Budget for the trip: The flight to Bali is your big expense, at about $900 from LA. But if you happen to be in southeast Asia and can get to Bali cheaply, a taxi from the airport is only about $10. Your daily cost on the beach isn’t much, around $20 a day and meals under $10. A room at a nice resort rarely tops $80 a night.
Cancún, a Mexican city on the Yucatán Peninsula bordering the Caribbean Sea, is known for its beaches, numerous resorts and nightlife. It’s composed of 2 distinct areas: the more traditional downtown area, El Centro, and Zona Hotelera, a long, beachfront strip of high-rise hotels, nightclubs, shops and restaurants. Cancun is also a famed destination for students during universities’ spring break period
As the last outpost of beaches along the coast of Cancun, Playa Delfines is often the least-crowded, a much chiller experience than you’ll have jostling with tourists further south. It’s also walking distance from Mayan ruins, and it’s not at all uncommon to see dolphins jumping just off the coastline, as the beach’s name might imply.
Budget for the trip: Hotels in Cancun, if you stay away from the big resorts, are typically $50 a night or less, and comfier than you might expect. Flights run about $350 to $400 from the States, and once you’re there, you’ll can get by on about $23 a day.
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Cocoa Beach is a Florida city south of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It’s a gateway to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which has rockets and iconic artifacts. The city is known for its beach and surf breaks. Inside a surf shop, the Florida Surf Museum traces the sport’s local history. Nearby Cocoa Beach Pier has eateries and shops. The maritime forest at oceanfront Lori Wilson Park attracts birdlife.
Everyone in central Florida who wants to have an epic beach day makes their way here on the weekend. What results is one of the best beach parties in America, a sand-borne tailgate party where instead of playing football, people play in the ocean. If you find yourself on a landlocked Florida vacation to theme parks or otherwise, spending a day here is affordable and a whole lot of fun.
Budget for the trip: Flights to Orlando can be had for $200 or less from most of the country, and hotels there are abundant and cheap, with decent spots in the $50 to $60 range. Rent a car for a day for about $25, drive to the coast, and BYOB to maximize the value.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana, the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic, abuts the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It's a region known for its 32km stretch of beaches and clear waters. The Bávaro area and Punta Cana combine to form what's known as La Costa del Coco, or the Coconut Coast, an area of lavish, all-inclusive resorts. It's popular for zip-lining, windsurfing, kayaking and sailing.
The most famous beach in the DR is also the cheapest in the Caribbean; once you get there, you can coast on $20 a day. The beaches here are all the bright white sand and turquoise waters of your Caribbean fantasies, and only a few hours flight from most US cities. It’s also home to some of the best golf courses in the islands, and a marine park where you can swim with dolphins or play with manatees.
Budget for the trip: Punta Cana has been filled with not-cheap resorts along its famous beaches, and a non-terrifying hotel room here will run you at least $150 a night. But it’s a short, cheap flight, at least. Fares from the East Coast often fall below $300.