There's either one issue or the other if you're desperate to visit the world's most beautiful beaches. You know, the stunning beaches that make every "top 10" list and are the select dozen or so that are the most photographed in the history of photography (and now, Instagram).
It's either a) this beautiful beach is so beautiful thanks in large part to the fact that it's also so isolated, and therefore nearly impossible to reach and/or find a place to stay that's even somewhat nearby. Or it's b) its beauty has been discovered and now extremely pricey, luxury hotels monopolize it's shoreline. In short: good luck visiting this beach without forking over a month's worth of wages.
But there are some circumstances that fall outside of these two options -- and we found them. Here we bring you eight cheap retreats that sit right on the sand of eight of the world's most renowned beaches.
Take a look and then let us know, did we miss any of your favorites?
Comfort Suites is arguably the best affordable option in the expensive Seven Mile Beach area of Grand Cayman. A mid-level chain, it has all the expected basic amenities –- clean and modern rooms, business and fitness centers, free hot breakfast, and free Wi-Fi. Other draws include an attractive pool area, a small but beautiful beachfront, an on-site restaurant and bar with surprisingly good food, and a dive shop. It’s hard to do better for your money in this area — Treasure Island Resort may be a bit cheaper, but its rooms aren’t nearly as nice. Just be aware Comfort Suites isn’t directly on the sand — it’s about a minute’s walk down a private path — and its section of beach is a bit small.
Nautibeach Condos is a three-pearl hotel located on a gorgeous stretch of Playa Norte (North Beach). With the main beach right outside, and the buzzing downtown area under 1,000 feet away, the hotel is at the heart of the island’s entertainment scene. The 23 independently owned condos vary significantly in style — and some are noticeably sleeker than others — but all are consistently clean and well-maintained.
Cinnamon Bay Campground, is, like its name suggests, a campsite on Cinnamon Bay beach within the Virgin Islands National Park (which means it’s protected by pollution and more). Make no mistake, this is a campground, with bare-bones accommodations, communal bathrooms, cold showers, tons of bugs, and no air-conditioning or cell service. But for travelers willing to give up these creature comforts, Cinnamon Bay Campground offers some of St. John’s most affordable beachfront accommodations.
The Praia Ipanema Hotel is a solid upper-middle-range option with an excellent location at Ipanema Beach, where visitors can find the beautiful waters the area is known for. Rooms include small balconies (a real rarity in Rio de Janeiro) and great views, which can also be enjoyed from the tiny rooftop pool or restaurant. Rates are reasonable compared to similar nearby hotels, but visitors may also want to consider the cheaper Mar Ipanema Hotel, which is just a five-minute walk from the sand.
Set on a beautiful section of Po’ipu Beach with sprawling grounds, two restaurants, barbecue grills, and golf, tennis, and soccer facilities, the Outrigger Kiahuna has enormous condo units with full kitchens. All one-bedroom apartments run 880 square feet and standard-unit balconies have “garden views,” which means they look on shrubs and trees or the sides of other bungalows, and feature full kitchens. Varying decor, condition, and amenities make it difficult to know what you’re getting, however.
This mid-range hotel sits on Ko Phi Phi’s Long Beach, one of the island’s most stunning stretches of sand. The resort has a small pool and restaurant, but the cost of trips by boat into Koh Phi Phi’s main town, Tonsai, will add up. Rooms and villas are spacious and include satellite TV and air-conditioning — plus many have spectacular views of and immediate access to the beach — and some villas come with a private outdoor plunge pool. Another cheap stay right on the beach that’s worth considering is Long Beach Chalet.
Smack dab between Atlantis Resort, Riu, and the One&Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island, this hidden gem offers 26 units ranging in size from one-, two-, three-, four and even five-bedroom options. Decor varies depending on the owner’s taste, but these spacious villas all have fully-equipped kitchens, coffeemakers, sofa beds, and patios at generally great prices. Guests can walk to the aforementioned neighboring resorts for restaurants and nightlife, or rent a car for more island freedom. Lounge chairs are never a problem at one of two pools, but do not miss out on having private access to Cabbage Beach; since the entire stretch of sand is completely public, guests can grab a beer from Archie’s stand and choose the party vibe in front or walk further down for near isolation.
This condo-hotel is a solid mid-range option on pricey Turks and Caicos, with 24 spacious — if slightly worn — suites featuring full kitchens, sofa beds, and sprawling patios. Features are sufficient for a small condo property that’s not too pricey — there’s a small pool, fitness center, and spa — and it’s only a 100-yard stroll to the beach, a beautiful spot that’s protected by a coral reef (with stunning marine life) just offshore.
December 2016 update: Because prices fluctuate regularly, we replaced some of our original recommendations with better value options.