Let's be real. There’s no right or wrong time to take a tropical vacation. Yet often times it feels like you need to have a full wallet to make this dream a reality. But before you can convince yourself that it’s simply not possible, take a look at these tropical spots. You can be sipping piña coladas with your girlfriends in no time (for very little money). What’s better than that? Here are 13 budget-friendly tropical getaways for you and your girlfriends!
1. Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Achieving an affordable vacation in Mexico can sometimes mean sacrificing peace and quiet (and sometimes your sanity). That’s not always the case, however, especially with spots like Playa Del Carmen. Located about one hour away from Cancun, this beach town is like a more low-key, cheaper sister. It offers plenty of budget-friendly, all-inclusive resorts and activities. You can zip line, ATV, snorkel, visit underground caves, and more, all for under $100 a person. If you’re looking for a unique and free excursion, check out a cenote aka an underground swimming hole.
2. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Maybe Playa Del Carmen is a little too low-key for you and your girlfriends. If you’re looking to party and sip on margaritas from sunup to sundown, Cabo San Lucas is the place for you. Cabo has seen an increase in tourism these past few years and for good reason. Not only is it inexpensive but there’s an endless amount of things to do. Visit clubs like El Squid Roe or the Mango Deck if you want to get your drink on and do some dancing or take a booze cruise out on the bay. If you want to save even more money, skip the all-inclusive resorts and buy groceries and fresh seafood rather than dining out.
3. Phuket, Thailand
While getting to Thailand doesn’t exactly come cheap, once you’re there you’ll find that your dollar will get you pretty dang far. You’ll feel like you’re living like royalty for little to nothing. The beach town of Phuket offers some of the most exclusive and luxurious properties in the world, and you can book a room for a less than $200 a night. The same surprisingly low rates go for the food, activities and shopping. Some of the highlights include Naithon Beach, Batok, and Patong Beach. And who wouldn’t want to eat some tasty Thai food for a week?
4. Kauai, Hawaii
I know, I know. You’re probably wondering how in the world Hawaii ended up on this list. You would be surprised at just how cheap it can be. In 2018, flights were cheaper than ever to Kauai and that trend is expected to continue now that more and more airlines are offering direct flights to the island. Depending on your location, you can fly to Hawaii for less than $300 roundtrip. As for lodging? Scout out Airbnb ahead of time. It’s pretty easy to find houses for under $150 a night which is about half of what the resorts are charging. Having a kitchen will also help you keep food costs down. There are plenty of activities that you can splurge on while you’re there (i.e a helicopter tour or catamaran ride) but there are also plenty of free activities as well. Lather up with sunblock and lay out at Hanalei Bay or hike down one of the hundreds of waterfalls on the island.
5. Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Head to the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica for a cheap tropical vacation. Guanacaste has value-priced resorts aplenty and affordable on-the-ground costs. It’s close to some of the country’s natural attractions like volcanoes, national parks, and waterfalls. For the cheapest flights, fly into nearby Liberia, an airport that offers reasonably priced direct flights from places like LA, NY, and Houston.
6. Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Puerto Plata is considered one of the most affordable travel destinations in the Caribbean. It’s home to several clusters of beach resorts with reasonably priced all-inclusive packages. This is an ideal destination for those looking to relax and soak up the sun. The best part? The average hotel rate is only $51 a night!
7. Zakynthos, Greece
It’s no secret that Greece has been struggling economically lately which is why it’s made quite a few lists about affordable destinations. If you’re looking for a party scene that’s a little bit more exotic (a.k.a. that isn’t Cabo), Zakynthos is the place for you. Zakynthos has affordable resorts, drop-dead gorgeous beaches, like Laganas and Argassi, and a nonstop party scene. Travelers from all over the world flock to drink wine while watching the famous Greek sunsets. If you want to see some exotic wildlife, take a dip in the ocean to see nesting Caretta sea turtles.
8. Palm Cove, Queensland
Many might think that visiting Australia comes with a hefty price tag but that isn’t necessarily true if you’re flying in from nearby. The unique and quiet village of Palm Cove is in an ideal location, only a quick day trip away from the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest. Its palm-lined esplanade and cute little restaurants are totally insta-worthy and will have everyone drooling over your life. Best part? The hotel rates start at less than $100 a night.
9. Gili Islands, Indonesia
The Gili Islands are taking travel bucket lists by storm. Known as the “turtle capital of the world” Indonesia’s Gili Islands are a remote paradise with no cars, motorcycles, or cares in the world. Hotels run around $40-50 a night and because of their close proximity to one another, it’s easy (and cheap) to island hop from one to the other. You can’t miss the snorkeling while you are there, especially at spots like Shark Point.
10. Curacao, Caribbean Island
This Dutch island is located in the south part of the Caribbean islands and gives you a blend of European culture and Caribbean culture. The water is some of the bluest in the world and the buildings are painted in rainbows of color. It’s as if you were to combine the Dutch buildings of Amsterdam with the exuberant colors of the Caribbean. The flight to the island is only 3 short hours from Miami making it extremely accessible from the east coast. You will easily fall in love with its hip restaurants and bars plus the killer diving.
11. Bimini, The Bahamas
From Miami, hop on a 2-hour ferry ride (a mere 50 miles) and adventure to the island of Bimini. The islands have become an oasis for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts. Once on the island, experience pristine beaches and its rich history. Martin Luther King Jr., Ernest Hemmingway, and Jimmy Buffet all have connections to the islands. There are two main parts of the island, North and South. North Bimini is where you will find more lodging, restaurants, and other accommodations. South Bimini is less developed which makes it the perfect spot if you’re looking for a quieter vacation.
12. Key West, Florida
Okay, so maybe you don’t want to take a vacation out of the country and you would rather plan a last minute, easy getaway within the US. While many people rant and rave about Miami, it can tend to get pretty pricey. Key West proves that you can still do a tropical Florida vacation without spending the big bucks. With hotels starting in the low $100 range during the summer, book a room and take a stroll down the famous Duvall Street before laying out the beach towels at Smathers or Dog Beach. While there, you can’t forget to rent a beach cruiser and bike to one of the city’s many cafes and world-class restaurants.
13. Praiano, Italy
Chances are that while scrolling through your Instagram feed, you’ve seen one of your favorite influencers vacationing on the coast of Italy. You can’t help but daydream about how one day you’re going to be rich enough to make that happen for yourself. Well, it can happen a lot sooner than you think at Praiano. Less touristy than its neighboring Positano or Sorrento, you’ll be able to experience the Amalfi Coast while staying within budget. Here you can swim in one of the most swimmable beaches on the coast, Marina di Praia, hike the Path of Gods, and enjoy so much pasta and wine that you’ll explode.
Don’t let anyone tell you that traveling to an exotic tropical spot is only for the rich. With a little bit of planning and budgeting, there are places all over the world that will make for the perfect budget-friendly getaway for you and your girlfriends’ next trip. Use one of these 13 destinations as inspiration and get out there and have a margarita (or two) for us!
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