A beachfront hotel in Barbados for $150 a night? Your own Jamaican oasis with white sand and aqua waters for $100? Believe it or not, it’s not too good to be true; prime beachfront real estate in the Caribbean need not equal prohibitively high hotel rates. It’s time to move that Caribbean beach vacation from daydream territory to reality with a stay at one of these eight affordable beach resorts. Rates for all properties are around $200 or less per night, based on June 2018 dates.
Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel & Spa, Dominican Republic
Unlike the thumping pool scenes and crowded nightclubs found in many mega-resorts throughout the Dominican Republic, Natura Cabana is a small sanctuary of calm (picture a lush, serene setting, with sounds of chirping birds and the surf just yards away). The hotel has its own tranquil beach, where guests — a mix of expats and tourists — can be found swimming or seeking shade under a tree. In addition to whiling away the hours on the sand, guests can take yoga classes, stroll in the garden (which grows its own ingredients used in the property’s restaurants), unwind at the spa, or catch up on reading by the small pool. Those looking for more action can go on excursions to nearby waterfalls or horseback riding (both can be arranged by the hotel). Keep in mind there’s no AC or TV in the eco-friendly bungalows here, but that’s precisely the point.
Divi Southwinds Beach Resort, Barbados
Unfolding across 20 acres, Divi Southwinds has plenty of space for guests to spread out. Kids are kept top of mind here, as you can tell by amenities like tennis courts, three pools, mini-golf and a kids’ club. However, the major highlight is beautiful Dover Beach, which borders the western edge of the property. While families often post up at the main pool, the beach — with its clean sand and clear aqua water — tends to be calmer. There’s also an open-air beachfront restaurant and bar, which is particularly pleasant at night, when bamboo torches light the pathway out front. Some rooms even have ocean views from their patio or balcony. Tip: Suites near the pool are better suited to families, while beach villas have ocean views and offer more quiet.
Negril Tree House Resort, Jamaica
Visitors to Jamaica are likely looking to relax on a beach, and the sandy stretch at this intimate boutique resort (Seven Mile Beach) is arguably one of the best on the island. Here, the soft, white, powdery sand leads into the calm blue water that’s akin to a bath. Guests can use sun loungers and umbrellas for free, though the crowds filter in at a rapid clip and the beach is public, meaning vendors hawking various wares are a common sight. Other property highlights include outdoor yoga classes, a modestly sized swimming pool and hot tub overlooking the ocean, free breakfast, water sports (paddleboarding, snorkeling, parasailing and water-skiing) and a beachfront bar and restaurant that occasionally hosts live music. The only thing that could make this scene better? Couples massages on the beach, which can also be arranged.
Tropical Princess Beach Resort & Spa, Dominican Republic
Tropical Princess Beach Resort & Spa might be a bit basic, but if your top travel priorities include a great beach location with a low price tag, then this is the place to be. Here, the long stretch of sand is perfect for strolling, while the calm waves make for good swimming conditions. There are also two pools to cool off in. The family-friendly hotel is quieter than its next-door neighbor, the Caribe Club, but both share some amenities, including nightly entertainment and the tennis courts. Caribe’s restaurant selection does cost an extra fee, though Tropical’s guests can enjoy the on-site buffet, a creperie, and a beach snack bar overlooking the ocean.
The Beach at Atlantis, Bahamas
The Beach Tower is the cheapest section of the Atlantis mega-resort (which comprises multiple individual hotels). However, just because you’re paying less doesn’t mean you have fewer offerings. In fact, travelers need not look further than the beach here — complete with turquoise water, white sand, and beach chairs — to understand why this place is called Paradise Island. In the afternoons, a DJ plays next to the beach bar. Add in a lazy river and several pools, plus free admission to Aquaventure (a 141-acre, 200-million gallon water park that combines a series of slides), marine exhibits, a casino, game room, pottery studio and build-a-bear station, and there’s plenty to keep guests — largely families with kids — entertained.
Bougainvillea — named after the local flower that is placed in rooms upon arrival — sits on Maxwell Beach, a beautiful, clean stretch of white sand on the south coast of Barbados. Loungers, palapas, boogie boards, snorkeling gear and kayaks are up for grabs for free (other water sports equipment are available for rent). The vividly blue waves are calm enough for swimming, but if you find the water too choppy, there are three pools (an adults-only option with a swim-up bar, a lap pool, and a lagoon-style pool with waterfalls). A fitness center, outdoor tennis court, a game room, a lovely spa, two restaurants along the water and an indoor kids’ club provide plenty of amusement, too. Best of all? Despite the numerous amenities, the resort never feels crowded and comes with reasonable prices.
Legends Resort, Jamaica
Looking for a party-hearty beach atmosphere? Or are you in the market for a romantic, relaxed getaway? At Legends Resort, you get the best of both worlds. This budget-friendly option is not only located right on Negril’s coveted Seven Mile Beach (with free padded lounge chairs and umbrellas to boot), but it also offers a free shuttle that transports guests to its cliff-side sister property, Samsara Cliff Resort & Spa, for free access to a tranquil spa, two pools, a quiet cliff-top sundeck, and one of the area’s best restaurants. Those who stay put at the 50-room Legends Resort, however, will also be able to enjoy an open-air restaurant and bar and two pools. The resort is undoubtedly modest, but folks will be hard-pressed to find more amenities for such low rates elsewhere in this part of Jamaica.
Buccaneer Beach Club, Antigua
Buccaneer Beach Club may be low-key, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. For starters, it’s located directly on a small, but pretty, stretch of Dickerson Bay Beach. The sun sparkles on the stunning, crystal-clear water that extends as far as the eye can see, and the soft, golden sand serves as ground for kids chasing after soccer balls and adults basking in the sun. A few palm trees provide much-needed shade, as does Coconut Grove, the casual beachfront restaurant. The property is simple and homey throughout, from the barbecue areas available for guests to the rooms with balconies to the small pool shaded by lovely bougainvillea trees. Downsides, like mediocre food at the restaurant, crowds at the beach and mosquitoes at night, do exist, but travelers looking for a beach scene at a low budget will be content.