A relaxing vacation doesn’t need to be expensive and can actually be affordable. There are plenty of cheap beach vacations you can go on within the United States to enjoy a nice getaway.
With coastlines along the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, travelers have more than enough destinations to choose from. From Puerto Rico’s natural beauty to the white sand stretches in Florida and pristine areas in the U.S Virgin Islands, there are plenty of options for a fun beach vacation within your budget.
These are some of the cheapest beach vacations in the United States for families, couples, solo travelers, and friends trips.
Cheap Beach Vacations in the USA
St John, US Virgin Islands
St John is located in the Caribbean and is one of the most beautiful islands in the USA. It has more than enough white sand clear water beaches you could possibly explore on your beach vacation. St John has amazing snorkeling spots where you can find sea turtles, rays, octopus, and crabs roaming the warm Caribbean waters.
It’s home to the only U.S National Park in the U.S Virgin Islands, which takes up more than half the area. While you can enjoy hotspots like Honeymoon Beach and Trunk Bay Beach, there are more secluded options away from noise like Henley Cay Beach.
You can do just about any type of water activity, ranging from snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, to scuba diving. There are resorts and restaurants at the main ferry entrance, so finding accommodations isn’t difficult, and you can grab a bite of delicious and authentic Caribbean seafood.
If you plan on staying on the island, it’s worth renting out a car to explore all the different beaches. Numerous deer and donkeys roam around, which you can easily catch a glimpse of. The hiking trails take you through the rainforest and provide scenic views of the sea.
Isla De Vieques, Puerto Rico
Isla De Vieques is located seven miles from the east coast of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is one of the best places to travel to where you don’t need a passport. This paradise destination offers some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. It’s secluded and away from tourist hotspots, so its areas are undisturbed and retain the island’s natural beauty.
Caracas Beach, La Chiva, and Escondida Beach are just a few of the many fantastic options. You’ll find turquoise-colored water, perfect for snorkeling with marine life in the seas. You can sign up for snorkeling tours that take you to some of the gorgeous spots on the island to watch sea turtles. The beaches have soft white sand, large palm trees for shade, shallow water areas for kids, coral reefs to explore, hiking spots, and restrooms.
You can also go kayaking in Mosquito Bay, a bioluminescent bay that’s one of the brightest in the entire world. Most of the island is made up of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, so it’s protected from any commercial buildings or resorts to protect the animals and vegetation that inhabit the island.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach is located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Virginia, offering beach activities, historic sites, and stunning landscapes. The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is a must-visit attraction where you can stroll down the 3 miles of boardwalk, exploring the many restaurants, local shops, and benches overlooking the water.
Check out Sandbridge Beach, not far from the boardwalk, if you want to enjoy a quiet, laid-back beach area. This shore is ideal for enjoying sand dunes, picnicking, or viewing the large mansions along the waterfront.
On a rainy day, visitors can roam the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. This aquarium boasts over 12000 marine animals, split between two buildings.
Virginia Beach also has attractions for art enthusiasts, like the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, showcasing numerous art exhibits in the 6000 square feet of space. There are a variety of other museums in the area, including the Military Aviation Museum and the Virginia Beach Surf and Refuge Museum.
If you have time for a day trip, Jamestown, Virginia, is less than an hour and a half from Virginia Beach. Jamestown was the first settlement of the United States, making this a must-see destination for history buffs. From museums to history, Virginia Beach makes for an overall excellent vacation destination.
San Diego, California
San Diego in Southern California is a beach town blessed with year-round fine weather, beautiful beaches, and high-vibes energy that draws tourists back every year. Some go for the chic foodie scene in Little Italy, some for the nightlife of Gaslamp, and others just can’t get enough of the historic Old Town-Mission Valley. There are many diverse neighborhoods to explore, all with their own character. With something for everyone, you can’t go wrong with a trip to San Diego.
Sunny San Diego has over 100 days of sunshine annually, so you’re guaranteed many beach days with fantastic weather. Book a beachfront hotel to live your best life that goes from spa to bar to poolside to the beach without needing to travel anywhere else.
When you feel like leaving the beach to explore San Diego, there is the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park with museums, entertainment, gardens, and walking trails. Don’t miss the craft brewery hotspots all over the city and the artisan markets for unique finds.
Although San Diego isn’t as budget-friendly as some of the other options on this list, visiting it in the off-season is a great way to save money on your affordable beach vacation.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Nestled on the northern portion of South Carolina’s Atlantic coast, Myrtle Beach is known for its long coastline, high-end golf courses, and vibrant beachfront entertainment. This area is just one portion of the Grand Strand, a 60-mile stretch of sandy beaches.
From the water, travelers can enjoy an abundance of watersports, like sailing, kayaking, parasailing, tubing, snorkeling, and more. If you’d rather relax, the white sand and blue water make an excellent backdrop for indulging in the sun or taking a nap.
In the evening, check out Broadway at the Beach, a 350-acre entertainment complex with al fresco waterfront dining, shopping, and a Ferris wheel. This complex is also home to Ripley’s Aquarium, TopGolf, Hollywood Wax Entertainment Museum, and several live music venues.
You can also play a round at one of the 80 golf courses surrounding Myrtle Beach, like Myrtle Beach Golf, Dunes Golf & Beach Club, or Tidewater Golf Club. With so much to do, this is a fantastic destination for the entire family!
South Padre Island, Texas
As the only tropical island in Texas, South Padre Island is a unique area in the state of Texas near its southern end. Not only is the weather fantastic, but the island’s 34 miles of soft sand and clear turquoise water make it a great place to explore.
In addition to swimming, boating, snorkeling, and other water sports activities, South Padre Island is ideal for sightseeing. You can spot dolphins swimming off the coast and learn about them at the South Padre Island Dolphin Research & Sealife Nature Center.
You can also learn about the island’s vibrant wildlife at the South Padre Island Birding, Nature Center, and Alligator Sanctuary. The center is home to tropical birds, giant reptiles, and tortoises living on the 50 acres of protected land. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars!
For a dose of relaxation, head to Sapphire Spa at the South Padre Resort. This serene environment offers massage treatments, facials, hydrotherapy, and more. If you’re a college student, you may know that South Padre is one of the most popular spring break destinations in the United States.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach is one of the most beautiful places you can visit in the United States. The small city located on the North Coast Of Oregon is home to a small population of 1500+ residents.
Haystack Rock is the city’s premier landmark, with scenic sights of it from the soft sandy beach. It’s a vital seabird nesting area frequented by diverse bird species. The surrounding area also features colorful tidepools. Haystack Rock forms part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge and is thus protected by them due to the importance it has in the local environment and its natural beauty.
There are oceanfront accommodations you can book for your trip to enjoy everything Cannon Beach offers. Cannon Beach has some of the most stunning views in all of Oregon and outdoor landscapes to traverse at places like Ecola State Park. You can also find small sea caves and waterfalls at the Hug Point State Recreation Site.
If you visit in the summer, you can enjoy surfing opportunities in certain spots and swimming since the water is way too cold any other time of the year.
Apart from water activities, you can find distinguished birding opportunities with brown pelicans, western tanagers, tufted puffins, and American robins flying around.
Huntington Beach, California
Located in Southern California, southeast of Los Angeles, Huntington Beach is the ideal place if you’re a surfing enthusiast. This region of the Pacific Ocean offers some of the top surfing conditions in all of North America.
Besides surfing and swimming, there are plenty of other things to do and explore, including family-friendly options. Travelers can wander around the Huntington Beach Pier, which encompasses over 1850 feet. It’s one of the longest piers on the West Coast and is a popular fishing spot. After walking, grab a bite to eat at Ruby’s Diner near the end of the pier.
You can also discover Huntington Beach’s energetic downtown area, boasting local boutiques, eateries, bars, and nightclubs. Visitors can also head to Huntington Beach State Park, a great place to enjoy the beach, go hiking or spot local wildlife.
You can find even more wildlife viewing at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. This nature area comprises over 1300 acres of land, where you can see a variety of bird species, reptiles, and marine life. Whether you’re a nature lover or a city dweller, Huntington Beach has something for everyone!
St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
St. Thomas in the Caribbean is known for its sparkling pristine beaches, colorful coral reefs, and colonial architecture.
Magen’s Bay Beach is one of the best places to explore the water and is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in all of the US Virgin Islands. Nestled on the island’s northern coast, this one-mile-long beach offers incredible photo opportunities, swimming, snorkeling, and other water activities.
Sapphire Beach is another spectacular beach in the eastern region of St. Thomas. The water is a magnificent shade of sapphire blue, and you can enjoy windsurfing and snorkeling in the nearby coral reef of Sapphire Beach.
If you’re on the island’s southern coast, check out Emerald Beach in Lindberg Bay. It offers a laidback atmosphere, alongside several opportunities for water adventures, dining at nearby restaurants, or simply relaxing.
To get amazing views of the entire island, ride the Skyride, which carries visitors over the town of Charlotte Amalie and takes them to Paradise Point. As the name implies, it’s an observation area with some of the most incredible views of St. Thomas and the Caribbean sea.
You’ll also find many luxury and budget friendly accommodations to stay in all areas of St Thomas.
Daytona Beach, Florida
Daytona Beach is a family-friendly destination and a great couples getaway. The city is located in the northern part of Florida, along the Atlantic Coast. If you’re into car racing, you may know that Daytona is famous for hosting Nascar races at the Daytona International Speedway.
Travelers can partake in all kinds of water activities at any of the white sandy beaches, including swimming, paddle boarding, surfing, and boogie boarding. You can find rental gear from the local shops near the beach strip.
The waters aren’t as tranquil as other places, so just be cautious when swimming or if you’re bringing children with you. The beach is well-maintained and clean, and there is a friendly atmosphere. There is a $20 fee if you drive to the beach, but it’s free to walk to it.
After the beach, you can walk along the famous Daytona Beach Boardwalk & Pier, where you can go shopping, grab some candy, and eat at some of the dive restaurants. If you’re bringing kids along, you’ll want to take them to the Daytona Lagoon. This tremendous waterpark offers giant waterslides and fun activities like laser tag and go-karts.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico on the island’s Atlantic coast. Expect beaches lined with palm trees, excellent food, history and culture, and heaps of entertainment.
The Isla Verde resort area makes a great base with luxury beachfront resorts, shopping, dining, and bars. Condado is also a trendy beach area to stay in. From there, you can head to the contrasting Old San Juan with bright Spanish architecture, quaint cobblestone streets, and historical landmarks.
The oldest settlement in Puerto Rico has romantic charm along with the vibrancy that comes with any Caribbean destination. Highlights include El Morro’s citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 1500s, and the San Cristóbal fortress. A walking tour is a great way to see all the major sites and learn about the history of the area at the same time.
Tour a Bacardi rum factory, stroll the Paseo de la Princesa, indulge in fresh seafood dinners, and photograph the street art in Santurce. Every day is different on this colorful Caribbean vacation, with many beaches you can visit. Puerto Rico is in the Atlantic Ocean and is a territory of the United States, making it sensationally sunny, beautiful, and affordable during the right times.
Guam is one of the lesser-known beach destinations in the United States. While most people are familiar with other islands like Puerto Rico, Hawaii, or the U.S Virgin Islands, Guam isn’t as recognized. Still, it holds its own as an amazing tropical destination.
With its location in the Western Pacific, the island’s coasts are home to splendid beaches with crystal clear waters. Gun Beach offers a beach bar and plenty of opportunities for diving. Talofofo Beach is another great area where surfing and kayaking are popular.
Once you’re done enjoying the beach, head over to Chamorro Village in Hagatna. Locals set up stands so you can try some of Guam’s authentic dishes. Plus, there is also live entertainment in the form of dances. A nearby attraction includes the famous Guam Museum, where you can learn about the island’s history.
Since the island is far away from the United States and most things need to be imported, the cost of living can be a bit high. So while it’s not the cheapest beach vacation you can take, it’s undoubtedly one of the more unique ones.
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May is a seaside resort located on the southern coast of New Jersey. There is a large paved walking path where visitors can go on a stroll or bike. The town offers clean, family-friendly beaches and hosts amenities like restrooms, food places, lifeguards, and more.
There are whale and dolphin watching cruises you can go on to see some beautiful sea creatures. Plenty of bird species like the Peregrine falcon roam the skies, so birding is another popular outdoor activity. Don’t be surprised if you see people doing yoga on the beach since visitors can sign up for beach yoga classes.
You can find oceanfront restaurants along the beaches to enjoy delicious seafood with spectacular views. Shopping malls and stores are abundant. Some of the most popular beaches include Sunset Beach and Cape May Point Beach. If you’re looking for somewhere quiet and away from other tourists, visit Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area. It offers hiking trails, forests, and open fields but no modern amenities.
If you’re looking for somewhere to take the kids or even yourself for an exciting day, check out Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks, which holds two water parks and three amusement parks.
On the western coast, Pensacola, Florida, makes dreams of creating sandcastles on the beach and seeing dolphins frolicking in the ocean a reality. Pensacola Beach is one of the more popular attractions, especially among fishermen. You can book fishing charters to grab some delicious Caribbean fish as well as go on dolphin sightseeing tours.
One end of the beach is quiet while the other is more touristy with a boardwalk lined with restaurants, bars, and trendy shops — the best of both worlds on one beach!
Pensacola is rich in history and culture, so you’ll find the Old Pensacola Village a great place to start learning about it. Costumed guides tell you about the history of Pensacola as you explore well-preserved buildings and museums. History lovers can continue the journey back in time with more museums, a lighthouse, and a historic fort to visit.
You can find great eats, affordable accommodation, and charming areas for shopping in Pensacola. Look out for the graffiti bridge for a picture-perfect location and if you want to connect with nature Bay Bluffs Park and Navy Point are scenic spots to get some fresh air and exercise. It’s hard to find better beaches along the Gulf Of Mexico than those here.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
The family-friendly Gulf Shores in Alabama is one of those hidden gems you discover and then wonder how you’d never been before. It’s a tropical haven with pristine sand beaches that contain blue water that stretch for endless miles.
You can ride jet skis, go paddleboarding, parasailing, swimming, or chill out on the beach. See Gulf Shores from the air with an exhilarating helicopter tour, catch a show at the South Baldwin Community Theatre or ride the waterslides at the Waterville USA Waterpark and Amusement Park. Mini golf, escape rooms, and go-karting are fun attractions to mix up with lazy beach days.
The events calendar is packed with festivals, concerts, shows, and sporting events. There is always something going on in Gulf Shores, and if you’re on a budget, you can find free things to do. There is a reason it’s another popular spring break destination for college students.
Nature lovers can’t miss the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail, which has bird-spotting locations for the most serious bird watchers hoping to see migrating and native birds in full flight. There are many hiking trails suitable for all fitness levels, and you might see a bald eagle or mourning dove.
If you’re looking to go on a cheap family-friendly beach trip, Gulf Shores in Alabama is one of the best options.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Lake Geneva is one of the Midwest’s hidden gems for beaches and other exciting attractions. Riviera Beach, Fontana Beach, and Big Foot Beach State Park are must-stops if you’re looking for a quiet experience to relax in the sun and swim in calm waters.
Since the city is such a favored destination in the state, you’ll find plenty of beachfront hotels and resorts. There is plenty to do in this Wisconsin resort city. You can buy tickets to watch a show at the Tristan Christ Magic Theatre or go on a romantic boat tour with dinner included. Golf enthusiasts will find some of the best golf courses in all of the state. There is even the Lake Geneva Safari, which was a wonderful thing to experience for my birthday.
For more outdoor adventures, there are also many mountain biking trails and hiking trails to explore. Like most of the Midwest, the cost of living is much lower here than in other high-priced tropical places, making for a great budget-friendly destination.
The winters in Wisconsin can get quite cold, so if you want to experience Lake Geneva’s beaches, it’s best to come in the summer when it’s warm.
Delray Beach, Florida
For a small city, Delray Beach on Florida’s southeast coast has a lot to offer for travelers. First up is the world-class beach that has collected many awards compared to other stunning U.S beaches. The green belt that separates the sand and urban area of the beachfront gives an organic feel that makes you feel like you’re surrounded by nature.
The warm waters provide an excellent place for those looking to surf, snorkel, paddleboard, or try other watersports. Still, you can step out of the ocean and be on The Atlantic Avenue in minutes for shopping, dining, and some leisurely time roaming art galleries. You can also rent snorkeling and surfing gear from the many dive shops on the renowned strip.
Devote an afternoon to seeing Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens designed by Hoichi Kurisu. The museum is an inspiring cultural experience with an impressive bonsai display.
Delray Beach Market, the Pineapple Grove Arts District, and Sandoway House Nature Center are all worth visiting when you need a break from relaxing on the powdery white sand beach. The good times roll non-stop with a climate that is just right. This is the perfect place for those that live in cold temperatures to escape to!