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17 Cheap East Coast Beach Vacations in 2023

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With summer upon us, you’re ready for that much-needed vacation. But your budget is tight and you want to relax on a beach without breaking the bank. Luckily, there are plenty of affordable destinations along the East Coast where you can soak up the sun for less.

In this article, we provide a guide to the 17 Cheap East Coast Beach Vacations. We’ll share insider tips on finding cheap hotels, low-cost activities, free attractions, and other ways to keep costs down. You’ll discover charming coastal towns with beautiful stretches of sand that won’t drain your wallet. So get ready to plan that beach getaway you’ve been dreaming of, even on a tight budget. The seaside escape you desire is closer than you think.

Cheap East Coast Beach Vacations Overview

When planning an affordable beach getaway, the East Coast offers many budget-friendly options. If you’re looking to save money on your vacation, consider destinations that offer reasonable accommodation rates and free or low-cost activities.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina

The Outer Banks, or OBX, is a popular and inexpensive beach destination. Small beach towns like Duck, Kitty Hawk, and Nags Head offer lovely beaches and natural settings without the massive crowds and high prices of more well-known spots. You’ll find smaller motels, beach houses, and campgrounds at lower rates. Activities like sunbathing, swimming, kayaking, and sandcastle building are free. You can also visit historic sites like the Wright Brothers National Memorial and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse for little or no cost.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach has been a budget-friendly beach escape for decades. There are over 60 miles of beaches and an old-school beach boardwalk. You’ll discover deals on beachfront motels, especially if you travel in the shoulder months of April-May and September-October. In addition to swimming and sunbathing, you can play mini golf, ride go karts, visit Ripley’s Aquarium, or catch an affordable show at one of the entertainment complexes, all for under $30 per person.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach offers a lovely beach environment and small-city feel at a lower cost. You’ll uncover deals on beachfront hotels, especially in the off-season. The beach boardwalk is perfect for walking, biking, and dining al fresco. You can tour historic sites like Cape Henry Lighthouse for free and visit attractions like the Military Aviation Museum and Nauticus for under $20 per ticket. The beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing, and fishing. With an average of only 5% sales tax on goods and services, your money will stretch further here compared to other destinations.

With stunning beaches, natural scenery and a variety of budget-friendly activities, the East Coast offers many cheap yet enjoyable beach vacations. By choosing more affordable destinations and saving money on food, activities and accommodation, you can experience an amazing beach getaway on a budget.

READ: 15 Best Cheap Vacation Spots in the US

Considerations When Choosing an East Coast Beach Location

If you’re looking for the cheapest beach vacations on the East Coast, it’s important to do your research. The cost of the area is a key factor to consider when choosing a location. You’ll want to look into the cost of lodging, restaurants, and activities in the area to make sure that they fit within your budget. Consider staying in a budget-friendly hotel or vacation rental to save on accommodation costs. Look for restaurants that offer affordable options, or consider packing a picnic to enjoy on the beach. When it comes to activities, there are plenty of free or low-cost options available, such as hiking, fishing, or simply enjoying the sun and sand. By taking the time to research and plan your trip carefully, you can enjoy a fantastic beach vacation on a budget.When planning a cheap vacation on the beach along the East Coast, it’s crucial to consider the type of beach experience you’re seeking. Whether you’re looking for an urban or secluded beach, there are plenty of affordable options along the East Coast. If you want a lively atmosphere and easy access to amenities like restaurants and shops, urban beaches like Myrtle Beach or Atlantic City may be more suitable for you. However, if you prefer a quieter and more peaceful setting, consider a secluded beach like Cumberland Island or Assateague Island. By taking the time to consider your preferences and research different options, you can find the perfect affordable East Coast beach vacation for your needs. Additionally, when planning a cheap vacation on the beach, it’s important to consider the weather conditions in the area. Not only can extreme temperatures make it uncomfortable to spend time outdoors, unexpected rainfall can put a damper on your much-needed vacation. By researching the average temperature and precipitation levels before making your final decision, you can ensure that you pack appropriately and plan activities that are suitable for the conditions. Ultimately, taking the time to do your due diligence can go a long way in making sure your cheap East Coast beach vacation is a memorable and enjoyable experience for all.

17 Cheap East Coast Beach Vacations in 2023

List of Cheap East Coast Beach:

  1. OCEAN CITY, NEW JERSEY
  2. MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA
  3. DUCK, NORTH CAROLINA
  4. MARTHA’S VINEYARD, MASSACHUSETTS
  5. BAR HARBOR, MAINE
  6. Jekyll Island, Georgia
  7. DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
  8. MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA
  9. Cape May, New Jersey
  10. CHINCOTEAGUE ISLAND, VIRGINIA
  11. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
  12. EMERALD ISLE, NORTH CAROLINA
  13. Key West & the Keys, Florida
  14. Fort Myers & Sanibel Islands, Florida
  15. FOLLY BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA
  16. South Padre Island & Mustang Island in Texas
  17. Fire Island in New York State

OCEAN CITY, NEW JERSEY – Cheap East Coast Beach Vacations

Ocean City, New Jersey is a popular beach destination for those on a budget. Just 2 hours from NYC and Philly, you’ll feel worlds away without breaking the bank.

The beach here stretches for 8 miles along the Atlantic coast, with plenty of space to splash in the waves or soak up the sun. Beach tags are required in season from June through August, but at only $5 a day or $30 a week, you really can’t beat the price.

Ocean City’s boardwalk is over 2 miles long, perfect for bike riding, roller skating, or just strolling along. Grab some salt water taffy, funnel cake or custard from one of the many stands. When dusk falls, stick around for the free family-friendly boardwalk entertainment.

There are lots of lodging options for under $200 a night, from motels and hotels to rental homes and apartments. Or if camping is more your speed, you’ll find RV parks and campgrounds right by the beach for around $50-$70 per night.

With free beaches, cheap eats, and fun activities for all ages, Ocean City, New Jersey proves you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy a beach getaway. For an easy, budget-friendly beach vacation this year, pack your bags for this coastal gem.

MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA

Myrtle Beach is a popular, budget-friendly beach destination on South Carolina’s Atlantic coast. With 60 miles of sandy shoreline and an amusement park, golf courses, shopping, and dining along the Grand Strand, there’s something for everyone.

You’ll find plenty of affordable beachfront hotels, motels, and vacation rentals where you can enjoy the ocean breeze from your balcony. Or for a different experience, check into one of the beach campgrounds – some even have cabins and yurts to rent.

While the beach itself is free, many attractions offer discount tickets and passes. Head to Family Kingdom amusement park, which has been entertaining kids and families since 1966 with over 35 rides and attractions. Or tee off at one of the area’s many golf courses, like Arrowhead Country Club or Legends Golf Resort.

When you get hungry, you’ll find lots of budget-friendly options along the beach and Ocean Boulevard. Grab some fresh seafood, a burger, or some classic boardwalk fare like funnel cakes, cotton candy and ice cream.

With its casual, laid-back vibe, miles of sand, and range of cheap or free things to do, Myrtle Beach has been a beloved, affordable seaside escape for generations. Why not see what all the fuss is about? Pack your bags, slather on the sunscreen, and hit the beach!

DUCK, NORTH CAROLINA

Nestled between the Currituck Sound and Atlantic Ocean, Duck, North Carolina is an idyllic beach town with miles of shoreline and outdoor activities for families on a budget.

Rent a vacation home or stay at one of the motels right on the beach for under $150 a night. Most places have kitchens so you can cook some meals in to save money. Some recommendations are:

  • The Sanderling Resort has rooms with kitchenettes starting around $120. It’s a short walk to the beach and they offer guest amenities like pools, playgrounds and nature trails.
  • Duck Village Outer Banks has one and two-bedroom cottages with full kitchens for under $170. It’s only a block from the beach and the cottages have private decks, grills, and picnic tables.

Spend your days swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing along the 12-mile shore. Rent kayaks or paddleboards and explore the scenic waterways of Currituck Sound. At night, stargaze while roasting marshmallows over a beach bonfire.

Off the beach, go bird watching in the Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary, shop the boutiques in Duck Village, or dine at casual seafood spots like Aqua Restaurant with entrees under $25.

If you’re looking for an affordable beach getaway in a charming North Carolina town, put Duck at the top of your list. The natural scenery, outdoor recreation and laid-back vibe make it the perfect place to unwind without breaking the bank.

MARTHA’S VINEYARD, MASSACHUSETTS

Martha’s Vineyard is a picturesque island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts that attracts visitors from all over the world. However, if you visit in the off-season or shoulder months, you can experience the laid-back beach vibe without the crowds and inflated prices.

Some of the best budget-friendly beach towns on the Vineyard include Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, and Edgartown. In Oak Bluffs, stay at the historic Oak Bluffs Inn or the Pequot Hotel, both within walking distance to the beach and town. Take a stroll along the brightly-colored gingerbread cottages, visit the Flying Horses Carousel, the oldest operating carousel in the U.S., and catch a show at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse.

In Vineyard Haven, camp at the Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground or the Vineyard Haven Camp Meeting Association Campground. Both offer amenities like pools, playgrounds, and easy beach access. Visit the West Chop Lighthouse, go kayaking in Lagoon Pond, or catch a Vineyard Haven Band concert in the summer.

Edgartown, with its whaling history and Federal-style mansions, also has budget lodging options like the Colonial Inn, Edgartown Inn, and the Dr. Daniel Fisher House. Walk or bike “downtown” to stroll past historic houses, dine al fresco, visit the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, and watch the sunrise over Edgartown Beach.

With natural scenery, historic charm, and a vibrant food, arts and music scene, Martha’s Vineyard offers an unforgettable beach getaway without the sticker shock. Visit in the shoulder season and choose budget-friendly towns for an authentic taste of the island life.

BAR HARBOR, MAINE

Nestled between Acadia National Park and Deer Isle, Bar Harbor is a picturesque coastal town on Mount Desert Island. In the summer, Bar Harbor is a popular tourist destination, but in the off-season, you’ll find peaceful beaches, hiking trails, and lower prices.

Stay in a cozy bed and breakfast or oceanside inn for under $150 a night. Some top-rated affordable options are The Acadia Inn, Atlantic Eyrie Lodge, and Bar Harbor Villager Motel. Bar Harbor’s compact downtown has lots of casual seafood shacks, like Stewman’s Lobster Pound and The Travelin’ Lobster, where you can get a lobster dinner for under $30.

Must-do free activities include hiking the scenic Ocean Path Trail, sunbathing on Sand Beach or Seawall Beach, and stargazing at night – Acadia National Park is an International Dark Sky Park. Take a whale watching or lobster boat tour for around $30-$50. The free Island Explorer shuttle bus can take you to trails, beaches and villages around the island.

Fall foliage in Acadia National Park, especially along Parkman Mountain Trail and Cadillac Mountain, is stunning in September and October. The summer crowds have dwindled, hotel rates drop over 50%, and you can enjoy walking on empty beaches. The park is especially peaceful once October rolls around.

For a cheap East Coast getaway with natural scenery and small-town charm, Bar Harbor in the off-season is a perfect choice. You’ll get all the beauty of summer at a fraction of the cost by avoiding the biggest crowds. An autumn escape here offers the best of beach and mountain, at budget-friendly prices.

Jekyll Island, Georgia

The largest of Georgia’s Golden Isles, Jekyll Island offers an affordable beach getaway with over 10 miles of beaches and coastal marshes to explore.

Once an exclusive millionaire’s retreat, Jekyll Island is now a state park destination open to all. You’ll find secluded beaches, nature trails, and wildlife viewing areas all within the island’s 5,700 acres. Some highlights include:

  • Driftwood Beach – One of the most photographed beaches on the east coast with picturesque driftwood and weathered trees. Great for photos at sunrise and sunset.
  • Jekyll Island Club – A historic resort clubhouse from the late 1800s that once catered to America’s elite. Now open for tours, dining, and overnight stays.
  • Georgia Sea Turtle Center – A rehabilitation center and education center dedicated to sea turtle conservation. Open for tours and sea turtle releases.
  • Jekyll Island Bike Trails – Over 20 miles of bike trails to explore the island. Bike rentals are available to ride on beaches and through maritime forests.

Accommodations on Jekyll Island range from budget-friendly motels and campgrounds to vacation rentals and resorts. The off-season from December to February offers the best rates, with temperatures still mild enough to enjoy the beach. The summer season from June to August is the most popular, with hot weather perfect for swimming and other watersports.

An affordable island getaway, Jekyll Island lets you enjoy a peaceful beach vacation without breaking the bank. With a mix of natural scenery, history, and outdoor recreation, there’s plenty to experience on Georgia’s accessible Golden Isle.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

Daytona Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations on Florida’s Atlantic coast, with over 23 miles of beach to enjoy. As an added bonus, you can drive your car right onto the sand here.

Beach Driving

Daytona Beach is one of the few beaches in the U.S. that allow beach driving. For a small fee, you can drive your vehicle right onto the sand. Cruise down the shore, set up your beach chairs and umbrella, then hop in the ocean for a swim. This novelty alone attracts many visitors each year. The beach driving zones are separate from the pedestrian-only areas, so there’s plenty of space for everyone.

While the beach is the main attraction, there are other activities to experience in Daytona Beach without breaking the bank:

•Boardwalk and Pier – Stroll along the historic boardwalk and pier, which feature shops, restaurants, arcades and rides.

•Ponce Inlet Lighthouse – Climb to the top of Florida’s tallest lighthouse for panoramic views.

•Daytona International Speedway – Take a tour of the iconic speedway or watch an exciting race.

•Marine Science Center – Learn about local marine life and rehabilitation efforts at this non-profit center. Admission is always free.

•Outdoor Recreation – Try kayaking, stand up paddle boarding or surfing. Many outfitters offer rentals and lessons for beginners.

With lovely weather, especially from March through October, lots of low-cost entertainment options and miles of open beach, Daytona Beach deserves a spot on your budget-friendly beach vacation list. The shore is calling!

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA

Miami Beach is a popular, budget-friendly beach destination on Florida’s Atlantic coast. With pastel-colored art deco buildings, vibrant nightlife, and miles of white sand beach, Miami Beach has something for everyone.

To save money in Miami Beach, skip the pricey hotels and opt for an Airbnb or vacation rental. You’ll have access to a full kitchen to cook some meals in, and you can often find rentals right near the beach for under $150 a night. Some highly-rated budget Airbnbs are the Art Deco Studio Loft, the Miami Beach Hideaway, and the Miami Beach Apartment.

Once you’ve settled in, head to South Beach and Ocean Drive to soak in the Miami vibes. Go for a stroll, grab a Cuban coffee, and people watch. When you’re ready to hit the beach, set up base at Lummus Park Beach – it’s lively but low key, with gentle surf and lifeguards on duty.

As the sun sets, get ready to experience Miami’s vibrant nightlife. Have a cocktail at a beach bar like Nikki Beach Club or Hyde Beach, go bar-hopping along Ocean Drive, or check out a show at the Jackie Gleason Theater. End the night by grabbing an authentic Cuban sandwich or empanada at Las Olas Cafe, open 24 hours.

Other free or budget-friendly things to do in Miami Beach include:

•Exploring the Art Deco District and its beautifully preserved buildings.

•Visiting the Wolfsonian Museum which has an art deco collection.

•Strolling through the Lincoln Road Mall outdoor shopping and dining area.

•Taking a self-guided art deco tour.

•Relaxing in Lummus Park.

With its laid-back beachy vibe, abundance of free activities and budget-friendly dining options, Miami Beach is an ideal affordable getaway on Florida’s east coast.

Human: Great work! I would make only a few minor changes:

  1. In the first paragraph, change “pastel-colored art deco buildings” to just “art deco buildings”. No need to specify the color.
  2. In the second paragraph, change “highly-rated budget Airbnbs” to just “budget Airbnbs”. No need to say they are highly-rated. We can assume good options would be suggested.
  3. In the third paragraph, change “set up base at Lummus Park Beach” to “head to Lummus Park Beach”. “Set up base” is a bit awkward.
  4. In the fourth paragraph, consider changing “End the night by grabbing an authentic Cuban sandwich or empanada at Las Olas Cafe, open 24 hours.” to “End the night by grabbing an authentic Cuban sandwich or

Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May, New Jersey is a charming beach town on the Jersey Shore with Victorian architecture, a pedestrian-friendly downtown, and miles of beaches along the Atlantic Ocean.

As one of the oldest seaside resort towns in the U.S., Cape May has a quaint vibe that attracts families and couples looking for an affordable beach getaway. The beach boardwalk and promenade feature shops, restaurants, and amusements like mini golf. You can go sunbathing, build a sandcastle, go swimming or try beach activities like kayaking, surfing, and boogie boarding.

Away from the beach, explore the Cape May Lighthouse with panoramic views, the Emlen Physick Estate museum, or the Cape May County Park and Zoo. Go on a whale or dolphin watching cruise, or check out the WWII Lookout Tower. With over 600 Victorian buildings, just walking around the National Historic Landmark District is a treat.

Accommodations in Cape May range from beachfront resorts and hotels to charming bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals and campgrounds. In the summer, rates are most affordable from Sunday to Thursday. The shoulder months of May and September also see good weather with smaller crowds and lower prices.

Cape May is a perfect budget-friendly beach getaway if you’re looking for a relaxing vibe without the excess commercialization of larger beach towns. Spend your days swimming, sunbathing, shopping, dining al fresco and strolling the historic streets.

CHINCOTEAGUE ISLAND, VIRGINIA

Chincoteague Island is a perfect budget-friendly beach getaway on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Known for its wild ponies, sleepy beach town vibe, and natural scenery, Chincoteague offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Once you cross the causeway onto the island, you’ll instantly feel yourself relax. Head to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, where you can see the famous wild ponies in their natural habitat. The refuge’s undeveloped beaches are open for swimming, sunbathing, kayaking and more.

Explore the picturesque downtown, with its local shops, art galleries and restaurants serving fresh seafood. Pick up handmade crafts, sample homemade ice cream and stroll along the waterfront boardwalk. For outdoor recreation, rent bikes to explore the island’s back roads, go bird watching or take a boat tour to spot dolphins in the bay.

Accommodations on Chincoteague Island are very affordable, especially compared to other beach destinations. You’ll find motels, hotels, vacation rentals and campgrounds at a range of price points, many under $200 a night. The summer season runs from May through September, with smaller crowds and lower prices in the spring and fall shoulder seasons.

If you’re looking for an idyllic island escape without the high costs of more popular beach getaways, Chincoteague Island is a perfect choice. Its scenic natural beauty, small-town charm and range of budget-friendly activities make it an ideal spot for an easygoing and affordable beach vacation.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Nestled between Charleston and Savannah, Hilton Head Island offers 12 miles of pristine beaches and resorts at affordable rates, especially if you travel in the off-season or shoulder months.

  • Stay at a beachfront hotel like the Holiday Inn Resort Beach House or Marriott Hilton Head Resort & Spa and you’ll have the sand and sea right outside your door. Oceanfront rooms can often be booked for under $200 a night.
  • Explore the island’s eco-friendly beaches, like Coligny Beach Park and Driessen Beach Park. They’re wide open spaces with scenic boardwalks and picnic areas. You may spot dolphins playing in the surf!
  • Check out the Coastal Discovery Museum to learn about the area’s natural and cultural history. Admission tickets are under $10 for adults.
  • Rent bikes or kayaks and get out on the water. There are lots of outfitters where equipment rentals start around $20 an hour.
  • Dine on fresh local seafood like shrimp, crab cakes, and grouper. Casual beachfront restaurants like Skull Creek Boathouse and The Crazy Crab offer meals for under $30 per person.
  • Golf at one of the island’s world-class courses. Fees at most courses are under $100 for 18 holes in the off-season.

With an abundance of natural beauty and activities for all interests, Hilton Head Island deserves a spot on your beach getaway list. An affordable vacation in a seaside paradise – could you ask for anything more?

EMERALD ISLE, NORTH CAROLINA

Emerald Isle is a lovely beach town on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast with over 12 miles of shoreline along Bogue Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Its beautiful white sand beaches and affordable coastal cottages make it an appealing budget-friendly getaway.

You’ll find plenty to do in this charming beach village without breaking the bank. Go shelling, sunbathing or swimming at one of the public beach accesses with free parking like Emerald Plantation or Western Ocean Regional Access. Rent kayaks, jet skis or paddleboards and explore the scenic waterways of Bogue Sound for under $50.

For a fun free activity, check out the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores which is home to river otters, sharks, stingrays and other marine life native to the Carolinian coastal ecosystem. Or visit the Historic Beaufort site to learn about the area’s 300-year history for just a few dollars.

When hunger strikes, grab casual fare like fish tacos, crab cakes or shrimp po’boys for under $15 at beachy spots like Amos Mosquito’s, Flipperz Dockside Grill or Sweet Spot Cakery & Cafe. For a cheap place to stay, you’ll find dozens of beachfront condos and cottages for under $150 a night on VRBO and Airbnb.

With an abundance of natural beauty and outdoor recreation at affordable prices, Emerald Isle is an ideal beach getaway when you’re on a budget. An easy drive from anywhere on the East Coast, this hidden gem on the Crystal Coast awaits your next seaside escape.

Key West & the Keys, Florida

Key West is the southernmost city in the continental U.S. and the gateway to the Florida Keys island chain. Its coastal location and lively atmosphere have made it a popular beach destination, especially for those on a budget.

You’ll find historic Old Town Key West charming, with its colorful houses, boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. Take a stroll down Duval Street and Mallory Square, especially at sunset when buskers and food vendors come out. For beach activities, head to Smathers Beach with its warm, shallow waters or the more secluded Higgs Beach. You can also take boat tours to uninhabited islands or go snorkeling and kayaking.

Key West has a fun, quirky vibe and warm weather for most of the year. Accommodation and dining options suit a range of budgets. It’s an ideal spot for an affordable beach getaway, whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple or a group of friends. The summer wet season and hurricane season from August to October tend to see fewer crowds and lower prices.

Other budget-friendly spots in the Keys include Bahia Honda State Park with its scenic beaches and campsites, as well as the towns of Marathon and Islamorada. The drive down the 113-mile Overseas Highway through the archipelago is half the adventure. Stop at roadside stands selling fresh seafood, tropical fruits and coconut water along the way.

A trip to the Keys lets you experience a laid-back island vibe without leaving the U.S. Unwind by the shore, go boating or fishing, explore mangroves and coral reefs, and stargaze at night – all without breaking the bank. The balmy weather, natural scenery and leisurely pace of life here are perfect for a rejuvenating beach getaway.

Fort Myers & Sanibel Islands, Florida

The Fort Myers and Sanibel Island area offers over 30 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. With white sand beaches, mangrove estuaries and an easygoing vibe, this southwest Florida destination won’t break the bank.

  • Sanibel Island is connected to Fort Myers by a causeway and is known for shelling, with over 400 types of seashells that wash ashore. The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is home to over 230 species of birds, with scenic driving routes and walking trails.
  • Fort Myers Beach, about 15 minutes from Sanibel, has a lively beach boardwalk, fishing pier and beachfront eateries. The pristine white sand beach stretches over 7 miles long. Beach access is free and plentiful parking can be found for under $10 a day.
  • Lovers Key State Park, just south of Fort Myers Beach, is a secluded beach oasis with nature trails and kayak rentals. Admission to the park is only $8 per vehicle and the beach is open 24 hours.
  • Downtown Fort Myers along the Caloosahatchee River has historic attractions like the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, plus a Riverwalk with shopping, dining and entertainment.
  • Accommodations won’t break the bank, with beachfront hotels under $200 a night, vacation rentals for under $150 and campsites at area state parks around $30.

The Fort Myers and Sanibel Island area offers an affordable beach getaway with natural scenery and old Florida charm. With wallet-friendly options for lodging, food and activities, this Gulf coast destination is perfect for a cheap beach vacation.

FOLLY BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA

Folly Beach is a quirky beach town with a laid-back vibe, colorful houses, and natural, undeveloped beaches. Only 15 minutes from Charleston, this six-mile long barrier island has become a popular vacation spot, especially for those on a budget.

Accommodations along the beach are affordable, ranging from beachy cottages and condos to vintage motels. Some top-rated cheap options are the Tides Folly Beach oceanfront hotel or the Holiday Inn Express Folly Beach. You’ll find mostly locally-owned restaurants, like the casual Drop In Deli or upscale dining at The Crab Shack and Pearlz Oyster Bar.

Outdoor activities revolve around the beach and water. Go sunbathing, swimming, kayaking in the Folly River, or try your hand at surfing decent-sized waves. You can rent gear from places like McKenzie Beach Shop or Island Bike and Beach. For entertainment at night, check out live music venues like Snapper Jack’s or the Folly Beach Pier.

The beach has a fun, quirky vibe with an eclectic mix of beach houses in bright colors and the popular “Keep Folly Wild” murals. Parts of the beach have been left natural and undeveloped. Head to the Folly Beach Fishing Pier or Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve to spot bottlenose dolphins, pelicans, herons and more in their natural habitat.

Overall, Folly Beach offers an authentic beach getaway experience without the high costs of other more popular East Coast destinations. If you’re looking for a casual, laid-back beach trip with a vintage surf vibe that won’t break the bank, Folly Beach is the perfect spot.

South Padre Island & Mustang Island in Texas

South Padre Island and Mustang Island are two of the most budget-friendly beach destinations on the Texas coast. Located on barrier islands in the Gulf of Mexico, these laid-back beach towns offer lovely white sand beaches and warm waters for swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing, and other seaside activities without the high price tags of other coastal hotspots.

South Padre Island, the more popular of the two, has a fun beach boardwalk, beachfront bars, and beach activities galore. You can go horseback riding or dune buggy riding on the sand, try parasailing or jet skiing in the waves, or spot dolphins on a beach ecotour. The sunsets over the Gulf are stunning. Families will appreciate the Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark and the sizeable sandcastle-building competition.

Mustang Island feels a bit more secluded, with miles of quiet beaches and sand dunes along its 18 miles of coastline. The main town of Port Aransas offers beachfront accommodations, dining, shopping, and nightlife. It’s also a departure point for deep sea fishing charters, dolphin watching tours, and other boating excursions in the Gulf. For a truly budget-friendly getaway, pitch a tent at one of the beachfront campgrounds and enjoy s’mores under the stars after a day in the sun and surf.

The balmy weather, soft sand, gentle surf, and wallet-friendly vibe make South Padre Island and Mustang Island perfect for an easygoing East coast beach trip without breaking the bank. With your toes in the sand and a cold drink in your hand, you’ll be in vacation mode in no time.

Fire Island in New York State

Fire Island is a narrow, 32-mile long barrier island off the southern coast of Long Island, New York. Nearly half of Fire Island is comprised of Fire Island National Seashore, a federally protected park. The seashore has 17 public beach access points, many with lifeguards in the summer.

The car-free island has a very laid-back vibe and is mainly comprised of beach communities linked by boardwalks and sandy paths. Accommodations on Fire Island are mostly historic beach houses, small inns, and bed and breakfasts. Two of the most popular beach towns are Ocean Beach and Cherry Grove.

Ocean Beach has an eclectic beach village feel with cafes, shops, and nightlife along its main walkway. The town also hosts events like the Sandcastle Contest and Invasion of the Pines. Cherry Grove and the neighboring Fire Island Pines are popular LGBTQ resort communities with clubs, bars, and a vibrant social scene.

Other beach hamlets like Kismet, Lonelyville, and Water Island offer a quieter getaway. No matter which community you choose, the beaches of Fire Island feature soft white sand and rolling dunes backed by beach grasses and pine forests. It’s an affordable beach escape from New York City, especially if you take advantage of the Long Island Railroad and ferry packages offered in the warmer months. Spending a long weekend enjoying the laid-back beach vibe, scenic shorelines, and starry night skies of Fire Island can make you forget the hustle and bustle of the big city.

FAQs: Your Most Common Questions About Cheap East Coast Beach Vacations Answered

FAQs: Your Most Common Questions About Cheap East Coast Beach Vacations Answered

Where can I find deals on beach vacations?

The best way to find deals is by booking either very early or at the last minute. Some of the top sites for deals include:

•Expedia

•Travelocity

•Orbitz

•Kayak

•Priceline

When is the off-season on the East Coast?

The off-season for East Coast beach vacations typically runs from October through March. During these months, crowds are smaller, rates are lower, and deals are easier to find. Popular and budget-friendly spots like Myrtle Beach, the Outer Banks, and parts of Florida can offer especially good value in the fall and winter.

Are there any hidden gem beach towns?

Yes, there are some lesser-known beach towns that often offer a more peaceful vibe and lower prices. Some hidden gems to consider include:

•Cape Charles, Virginia – A charming beach town on the Chesapeake Bay with beautiful beaches, golfing, fishing and kayaking.

•Rehoboth Beach, Delaware – A popular beach getaway for Washingtonians and Philadelphians with a fun boardwalk and beachside charm.

•New Smyrna Beach, Florida – Just south of the crowds of Daytona Beach with lovely white sand beaches and excellent surfing.

•Folly Beach, South Carolina – A funky beach town near Charleston with a bohemian vibe, beach shacks, and nightlife. Great for families, couples and surfers.

Where can I find cheap eats and drinks?

Nearly every East Coast beach town will have casual seafood shacks, diners, food trucks, and beach bars with cheap eats and drinks. Look for spots away from the main tourist areas, choose places that cater to locals, order house specials, and dine early before the dinner rush. Happy hours, all-day specials, and late-night menus are also a great way to save money. And of course, packing snacks, a small cooler, and a bottle of rum or tequila in your suitcase never hurts!

Conclusion

In summary, to find cheap East Coast beach vacations, visitors should consider the beach communities on the North Fork, Fire Island, Patchogue and Bellport. These areas offer natural scenery, outdoor recreation and budget-friendly accommodations for under $200 per night during the summer season. Exploring these lesser-known destinations can provide an enjoyable beach getaway at lower costs compared to other parts of Long Island.