Luxury beach resorts around the world look spectacular and oh-so-relaxing, but they're not in the cards for vacationers eager to escape long winters while sticking to a budget. That doesn't mean a great beach holiday lies out of reach. Travel, review, and booking sites point to 10 beach destinations that suit a variety of ages and wallets.
10 Best Beaches for a Budget Vacation in 2016
The "World's Luckiest Fishing Village" lies in the Florida panhandle, in a stretch known as the Emerald Coast, and is often referenced by travel media as one of the best budget beaches in the country. The waters appear to be a brilliant emerald green and the stunning bright white sand, composed entirely of ground Appalachian quartz, resembles sugar. Three regional airports (Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Pensacola, and Panama City Beach) make Destin easily accessible, and cheap travel packages frequently surface. The local seafood is top-notch -- catch your own and cook it to save cash -- and inexpensive chain restaurants abound.
For anyone seeking an all-inclusive resort vacation, the Dominican Republic, specifically Punta Cana, is an excellent low-cost option. Dazzling beaches with clear blue waters, coconut palm trees, and pristine white sands face both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The shallow waters of the area, enclosed by a reef, are well-suited for beginner snorkelers and divers. Combination packages of air travel and all-inclusive accommodation start as low as $500 for five nights.
The glitz and glam associated with Miami don't necessarily bring to mind frugal travel. But shunning South Beach and planning ahead can make possible an affordable trip to Miami. North Beach offers the cheapest restaurants and accommodations in the area, as well as Art Deco architecture that's free for gawking. Cheap fast food dots the area, along with plenty of opportunity for people-watching (both locals and tourists). Check out the free and often family-friendly entertainment in the area, as well. If you're adventurous and traveling solo or in a small group, consider staying in a hostel dorm, which costs as little as $20 a night.
For a Cancún experience on the cheap, check out the neighboring city of Playa del Carmen. Located on the eastern Yucatán Peninsula hugging the Caribbean Sea, Playa del Carmen is not only cheaper but also less crowded and rowdy than other popular area destinations. Here, visitors can enjoy lovely beachfronts and cheap local cuisine and take inexpensive day trips to the Mayan ruins at Tulum and Chichén Itzá and to the island of Cozumel.
This secluded beach along the Jersey Shore claims a boardwalk, an amusement park, and a water park. Another kid-friendly destination on this list, Keansburg rates among the cleanest beaches in the area. The Keansburg Amusement Park offers a combination entrance to both Runaway Rapids (the water park) and the amusement park, which offers arcades, go-karts, and rides. The beach is free to enter and features a skyline view of New York City. There's also a fishing pier and plenty of cheap dining. Save this one for summer.