Stretch your dollars further on your next trip.
While it’s easy to see the word “tropical” and think “expensive,” there are plenty of destinations that offer stunning beaches, palm trees and warm weather year-round. From the idyllic Caribbean and Mexico to Asia and South America, these tropical spots are both affordable and fun. (Note: Some of these destinations may be affected by the coronavirus pandemic. New policies may be in place, including testing or vaccine requirements for visiting. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. State Department and local tourism boards before traveling.)
Los Cabos, Mexico
Montego Bay, Jamaica
With a jaw-dropping location along the Gulf of Thailand, Pattaya offers a cheap beach experience for all. Sun seekers should hit up the popular Pattaya Beach, which offers more than 2 miles of shoreline to explore as well as inexpensive options for renting water sports equipment. Plus, you can easily find top-notch hotels here for less than $80 per night.
Zakynthos features some affordable hotels (rates often run less than $100 per night), beautiful beaches and a nonstop party scene. Travelers flock to beaches like Laganas and Argassi to drink and lounge the day away in the sun. This island also offers ample opportunities to connect with wildlife: Travelers can see nesting caretta caretta sea turtles and enjoy snorkeling at the National Marine Park of Zakynthos.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Pedasi is a traditional and budget-friendly small town tucked into the southeast corner of the Azuero Peninsula of Panama. Known as a cheap destination for retirees, Pedasi lures travelers with its calming beach landscapes and delectable seafood. Its hotel rates are also stellar; you’d be hard-pressed to find accommodations in this area for more than $100 per night.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
Known as the “Turtle Capital of the World,” Indonesia’s Gili Islands are a tropical paradise. You won’t encounter any motor vehicles on the roads (expect plenty of bikes and pedestrians). Book a cheap hotel near the beach (you can find rates for less than $50 per night) and plan a week of fun swimming in turquoise waters and diving to see the islands’ abundant marine life.
Key West, Florida
Portugal’s beautiful Algarve region will appeal to all kinds of travelers. Located at the southern end of the country, the Algarve features incredible scenery awash with rugged yet gorgeous beaches. While here, enjoy sipping a glass of vino for at most 2.50 euros, take advantage of car rental deals for $25 or lower per day and score room rates for less than $100 per night.
Menorca is an oceanfront paradise with a prime setting along the Mediterranean Sea. Here, you’ll find lower prices on food and lodging (as well as fewer tourists) compared to other nearby Spanish islands. Simply put, Menorca is ideal for frugal travelers who want to avoid the party scene of Ibiza and the tourists of Mallorca, and worship the sun in peace.
Varadero Beach, Cuba
Varadero Beach is one of the largest tourist areas in Cuba, offering 12 miles of powdery beaches and snorkeling opportunities. Come here for the nightlife, relaxing coastline and affordable hotels. Several properties here feature room rates for well below $100 per night. Plus, with $1 equaling 24 Cuban pesos, your money will go far toward other vacation costs, such as dining, activities and getting around the Varadero Beach area.
Boracay has grown significantly popular among international tourists over the years, and for good reason. This island in the Philippines is known for its turquoise waters, plethora of picturesque palm trees and exquisite beaches, including the popular White Beach. Once you arrive, rest easy knowing that hotels here usually cost less than $100 per night.
Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Phu Quoc island is a paradise for travelers who want to bond with nature in a tropical setting. This region of Vietnam features the lush Phu Quoc National Park, plenty of wildlife, both above and below the islands’ waters, as well as too many stunning beaches to count. What’s more, you can easily find top-notch hotels offering rates for $100 or less per night.
Saranda is a resort area on the Albanian Riviera known for its crescent-shaped bay, pretty beaches and local ancient remains. Hotels are cheap; you can easily find highly rated properties here for less than $100 per night. If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to get in some partying alongside your sightseeing, you’ll be delighted to know this coastal town has a thriving nightlife scene.
Koh Lipe, Thailand
With its far-flung location in the Andaman Sea, Koh Lipe is famous first and foremost for its beaches. However, this tropical paradise is also affordable for tourists seeking a cheap way to soak up the sun and indulge in tasty Thai food on a budget. Plus, you can find room rates at waterfront properties for less than $100 per night.
A coastal town popular with locals on holiday, Marmaris in Turkey (about 200 miles west of Antalya) features several scenic beaches and a national park. Here, you can find hotel rates for less than $100 per night, including waterfront lodging options. Use that money you’re saving and book yourself a boat tour, which comes cheap considering $1 equals about 8 Turkish lira.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Langkawi is an archipelago consisting of 99 islands off the coast of Malaysia. Traveling this far may be pricey, but the region will welcome you with inexpensive hotels (highly rated properties for less than $100 per night), gorgeous beaches, and cheap street food and seafood. Plus, the duty-free shops are abundant, affording discounts up to 75% on popular brand-name goods, including Adidas and Nike. You can also find deals on everything from luggage and kitchenware to jewelry, cosmetics and clothing.
The largest of Greece’s Ionian Islands, Kefalonia is home to dazzling blue waters, rugged cliffs and a scenic mountain backdrop. Travelers come to this affordable vacation spot (think: coastal hotels for less than $100 per night) to bask in the sun, hike nearby trails and swim at beaches like the breathtaking Myrtos, which is surrounded by striking sky-high cliffs.
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Patras has its own stretch of beach, but this town offers plenty of history and culture as well. Hotels are affordable (you’ll find a variety of options for less than $100 per night), and you can relax the day away near the water or roam the Old City, which is filled with ancient ruins. Travelers will find several other shorelines nearby as well, including Rio and Rodini beaches.
The small volcanic island of Milos is home to some pretty incredible beaches (think: turquoise waters and beaches backed by striking craggy cliffs). Visitors can also explore archaeological ruins, making this island a solid option for those interested in Greek history and culture. Travelers will enjoy the mouthwatering Greek fare and inexpensive accommodations on this island, which often run $100 or less per night.
Malta does not get the attention it deserves. This Mediterranean gem is frequently passed up for its popular neighbors: Italian and Greek islands. Come here and you’ll be rewarded with both fewer crowds as well as cheaper rates. Malta is filled with budget-friendly accommodations (typically less than $100 per night) and car rentals that can take you from beach to beach regularly cost around $25 a day or less.
If you’re wanting to explore Brazilian beaches beyond Rio’s famed shorelines, take a trip to the state of Bahia. Brazilians vacation here, so you know these beaches are sure to impress. Start your journey in the cultural hub of Salvador de Bahia (where you’ll find rental cars for less than $20 per day) then drive down the coastline, which stretches a whopping 621 miles. Along the way you can snag accommodations for less than $60 per night.
Isla de Providencia, Colombia
Mainland Colombia’s celebrated lush landscapes are in no shortage on Isla de Providencia, which sits off the coast of Nicaragua. This Caribbean island is celebrated for its beautiful beaches, evergreen hills and impressive lack of tourists (considering its awe-inspiring scenery). Here, you don’t need to rent a car, a golf cart will suffice, and accommodations tend to be less than $100 per night.
This small island, just a stone’s throw from the southern Tunisian coast, features turquoise waters, camel rides on the beach and beautiful white-washed architecture similar to that seen in Santorini. You can find hotels for less than $100 a night and unlike in Santorini, you can simply drive here from the mainland, saving a ton of money in flight or ferry fees.
Catalina Island, California
Forget having to pay for plane tickets; you can easily take the ferry from Southern California to Catalina for about $80 round trip. Once you arrive, you’ll find rental cars starting at $34 per day, which will give you the opportunity explore the island beyond Avalon (Catalina’s most populous city). If you decide to forgo the car, you’ll be happy to know that Avalon and its beaches, which are dotted with palm trees and feature clear blue waters, are very walkable.
Corn Islands, Nicaragua
Once you get past the long journey to get to these two remote islands off the coast of Nicaragua, you’ll be rewarded with a tropical paradise that feels all your own. Because it’s not a widely known vacation spot, you’ll enjoy a sense of peace not found in other popular island destinations. Plus, with accommodations typically costing less than $80 per night, you might never want to leave.
White sandy shores, striking turquoise waters, ample wildlife and a restaurant you can swim to from the beach are just a few reasons why you should make the trek to Zanzibar. Located off the coast of Tanzania, the island’s scenery looks like the type of landscape you’d see on the cover of a travel book. What’s more, accommodations, including some properties on the beach, feature rates for less than $100 per night.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India
This tiny grouping of islands located in the Andaman Sea (off the western coast of Myanmar and Thailand) will make you feel worlds away from your everyday life. Part of India, these islands feature breathtaking beaches, national parks, wildlife (including elephants), scuba diving and plenty of other adventure activities. Hotels here are usually less than $100 per night and for every dollar, you get approximately 73 rupees.
Costa Del Sol, Spain
Southern Spain’s Costa Del Sol is truly a winner for those seeking an amazing European vacation along the Mediterranean Sea. If you aren’t attached to staying in a particular destination in the region, you can find nightly hotel rates for less than $100 in many of the region’s towns and cities. Plus, with rental car deals available for $10 per day, it’ll be easier than ever to explore this slice of the Spanish coastline. While here, visit the shorelines and beautiful old towns of Marbella and Benalmádena, and be sure to make a detour inland to see the Sierra de las Nieves National Park.
This island located in the incredibly scenic Visayas region of the Philippines is ideal for the adventurous traveler. Though the island is filled with numerous tropical beaches, Cebu stands out for its bevy of waterfalls (there are about 90 falls located within the forests) and mountainous landscape, affording plenty of hiking trails that promise sweeping vistas of the island. Plus, you can easily score hotels by the beach for less than $100 per night.
Sanibel Island, Florida
Amelia Island, Florida
Although this beautiful Florida destination looks and feels like an island getaway, it technically isn’t separated from the mainland, making getting here all the more affordable since you can drive from many southern cities. Hotels will cost more than $100 per night, though you can likely find options for less than $200 a night and some vacation rental bargains as well. And with 13 miles of free beach at your fingertips, you can easily make a trip to this increasingly popular destination affordable.
Rosario Islands, Colombia
The Rosario Islands off the northern coast of Colombia offer the perfect combination of natural beauty, abundant sea life and outdoor recreation. This archipelago promises delectable seafood, beautiful sunsets and conditions that are great for scuba diving. You can snag budget-friendly accommodations if you stay at smaller hotels on the islands, which are prevalent. Paying less than $100 per night will save you money that you can then spend on fun activities, including kayaking through mangroves.
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