The Cheapest Beach Destinations To Visit in 2019
Whether you’re craving a classic toes-in-the-sand beach vacation or an exotic international globe trot, this list of budget-friendly travel destinations is sure to help you fill up your 2019 calendar.
Travel can be an expensive undertaking, but it doesn’t have to wreck your savings. With smart destination selection, budget-minded insider tips, and a willingness to be flexible, you can see the world without draining your retirement account.
Each year, Forbes releases its list of cheapest places to travel, and this year’s selection is filled with many coastal favorites, plus a few new destinations we are particularly sweet on in 2019. (Here’s looking at you, Grenada.)
We filtered the Forbes list down to the best places by the water, and we’re presenting them here with helpful intel on when to go, where to stay, and all the affordable fun to have once you’re there.
Cheapest U.S. Destinations for 2019
You can’t get much closer to the Caribbean than Miami, so this is a great destination if you’re eager for a slice of city life with your turquoise water, sans passport. A weekend in Miami can be pricey if you don’t plan wisely, but there’s no charge for cruising Ocean Drive and admiring the colorful retro buildings. Forbes recommends a stay at Hyatt Centric South Beach, where the average stay is $150 a night—a great price for this South Florida gem. Look for free things to do, from boot camps on the beach to browsing endless art (we love Wynwood Walls, a collection of graffiti and street art just north of downtown, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA) in the Design District) and riding the Metromover, a 4.4-mile electric train that travels to some of Miami’s most popular attractions.
The Crescent City is a guaranteed good time, and much of the city’s must-see sites are free—the French Quarter, Jackson Square, Magazine Street, and more. Plus, many of the quintessential foods happen to be some of the best-priced eats in the city: beignets are a few dollars, and po’boys with chips (our friend Chef Michael Gulotta favors Liuzza's) will set you back less than $10. Flights on Southwest to the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport are often flash-sale priced. If you’re in the southeast and eager for an adventure, train rides are often significantly less pricey than flights. We’ve outlined everything you need for the perfect weekend in New Orleans, including two stellar hotel recommendations for less than $100 a night each.
Surprised the Aloha State made the wallet-friendly list? Hear us out: With airlines like Southwest adding flights to Hawaii, 2019 might be just your year to jet to the 50th state. The airline’s fares will be lower than existing carriers’ or bring down the market price, according to Southwest’s vice president. And as Forbes notes, a Hawaiian getaway gives you a “South Pacific feel with the comforts of America … and a shorter plane flight.” You can fly into any of the islands and hop among them for about $100 on Hawaiian Airlines. You’ll find the best deals on flights and lodging during Hawaii’s off-season, from after Easter to mid-June and September to mid-December, with the exception of Thanksgiving week. If you’re looking to get away while staying in the States, there’s no place better.
Perched on the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore is brimming with energy, art, a fresh crop of chef-owned restaurants, and beautiful water views. According to booking site Kayak’s 2019 Travel Hacker Guide, Baltimore is a top 10 destination for budget-friendly travel in 2019, with the cheapest flights in January, February, September, and October. Median hotel prices range from $125 - $175 per night, depending on the season. If you score a cheap flight and want to splurge on a stay, book a night at the Sagamore Pendry, a historic property located on the iconic Recreation Pier in the Fells Point neighborhood. Baltimore also happens to be a great place to launch a crab-centered road trip, with piles of steaming hard shells across the city, from tried-and-true Phillips Crab Deck on the Inner Harbor to local favorites, like Bo Brooks, CJ's Crabhouse & Grill, Jimmy's Famous Seafood, or L.P. Steamers. You’re also less than an hour by train to Washington, D.C., one of the most expensive domestic destinations, so tagging a day trip or two to the nation’s capital while based in Charm City is a great way to save money.
Cheapest International Destinations for 2019
Jamaica ranks among the most affordable Caribbean destinations for winter, but it’s also a standout for bargain travel all year long. The capital, Kingston, is especially affordable, as a new crop of charming—and affordable—boutique hotels are opening in many of the city’s up and coming neighborhoods. Outside of Kingston, Treasure Beach and Port Antonio are filled with Jamaican character and beauty at half the cost of high-priced resorts.
The “Jewel of the Pacific” is home a colorful turn-of-the-century Historic Quarter, which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A night’s stay in the seaport Chilean city is about $50, according to Forbes, but if you’re willing to travel out of the main hub to nearby beach towns, you can sleep for as low as $35 per night.
Portugal is one of the least expensive places to retire this year, and the same elements that make it a bargain for people entering their Golden Years make it a steal for travelers. Its off-the-beaten-path location keeps it relatively inexpensive compared to neighboring European capitals—London, Paris, etc.—but you still get to explore a city that’s rich with beautiful architecture and history. For accomodations, Forbes recommends Martinhal, a collection of chic family-friendly apartments that are a steal at $150 a night. Local food and drink is also a bargain, with quality glasses of wine for under 3 Euro.
Yes, Cancun, Mexico, is safe to visit. It’s also incredibly affordable, as is much of the country to our south. Resorts often have everything you need, from spas and gyms to restaurants and bars. Read our list of best things to do in Cancun.
We have a crush on the Spice Island, and we think you should, too. Grenada, one of our top tropical destinations for the year, is fun for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. The island is filled with affordable accommodations, from resorts to rentals, and there’s no shortage of activities, from snorkeling to visiting rum distilleries to waterfall hikes and just lounging in the sand. Plus, the exchange rate is in the benefit of American tourists, so your dollar can go a long way. Peak season is January to April. If you go in the shoulder season, the prices are even better.
You can still visit Cuba—and you should. It’s very affordable—$100 a day will take you far—and it’s a quick flight from most East Coast hubs. For inexpensive accommodations, look for casa particulares, or rooms available for rent in homes. It’ll help you keep costs down and fulfill the part of the travel visa that requires you help support the Cuban people.
Related: The 25 Best Beaches in America, According to You!
Adventurous travelers have been eyeing Peru as a must-visit destination for several years, and its popularity continues to grow. Still, the city and neighboring communities are very affordable. Plus, many activities are free or nearly, with public transportation that’s often less than a dollar per ride.
Estonia, perched south of Finland across the Gulf of Finland, doesn’t garner the attention many of its Northern European and neighboring Scandinavian countries get, which means the cost to visit are reasonable. Public transportation is also a bargain, and Finland is a three-hour ferry ride away.
Panama City, Panama
Panama City, the bridge between the Americas, is a crossroads of many cultures and traditions. With influences from Europe and North, Central, and South America, the city is modern, unique, and filled with fun discoveries, like Casco Viejo, the UNESCO World Heritage Site and historic district in the city. It’s also an incredibly beautiful and inexpensive place to visit. Many high-end hotels are still below $200 a night.
This cluster of islands in the Caribbean may not be as well-known as its neighbors Saint Lucia and Martinique, which is why staying here is a bargain. Plus, Forbes says flights from major East Coast airports can be as low as $79.