Best Budget Beaches
Buy a package of air, hotel and rental car. You usually pay less than you would if you purchased the components separately. Check the companies listed above for deals, plus Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and individual airline sites. Just be sure to do the math before you click.
Check the official tourism sites of the state, island or region you want to visit. Many feature sections offering discounts on lodging, dining, activities and more.
Think outside the hotel box. Vacation Rentals by Owners and Craigslist eliminate the middleman, and B&B-cum-social-networking sites like Airbnb.com and iStopOver offer wide selections of rooms at bargain rates. Many hostels [www.hostelworld.com] now offer private rooms and cushy amenities, and some are located in prime beach destinations. For the truly frugal, there's Couchsurfing, GlobalFreeloaders.com and Hospitality Club, whose members offer up their sofas or spare bedrooms for free. Checking references is key.
Focus on towns or regions that feature low-key cottages and motels, or are near state and national seashores. Instead of Miami Beach, for example, try the Florida Panhandle; instead of Santa Monica, try California's Huntington Beach; instead of Cape Cod, try Rhode Island's South County. Info on each is below, along with a couple more of our favorite budget-friendly strands.
On Ambergris Caye, the largest island in the tiny Central American nation of Belize, there's only one town, the streets are made of sand, and the locals get around by golf cart. It's impossible not to relax. Boasting the second-largest coral reef system in the world, and the longest in the Western Hemisphere, Ambergris attracts divers and snorkelers from all over the world. Luxe resorts have sprung up in and around the town of San Pedro but there are enough affordable hotels and eateries on the island to make it a true budget destination.Washington, DC-based writer K.C. Summers was recently the travel editor at the Washington Post.
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