Top Cheapest Island Destinations for Travelers on a Budget

At some point, we’ve all wondered exactly how much we need to save to escape to a far-off retreat. Alas, most island getaways are branded as luxurious and expensive.

Here’s the good news; It is possible to take an island vacation without breaking the bank.

Skip the 5-star hotel and eat like a local. We round up  6 of the cheapest island destinations for budget-savvy travelers.

Sri- Lanka, South Asia

Sri Lanka is known as the pearl of the Indian ocean. Experience vibrant culture, great beaches, and rich flavors. It’s time to put Sri Lanka on your bucket list.

Save on accommodation with guesthouses under $6 dollars. Public transport is a great way to experience the country’s culture. Ride the bus for as little as $0.25.

Safaris here are much cheaper than in Africa. Go looking for elephants and leopards in  National Parks including Yala and Wasgamuwa.

There is no entrance fee to temples. Many waterfalls and tea plantations are also freely accessible. You may choose to pay a small sum for a tour or tasting.

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Off Tanzania’s coast, this island is a treat for your senses. Zanzibar is a melting pot of Arab, Indian, African, and European influence. Zanzibar was historically a spice trading hub. This reflects in rich flavors and striking architecture.

Beaches and forests are free to explore. Visit a spice farm to learn about the island’s history.   In the afternoon, catch a local football match on the beach.

With plenty of fresh fruit and fish on sale, you can save money and eat healthily. Chilli salted mango is a favorite snack.

There is no public bus so best to stay in or near Stone Town. Most attractions are within walking distance.


Thailand is known for white sand, temples, festivals, and markets. The world has Thailand to thank for some of our favorite meals and spa treatments.

With so much on offer, it’s no wonder over 30 million visitors flock to this island destination annually. Phuket and Koh Phi Phi are two of the busiest tourist/party capitals.

With 1430 islands to choose from, you can still find a peaceful spot on the beach. Head to outlying islands like Kho Chang and Koh Yao Noi for a more chilled experience.

Hostels typically cost under $10pp and motorbike rentals are cheap. With all these savings, why not treat yourself and charter a yacht in Thailand?

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, off the Yucatan Peninsula,  is Mexico’s largest island. Save on travel by flying into Cancun.  Catch a bus to Playa del Carmen and ferry to Cozumel.

The island is famous for pristine reefs and calm currents. Here you find some of the best diving in the western hemisphere.  You can rent snorkeling equipment for under $7.

Spending time at beautiful beaches is free. Playa Chen Rio and Playa Palanc are two of the best. It is worth paying $10 to see the San Gervasio ruins. Skip San Miguel de Cozumel.  Prices here are high, catering to crowds of cruise ship passengers. Eat out at local establishments

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana is located on the easternmost point of the Dominican Republic. Get great deals on all-inclusive resorts from $60pp. This is the most budget-friendly destination in the Caribbean.

We love Punta Cana for the perfect blend of Caribbean beaches and jungle adventures. Go ziplining through the forest or offroad on ATVs. You can hike at Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve or swim in the crystal clear lagoons. You will find the best rates for activities at your hotel or local tour office. We recommend shopping around. Eat at friendly local restaurants. Try typical Dominican food including ceviche and mashed plantain.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Phu Quoc is a foodie and beach lover’s paradise. In this laid-back area of Vietnam, you will find fishing villages, markets, and Buddhist temples. The 93-mile coastline is perfect for watersports and romantic escapes. Indulge in street food and try the famous fish sauce. In Ham Hinh, treat yourself to fresh seafood in a floating restaurant. Be sure to season with locally grown pepper. Phu Quoc National Park covers more than half the island. Here you can go rafting, kayaking, or hiking. You may even spot wildlife including dugong, slow loris, and macaques.

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