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, palm-fringed beaches 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. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. State Department and local tourism boards before traveling.)
Los Cabos, Mexico
Los Cabos benefits budget travelers with its selection of all-inclusive resorts and prevalence of vacation packages. It’s often pretty easy to secure a vacation package that will combine your airfare and hotel stay for less than the cost of buying both separately. Plus, with the amount of beautiful (and free) beaches available to visit, you won’t have to spend much money on activities.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Jamaica is known for its gorgeous white sand beaches, Blue Mountains and vibrant culture. Montego Bay is especially popular among families for the area’s laid-back charm, relaxed beaches and calm waters, which are perfect for small children. Instead of buying your airfare and accommodations separately, look for vacation packages that combine the two and typically offer discounted rates.
Travelers seeking striking landscapes, affordable lodging and flavorful cuisine should look no further than tropical and intriguing Phuket. This cultural hot spot in Thailand is known for its easygoing beach atmosphere, cheap hotels and affordable activities thanks to the favorable exchange rate ($1 equals about 35 Thai baht). While here, take a boat tour to soak in the scenery, relax in a Thai-style spa and visit the famous Big Buddha.
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 Greece beaches like Navagio and Gerakas 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.
Travelers are attracted to this tropical paradise for its snorkeling and scuba diving, cultural flair and close proximity to everything from beaches to the famous town of Ubud. The capital of the Indonesian province of Bali is also known for its affordability. Not only can you find four- and five-star hotels for less than $70 per night, but your dollar will stretch far here ($1 is roughly equal to 15,000 Indonesian rupiah).
Regarded as one of the most affordable destinations in the Caribbean, Curaçao offers picturesque beaches and vibrantly colored architecture. Culture lovers and outdoor enthusiasts head to Curaçao for its scenic landscapes, unique Dutch influence, and ample snorkeling and scuba spots. If you skip the resort and opt for a smaller hotel, you’ll likely find rates for less than $100 per night.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic features beaches with soft golden sands, crystal clear waters and all-inclusive resorts. Travelers can save a bundle by choosing one of the many all-inclusive hotels available. These resorts allow guests to combine food and drink, as well as on-site and some off-site activities, for one budget-friendly price – all in an idyllic setting along the Caribbean Sea. What’s more, these resorts typically offer numerous pools, swim-up bars, and ample eateries and activities. Plus, you’ll have your pick of a variety of adults-only and family-friendly options.
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 can easily find accommodations in this area for less than $100 per night.
With direct flights from many major cities across North America, affordable hotels and resorts, and activities that range from scuba diving to horseback riding to cave exploring, Belize has become a popular destination for tourists from around the world. You can book Belize accommodations for less than $100 per night, and fill your days with cheap food and outdoor fun (remember: $1 is equivalent to about $2 in Belize currency).
Travelers who love Greek island culture but want to skip the pricey islands like Mykonos and Santorini will want to book a trip to Corfu. This tropical paradise is brimming with beautiful architecture, amazing beaches and even a donkey rescue. What’s more, highly rated hotels are available for $100 or less 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
Key West proves you don’t have to leave the U.S. to find paradise. Save some money on international airfare and treat yourself to one of the many stunning hotels and resorts that dot the island. While here, visit the Southernmost Point, relax along popular beaches like Smathers and explore John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
Krabi is an affordable spot that is perfect for travelers seeking beautiful beaches on a budget. Here, you’ll find powdery white sand shorelines, inexpensive street food, a tropical rainforest, world-class scuba diving and top-notch hotels ranging from $20 to $100 per night. While you’re here, don’t miss out on the opportunity to book a boat tour; some of the most spectacular scenery can be found in the islands off of Krabi’s coast.
Crete offers the same old-world charm and affordability as Athens – but with better weather. As the largest island in Greece, Crete boasts mountains, gorges and beautiful beaches, including Elafonisi, with its pink-colored sands, and Vai Beach, home to Europe’s largest palm tree grove at nearly 5,000 palms. Depending on what time of year you visit, you can score a stay at a highly rated hotel for less than $150 per night.
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, gorgeous beaches. While here, enjoy a bottle of vino for as little as 1 euro, take advantage of car rental deals for $30 or lower per day and score room rates for less than $120 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 13 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 roughly 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 island’s waters) and 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. And 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.
Costa Rica is known around the world for its rugged, emerald green scenery and stunning landscapes. The country boasts an incredible array of verdant national parks and beaches that are perfect for surfing as well as soaking up the sun. If you’re looking to go easy on your wallet, you can book a hotel in beachfront Tamarindo within the Guanacaste province for less than $100 per night. Or, consider an all-inclusive resort in Costa Rica to save money on meals and activities.
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 18 Turkish lira.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
While the state of Alabama may not come to mind when you think of tropical destinations, Gulf Shores is home to sprawling beaches with warm waters and amazing sunsets. What’s more, the area offers a number of affordable hotels and condo rentals for less than $200 per night. Plus, you’ll save on airfare by keeping your vacation domestic, meaning you’ll have more money to splurge on activities. Fun and affordable activities here include Waterville USA, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, the USS Alabama and Gulf Shores dolphin tours, to name a few.
Cancun amazes tourists with its turquoise waters, white sand beaches and nonstop party scene. Flight deals are easy to come by, and all-inclusive hotels catering to young people and families offer affordable accommodation rates as well. Plus, getting around on the city’s buses, which are abundant, will cost you less than a dollar. With all that money saved, you’ll have room in your budget to splurge on higher-cost activities, such as excursions to nearby Chichén Itzá or Isla Mujeres, the latter of which offers opportunities for zip lining, kayaking and snorkeling.
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 $80 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. 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
If your goal is to remain on the beach and your resort’s grounds, the community of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic is an excellent choice. This area is full of affordable all-inclusive resorts (meaning food, drink and activities are included in your room rate) that cater to all types of travelers, including couples, families with kids, solo travelers, groups and partiers.
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 island of Barbados may be known for luxury, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find an affordable way to visit. Along with all-inclusive resorts, inexpensive hotel options are available across the island, especially if you’re willing to stay somewhere other than the famous Platinum Coast. Although U.S. currency is accepted, if you pay in Barbadian dollars you can save some additional coin ($1 equals approximately $2 Barbadian dollars). While many flock to the island’s numerous beaches, including Bathsheba Beach and Dover Beach, you should also check out Harrison’s Cave and the Andromeda Botanic Gardens.
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.
The B of the ABC islands is often overlooked compared to its neighbors (Aruba and Curacao). Lucky for vacationers, the island’s underrated status translates to lower travel rates. In Bonaire, you can score highly rated accommodations for less than $180 per night, sometimes even less than $100. Scuba diving is the standout activity to enjoy in Bonaire, thanks to its easy-to-access reefs, though if you don’t want to get wet, exploring Washington Slagbaai National Park is a worthwhile excursion too.
Malta does not get the attention it deserves. This Mediterranean gem is frequently passed up for its popular neighbors, the Italian and Greek islands. Come here and you’ll be rewarded with fewer crowds and cheaper rates on everything from food to public transportation. Malta is filled with budget-friendly accommodations (typically less than $80 per night) and car rentals that regularly cost around $30 or less per day.
Ischia is often eclipsed by its more well-known neighbor, Capri. In addition to boasting spectacular beaches, stunning mountainous landscapes and charming villages, Ischia is more affordable compared to other Italian beach destinations. Take the ferry from Naples, which costs between $13 and $23 per ticket, and enjoy accommodations by the ocean for $100 per night 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 Bahia coastline, which stretches more than 600 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 can rent a car for less than $50 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.
Situated between Brazil’s most populous cities, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Ubatuba is a South American paradise. Ubatuba is an evergreen playground thanks to its location right next to the lush Serra do Mar mountains. East of the mountains you’ll find more than 100 beaches lining the coast. Plus, hotel prices are a steal, with many offering 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, scuba diving and plenty of other adventure activities. Hotels here are usually less than $100 per night and for every dollar, you get nearly 80 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 less than $40 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 100 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
This underrated Florida destination will give you a taste of the tropics without having to leave the country. All the money you’ll save from international airfare can be put toward staying in one of Sanibel Island’s many luxurious hotels. Plus, with the island’s greatest attractions outdoors (and free), you won’t have to put aside a whole lot of coin for activities. Zero-cost things to do here include relaxing on Bowman’s Beach, exploring the beaches of nearby Captiva Island and visiting the Sanibel Island Lighthouse.
At first glance, Puerto Rico may not appear to be the most affordable destination, considering hotels in San Juan often go for hundreds of dollars per night. However, when you consider that airfare typically ranges from $100 to $400, depending on where you are in the U.S., a trip to Puerto Rico can be much more affordable than an international getaway. If you’re willing to skip the luxury digs, humble accommodations around the island, including condos, inns and guest houses, can run you less than $100 per night. Plus, strolling around Old San Juan and admiring a beautiful Rincón sunset is free of charge.
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. You can likely find accommodations 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.
What makes this Caribbean island affordable is that many of its attractions are free to visit, including its bevy of beautiful beaches (Plage des Salines and Grande Anse d’Arlet are two traveler favorites). Travelers can also explore other top-notch Martinique attractions, including La Savane Park and the Anse Cafard Slave Memorial, at no cost. As for accommodations, you can find cheap hotels the farther away you are from the capital, Fort-de-France.
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.
Puerto Escondido, Mexico
This dreamy port town, located on Mexico’s southwestern coast, is home to fascinating wildlife (think: dolphins, whales and sea turtles), beautiful beaches and excellent surfing. Best of all, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to visit. You can frequently snag accommodations here at hotels, hostels, villas or beach houses for less than $80 per night; vacation packages combining hotels and airfare can save you additional coin as well. Spend your savings on a nighttime boat ride and swim in Manialtepec Lagoon, a bioluminescent bay where glowing plankton illuminate the water.
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