Ever booked a last-minute beach trip on the super-cheap? Then you’ve probably stayed at a budget beach hotel — flimsy locks and alarmingly high levels of mold and all. But beachfront locations plus comparatively low rates don’t have to equal grubby conditions and roadside motel vibes. Oyster investigators have visited nearly 1,000 hotels throughout the Caribbean — more than 100 of which are boutique resorts right on the beach. And of those 100-plus beachfront boutique hotels, we found the 23 properties with really reasonable rates, considering their prime real estate and charmingly non-big-box atmospheres. (The rates we list are the average price range for a standard room at each hotel). Take a look at our picks for the best budget beachfront boutique resorts in the Caribbean, from Antigua to the Virgin Islands. Go on: your quaint cliffside cottage in Jamaica, bungalow in a remote part of the Bahamas, or plantation-style villa in St. Lucia awaits.
Jakes is arguably Jamaica’s first boutique hotel with 84 hippy-chic cottages, rooms, and villas set along secluded Treasure Beach. It's also a member of the trendy, luxury hotel group Bespoke Hotels, and guests come here specifically to unplug -- there's no phone, internet, or TV in guest rooms. Water’s edge treatments in the Driftwood Spa, on-site classes in painting, mosaics, cooking, and yoga, and a revered restaurant serving top-notch, farm-to-table food shapes Jakes as a one-off gem that’s the furthest thing possible from "hotel chain." While its craggy black-sand beach isn't spectacular, there's a saltwater pool and a bar built on a sandbar that guests reach after a 20-minute boat ride. Average price range: $119-$410.
This 12-unit property tucked away in St. Lucia's Marigot Bay is so off the beaten path that it takes a car, ferry, and tram to arrive -- but the views will be worth it. Oasis sees regular timeshare guests (mostly couples) who come for the quiet setting and the relaxed, tropical vibe. Cheerful and contemporary one-bedroom villas come with kitchenettes, furnished patios, and free but spotty Wi-Fi. The hilly grounds house a small outdoor pool and lead to a pretty beach. Aside from water sports for rent, there are no activities on-site, but staff are available to arrange excursions and day trips. Average price range: $139-$273.
Tucked far back in Negril's West End, the Westender Inn is a secluded cliffside boutique with a mix of 24 oceanside rooms and suites, spacious garden villas, and log cabin suites. This mid-range, spilt-road property offers a tasty restaurant, two bars, two pools, a small sandy beach (hard find in the West End), and well-cared for garden grounds. Because of its remote location, it's most ideal for couples or large groups seeking a relaxing and private Jamaican escape -- although during low season being so far away from the hubbub can feel a little eerie. Average price range: $68-$130.
Catcha's one- and two-bedroom cottages and suites -- most with terraces and hammocks -- warm service, and simple homemade cuisine make it a popular mid-range choice for Jamaican getaways. Built into the rugged coral cliffs in Negril and overlooking the sea with its breathtaking sunsets, this resort has thatch-roofed buildings, an open-air restaurant, and tucked-away lounging areas throughout the premises. On-site activities include cliff jumping and snorkeling. Even with fees for breakfast and the airport shuttle, it's a great value for its category. Guests under 15 years old are not allowed. Average price range: $89-$387.
This 50-room beach resort has two pools, an open-air restaurant and bar, and a coveted spot at the tip of Negril’s Seven Mile Beach. Though its pools are standard rectangles, the competing Negril Tree House only has one pool (albeit one with ocean views). Legends Resort guests can also take free daily shuttles to the property’s sister resort, Samsara Cliff Resort & Spa, for access to a spa, two more pools, a stunning cliff-top sundeck, and one of the area’s best restaurants. The rooms may be basic, but the price is right for what you get. Average price range: $70-$203.
LOVE is a 19-room boutique hotel located in the delightful fishing community of Grand Case, on the French side of St. Martin. Rooms are simple and stylish; many offer terraces with full or partial ocean views. LOVE backs onto Grand Case Beach, and its chilled-out restaurant features spectacular ocean views. But on-site amenities are otherwise limited -- there's no pool. Still, most guests will be at the beach or exploring the surrounding neighborhood, which is packed with galleries, shops, and restaurants. Average price range: $108-$287.
Perched on a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Unique Village is a 14-room hotel in North Palmetto Point on Eleuthera in the Bahamas. It's a humble, homey spot that includes an open-air restaurant serving casual grill fare with a Bahamian influence, a compact pool, and a quiet beachfront along the pink sands of Poponi Beach. Rooms are spacious, with simple island decor that's bright and pleasant, and all have air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and an outdoor terrace -- many facing the ocean. Average price range: $110-$180.
With a central location on Jamaica's beautiful Seven Mile Beach, a pool and whirlpool, and clean, comfortable rooms, the Negril Tree House Resort is a great budget option for families, couples, and groups. A good-sized buffet breakfast is included, and the hotel also features a beach bar and grill with freshly-made jerk chicken, as well as room service. While the resort is small and has fewer amenities than some of the other properties on the beach, its proximity to other activities and restaurants provides guests with plenty of nearby options. Massages on the beach can be arranged and yoga classes are available. The beachfront restaurant and bar occasionally host live music, and though the scene is lively, it's not out-of-control spring break style. Average price range: $141-$223.
Built atop the beautiful coral reef cliffs of Negril's West End, Citronella's six traditional Jamaican cottages guarantee guests some of the island's best views and most stunning surroundings -- while still being in the heart of the action. But this convenient, paradisiacal escape comes with a tradeoff: Citronella is rustic. Cottages use open-air wall slats and fans instead of air-conditioning, mosquito nets hang around beds, and geckos cling to the ceiling. However, guests who don't mind getting in touch with nature (or the lack of bar and regularly scheduled restaurant service) will be rewarded with unforgettable panoramic views, individual off-cliff sea access (some with caves), outdoor showers, and extreme privacy. Average price range: $85-$290.
Aptly named for the the Miami neighborhood, the hip South Beach Hotel is an upper-middle-range property set along the south coast of Barbados. The 49 spacious studios and one-bedroom suites have chic decor, furnished balconies, pullout sofas, and granite-top kitchenettes or kitchens. For leisure, there's a long, narrow outdoor pool with ample surrounding seating, or guests can also walk across the street to Rockley Beach (the hotel provides free vouchers for loungers). If not cooking, two on-site restaurants and a poolside bar get a decent crowd. Free laundry and Wi-Fi add value, but there are no gym or spa facilities. Average price range: $151-$336.
Blue Waters Inn has an amazing beachside location along Tobago’s secluded Batteaux Bay. Its 38 air-conditioned rooms and bungalows are modern and simple, with hardwood furniture, flat-screen satellite TVs, and private balconies with ocean views. A casual restaurant with sea views and a more upmarket dining option get mostly positive reviews, and there's also a small infinity pool, whirlpool, and a game room with plenty of activities. A dive shop, free kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards are also a big plus. The long, winding road from the airport to Blue Waters might be a bit much for some, but it helps things feel especially secluded. Average price range: $160-$360.
Cottages by the Sea is a simple, family-owned property for guests in search of a low-key island escape in St. Croix. It’s mostly popular among returning long-term guests, though there isn't much on offer here besides a stunning beach, peace, and quiet. The 27 rooms are charming and homey, and most feature full kitchens and water views, making them a solid choice for a relaxing, independent, and private beach vacation. Sand Castle on the Beach Hotel is right next door and while it’s a pricier stay, their on-site pool and bar makes for a livelier atmosphere. Average price range: $156-$226.
Located directly on famous Dickenson Bay Beach, the 18-unit Buccaneer Beach Club is ideal for laid-back, independent visits to Antigua, with 16 one-bedroom villas and two two-bedroom cottages. All units have pullout couches, kitchenettes, and balconies or verandahs that look out to the small pool or the tranquil turquoise bay. Amenities include free laundry, free internet, and mountain bikes for rent. While the hotel's restaurant has slow service and mediocre food, the views of the sea are spectacular -- plus a grocery store and plenty of other restaurants are within walking distance. It's a cozy, relaxed experience, while remaining in close proximity to St. John's and other sights.Average price range: $177-$284.
Located on beautiful and remote Cat Island, 130 miles southeast of Nassau, the mid-range Shannas Cove Resort is a secluded, quiet property in the Bahamas. Its five bungalows are nothing fancy, but they feature private furnished porches with dazzling ocean views. The resort's highlight is the stunning beach with calm turquoise water, white sand, and a handful of loungers. Due to the small size of the resort, many guests report having the beach to themselves. There are also nature trails that lead to even more secluded beaches. But note that there's no pool. Shannas Cove’s on-site restaurant serves delicious -- albeit pricey -- food. Average price range: $170.
Designed for travelers who want to explore, Nirvana on the Beach is a solid pick for families, large groups, and guests who plan to spend most of their time checking out the beach and other attractions instead of hanging out at the hotel. With a central location on Negril’s Seven Mile Beach, the property is walking distance from a variety of shops, bars, and dining options. The hotel itself is lacking a restaurant, a pool, and other public amenities commonly found at properties in the area. The majority of the room types have full-size kitchens and plenty of space, making a stay at Nirvana feel more like renting a short-term apartment than visiting a resort. Average price range: $136-$335.
Built in the late sixties and still family-owned, Catamaran Hotel has an authentic Caribbean vibe and sits directly on Antigua's Falmouth Harbor. It features a small pool, an unofficially private beach, and 14 beachfront rooms with air-conditioning, full kitchens, and private hammocks. The breezy restaurant and bar has an open-air terrace with views onto the water. Free water sports, including sea kayaks, are available along with room service and free Wi-Fi. Room decor is a little tired and the restaurant is pricey, but the couples who return here again and again for the secluded atmosphere and affordable rates don't seem to mind. Average price range: $160-$231.
Sand Castle on the Beach hotel is a lovely boutique alternative to the big resorts on the eastern side of St. Croix. The delicious restaurant, stunning beach, and easygoing vibe make this a pleasant choice for families and travelers looking for an affordable beach vacation. The rooms are a bit dated, and some lack privacy and natural light, but all are spacious and a few offer views of the pool and beach. Nice extras include a free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and kayaks. Average price range: $170-$401.
The 28-room Sibonne Beach Hotel was one of the first properties on Grace Bay, on Turks and Caicos' northern shore, and has endured as one of the only budget options on the sand. But there's no gym or spa -- only a small circular pool and a modestly priced restaurant. Worst of all are old rooms with an overwhelming musty smell that overflows into outdoor spaces. Rates are among the island’s lowest, and those looking for nothing more than a simple room in a great location might come away happy. Average price range:$171-$268.
The Hummingbird Beach Resort is located in Soufriere, on St. Lucia’s west coast. The hotel’s 10 rooms are tidy and many have superb views of the Pitons, but their dated decor could use an update. Hummingbird’s modest array of amenities includes a breezy restaurant that attracts non-guests, a cool batik gallery, and an outdoor pool facing the Pitons. The location is tough to beat -- it’s right on the beach and within walking distance of the town’s restaurants and shops. Average price range: $152-$460.
A basic, comfortable hotel in a prime location, the 44-room Merrils Beach Resort II is located on Negril’s Seven Mile Beach, tucked between a number of other hotels and restaurants. With easy access to both the beach and other attractions around Negril, Jamaica, this budget hotel is perfect for guests who want to explore. There is a nice outdoor pool surrounded by loungers and a small stage for a range of entertainment. And with several types of all-inclusive options, there are plenty of choices for dining either on or off the property. Average price range: $149-$272.