10 budget-friendly island resorts for a cheap beach vacation
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A tropical vacation in the Maldives can be affordable if you know where to stay — Photo courtesy of SHansche / iStock Via Getty Images Plus
It’s easy to write off dreamy island locales as being too expensive for a bucket-list vacation. After all, it’s hard to get to places like Hawaii, Bali, and the Maldives from the U.S. without spending a bundle on airfare, not to mention an entire day, or two, at cruising altitude. But, there’s good news.
These dream destinations are also some of the most budget-friendly international vacation spots, where it is possible to find affordable accommodations. In fact, it’s often cheaper to stay at one of these all-inclusive waterfront properties abroad than it is to pay for a three-star hotel at home.
Whether you’re a solo traveler treating yourself, a couple rekindling the romance, or a family of four with two hyperactive kids, here are 10 of the best budget-friendly island beach resorts where rates start under $200 a night.
Pro tip: Most cheap rates aren’t offered year-round; for maximum savings, travel during shoulder seasons.
Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu – Maldives
Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is just a 30-minute seaplane ride from Male — Photo courtesy of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu
Rustic luxury best describes the Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, a family-friendly, all-inclusive resort. Travel May through November for the cheapest rates.
Of course, you’ll have to shell out a little more for an overwater bungalow with views of the nearby UNESCO biosphere reserve. But even the beachfront villas on dry land come with private plunge pools. The resort’s amenities include two restaurants, two bars, a spa, library, dive center, and a cinema under the stars.
Oceans Edge Resort & Marina – Key West, Florida
Oceans Edge Resort & Marina may not front the best beach in Florida, but it boasts six swimming pools plus a marina — Photo courtesy of Oceans Edge Resort & Marina
Bring your own boat, or charter one, at Oceans Edge Resort & Marina, an oceanfront resort boasting a 165-slip full service marina. You’ll find the best rates in September, but they’re pretty reasonable other times of year.
While it’s tempting to stay in the well-appointed rooms all day (think plush bath robes, premium bedding, and private balconies), you’ll probably want to check out the property’s complimentary paddleboard, kayak, and bike rentals. Or hop on the free shuttle into town and explore the Key West Historic District, one of the best places to visit in Florida.
Meliá Punta Cana Beach Resort – Dominican Republic
Meliá Punta Cana Beach Resort prides itself on being a wellness-inclusive property — Photo courtesy of Meliá Hotels International
The adults-only Meliá Punta Cana Beach Resort offers exclusive access to one of the longest white sand beaches in the Caribbean. It has a robust calendar of complimentary programming featuring fitness classes, beach volleyball, live performances, and workshops highlighting the local Dominican Taíno heritage.
For the cheapest rates, consider booking in October when you can easily stay for under $200 a night.
Aleenta Phang Nga Phuket Resort & Spa – Thailand
Aleenta Phuket Phang Nga Resort & Spa sits on one of Phuket’s most beautiful beaches and has phenomenal sunsets — Photo courtesy of Aleenta Phuket Phang Nga Resort & Spa
OK, Thailand is not an island, but this award-winning resort and Small Luxury Hotels of the World member is absolutely worth mentioning in a round-up of budget-friendly bucket-list beach vacations. Aleenta Phuket Phang Nga Resort & Spa is one Thailand’s best bargains when it comes to five-star properties. Get more bang for your buck by booking four nights and enjoying the fifth for free.
This gorgeous resort is situated on the sunset side of the Andaman Sea and pristine Natai Beach. Each suite features a private pool or swim-up access. There’s an on-site spa, wellness classes, and a restaurant, plus an exceptional golf course nearby.
Holiday Inn Resort Baruna Bali – Indonesia
Kids stay and eat for free at Holiday Inn Resort Baruna Bali — Photo courtesy of IHG Hotels & Resorts
Just 10 minutes after touching down at the airport you can have your toes in the sand at the family-friendly Holiday Inn Resort Baruna Bali in Kuta, the beating heart of Bali. With access to Jerman Beach, a gym, a spa, a pool, two restaurants, and a swim-up bar, you’ll never have to leave the resort.
Rates often start under $100 a night and include free breakfast for up to four people. It pays to look for deals, too: Sometimes, you can get a third night free when booking two nights.
Iberostar Selection Sábila – Spain
The five-star Iberostar Selection Sábila is an adults-only oasis in the idyllic community of Costa Adeje — Photo courtesy of Iberostar Hotels & Resorts
For VIP treatment without the hefty price tag, crash at the contemporary Iberostar Selection Sábila resort. Fronting two of the best beaches in the Canary Islands, the adults-only resort is a star of Costa Adeje. And with United’s nonstop flights from Newark, New Jersey, to Tenerife, the island has never been more accessible.
Budget-friendly rates include the island’s most tempting buffet breakfast. If you really want to treat yourself, book a Star Prestige room that gives you access to the exclusive Sky Lounge and perks like personalized reception and late checkout.
Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan – Bahamas
The all-inclusive rates at Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan include gratuities and unlimited golf at the Reef Course — Photo courtesy of Grand Lucayan Beach & Golf Resort
Between the 18-hole golf course, oceanfront spa, hair salon, and children’s playground, there’s truly something for everyone at the all-inclusive Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan.
Rates are reasonable and the staff gets rave reviews, plus there’s a car rental service on-site, so you can book a car for the day to explore the rest of Grand Bahama Island.
Royal Kona Resort – Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Royal Kona Resort hugs the rocky west coast of the Big Island, so it has incredible sunsets — Photo courtesy of Royal Kona Resort
While it can sometimes be difficult finding affordable rooms in Hawaii, rates at Royal Kona Resort are always reasonable. The three-star property on Kailua Bay includes a spa, fitness center, surf shop, pool, mai tai bar, and saltwater lagoon.
For an additional fee, get front-row tickets to the resort’s traditional luau, complete with fire dancers, live music, and all-you-can-eat buffet.
Fitzroy Island Resort – Australia
Fitzroy Island Resort is the only property on this lush island just 15 miles from Cairns — Photo courtesy of Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ)
Located in one of Queensland’s most beautiful national parks off the coast of Cairns, the Fitzroy Island Resort is the perfect homebase for exploring the Great Barrier Reef.
The family-owned and -operated property offers a kids’ playroom, island store, pool with swim-up bar, restaurant, beachside bar, and miles of walking trails. There’s even a sea turtle rehabilitation center, where guests can volunteer as part of a citizen science program.
Fodele Beach & Water Park Holiday Resort – Greece
All guests have access to the water park slides at Fodele Beach & Water Park Holiday Resort — Photo courtesy of Fodele Beach & Water Park Holiday Resort
Forget Santorini. If you’re on a tight budget but still want to experience a Greek island, head to Crete where you can stay at the Fodele Beach & Water Park Holiday Resort. This all-inclusive resort is super affordable and full of amenities for the whole family.
Hang out at the property’s private beach club or embrace your inner adrenaline junkie at the on-site water park. The resort, which is carved out of a cliff, boasts three tiered swimming pools. There’s also a kids’ club, two tennis courts, and a wellness center.
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