Bekah WrightUpdated: Mar. 16, 2023
Seaside bliss starting at $116 per night? Pack your bathing suit and get the vacation started with these cheap beach hotels you won't believe cost so little!
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Cheap beach hotels that won’t break the bank
Waves lapping against the shore. Salt-tinged breezes. Sun-warmed sand enveloping your toes. And all mere steps from a hotel room with the most amazing ocean view. This is the stuff that dreams—and perfect beach vacations—are made of. If you think there’s no way you can afford this type of dreamy trip, think again.By knowing where to book and when to book, you can score a prime room at one of the best cheap beach hotels in the country.
And nope, traveling on a budgetdoesn’t mean having to stay several streets back and hiking to the beach or staying in a shady no-tell motel. We found a dozen gorgeous, fun and amenity-packed hotels that are located right on the beach—all with options for under $250 per night. (With one exception that went a tiny bit over that price cap, but you’ll see why we had to include it!) Whether you’re looking for acheap family vacation, a getaway with friends or a romantic couples retreat, we’ve got you covered with the best cheap beach vacations for every type of traveler.
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Nautilus Inn, Daytona Beach, Florida
Rates: Starting at $119 per night
Best for: Families
Located on Florida’s A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway, the beachfront Nautilus Inn feels more “pinch me” getaway than “cheap beach hotel.” It’s ideal for families for a variety of reasons: For starters, kids stay free (no double-occupancy rates after two guests!), and accommodations feature kitchens with full-size appliances—great for satisfying picky pint-size eaters and staying healthy on your travels. Rooms also boast private balconies perfect for spying dolphins at play, and kids and adults can splash around in the oceanfront swimming pool … or walk just a few steps farther to frolic on the white-sand beach.
And while Florida may be famous for its amazing beaches, Daytona is, of course, also known for racing. The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, which is just a 15-minute drive away, is a special treat for car aficionados of all ages.
Can’t-miss deals: Discounted rates are also available for multiple-night stays, Florida and Georgia residents, seniors, government employees and military members. Translation: Deals abound, so what are you waiting for?
Hilton Garden Inn Virginia Beach Oceanfront, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Rates: Starting at $118 per night
Best for: Families and pet owners
Budget-friendly bliss awaits at the Hilton Garden Inn Virginia Beach Oceanfront. The hotel cozies up to the Atlantic Ocean and a golden-sand beach, though indoor and outdoor pools provide additional options for taking a dip. Plus, this hotel is pet-friendly, so bring along Fido or Fluffy! While prime time to visit is generally in the summer because of the weather, you can take advantage of cheaper fares and rates during the shoulder season here, especially in early May and mid-September.
Just steps away from the property, you’ll find the three-mile-long Virginia Beach Boardwalk, where you can spend time at a kid-friendly playground on the beach called JT’s Grommet Island Park, as well as visit plenty of shops and restaurants. Also make sure to visit 31st Street Park for live performances.
Looking for other types of family adventures? A 10-minute car ride will lead you straight to two fabulous options: the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center (where you shouldn’t miss the Sharks After Dark experience) and the seasonal Ocean Breeze Waterpark, which is waterslide heaven.
Can’t-miss deals: AAA and AARP members get 10% discounts, and there are also special offers available for military members. Plus, you can save even more money if you use one of the best travel credit cards.
Hyatt Regency Long Beach, Long Beach, California
Rates: Starting at $239 per night
Best for: Adultgetaways
Craving a vacation on the shore with a city vibe? Long Beach has you covered. To embrace this multifaceted beach town, stay on the waterfront at the Four Diamond Award–winning Hyatt Regency Long Beach, where the Los Angeles River spills out into the Pacific. Grab a poolside cabana, and watch sailboats laze past. Then later, dive into the bustling city—just a 10-minute stroll away—at Shoreline Village, which is lined with restaurants, shops and the Pelican Pavilion, with its kitsch carousel and video games.
Before you book, look for Long Beach’s annual events, like the Indy Car Grand Prix, held in the spring. Throughout the year, you’ll also want to check out the area’s various attractions, including the Aquarium of the Pacific, and book a gondola ride or two.
Can’t-miss deals:World of Hyatt members are privy to special discounts and deals. Sign up online or in person, for free. Members get a 10% discount, and if you also enroll in Hyatt’s Bonus Journeys or Double Your Points programs, you can earn points, get upgrades and score free nights at participating hotels. No matter where you’re heading, the best travel apps can help you get the best rates and make your trip better in every way.
Marriott Myrtle Beach Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Rates: Starting at $214 per night
Best for: Girls weekends
Relax and reconnect with your besties on a girls weekend getaway at the AAA-rated Four Diamond Marriott Myrtle Beach Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes. With its oceanfront setting and indoor and outdoor pools, it’s pretty darn perfect for some serious bonding and R&R. Exhausted after a busy workweek … or a day in the sun? Get thee to the hotel’s Hibiscus Spa for a deep-tissue massage. As the sun sets, reminisce over handcrafted cocktails at the Ocean Blu Restaurant and Lounge, or hit the town. Summer here is busy, of course, but you’ll see another dip in rates (and crowds) once September hits and the kids head back to school.
Oh, and don’t forget to go shopping guilt-free. After all, one of the perks to saving on your hotel is that you just might have some extra cash to spend elsewhere! While you’re at it, check out the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, and take a spin on the Sky Wheel for some memorable Atlantic Ocean panoramas.
Can’t-miss deals: Book the Spa Escape with your squad. A two-night stay comes with a $100 spa credit through April 30, 2022.
Bluegreen’s Bayside Resort and Spa, Panama City Beach, Florida
Rates: Starting at $127 per night
Best for: Golfers and nature lovers
It’s easy to see why Bluegreen’s Bayside Resort and Spa has a fan following. It overlooks St. Andrews Bay, and everyone’s buzzing about this winter’s room upgrades as the property transitions into a timeshare that continues to welcome resort guests. While there, hang out on the beach by the bay, float in the swimming pool and hit the links on the resort’s Nicklaus Design golf course, the only one of its kind in northwest Florida.
Not a golfer? Indulge at the Serenity Spa for some pampering, then grab dinner on Bluegreen’s new 780-foot Champagne Lady yacht. The weather is pretty much always lovely, but you’ll tend to get better hotel rates between September and February.
Nearby, check out this eco-friendly city’s parks. At St. Andrews Park, you can hike on the two half-mile trails, enjoy Heron Pond (which winds through a flatwood pine forest) and spy Gator Lake, where toothy alligators cohabitate with bird life.
Can’t-miss deals: The Romantic Getaway package will upgrade you to a Deluxe Bayview guest room and comes with a bottle of champagne and an artisan cheese board, while the two-night Spa Getaway offers a $100 spa credit.
Esmé Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida
Rates: Starting at $127 per night
Best for: Travelers looking for cool nightlife
The Esmé Hotel promises an escape to the Roaring ’20s, when this stretch of Miami’s Española Way was the place to rumba, served as an artists colony and also happened to be the headquarters for Al Capone’s gambling syndicate. Linger over the Spanish-Mediterranean ambiance on the cafe- and bar-lined street—including Esmé’s bars, El Salón and Bar Pintxo—and soak in the Art Deco decor that serves as a nod to the neighborhood’s past.
What about the beach, you ask? It’s a mere five-minute walk from the hotel. But Esmé’s rooftop pool, replete with cabanas, is also an excellent option for catching rays. Make sure to pack the sunscreen and cover up with some sun-protective clothing!
Can’t-miss deals: Free breakfast comes along with the surprisingly low rates at this Miami hot spot. And if you bookdirectly on the website, you’ll receive up to 25% off the hotel’s flexible rate, an upgrade and a bottle of wine upon arrival.
Cape Rey Carlsbad Beach Resort, Carlsbad, California
Rates: Starting at $212 per night
Best for: Multigenerational families
Cape Rey Carlsbad is a Hilton resort and spa set on the northern shore of San Diego, just steps from the water. You can’t beat the location, but that’s just the beginning. This hotel’s aesthetic is vibrant and modern, plus, as with most beachfront hotels, there are plenty of seaside activities. Take a surf lesson, explore the tide basins or enjoy butler service on the beach from the comfort of your personal cabana. These amenities span age ranges, but families will additionally love this hotel for its proximity to some of the area’s best kid-friendly attractions, including LegoLand California Resort and SeaWorld San Diego.
Can’t-miss deals: Check out the hotel’s “Experience the Stay” package, which features rates starting at $186 per night. Book it, and you’ll also receive a $50 resort credit.
Kā’anapali Beach Hotel, Maui, Hawaii
Rates: Starting at $278 per night
Best for: Families
Though Kā’anapali Beach Hotel, affectionately referred to as KBH, has a price tag that surpasses our $250-per-night limit, we couldn’t help but share it. This family-friendly gem offers a true taste of Hawaiian culture with complimentary language lessons, hula demos, ukulele classes and more. The whale-shaped swimming pool is also a hit with youngsters, and the hotel is located directly on the beach, which is a terrific find on Maui. Another thing families will love: Keikis (kids) ages 5 and under eat free. In short, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck here!
While on Maui, check out Haleakalā National Park, home to Haleakalā volcano, where you can take an excursion to see the sun rise. Be sure to stop by the Headquarters Visitor’s Center at 7,000 feet to pick up a Junior Rangers booklet. Beyond venturing to the summit, embark on the island’s assorted hiking trails to check out the island’s flora and fauna.
Can’t-miss deals: KBH offers special rates to Hawaii residents, military members, AAA members and seniors.
Grand Galvez, Galveston, Texas
Rates: Starting at $170 per night
Best for: Lovers of luxury
Rarely (if ever) is the top-ranked place to stay in an area this affordable, but the AAA Four Diamond–rated Grand Galvez is a delightful exception. Open since 1911, the “Queen of the Gulf” is the only historic beachfront property on the Texas Gulf Coast. In addition to its ideal location, this Spanish Colonial icon flaunts a recently renovated saline pool with a swim-up bar and hot tub. There’s also Spa Galvez, ideal for unwinding with an aromatherapy massage and some reflexology.
When exploring the 32-mile coastline, your first stop should be the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, which features fun amusement rides and is just a quarter-mile walk from your hotel. Head out another 5 miles and you’ll find Moody Gardens Aquarium, which boasts a zipline, paddlewheel boat and 3D theater. And then there’s Schlitterbahn Waterpark, where the 81-foot Cliffhanger Speed Slide stands out among the park’s 34 water attractions.
Can’t-miss deals: The hotel offers AAA members and seniors a 10% discount. Texas is also a great place for a road trip, and if you go that route, you’ll also save on airfare, of course.
La Casa del Camino, Laguna Beach, California
Rates: Starting at $180 per night
Best for: Art aficionados
Once a fabled retreat for celebrities in the 1920s, La Casa del Camino reads less “Old Hollywood” these days and more “new-wave surfer.” The high point of the hotel—other than its prime position overlooking the Pacific Ocean—is the rooms, designed in partnership with Billabong, Roxy, Rip Curl, Etnies, Quiksilver and Lost. Upstairs, the rooftop lounge impresses with frame-worthy panoramas and mojitos made with fresh fruit.
And there’s much to see and do in Laguna Beach. Aside from beach volleyball and a charming village filled with shops and plein air art galleries, the area is home to a variety of art festivals. Check out the seasonal Laguna Beach Sawdust Festival for work from local artisans, as well as the magical Festival of the Arts Pageant of the Masters, when well-known works of art are recreated by onstage actors.
Cambria Beach Lodge, Cambria, California
Rates: Starting at $229 per night
Best for: Couples
Surrounded by unspoiled shores and pine forests, Cambria Beach Lodge is a classic roadside motel reinvented with a coastal-meets-retro theme. Rooms flaunt light-wood floors, wool Faribault blankets, and iron and resin artwork. Mini fridges are stocked with local Paso Robles wine and artisan-made treats, while other extras include Linus cruisers and adventure kits. And it doesn’t get much more magical than sipping a glass of red while watching the sun set from the deck.
While in Cambria, a tour of Hearst Castle, former home of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, is a must. The architecture, along with stories told by guides, transports visitors to California’s golden era. You’ll also want to get a photo opp at charming Elephant Seal Beach in San Simeon, as well as explore the Paso Robles wine country. On the outskirts of town, check out Sensorio, a light exhibition that turns acres of farmland into an unforgettable experience.
Can’t-miss deals: For an extra $8 per night, you’ll get a light continental breakfast, Wi-Fi, parking and Linus bikes to use whenever you’d like.
Newport Beach Hotel and Suites, Newport, Rhode Island
Rates: Starting at $116 per night
Best for: Upscale travelers
Live like millionaires, at least for a few days—but without spending the big bucks. This recently renovated Newport Beach hotel is overflowing with New England charm for as little as $120 per night, depending on when you stay. Whether you stay at the historic hotel or the adjacent suites, you’ll get to enjoy stunning views of the Atlantic and the famed Cliff Walk’s turn-of-the-century mansions, not to mention amenities like an indoor pool, two hot tubs, a fire pit and a fitness center.
For some budget-friendly activities on this East Coast vacation, stroll along the Cliff Walk, check out the Goat Island Lighthouse and Bowen’s Wharf, and take your car for a spin on Ocean Drive. Follow up with a trip to Newport Vineyards or a local brewery for some sophisticated sipping, and of course, don’t forget to indulge in the freshest seafood you’ll be dreaming about long after you’ve left the area.
Can’t-miss deals: As if the killer rate weren’t enough, you can find plenty of special discounts too. Seniors and AAA members can take advantage of lower rates, and you’ll want to keep your eyes open for a rotating roster of deals, including 30% off to honor the National Trust for Historic preservation.
Additional reporting by Lindsay Cohn.
Originally Published: September 23, 2019
Bekah Wright specializes in travel, entertainment and lifestyle. After spending most of her life in Los Angeles, she recently moved to Connecticut. Hello, New York!