To help you find the right island for the right price, University Magazine ranked the best affordable Caribbean vacations based on top recommendations from industry experts and everyday travellers. Many of these hot spots can be experienced on a budget thanks to perks like free beach access and frequent deals on airfare and hotels.
Consult these rankings to guide you to your next sandy retreat. Then, use the money you saved to treat yourself to some umbrella drinks. While it’s easy to see the word “tropical” and think “expensive,” there are plenty of destinations that offer stunning beaches, palm trees and warm weather year-round. These tropical spots are affordable and fun, from the idyllic Caribbean and Mexico to Asia and South America.
Cheap Tropical Vacation Destination
10. Pedasi, Panama
Pedasi is a traditional and affordable small town tucked into the southeast corner of the Azuero Peninsula of Panama. Known as a cheap destination for retirees, Pedasi also lures travellers with its hidden white sand beaches and delectable seafood.
9. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana features beaches with soft golden sands, crystal clear waters and all-inclusive resorts galore. In addition, travellers can save a bundle by choosing one of the many affordable all-inclusive hotels available.
These resorts allow guests to combine food and drink, as well as on-site and some off-site activities, for one low price – all in an idyllic setting along the Caribbean Sea.
Regarded as one of the most affordable destinations in the Caribbean, Curaçao offers picturesque beaches and vibrant Dutch architecture without the high prices of neighbouring Aruba.
Culture lovers and outdoor enthusiasts head to Curaçao for its scenic landscapes, unique Dutch influence and excellent snorkelling and scuba spots.
7. Mazatlán, Mexico
Mazatlán is the crown jewel of Sinaloa. Come here for the cheap hotels and enjoy Mazatlán’s delicious fish tacos, beautiful beaches and street art, and murals, the latter of which can be found along the famous Malecón boardwalk. And while here, don’t miss out on a fun ride in the city’s famous open-air taxi, the Pulmonaria.
6. Denpasar, Indonesia
The capital of the Indonesian province of Bali is known for affordable lodging with hotel rates around $20 a night or less, on average. Travellers are attracted to this tropical paradise for its cheap snorkelling and scuba diving, cultural flair and proximity to everything from wildlife to volcanoes.
5. Zakynthos, Greece
Zakynthos features affordable hotels, beautiful beaches, and a nonstop party scene. Travellers flock to beaches like Laganas and Argassi to drink and lounge the day away in the sun. Zakynthos offers ample opportunities to connect with wildlife: Travelers can see nesting Caretta caretta sea turtles and enjoy snorkelling.
4. Pattaya, Thailand
With a jaw-dropping location along the Gulf of Thailand, Pattaya offers a cheap beach experience for all. Sun-seekers should hit up the famous Jomtien Beach, which provides more than 3 miles of shoreline to explore, as well as inexpensive water sports rentals and hotels for less than $50 per night.
3. Phuket, Thailand
Travellers seeking beautiful landscapes, affordable lodging, and flavorful cuisine should look no further than tropical and intriguing Phuket. The area is known for its easygoing beach atmosphere, cheap hotels, and affordable activities due to the favourable exchange rate ($1 equals about 31 Thai baht.
2. Montego Bay, Jamaica
Jamaica is known for its gorgeous white sand beaches, Blue Mountains, and vibrant culture, attracting loads of different types of visitors. Montego Bay is especially popular among families for the area’s laid-back charm, relaxed beaches and calm waters, perfect for small children to play in. What’s more, nightly hotel rates are affordable.
1. Los Cabos, Mexico
Los Cabos experienced a 23 percent increase in international tourism from 2016 to 2017, and for a good reason. Not only is it inexpensive for tourists, but Los Cabos is chock full of stunning scenery and fun things to do. While basic hotels and dining areas are on the affordable side, you can save even more by skipping the all-inclusive resorts, buying groceries and fresh seafood rather than dining out.