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.
Los Cabos, Mexico
Los Cabos experienced a 23 percent increase in international tourism from 2016 to 2017, and for good reason. Not only is it inexpensive for tourists, but Los Cabos is chock full of stunning scenery and fun things to do. While basic hotels and dining are on the affordable side, you can save even more by skipping the all-inclusive resorts, buying groceries and fresh seafood rather than dining out.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Jamaica is known for its gorgeous white sand beaches, Blue Mountains and vibrant culture, attracting loads of different types of visitors. Montego Bay is especially popular among families for the area’s laid-back charm, relaxed beaches and calm waters, perfect for small children to play in. What’s more, nightly hotel rates are affordable.
Travelers seeking beautiful landscapes, affordable lodging and flavorful cuisine should look no further than tropical and intriguing Phuket. The area is known for its easygoing beach atmosphere, cheap hotels and affordable activities due to the favorable exchange rate ($1 equals about 31 Thai baht).
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 Jomtien Beach, which offers more than 3 miles of shoreline to explore, as well as inexpensive water sports rentals and hotels for less than $50 per night.
Zakynthos features affordable hotels, 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. Zakynthos also offers ample opportunities to connect with wildlife: Travelers can see nesting caretta caretta sea turtles and enjoy snorkeling.
The capital of the Indonesian province of Bali is known for affordable lodging with hotel rates around $20 a night or less, on average. Travelers are attracted to this tropical paradise for its cheap snorkeling and scuba diving, cultural flair and close proximity to everything from wildlife to volcanoes.
Mazatlán is the crown jewel of Sinaloa. Come here for the cheap hotels and enjoy Mazatlán’s delicious fish tacos, beautiful beaches and street art and murals, the latter of which can be found along the popular Malecón boardwalk. And while here, don’t miss out on a fun ride in the city’s famous open-air taxi, the Pulmonia.
Regarded as one of the most affordable destinations in the Caribbean, Curaçao offers picturesque beaches and vibrant Dutch architecture without the high prices of neighboring Aruba. Culture lovers and outdoor enthusiasts head to Curaçao for its scenic landscapes, unique Dutch influence and ample snorkeling and scuba spots.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana features beaches with soft golden sands, crystal clear waters and all-inclusive resorts galore. Travelers can save a bundle by choosing one of the many affordable 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 low price — all in an idyllic setting along the Caribbean Sea.
Pedasi is a traditional and affordable small town tucked into the southeast corner of the Azuero Peninsula of Panama. Known as a cheap destination for retirees, Pedasi also lures travelers with its hidden white sand beaches and delectable seafood.
Ochos Rios, Jamaica
A popular stop for cruisers, Ocho Rios offers plenty of cheap, all-inclusive hotels located near popular attractions, such as Dunn’s River Falls, and to-die-for beaches with white sand and clear water. Families like to visit this destination for its beautiful weather, Jamaican hospitality and clean beaches.
Bay Islands, Honduras
The Bay Islands of Honduras (Roatán, Útila and Guanaja) sit on the vibrant blue waters of the western Caribbean, just off the coast of Central America. Travelers flock to these islands for cheap accommodations, inexpensive scuba certification, excellent diving and unbelievable beaches.
The island of Sipadan in Malaysia is incredibly popular with divers thanks to its amazing sea life and many offshore reefs. A night’s stay in this far-flung ocean paradise starts at just $50 per night.
Yamba, New South Wales
Australia’s Yamba offers affordable lodging, a laid-back atmosphere with few tourists and six beaches all within walking distance of the town. Considered one of Australia’s most underrated beach towns, this locale is perfect for frugal beach lovers who want to surf or relax.
Palm Cove, Queensland
This unique and quiet village in Australia offers award-winning beach resorts and top-notch dining, plus it’s an easy jumping-off point for daytrips to the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest. Surprisingly inexpensive, Palm Cove offers the perfect combination of beautiful beaches and tropical weather along with hotel rates that start at less than $100 per night.
With daily flights from many cities across North America, affordable hotels and resorts, and activities that range from scuba diving to horseback riding and caving, Belize has become a popular destination for tourists from around the world. You can find Belize accommodations for less than $100 per night, and fill your days with cheap food and outdoor fun.
Travelers who love Greek island culture but want to skip the expense of pricey islands like Mykonos and Santorini will want to book a trip to Corfu. This small tropical paradise is brimming with beautiful architecture, ancient ruins, amazing beaches and hotels that start at less than $50 per night.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
Known as the “Turtle Capital of the World,” Indonesia’s Gili Islands are a tropical paradise with no cars, no motorbikes and no worries. Book a cheap hotel near the beach and plan a week of fun swimming in turquoise waters and diving at world famous sites like Shark Point.
Pore? offers a gorgeous beachfront vacation at a more affordable price than other popular destinations in Europe. The city boasts a thriving arts scene, centuries-old architecture and stunning beaches, such as Astra Beach and Riviera Beach, the latter of which is an adults-only beach perfect for couples.
Key West, Florida
Key West proves you don’t have to leave the U.S. to find paradise. Book an affordable hotel (rates start around $140 per night during the summer) and stroll the famous Duval Street. Visitors can also ride a bike to the city’s many sidewalk cafes, world-class restaurants and popular beaches like Smathers or Dog Beach.
Krabi is as an affordable spot 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 diving and hotels starting at just $35 per night.
Crete offers the same old-world charm and affordability as Athens but with charming beaches and better weather. As the largest island in Greece, Crete boasts mountains, gorges, beautiful beaches, cheap hotels and an incredible culinary scene.
Portugal’s Algarve region is an affordable destination for all types of travelers. Head to Algarve for warm weather in the 60s and 70s, rugged yet gorgeous beaches, superb scenery and cheap glasses of wine off the main drag.
Not as touristy as the neighboring Positano and Sorrento, Italy’s Praiano offers the Amalfi Coast experience for less. Here, you can access one of the region’s most swimmable beaches, Marina di Praia, hike the infamous Path of the Gods and enjoy pasta and other classic Italian dishes for less than you pay elsewhere along the coast.
Akumal is a snorkeling and diving haven with numerous lagoons and natural parks. Mayans referred to this spot as the “Place of the Turtle” and today it draws droves of tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of these creatures in their natural habitat. Like the rest of the Riviera Maya, Akumal features a slew of affordable hotels, motels and all-inclusive resorts.
Rosario Islands, Colombia
The Rosario Islands offer the perfect combination of natural beauty, abundant sea life and opportunities for outdoor recreation. This destination offers low nightly hotel rates as well as delectable seafood, beautiful sunsets and a unique ecosystem ideal for divers.
Nicaragua has long been known as an affordable travel destination in Central America. Come here to frolic on popular beaches like Playa Madera and San Juan del Sur, explore the country’s many volcanoes, such as Masaya Volcano National Park, and adventure in Somoto Canyon, often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Nicaragua.
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 perfect for frugal travelers who want to avoid the party scene of Ibiza and the tourists of Mallorca, and worship the sun in peace.
Acapulco may not be as popular as it once was, but it’s still a haven for beach lovers and retirees who want to experience tropical paradise for a price they can afford. Aside from its scenery, Acapulco stands out for its dynamic culture, tasty ceviche, beautiful beaches and cheap hotels.
Puerto San Jose, Guatemala
Puerto San Jose, also known as San Jose, is a port town in south central Guatemala with an idyllic location along the Pacific Ocean. Popular for fishing charters, this area offers an abundance of cheap beach hotels and local restaurants featuring the day’s fresh catch.
Varadero Beach, Cuba
Varadero Beach is one of the largest tourist areas in Cuba, offering 12 miles of powdery beaches. Come here for the nightlife, affordable hotels and upbeat all-inclusive resorts, but go elsewhere if you want an authentic Cuban experience.
Boracay may be popular among local beach enthusiasts, but it’s still vastly undiscovered by most international tourists. This island in the Philippines is known for its rugged scenery, turquoise waters, picturesque palm trees and exquisite beaches, including the popular White Beach. Once you get there, hotels can cost as little as $20 per night.
Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Part of the Phu Quoc Island National Park, Phu Quoc Island is a paradise for travelers who want to bond with nature in a tropical setting. This welcoming region of Vietnam features affordable hotels along with mountains, jungles, plenty of wildlife and too many stunning beaches to count.
Saranda is a resort area on the Albanian Riviera known for its crescent-shaped bay, beautiful beaches and local ancient remains. Hotels here are cheap and fresh food is plentiful, plus there are ample nightlife options for the younger crowd.
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. Room rates at waterfront properties start around $50 per night.
While the Caribbean island of Antigua is often presumed to be expensive, it’s fairly affordable compared to many of its pricier neighbors. Taxis are cheap and plentiful, many public beaches, including famous Dickenson Bay, are free to visit and even beachfront hotels can cost as little as $70 per night.
Costa Rica is filled with rugged, emerald green scenery worth writing home about. The country boasts numerous affordable places to stay and beaches perfect for surfing and other water sports. If you’re looking to save, you can book a hotel in beachfront Tamarindo of the Guanacaste Region for as little as $70 per night.
A coastal town and port city popular with locals on holiday, Marmaris features lively beaches, spectacular bays and plenty of boat tours you can book for cheap. Local restaurants offer fresh seafood and international cuisine, and there are ruins and historic sites (think the historic ruins of Ephesus) to visit nearby.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
While the state of Alabama may not come to mind when you think of tropical destinations, Gulf Shores is home to beautiful beaches with warm waters and amazing sunsets. What’s more, the area offers a number of affordable hotels and condo rentals to fit any budget.
Known as the party capital of Mexico, Cancun amazes tourists with its turquoise waters, white sand beaches and nonstop party scene. Getting here tends to be affordable, while all-inclusive and boutique hotels that cater to young people and families offer low nightly rates.
Langkawi is an archipelago made up of 99 islands off the coast of Malaysia. Traveling this far may be pricey, but the region will welcome you with inexpensive hotels, gorgeous beaches and cheap street food and seafood, plus duty-free goodies such as alcohol and chocolates.
The largest of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia is home to dazzling blue waters, rugged cliffs and a scenic mountain backdrop. Travelers come to this affordable vacation spot to soak up the sun, hike nearby trails and swim at beaches like Myrtos, which is surrounded by limestone cliffs.
Costa Blanca, Mexico
The mountainous Costa Blanca region of Spain extends along the country’s eastern coast and covers the province of Alicante. Here, you’ll find tiny fishing villages and beachfront resorts along with natural parks to explore, including Montgó Natural Park and Parque Natural de Penyal D’Ifach.
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 a solid choice. This area is full of affordable all-inclusive resorts that cater to all types of travelers, including couples, families with kids and partiers.
Trinidad and Tobago
While the bulk of the country’s residents live on Trinidad, tropical Tobago hosts an array of impressive beachfront hotels and resorts. You’ll want to spend time exploring famous oceanfront spots like Pigeon Point Beach and Buccoo Reef.
Ancona may be a popular place to board a cruise ship bound for Croatia or Greece, but it’s also a beautiful beach destination in its own right. The Beach of the Two Sisters, or Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle, located about 12 miles south of Ancona, offers white sands and clear waters with a protected shore and towering cliffs above. What’s more, hotel rates in the city start around $65 a night.
Sardinia’s Cagliari features 8 miles of dazzling beachfront. Here, you can explore the city’s old town, bask on one of its beautiful waterfronts or take advantage of the famous nightlife — and all for less than you’d pay in more popular beachfront towns in Europe.
Patras has its own stretch of beach, but this town offers plenty of history and culture as well. Hotels are affordable, and you can relax the day away near the water, roam the ancient Old City or visit the Medieval Castle, which was built during the second half of sixth century A.D. Travelers will find several other beaches nearby as well, including Kalogria and Rodini.
Barbados may be known for luxury, but that doesn’t mean it’s not affordable. Inexpensive hotel options can be found all over the island, but especially if you’re willing to stay somewhere other than the famous Platinum Coast. Barbados is also an up-and-coming foodie spot, making it the perfect place if you want to book a cheap hotel and spend your travel funds on amazing cuisine.
The small volcanic island of Milos features white sand beaches, its own thermal springs and a plethora of diving options for scuba enthusiasts. Archaeological ruins are also abundant, making this island an enviable option for those interested in Greek history and culture. Travelers will enjoy the mouthwatering and affordable Greek fare and inexpensive guest house accommodations on this island.
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