Oceanfront vacations can be just the thing for some soothing fun in the sun, but many of the world’s most beautiful beaches are already swarming with tourists. You can hardly kick back and relax if you’re stuck playing tropical Tetris with the teeming, tanning masses.
Luckily, Earth has plenty of coastline — 372,000 miles of it, to be exact — to go around. To help you select the ideal spot for a seaside getaway, GOBankingRates researched lodging costs at some of the most beautiful beaches in the least-trafficked locales.
Check out these hidden paradises suitable for budgets of all sizes.
Cayucos State Beach, Cayucos, Calif.
Hotel Rates Start at: $57 per night for vintage-style hotels in the off-season
Cayucos dubs itself “the last of the California beach towns.” Its public shores showcase that old-school vibe and make for a budget-friendly beach vacation. These days, you won’t find many other Golden State spots that blend rustic ranches, grazing cattle, and surf-friendly waves into one bygone bundle of beachy Americana. Post-beach, be sure to check out Old Cayucos Tavern & Cardroom for a slice of 110-year-old history with your drinks.
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Ban Koh Beach, Koh Sukorn, Thailand
Hotel Rates Start at: $24 per night for rustic bungalows
Despite the fact that it’s known as “pig island,” Koh Sukorn is a beautiful vacation destination for human travelers. Only 3,000 people — mostly fisherman and farmers — call this secluded paradise home, and they all use a single, 10-mile road. You won’t have to worry about traffic sounds disrupting your rest or a keg party obscuring your view of the sea.
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Pyla-sur-Mer, Aquitaine, France
Hotel Rates Start at: $166 per night at L’Hotel Etche Ona
Pyla-sur-Mer is a sapphire-watered hideaway that caters to all prices ranges, so you can travel like a millionaire, without the millionaire budget. Though famous for its costly modern boutiques, the area offers modest, old-world lodging options, as well. The beach is public, but its Atlantic waters and pristine sand stretch far enough that you’ll find space of your own for a picnic. When you’re tired of lounging, take time out of your day to dive for oysters.
Rocktail Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Hotel Rates Start at: $326 per person, per night, for luxury, all-inclusive resorts
You’ll need to save up for a robust travel budget just to get to Rocktail. First, you’ll have to get an air charter from Kruger National Park or hire a personal safari guide to deliver you to what the African Travel Gateway calls “the most private beach experience in South Africa.” Upon arrival, you’ll have your choice of activities, including reef diving, whale watching, beach hiking and fishing.
Lovers Beach, Saint Kitts and Nevis
Hotel Rates Start at: $158 per night
The unspoiled, green and very low-key Nevis island offers no shortage of lush beaches, from Gallows Bay to the popular Nisbet Beach. But it’s Lovers Beach you’re after if privacy is your No. 1 goal. The tourist crowd won’t be able to see you from the road at this hideaway to the north.
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Farewell Spit, New Zealand
Hotel Rates Start at: $45 for two persons, per night, during the peak season for a caravan at Farewell Gardens
You can hardly bring up under-the-radar beach destinations without mentioning New Zealand. This 15.5-mile sand spit — New Zealand’s longest — is a strictly protected nature sanctuary. Although you can’t bring vehicles or pets, you can take in the breathtaking rocky landforms and hidden sand dunes. Additionally, visitors can marvel at the penguins, seals and more than 90 bird species that call this spot home.
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Kauapea Secret Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Hotel Rates Start at: $120 per night on Airbnb
When you think of Hawaii, touristy dives rather than hidden beaches might come to mind. However, you actually have to hike to Kauapea Secret Beach, as it isn’t reachable by road. Your journey will be rewarded with delectable seclusion, tidal pools, lava-formed rocks and picturesque waterfalls.
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Bethany Beach, Del.
Hotel Rates Start at: $135 per night at the local Holiday Inn
If Hawaii is a beach vacation cliche, Delaware is just about the polar opposite. Don’t write off the sleepy vacation towns of Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island, though, which together form the duo known as the “Quiet Resorts.” Along with American-style boardwalks, visitors can soak up all the surfing and fishing they desire. The area only has 350 residents during the off-season, but the population jumps to 40,000 in summer. The Delaware beach towns are the best places to buy a vacation home in the state.
Zakynthos, Ionian Islands, Greece
Hotel Rates Start at: $103 at Armonia Boutique hotel
At about 157 square miles, Zakynthos isn’t small. Yet, unlike tourist traps such as Mykonos, it’s fairly undiscovered. That means you can spread out and enjoy the sun on one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful isles. As an added bonus, this site offers tourists the opportunity to swim with sea turtles or spelunk in underwater caves.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Hotel Rates Start at: $82 to $482 per night
Stunning white sands and electric blue waters characterize this Mexican beach paradise. The Yucatan Peninsula’s Isla Holbox hasn’t gotten popular yet, so get there while it’s quiet. Just figure out the best time to book your travel plans to get the best deals. Once you ferry over to the mile-wide island from the port of Chiquila, you can scope out everything from cheap margaritas to giant-but-gentle whale sharks.
Cirali, Antalya, Turkey
Hotel Rates Start at: $26 per night
The pine-carpeted mountains that surround Cirali create a natural privacy screen for this Antalya destination. The 2-mile long beach is protected from development by the Turkish government, so you can watch the local turtles thrive in peace while enjoying the sun.
Con Dao, Vietnam
Hotel Rates Start at: $490 per night at the Six Senses resort
The first five–star resort to stake a claim in the region, Six Senses calls Con Dao “Vietnam’s untouched archipelago.” Only about 7,500 people live among the islands, which are classified as a National Park. Fresh seafood, French-colonial architecture and virtually no traffic accent quiet, coral-heavy beaches in this hidden hot spot.
Hotel Rates Start at: $17 per night on Airbnb
Northern Peru’s Mancora is like a sleepy fishing village of yore that got lost in time. Complete with horses roaming the beach, the site is located about an hour from the equator, meaning it’s warm year round. Plan a trip to enjoy the sun and some fresh ceviche.
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La Digue, Seychelles
Hotel Rates Start at: $142 per night for bungalows at Villa Authentique
The Republic of Seychelles offers plenty of islands to explore and some of the best beaches in the world, but La Digue’s ox carts, coconuts and hibiscus flowers lend a particularly peaceful backdrop to tucked-away beaches like Anse Source d’Argent. This hidden destination is so secluded that you’ll need to start on the island of Mahe and helicopter or ferry your way to paradise.
Likoma Island, Malawi
Hotel Rates Start at: $4 to $42 per night at Ulisa Bay Lodge
You know a beach is truly hidden when its official tourism website describes it as “somewhat barren.” Boasting startlingly clear waters, Likoma is ideal for jet-setters seeking true solitude. The island is only accessible via charter aircraft or boat, but if you get lonely you can always check out the cathedral back on shore.
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Lord Howe Island, Australia
Hotel Rates Start at: $231 per night, in the peak season
It takes about two hours to fly from Brisbane or Sydney to Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea, but once you get there, you might just find yourself hand-feeding coral-dwelling fish in crystal-clear waters. Here’s how you know this beach is a well-kept secret: Only 400 tourists are allowed on the island at any given time, making it one of the most secluded places on Earth.
Manzanita Beach, Manzanita, Oregon
Hotel Rates Start at: $47 for a Yurt or $131 at a local motel
Far outside the bustling city of Portland, tranquility awaits. The little town of Manzanita sports 7 miles of exquisite coastline along with breezy, grassy beaches that are a full 40 miles from the nearest cities. Let your hipster flag fly by liking this beach before it’s truly “cool.”
El Nido Pangulasian Island, Philippines
Hotel Rates Start at: $494 per night for a luxury eco-resort
It’s no secret that the Philippines offers some of the best beach vacations in the world, but El Nido Pangulasian Island really is a hidden paradise. The travel experts at Kuoni named it one of the three best-kept travel secrets in the world in 2017. The “Island of the Sun” offers just what you’d expect — white sand, crystal waters and a secluded jungle backdrop.
Boka Kokolishi, Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands
Hotel Rates Start at: $134 per night
It takes a little effort to reach the happy hideaway of Boka Kokolishi. You’ll fly to Kralendijk before embarking on a 40-mile drive to reach this beach destination. Once you see it, though, you won’t be able to forget the beach’s dramatically crashing waves and beautiful black sand, which is made from the crushed skeletons of local snails.
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Ibo Island, Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique
Hotel Rates Start at: $565 per night, to share an upscale villa at Ibo Island Lodge
Despite the presence of a modern lodge, Ibo Island boasts a rustic vibe complete with quiet, sun-baked streets and crumbling, old-world architecture. Watch the locals cast their fishing nets in the Indian Ocean as you chill on warm shores that can only be accessed by boat.
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Cies Islands, Spain
Hotel Rates Start at: $54 per night for a hotel in Vigo
Head to the Cies Islands while their beaches are still hidden — it won’t be long before tourists are arriving in droves. In fact, The Guardian named Rodas Beach the best in the world. This three-island archipelago is part of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park, a fact that keeps its beaches unspoiled and its wildlife flourishing. You can even swim with the dolphins.
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Palm Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Hotel Rates Start at: $551 per person for the minimum three nights required
A vacation destination suited for the big-budget traveler, Palm Island is a private resort island resting on the southern tip of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. To scope out the oasis-like atmosphere, you have to fly from Barbados to Union Island before arriving by boat. The resort’s exclusivity means that you’ll only be bothered by as many people as 41 rooms can fit, plus a few curious iguanas.
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Priscilla Aguilera contributed to the reporting for this article.
Methodology: Rates were taken from individual hotel websites or else reflect a sampling of local lodging costs. Prices are valid as of August 14, 2018.