Top 6 Destinations for Beach Lovers on a Budget

Are you fed up of staring at your social media feed, drooling over beach resorts that you thought were impossible on a budget? Fear not, my fellow beach lovers! Despite what you may think (and what social media makes you believe), you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy some sunshine, sea and surf.

That's right, you can still have your beach break without breaking the bank! Grab your swimsuit, stop scrolling and let's dive into the wonderful world of beach destinations that are actually affordable.

Best of all, not only are these destinations affordable, seaside havens but we have friendly Workaway hosts awaiting your arrival at each one. This means you can stay in some of the most enviable destinations around the world - for free! Whether you dream of sunrise breakfasts on the beach, or surfing until sunset, these are the bucket list beach destinations you need to know…
woman in mexico enjoying view of the sea

Tulum, Mexico

Located on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Tulum is a beautiful destination that offers stunning beaches and delicious food. However, for those willing to dig a little deeper, you’ll also discover a rich history unlike anywhere else in the world. 

The town has many affordable accommodations such as hostels, guesthouses, and budget hotels, making it an ideal destination for budget travellers. There are also over 100 Workaway hosts in Tulum who need support with all kinds of skills from paddleboarding to permaculture! As well as a demand for volunteers who want to share their language skills, so if you’re interested in learning a language in paradise, Tulum could be the perfect place.

For those postcard perfect pics, the most popular beaches in Tulum include Playa Paraíso, Playa Pescadores, and Las Palmas Beach. All of which are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkelling

Although it’s hard to drag yourself away from the beach, Tulum is also known for its ancient Mayan ruins which are well worth visiting to learn more about the culture and history of the region. The Tulum ruins are located on a cliff overlooking the ocean so those Instagram worthy seaside scenes won’t be far away.

It’s worth noting, Tulum is a popular destination for eco-tourism, with many opportunities for visitors to explore the epic natural beauty of the region. Visitors can explore the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, go snorkelling in the coral reefs, or take a jungle hike to see the local flora and fauna. This also means a wealth of volunteer projects for eco warriors, passionate about the planet. 
two travellers taking surfboard from top of van

Nha Trang, Vietnam

As one of the cheapest countries in Asia, most people associate Vietnam with the chaos of Ho Chi Minh City or the lantern dotted canals of Hội An. However, Vietnam needs to be on your beach loving bucket list thanks to the coastal city of Nha Trang

Located in Southern Vietnam, Nha Trang is famed for its breathtaking beaches and diving spots. In particular, Tran Phu Beach which stretches along the city’s coastline with a popular promenade bustling with affordable beachside accommodation and seafood restaurants. 

The beaches here boast white sand and turquoise waters with a variety of water sports and activities - all on a backpacking budget! As well as enjoying Nha Trang, visitors can take a boat tour to nearby islands, such as Hon Mun, Hòn Tằm and Hòn Tre to explore coral reefs and enjoy more secluded beaches. These tours typically include snorkelling, diving and even fishing.

Fancy just eating the seafood instead of catching it? Nha Trang is known for its delicious seafood, which is caught fresh and prepared in local restaurants for a fraction of the cost you’d expect for food of this quality.

Finally, the town also has a vibrant nightlife, which is perfect for budget travellers who want to party the night away after a day of sea and sunbathing.  During my own time in this busy seaside city, I was fortunate to be staying there during the Nha Trang Sea Festival. This cultural event takes place every two years and celebrates traditional Vietnamese culture through incredible performances including light shows, dance and song. 

While we have hosts all over Vietnam, beach lovers should head for Nha Trang where volunteer projects mainly focus on childcare, language practice and hospitality. As tourism is still recovering from recent years, there is also a demand for marketing, social media and website development experience to help get the word out about this beautiful region.

beachside of vietnam aha trang

Goa, India

Goa attracts visitors from all over the world for two reasons - paradise beaches and price!  As the smallest state in India, it is famed for stunning beaches with clear waters, and incredible sunsets

Some of the most popular beaches in Goa include Baga Beach, Anjuna Beach, and Palolem Beach. These are the perfect spots to try scuba diving, surfing or even parasailing. For those who prefer calmer activities, Goa also boasts some beautiful rivers including the Zuari and the Nerul which are ideal for kayaking. 

Goa is also known for its rich culture and history, best experienced through the many temples, churches, and festivals. These include Basilica of Bom Jesus, the Shantadurga Temple, and the Goa Carnival to name a few. 

To fuel all that exploring on land and sea, indulge in some of the most delicious cuisine in India with traditional Goan dishes like vindaloo and fish curry. 

Workaway has over 70 hosts in Goa with a variety of volunteer experiences for all ages whether you’re fresh out of school or ready for retirement. Let’s not forget India is the birthplace of yoga, so Goa is a great place to volunteer with yoga retreats or wellness resorts. It’s also home to several animal sanctuaries, so alongside the stunning sea and surf, why not spend your days volunteering with animals with Workaway.

feet of local wearing traditional Indian attire standing on the beach sand

Bali, Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia has rocketed in popularity in recent years thanks to its affordability, beautiful beaches and popular digital nomad scene. This makes it an excellent beach destination for those who want to work as well as play in paradise. 

Some of the most popular beaches in Bali include Kuta Beach, Seminyak Beach, and Jimbaran Beach, all of which offer crystal-clear waters and stunning views. Surf fans should head for Uluwatu, a world-famous surf destination known for its consistent and challenging waves or the vibrant surf scene in Canggu

This also means it is an excellent destination to volunteer your surf skills, with instructors, hostel help and surf camp support in high demand. Even if you are new to the sport, volunteering with Workaway allows you to practise without paying for board rental or lessons. Instead enjoy world class tuition in exchange for your time! 

Although it's tempting to sunbathe or surf from dawn till dusk, allow some time to explore inland. Highlights include the Uluwatu Temple, the Tirta Empul Temple, and the Ubud Monkey Forest. The hike to the top of Mount Batur to watch the sunrise is also incredible.

With over 30 hosts in Bali, it is the perfect paradise destination for those on a budget. If you are a digital nomad, it’s also a great place to work remotely thanks to an abundance of coworking spaces and likeminded individuals ready to network. Don’t forget to use our “digital nomad friendly” filter to find hosts who can offer a place to stay and work in exchange for your time and skills. We vote paradise island over an office any day!
travel group community posing front of the beach sunset

Phuket, Thailand

If you’re considering hitchhiking through Southeast Asia or travelling through the famous Land of Smiles make sure to pop Phuket top of your bucket list.

This is because Phuket is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, including the famous Patong Beach, Karon Beach, and Kata Beach. These beaches offer pristine waters, white sand, and some of the best snorkelling in the world. Alongside the best snorkelling, you’ll also find some of the best beach parties in Phuket - perfect for those who like to party without the price tag!

It is also worthwhile taking a boat tour to nearby islands, such as Phi Phi Islands known for their stunning limestone cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life. Maya Bay, where "The Beach" movie was filmed as well as Phang Nga Bay famous for its towering limestone karsts jutting out of the emerald-green waters. Finally, don't miss the picturesque James Bond Island (Ko Tapu), another iconic movie location!

Although the beaches are the main reason Phuket is the most visited Thai Island, the rich local culture shouldn’t be ignored. Enjoy a rewarding adventure through the many traditional temples, markets, and villages. This includes Wat Chalong, Phuket's largest and most important Buddhist temple. Admire the intricate architecture, learn about the local culture, and embrace the peaceful ambiance. 

Not forgetting one of the best ways to embrace the local culture is living with the locals themselves through Workaway! In particular, Phuket is one of the best destinations to volunteer in Thailand for those who want a taste of the tourism industry. There are hosts offering opportunities in all areas of tourist accommodation from hostels to homestays. This means you can wake up in paradise without paying a penny. Instead, pay with your time by supporting DIY projects, marketing or marine conservation to name a few of the opportunities on this amazing island. 
two friends jumping up in joy over Phuket sunset beach fun

Saranda, Albania

I was tempted to keep this stunning destination a secret, but it’s too beautiful not to share. In fact, I could bet money that if I asked you to name beautiful beach destinations, Albania wouldn’t spring to mind. This makes it even more worthy of visiting - it’s still considered somewhat a hidden gem.

As one of the cheapest countries in Europe, Albania has many beautiful beaches along its 400 km coastline, but one of the best beach destinations is Saranda. Known as Sarandë in Albanian, it is an ancient Port city located on the Albanian Riviera. Due to its location, the region benefits from a Mediterranean climate and countless spectacular beaches. 

Saranda boasts crystal-clear waters, stunning scenery, and a laid-back atmosphere, making it a dream destination for those travelling on a budget. It is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Albania, such as Ksamil Beach and Mirror Beach. For those who want to dance the night away, also check out Mango Beach near the centre. While it can be quiet during the day, expect a lively club scene here at night.

As well as the picture perfect beaches, Saranda has several cultural attractions, including the ancient city of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the 7th century BC. Visitors can also explore the nearby Blue Eye, a natural spring famed for its stunning turquoise water. Best of all it costs only 50 LEK to visit - less than a dollar! 

Thanks to the hosts in Saranda, you can stay in paradise without paying big bucks. While some require help with language practice, there are opportunities with homestays, farming and hostels among many other experiences. If you ever tire of Saranda’s beautiful beaches,  the Greek border is less than 30 miles South and Italy just a ferry ride away. Not forgetting you can live with locals in these dream destinations too when you join Workaway!

back of solo travel woman gazing at Albania seascape from hiking spot

So there you have it, my fellow beach lovers! Don't let a tight budget keep you from enjoying the sun, sand, and surf of some of the world's most beautiful beach destinations. From India to Indonesia, there are plenty of affordable options that can help you catch some rays without raiding your bank. So pack your bags, don't forget the SPF, and get ready to live that beach bum life on a budget. 

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About Lauren

Growing up in a small coastal village in Scotland inspired Lauren to seek adventure and challenge the norm. Armed with just her backpack and trusty travel companion Darren, she quit her day job to liv... show more...

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