10 Best Affordable Beachfront Hotels
BT's summer-getaway challenge: to find 10 properties where you can go from your bed to the beach in five minutes or less—for under $150 per night.
Caribbean Resort & Villas
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
A water-park resort near America's newest boardwalk.
This summer, the year-old Myrtle Beach boardwalk has added a 187-foot-tall Ferris wheel to its already long list of attractions (cafes, street performers, fireworks displays). Just 16 blocks north is a stretch of beach that's sugary white, with shallow waters and low waves that are perfect for beginning swimmers. The Caribbean Resort & Villas is strung along the shore, with 438 rooms and suites spread across four beachfront buildings: the Cayman and the Dominican Towers, the Chelsea House Villas, and the Jamaican Motor Inn—which is where you can still find mid-summer bargains. (Bonus: Guests here have access to the inn's own pool and beach deck.) The Cayman and Dominican Towers are both geared toward families with small children—they have indoor and outdoor tubing pools, a lazy river, and hot tubs, plus an outdoor waterslide area on the north side of Cayman. The hotel is also popular with duffers, given that the town has 115 golf courses, including stately Pine Lakes (tee times from $79 if you book online). 3000 N. Ocean Blvd., 800/552-8509, caribbeanresort.com, from $125.
Atlantic City, N.J.
A second act for America's iconic boardwalk town.
The Chelsea lit up its retro neon sign in July 2008 along the southern end of Atlantic City's salt-and-pepper shoreline. With a distinctly Rat Pack vibe, the Chelsea channels the easy glamour of a bygone era with its poolside cabanas, fireplace lounges, and in-house supper club, the Chelsea Prime, which serves classics like duck ragout and homemade pappardelle. Each of the 331 rooms and suites has boutique touches, like parrot-shaped white lamps, blue velvet curtains, and upscale FACE Stockholm toiletries, and the hotel's expansive spa includes a seasonally heated saltwater pool. All guests have access to the Cabana Club, a 15,000-square-foot deck on the fifth floor, whose outdoor swimming pool and indoor lounge provide ocean views. The hotel itself is free of game tables, but if you are in need of some action, the Tropicana casino resort is just a block away. 111 S. Chelsea Ave., 800/548-3030, thechelsea-ac.com, from $129; valet parking from $10 daily.
El Encanto de Cabo Pulmo
Baja California Sur, Mexico
Artful casitas at a diver's paradise.
Though it's only about 60 miles northeast from the well-known resort community of Cabo San Lucas, the village of Cabo Pulmo has a rustic vibe that makes it feel a world away. A two-minute walk down a sandy path from the town's beach brings you to El Encanto de Cabo Pulmo, an inn comprised of three private suites with palm-thatch roofs, rattan chairs, vintage Oriental carpets, and Mexican artwork. Opened in 2008, the solar-powered inn is hemmed by bountiful gardens designed and maintained by owners Robert Lerner and Diane Varney, who, now retired, both hold graduate degrees in botany. Set inside the eponymous national park, the town of about 100 residents has long been a haven for divers seeking out rare living coral reefs in some of the world's clearest waters. At night, the skies are nearly free of ambient electric light, presenting spectacularly clear views of constellations. Take in the view from your private patio before settling into your four-poster bed. Lot 5, Phase II, Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort, 619/618-1248, encantopulmo.com, from $90, three-night-minimum stay.