As the seemingly never-ending darkness of winter continues unabated, it’s natural to daydream about the feel of the sun warming your bare skin and the sensation of powder-fine sand sliding between your toes. This vision doesn’t have to be a daydream. Winter is the perfect time to go on a beach adventure and not just because your seasonal affective disorder demands vitamin D like a mofo. It’s also a good time because you can get a hella cheap flight.
We gathered ten of the world’s best beaches and considered flight prices and the cost of living to give you some options for chasing the sun that won’t break the bank. Many of them are in the Caribbean because their proximity to the United States and their stunning beauty make them surefire options, but we included a few in other parts of the globe too.
Have a look see, get inspired, and buy yourself a ticket. There’s no time like now. Heck, you can justify it as a positive step toward increased mental wellbeing. People are always touting self-care, so get into it.
Chileno Beach: Los Cabos, Mexico
Over the last few years, Los Cabos has seen a considerable increase in international tourism. People are drawn to its affordability, for sure. The cost of living in Mexico is 52.55 percent lower than it is in the United States, which means food and entertainment money can go pretty far (especially if you opt to buy groceries and fresh seafood and forgo restaurant meals). Couple that with the gorgeous natural scenery and many fun activities and you have a winner.
When spring breakers hit this part of Mexico, they flock to Médano Beach, but locals know that Chileno Beach is where it’s freaking at. Considered one of the cleanest beaches in the region, Playa Chileno isn’t surrounded by noisy bars and restaurants, so it’s not really a party beach. Instead, it’s a great place to snorkel and relax, as the calm waters make swimming and scoping out underwater life feel easy. Be sure to take some time to check out the tidepools, and if you’re there during whale season (December-April), listen for their songs underwater.
Playa Knip: Westpunt, Curaçao
If you’re interested in the Caribbean and concerned about your budget, Curaçao is one of the region’s more inexpensive islands. You can get all of the stunning beaches and Dutch architecture you want without the higher prices that tourists generally pay in the area. If you want to drink domestic beer, you are going to shell out roughly two dollars a pint, but that’s not that bad when you consider the prices a tourist generally faces in a tropical paradise or a trendy resort.
Playa Knip is a small beach that’s also a fave among locals, though it has been lauded as a favorite among travelers as well. The west side beach is perfect for sunbathing, snorkeling, and swimming. Strong swimmers can make it to a nearby reef to explore, but those who aren’t able to get that far will find plenty of good snorkeling near the rocks on either side of the beach. Keep an eye out for a batidos stand, selling fresh fruit smoothies to drink while sitting on the pristine white sands and staring out onto the aqua blue waters.