The 9 Best Affordable Beach Vacations for 2018
Ah, the beach. It's a glorious place where the warm sun shines for hours overhead, cool waves crash onto soft sand, and salt water and wind work in tandem to create perfectly wavy hair. But if you're at a popular beach, like Maui or South Beach, you probably paid a good amount of money to get there .
This year, do yourself a favor and try one of these, the best affordable beach vacations for 2018. Because these are lesser-known destinations, it's easy to save money and escape the crowds while still enjoying everything you love about the beach.
Panama City Beach, FL
A Spring Break mainstay for college students, Panama City Beach (aka "PCB") is more relaxed the rest of the year. Gorgeous beaches with soft, sugary sand make it a fan favorite—Coastal Living magazine readers named it one of the five best beaches in America. Go during the off-season (autumn or winter) to spend the least amount.
Cheap nonbeach activity: Cirque Italia, a two-hour show packed with stunts, trapeze, and other awe-inspiring spectacles inspired by the Italian circus (find avaliable deals here).
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
One of the south's premiere destination can also be one of the best cheap beach vacations you take...if you play it right. The city's charming promenade and whimsical boardwalk, which is rife with rides, carnival games, and candy shops, make it appealing to both adults and kids. Find a deal on a hotel (they're abundant on our site) and stick to boardwalk grub, and you'll enjoy a getaway with cash to spare.
Cheap nonbeach activity: Take the kids to the Children's Museum of South Carolina ($9 admission for two with a deal), where they can see a loggerhead-turtle nest and withstand the winds inside a Hurricane Simulator.
Since they're hidden among the remote terrain most associate the Pacific Northwest, beach towns like Seaside are relatively unknown to out-of-staters. Don't be fooled: it's one of the best affordable beach vacations in America. Seaside is popular with young families, who especially love visiting the Seaside Carousel Mall and building sandcastles on the three-mile sandy beach. Nearby Cannon Beach provides a respite from the "bustle" along with beautiful views of famed Oregon landmark Haystack Rock.
Cheap nonbeach activity: Sip on several different varietals at Naked Winery, located in downtown Seaside (and grab our deal while you're at it).
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana: Hotel Deals
Punta Cana is the one international destination on our list, but don't let the prospect of airfare scare you away. You can routinely find an multiple-night, all-inclusive vacation with round-trip airfare for less than $500. Once you're there, Punta Cana wows visitors with its absurdly picturesque tropical coastlines, lined with palm trees and full of Caribbean waters begging for a snorkeling or kayak trip.
Cheap nonbeach activity: Take a tour of nearby Pirate Rum Factory, known for its vibrantly colored hand-painted bottles. You may want to try some, too.
San Diego, California
San Diego isn't known as a particularly cheap town, or even a beach town, really. But you can spend a whole weekend just beach-hopping along the craggy California coast. Start on Coronado Beach (home to the legendary Hotel del Coronado, pictured above), head up the coast to Mission Bay, known for its watersports, and finish up north at picture-perfect Del Mar Beach. And with a deal on a hotel, you can do it for pretty cheap.
Cheap nonbeach activity: Well, you won't be too far from the beach, but you can't miss the whale- and dolphin-watching cruise along Newport Beach (starting at $9.50 with a deal).
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama
When you think of white-sand beaches, you likely think of Florida. But just across state lines in Alabama lie these two neighboring beach towns. The Gulf towns are still relatively undiscovered, despite the same beautiful beaches and clear waters as their counterparts to the east. After relaxing on the 32 miles of soft sand, visitors enjoy deep-sea fishing on the country's largest artificial reef and playing golf on an Arnold Palmer-designed course.
Cheap nonbeach activity: Dolphin-watch tour from Cruise Orange Beach (from $18 with a Groupon). You'll take in breathtaking views of the water while scanning the surface for playful porpoises jumping and racing along.
The town of Hull—better known as the home of Nantasket Beach and the former summer home of President Calvin Coolidge—is located on a peninsula just an hour north of Cape Cod. As a result, it has much of the same picturesque scenery. But it doesn't have anywhere near the same number of visitors and is more affordable than Cape Cod. The highlight of Hull is its 3.2-mile-long white sandy beach.
Cheap nonbeach activity: Head up north to Boston, which is only an hour drive north, for a city lights cruise in Boston Harbor (starting at $19.50 with a deal).
Ocean City, Maryland
Ocean City might be the most crowded of all of our cheap beach vacations, with hundreds of thousands of people visiting the Atlantic resort town in the summer, but it's still a good value. If you head there in September, you can escape some of the crowds while enjoying average temperatures in the mid 70s. East Coasters love the town for its 10 miles of beaches and classic wooden boardwalk, which has almost three miles of activities and snacks.
Cheap nonbeach activity: If you're not completely de-stressed by the beach, try letting off some steam at the OC Paintball USA arena (starting at $10 with a deal)
Corpus Christi, Texas
For years, Texans have flocked to Corpus Christi to enjoy its more than 100 miles of beaches along the Gulf Coast (specifically Padre Island National Seashore) but the area is still somewhat unknown to the rest of the country. As a result, it's a great place for budget beach vacations. It has plenty of popular city beaches—such as the family-friendly, pedestrian-only North Beach—but it's also close to peaceful Whitecap Beach, a nice place to escape the crowds on the busier beaches.
Cheap nonbeach activity: South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, which has more than 3,000 species of orchids (from $8 with a Groupon)