Crystal blue waters, white sandy beaches, a hunky man getting cocktails for you while you work on your tan. Who doesn't spend half of their work day fantasizing about a beach vacation? I know I do. Not to mention, this cold weather is really cramping my style and unless you get this gal some beach time and a cocktail really soon, you might want to take cover.....
Most of you are thinking, how on earth am I supposed to afford a beach vacation after I just spent a months worth of rent on a New Years resolution gym membership? Well, the "new year, new you" truly can have it all! As long as you're willing to pinch a few pennies and think outside the box when it comes to destinations.
Here is my list of favorite beach towns that offer a great deal for getting your toes in the sand and a cold beer in your hand.
1. Ambergris Caye, Belize
This city is by far my favorite on the list. So much so that I got eager and had to list it first!
Ambergris Caye is Belize's largest island and home to only one quaint little beach town. With streets made of sand, brightly colored houses lining the streets and locals getting around on golf carts, it would be extremely hard not to start braiding your hair and settle into a beach chair next to the cool blue waters for a week, or a few years........ With the second largest coral reef system in the world, Ambergris Caye brings both snorklers and beach lovers alike. Giving everyone who visits a little slice of heaven.
Effect On The Bank: With a subtropical climate similar to that of southern Florida, you want to be careful what time you visit Belize. The most ideal would be toward the end of peak tourism season, around late April, beginning of May. Flights from major cities start around $400 and take you to Belize City. From there it is easy to get a water taxi or take the local Maya Island Air to the island of Ambergris Caye.
Where To Stay: You really can't go wrong with any of the local hotels. Ambergris Caye is such a small town that everything, and I mean everything, is right on the beach. Royal Caribbean Resort houses its guests in picturesque pastel bungalows surrounded by palm trees. Now if that doesn't scream "beach vacation" I really don't know what does. This hotel pricing starts at $89 per night.
2. Costa Rica
Breathtaking views, crystal clear water, cozy beach side villas, weather always around 80 degrees; Costa Rica has everything you could want and more in a vacation. Don't let this drink in my hand fool you, I enjoy four wheeling on the beach or zip lining just as much as the next guy. With a wide range of activities and cities to visit, you will never get tired of this beautiful place.
Effect On The Bank: Lucky for us, the US dollar goes a long way in Costa Rica. Some of the best times to travel there are between the months of May and November, when tourism is at it's lowest. Flying out of major US cities starts around $350 during these months.
Where To Stay: I have recently become addicted to a little thing called Airbnb. This site allows you to stay at some pretty cool spots while meeting locals who can introduce you to the true meaning of "Pura Vida". If you want a quiet place off the beaten path, the 11 room villa, Amor de Mar, is a must. Located in Montezuma, Cost Rica, this villa is surrounded by lush greenery and is a short 5 minutes from the beach.
3. Miami, Florida
Put on some Will Smith and pack your bags, we're going to Miami! This city is bursting with culture, beaches and beautiful bods. There is no shortage of things to do with one of the best nightlife scenes around and plenty of food, sun and shopping to keep you occupied.
Effect On The Bank: For most of us, Miami is pretty easy to get to. Southwest offers the best deals when it comes to flights, sometimes for as cheap as $100. The best time to travel to Miami is in the spring, between March and May. Although I would highly recommend avoiding the March spring break crew because more than likely James Franco will not be there.... During these months the clubs will be less crowded which will mean lower cover charges and wide open beaches!
Where To Stay: Again, I always recommend checking Airbnb first for any sleeping accommodations. The best bet for a cheaper nights stay is getting a little bit outside of the ever popular South Beach, Miami. This usually means a short drive to the beach but will save you some cash.
For those big celebrations such as a Bachelorette or Bachelor party, my friends over at BachWeekend specialize in the unforgettable. Their website, bachweekend.com, offers all the information you need to get started on the planning. Their job is to help you plan an insane weekend you'll never remember with the people you'll never forget! Sounds like my kind of party! They make finding a place to stay and personalized activities for those larger groups a lot less stressful.
4. Siesta Key, Florida
Another great Florida city, Siesta Key offers a serene beach destination. Some of us need to know when you set down the cocktail, and our smartphone....... Siesta Key is a great place to bring that book you've been dying to read and work on your tan. It has some of the best local seafood restaurants and rental shops for things such as paddle boarding, jet skiing and fishing.
Effect On The Bank: Late October to Early Novmeber is the best time to visit this wonderful Florida city. Those months are at the end of storm season and right before the height of tourist season. From major cities flights start at $300 flying into the Sarasota airport. Driving to Siesta Key from the airport is about 30 minutes, with cabs and buses running to and from daily.
Where To Stay: I would highly recommend the Siesta Key Inn. This little slice of paradise is surrounded by rich greenery and loads of palm trees. The cottage is family owned and conveniently located in walking distance of the beach and great local restaurants. Pricing ranges from $150-$200 per night depending on the time of year. While this might be a little pricey for a week long vacation, it's a little more doable for those long weekend trips. We all live for a 4 day weekend!
5. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Located on Mexico's west coast, Puerto Vallarta is one of the most beautiful beach towns. These beaches are surrounded by beautiful greenery and bungalow style hotels. From local markets to the snorkeling on the Marietta Islands, Puerto Vallarta has something for everyone. I would also recommend shaking your groove thang at some of the local clubs. We all know this gal loves to dance!
Effect On The Bank: The best time to visit this lush oasis is between the months of April and June. The hotels will be more affordable as well as the heat of the climate a little less"hot", if that's even possible..... Flight deals from major cities in the US start around $375 and fly right into Puerto Vallarta.
Where To Stay: The city offers really great deals when it comes to lodging accommodations. One of my recommendations is the Amaca Hotel of Puerto Vallarta. This adorable adobe style architecture offers comfortable rooms with great views for about $50 per night. Not to mention a lot of the furniture throughout the hotel looks like something straight out of HGTV. (I know you love Chip and JoJo and wood acents as much as I do!) Another great location is the Hotel Encino. Also located in walking distance of the beach, this hotel is only around $33 per night and features vibrant colors throughout its walls.
Now book your trip! You'll thank me later.....
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