The United States may have a whopping 95,000 miles of shoreline and be home to several of the world’s best beaches, but sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants. And sometimes, the heart just wants to get away. If you’re like us, you spend a good portion of your day, well, daydreaming of sandy beaches, the warm rays of the sun, salty water, and crashing waves. If the beach is calling, you've got to answer. So whether you’re looking for something aspirational or just something inspirational, we’ve put together the best beach getaways money can buy -- whatever your budget may be.
To take any of the guesswork out, we’ve accounted for the average cost of a roundtrip flight (barring exorbitantly priced periods like Christmas), booked into a comfortable room, and factored in a realistic cost of meals. All of our hotel picks are Oyster award-winning hotels, so you know you’re getting a top-notch place to stay. To top it off? In most cases, we’ve tried to leave you with a little spare cash so you can splurge on something special. Here are the best international beach vacations for any budget, from $10,000 to $1,000.
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Vietnam’s gorgeous Ninh Van Bay may not not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of a luxurious beach getaway. However, if you’re looking for a true escape from the ordinary, this is your place. Once you’re here, you’ll feel like you’re on a remote island.
Oh, and expect to pay for the privilege. Ninh Van Bay is an exclusive hideaway for the well-heeled, rich, and famous — and it’s only accessible by boat. Spend your days exploring sandy coves, admiring the rugged rock formations, or taking in the backdrop of lush mountains. The shallow turquoise waters are great for quick dips or testing your balance in a kayak or SUP, while the golden-sand beach is a sweet spot to hang out and take in sparkling bay views. Believe it or not, twinkling with lights and a sky full of stars, Ninh Van Bay is almost just as beautiful at night.
Six Senses has an upstanding reputation for being a leading wellness and luxury resort brand. Their Ninh Van Bay property is the perfect permutation of rustic and luxury without being showy. The resort is built into the lush green hill, giving guests a true feeling of being a part of the surrounding natural beauty. The 58 thatched-roof villas are stylish and chic with a rustic lean and come with kitchenettes, AC, stunning views, and a breezy open-air design — plus, one of our favorite bathrooms features: a wooden bathtub.
Included in the budget: We budgeted out our nightly stay based on the average price of Beachfront Pool Villa. You’ll get a dual-level thatch-roofed villa, private plunge pool, stunning views, and direct access to the beach. A daily breakfast buffet is included in the room rate, but we’ve also added the full board dining option, so your lunch and dinner at the resort’s three restaurants plus one drink per meal is included as well. We’ve also counted the cost of roundtrip bus and boat transfers from the airport — and you still have enough money left to use on treatments at the renowned spa, excursions, unique experiences like dining in a cave, and Vietnamese cooking classes.
Believe the hype: Maldives is gorgeous. It’s absolutely earned its place on the tops of travel bucket lists everywhere. The North Ari Atoll is known for its fish-filled coral reefs and we’ve picked a spot for you that’s within an hour’s boat ride from over 30 dive sites. Kandolhu Island is small, but near perfect, rimmed with a sugar sand beach on all sides and surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters. You can expect to see baby reef sharks in the shallow waters off the island, while going a little further out is rewarded with a bunch of different tropical reef fish. If you want a deeper look, trade your snorkel for scuba and get certified right at the resort. If you’re planning on taking an excursion to a local island (which we highly recommend), please be sure to pack appropriate and respectful clothing as Maldives is a conservative country.
Yeah, there’s a lot of hype around the undeniably stunning (and pricey) Gili Lankanfushi resort, but we love the quiet and intimate feel at Kandolhu. It’s also closer to the airport, which is a definite plus after a long day (or days) of flying across the globe. Like most resorts in Maldives, Kandolhu is on its own private island — in this case, it’s so small it’ll only take you a few minutes to walk from end to end. With only 30 villas in total, privacy isn’t an issue, leaving you with enough space from other guests to feel like you’ve got the island to yourself. Eat at four gourmet restaurants, borrow a book from the library to read on the white powder-sand beach, or strap on a snorkel and check out what’s swimming around the fantastic house reef.
Included in the budget: The budget includes nights in a west-facing Beach Villa sporting an outdoor bathroom with large jetted tub, in-room wine fridge, king bed, and a furnished terrace. We’ve also included the roundtrip price for seaplane flights and transport from Male airport, flights from home, and the resort’s Ultimate Inclusions package which has you covered for all meals plus over 30 international wines. Most activities offered at the resort are included.
Nevis is one-half of the Caribbean island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. It’s a small island with a population of about 12,000, and, while tourism is big here, it hasn’t quite reached the high levels you’re used to seeing in places like the Bahamas or even Turks and Caicos. Besides, if you haven’t noticed the motif, we’re very into islands that you reach by taking a boat. If you’re not trying to fly halfway around the world to get your hands on that secluded, faraway island vibe, then head for Nevis. The beaches are calm, beautiful, and perfect for unwinding, relaxing, and forgetting about your busy life back home for a few days. If you are the type of traveler who likes to get off property and explore, head for a casual soak at the hot springs, hike up a volcano, catch wind on a sailing trip, or hop on a bike and see where the path takes you.
Prepare to have your breath taken away as your transfer boat pulls into the dock area of the Four Seasons Nevis. It’s truly postcard perfect: a romantic beachfront, well-manicured grounds, and the resort are all backed by the lush Nevis Peak. Late 2019 unveiled a heavily refreshed look that replaced classic dark wood and deep colors with white-painted wood and beachy shades like coral, sand, and seafoam. Rooms are full of natural light, contemporary beach decor, and huge flat-screen TVs. The property is expansive with a spa (ask to receive your treatment inside one of the gingerbread cottages) featuring daily group exercise classes and a pool circuit, nine tennis courts that sport three different types of turf, two pools, and three restaurants.
Included in the budget: We’ve used rates for an Ocean View Room and added roundtrip transfers from St. Kitts airport — but that’s it. You’ll have about $1500 to cover your meals, drinks, and hopefully a spa treatment and at least one day of renting out a beach cabana. Bonus: If you’re flying in from NYC, flights are cheaper, so you’ve got a little extra wiggle room in the budget to play around once you’re at the resort. We recommend trying out their new rum tasting experience, signing up for a hot sauce making class, and feasting on their Lobster Night set menu.
Been there and done that in Mexico? Then take the plunge and head just a little further south into Belize. This place is absolutely stunning. Don’t believe us? The water is so gorgeous here that Belize Blue was named the Pantone Color of the Year in 2020, and rumor has it that Belize’s island of San Pedro is the la isla bonita that Madonna was singing about back in the day. However, don’t expect too many frills. Much of Belize’s beauty lies in the fact that it’s low-key and rustic — both factors that make it great for that laid-back beach vacation we always say we want to take but never do. Some must-do activities while you’re here include snorkeling, cage-free swimming with sharks, visiting the tiny and magical island of Caye Caulker, hopping aboard a sunset cruise, and, if you’re a diver, a visit to the famous Blue Hole.
Ramon’s Village Resort has one of the widest stretches of beachfront on San Pedro and it’s the only resort that’s close to the action in town. Rooms are located in thatched-roof duplexes and have AC but no TVs (however, you can watch the sunset from your balcony). Polynesian tiki decor runs resort-wide and adds to the island vibe. The on-site restaurant serves all meals and a bar offers up coffee drinks, smoothies, and juice by the pool. There’s also a reputable and affordable dive shop located on the end of the hotel dock for anyone who wants to get out into the warm turquoise waters.
Included in the budget: We’ve included the cost of the hotel room and return domestic flights from Belize City to San Pedro in our budget. The rest of the budget is for meals, drinks, and some activities.
Travelers looking for a break from the typical tropical vibe and constant humidity that comes with most Caribbean beach vacations should head to Aruba. Somewhat of an outlier for the region, this small island has an arid climate and is covered in succulents. Don’t worry, this desert island still has palm trees, fantastic beaches, and plenty of stuff to keep you busy should you ever tire of catching sun on the sand. For starters, the frequent tradewinds are great for kitesurfing and windsurfing, hiking and ATV rides in Arikok National Park are adventurous land activities, and there’s a fun pirate ship snorkel tour that visits a shipwreck. Shopping and restaurants are abundant in the downtown area. Check out colorful murals and sculptures throughout the artsy neighborhood of St. Nicolas, and you can learn a but about the island’s Dutch colonial history at its museums. There’s also an ostrich farm, flamingos, and a good ol’ rum tour. The best part? Aruba is outside of the hurricane belt, so you can visit year-round.
Barcelo Aruba is an upscale all-inclusive whose biggest boon is its stellar location right on the stunning sand of Palm Beach. The only downside is that you’ll likely have to work some strategies to secure your beach chairs. Rooms are spacious and simple but sophisticated with tile floors, dark wood furniture, and white walls. You’ll get AC, a balcony, and comfy beds. There are seven restaurants on-site and three well-placed bars: one at the pool, one on the beach, and one in the lobby. The lagoon-style pool (and its swim-up bar) is a popular spot during the day, while nights are pretty relaxed. If you want to bump up your experience, spend a little more to upgrade to the resort’s Royal level. You’ll get free Wi-Fi, a special check-in lounge, access to top shelf liquor at the beach bar, and free room service.
Included in the budget: Since Barcelo Aruba is an all-inclusive property, there’s not much you have to worry about once you walk through the doors. You’ll get all your meals, drinks (including domestic beer, wine, and well liquor), and free rein of the resort’s pool and beach area. However, any money you spend at the casino will cost you extra.
It’s no secret that we love Mexico, especially Riviera Maya, so of course we’ve worked out a way to have a luxe Mexican beach vacation without breaking the bank. Take a long weekend and head south of the border where you’ll have a quick escape full of warm water, sandy beaches, and excellent eats. Playa del Carmen is a bustling beach town with a long pedestrian-only promenade, tons of bars and restaurants, and a big, beautiful beachfront. It’s true that it’s very heavy on tourists, but there’s also some great unique activities, like an immersive dinner at the Frida Kahlo Museum that uses dishes and video mapping to tell the story of the artist’s life, or a beer walking tour with local guides. The resort we’ve picked is just an 11-minute drive from the action on Quinta Avenida (note: we didn’t include this transfer in the budget).
In Riviera Maya, it can feel like all-inclusive resorts are a dime a dozen, but Royal Hideaway Playacar stands out in the crowd. This adults-only beachfront property has a beautiful and calm beachfront setting and an excellent food and beverage program featuring six reservations-only gourmet restaurants, a Chef Table experience, and included top-shelf alcohol. Live in luxury as you move between the beach, the spa, three bars, and six pools. For a more active experience hop on the free non-motorized water sports, sweat it out in the gym, or get competitive in the daily activities.
Included in the budget: Since the budget for this trip is so low, there’s not a lot of extra money to play with this time. However, as this is an all-inclusive, most of your bases are covered. The budget includes room rate, all meals, all drinks (top shelf, baby!), and transfers. Searching for dates that fall on the lower end of the room rate or flight price range will give you more wiggle room, or you can just park it by the pool with a stack of books and unlimited cocktails.
What to Pack for a Vacation on Any Budget:
Swimsuit Accessories Outfit
Women’s Night Out
Men’s Florida Beach Look
Men’s Night Out
Women’s Hiking Outfit
Men’s Hiking Outfit
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