Top Ten Budget Beach Vacations - Page 2

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Tulum Ruins at Quintana Roo in Mexico
BEACH RUINS: Visit the less-crowded beach in Tulum and, while you're at it, check out the Mayan ruins.  (Joe Sohm/Digital Vision/Getty)

5. Negril, Jamaica
In the height of the day, Negril's glorious seven-mile stretch of sand is strewn with bodies. Chill with a thick book as locals approach you selling their wares—pineapple sliced fresh, ganja, a massage. For happy hour, folks make the trek to Rick's to watch the sun set and the Acapulco-style divers jump off the cliffs. You can have those sunsets to yourself at the nearby Rockhouse, a stylish boutique hotel where bungalows are carved into the rock. Prices start at $125 a night. If you want to stay on the beach, it's hard to beat the price of White Sands, which will run you a low $76 a night, with kitchenette, in high season.
Negril Vacation Guide

4. Morro de Sao Paulo, Brazil
You can have the congestion, crime, and poverty of Rio. I'll be heading to Bahia, where a two-hour ferry ride from Salvador takes me over to Tinhare Island, better known as Morro de Sao Paulo. Here, four sublime beaches, named by number simply from First to Fourth, beckon. The summer houses on First Beach are now pousadas (inns) that cater to the international surfing community. The party doesn't stop till sunrise on Second Beach, known for its all-night luau and dance parties. Fourth Beach is the more peaceful of the quartet, with good snorkeling opportunities. Romantics will want to check out Anima Hotel on quiet Fourth Beach, where a bungalow with outdoor whirlpool starts at $172 a night in high season.
Brazil Vacation Guide

3. Placencia, Belize
Located at the southern tip of a long, narrow peninsula in the Stan Creek District, Placencia ranks as Belize's favorite beach destination. More than 16 miles of white sand attracts sun worshippers from all over the globe. If you tire of the beach, try the popular half-day kayak trip through the mangroves of Monkey River. Crocodiles, howler monkeys, even manatees can be spotted here. A popular beachfront restaurant is De'Tatch Seafood Beach Bar, where you'll dine on shrimp burritos or fish tacos. If you're lucky enough to snag one of the six beachfront cabanas, some air-conditioned, at Blue Crab ($90 a night in high season), you'll also be treated to some great Asian fare courtesy of the Taiwanese-born owner.
Placencia Vacation Guide

2. Tulum, Mexico
An hour's drive south of Cancun, Playa del Carmen was a haven for the backpacking sect back in the '70s and '80s. Then large all-inclusive resorts started gobbling up all the real estate along the pearly white sands of Playacar and the budget traveler was pushed out. In actuality, they only headed south a wee bit to the town of Tulum. Best known for its Mayan ruins, Tulum has that same beachfront view at budget prices. For food, head to Charlie's, an affordable Mexican joint on Main Street. For lodging, the Posada Dos Ceibas hotel has its own restaurant and daily yoga on the beach, but prices remain as low as $60 a night.
Tulum Vacation Guide

1. Cannon Beach, Oregon
A mere 90-minute drive from Portland, Cannon Beach is commonly referred to as the Carmel of Oregon. Yet this Pacific coast hamlet is not nearly as pricey. First stop is towering Haystack Rock, which stands tall in the shallow waters, inspiring awe from all who stroll hand-in-hand on the hard-packed sand. Drive to nearby Ecola State Park and take a hike in the Emerald Forest, where massive 300-year-old Sitka spruce trees have trunks as wide as redwoods. The woods soon recede, replaced by sandstone bluffs, pink-hued beaches, and the great expanse of the Pacific. Make your way south, stopping in the fishing community of Bay City for small, tender Kumamoto oysters on the half shell at Pacific Oyster. For dessert: creamy blackberry ice cream at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Spend the night in Manzanita, where rooms at the Spindrift Inn sell for as low as $95 a night during high season.
Cannon Beach Vacation Guide

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