspots such as Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan (famous for their Full Moon Parties!) to check out until the wee hours of the morning—they are easily reached by ferries or the array of extremely comfortable and cheap overnight sleeper trains offered. All year round, the region’s got a large influx of tourists—it may be super bustling and busy, but there’s a reason everybody flocks so regularly here. The country offers the most fantastic and shockingly low beach bargains around.
Located in North Africa, this one has a coastline on both the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, which helps it compete for beach tourists who flock to more expensive regions like Spain, Portugal, Egypt, and even Italy. It definitely wins when it comes to cost though--- filled with unspoiled beaches, seaside fishing villages known for their white and blue buildings, as well as great conditions for windsurfing.
Guesthouses in converted homes start at low as forty bucks, while sea view rooms in mid-range hotels can be found for merely seventy dollars. Food from the local markets and street vendors can be found for several bucks for a heaping tagine plate-- dining at more upscale places, however, won’t cost too much more.
A handful of affordable accommodations can be found all throughout the country—such as in Ocho Rios. Once a sleepy fishing village, it’s now home to numerous all-inclusive resorts nestled deep among casually laid-back, local joints that offer cheap beers, tasty jerky chicken, and beautiful, private white-sand views of the beach. There’s also that infamous waterfall park for swimming and hiking that you surely need to check out.
An archipelago in Southeast Asia, this one’s all too well known for being a cheap vacation destination. Plus, if you combined all the beaches on its more than seven thousand islands, it would form one of the world’s longest coastlines.
Many visitors choose the island of Boracay, which despite its popularity as a beach party hotspot, offers long white sandy beaches rivaling those in the Caribbean or Thailand. Cheap room rates can often be found from June to September, starting at about twenty-three dollars per night in a bungalow or forty-five dollars for a double room in a 3-star hotel. Street food and budget meals won’t cost more than few bucks, with more upscale dining available for around just ten. What’s more is that there is something for everyone: surfing, diving, boating, dolphin watching, and sunset dining. You name it, they’ve got it.
Located in the far north of South America, it shares shorelines with both the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean—it just so happens to house the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls, as well as the longest coastline along the Caribbean Sea and a variety of budget friendly beaches to check out.
At Margarita Island (Isla Margarita) or Playa El Agua, over a hundred miles of beautiful beaches can be found, along with a lively nightlife options in town, as well as weather conditions that make it a windsurfers’ paradise. Guesthouse double room rates start at around thirty dollars, with hostel rooms costing less than half that. Plus, set lunches and street food cost only a few bucks. So sure, this one may not always be on the typical beach lover’s bucket list of places to go to, but trust us, the oil-rich leftist leaning country definitely should be, especially for those looking not to spend more than a dime.
It may not be as popular as its nearby neighbors Thailand and Indonesia, but this underrated paradise boasts 3,444 km of coastline (excluding the islands), offering quite an array of beaches to choose from and all at a budget price. Surfers should head down to China Beach, where sandy shorelines, super clean water, and good-sized waves stretch on forever and ever. Affordable accommodations over at nearby Da Nang or Nha Trang are also available-- room rates start at six dollars per night for basic accommodations, with a few more comforts easily attainable if you are willing to splurge and spend around ten dollars. Dining out is just as much of a bargain with all the street food lining the sidewalks, all for about a buck.
20. Southern Italy
If you’ve ever rubbed shoulders with millionaires on the Amalfi Coast or spent your weekends splurging in Venice, you probably know that Italy can definitely drain all travel budgets. Head further south though, and at the region’s heel are arguably the best beaches in the country—not to mention hilltop towns and ancient sights.
What makes hotspots such as Puglia, Basilicata, and Calabria such great value destinations, however, are not just the financial sides of being in more ascendant, low-key parts of the country: The fabulous foodie finds – i.e. cucina povera (poor man’s food)--- are simple, tasty and cheap. There’s always a relaxed pace of life no matter what peak season you visit in, and good-value accommodations are always available for savvy travellers looking for something more earthy and a bit less frenetic or manicured. Plus, with the exuberant architecture all around, the area can be best summarized in one single sentence: Italy’s ‘Florence of the South.’ Need more be said?
A South Pacific island destination on a value travel list? Yes, please. The home of the Yasawas and the Mamanucas may very well just be the most affordable slices of paradise ever offered, especially for backpackers. It’s got all the charm and value of the South Pacific without all the extra dollars and cents. Do some island-hopping by daily catamaran with public buses around Viti Levu, Fiji’s ‘mainland’, and get as close to a luxurious Polynesian experience as utterly possible--- but for not all of your money.
This article was written by Pamela Chan.