Admittedly, budget beach bungalows might not be for everyone. But, if you don’t mind forgoing a few creature comforts, a budget beach bungalow will often reward you with more money in your pocket, a better beach location for your buck, and quite possibly a more satisfying and memorable experience!
Here’s a look back at ten of our top beach bungalow budget stays from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.
1. Daniel’s Village, Juan y Lolo Rentals
Las Galeras, Dominican Republic
Daniel’s Village (Juan y Lolo Rentals) was one of our first beach bungalow stays traveling together. To this day, Las Galeras still seems to be largely off the American tourist radar, which is fine by us, and the nightly rate seems to have changed little in the past several years.
While not right on the beach, Juan y Lolo’s small complex of funky rentals was close enough to make the list, with a unique and local vibe all its own.
Las Galeras is a small—yet fun and inviting—seaside village on the Samaná Peninsula. And the nearby beach is not too shabby either.
2. Cat Ba Sandy Beach Resort
Cat Ba, Halong Bay, Vietnam
Heading over to the other side of the globe, we’ve got Cat Ba Sandy Beach Resort, a different flavor of beach bungalow on a tiny, secluded island right off of Cat Ba island in Vietnam’s amazing Halong Bay. We got there as part of an unforgettable 3-day 2-night Halong Bay cruise with Cristina Diamond Cruise.
Around the time of our stay, there were a lot of changes happening with the Halong Bay cruise industry. Many companies were actively upgrading their fleet and all of the traditional brown-colored cruise boats had been ordered by the government to be painted white for safety reasons and such. This beach bungalow village was part of the redevelopment effort, so the facilities were quite new.
It was a beautiful beach, but being late November in northern Vietnam, not optimal beach weather. Nonetheless, the stay on this picturesque little island remains one of our more memorable.
3. Sea Pearl Chalets
Varkala Beach, Kerala, India
India’s got a ton of coastline, with some really nice sandy strands of prime beach. However, we didn’t get to explore as much of it as we would have liked. We spent nearly two months in India from late July to mid-September, right smack in the middle of a late monsoon.
The popular beach destination of Goa was closed for the season, along with many of Kerala’s best beaches. Varkala, however, was open for business. Though the weather wasn’t perfect, we certainly got our fair share of sun and heat over our five-day stay. And best of all, there were few other visitors about, so we essentially had this amazing seaside community all to ourselves.
The ultimate budget beach bungalow with a seaview, Sea Pearl Chalets was a pretty fantastic find, perched right on the cliffs overlooking the beach (see photo below). The rondavels were surprisingly spacious, with hints of a far pricier, upper market resort.
4. Tradewinds Cabanas
Back to the Caribbean side of things, we’ve got Tradewinds at Placencia. While Tradewinds isn’t your classic overwater Caribbean bungalow, it’s a thoroughly Caribbean stay, with a thoroughly Caribbean vibe.
Out of the four places we stayed in Placencia over who knows how many visits while living in Belize, Tradewinds Cabanas was our absolute favorite, though, sadly, we only discovered it in the waning months of our time in country. That’s because it’s an easy place to miss—you might never know the beach bungalows were even there if you didn’t take a walk down the beach to the tip of the peninsula. But the best thing about Tradewinds might just be its location—best section of beach in town, in my opinion—calm, uncrowded, and the seagrass is minimal.
Even if we found the place earlier, the US$60/night price tag likely would have dissuaded us—there are nice rooms to be found in town for around US$25-$40, but they ain’t Tradewinds. If you’re visiting with family, however, many of the beach bungalows can accommodate 4-6.
Nothing beats being able to walk out your front door and right into the warm, inviting waters of the Caribbean. And of course, palm trees swaying over your beach bungalow are always a plus.
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5. Taraporn Bungalows
Chalok Baan Kao, Koh Tao, Thailand
US$13 in 2012 got you a lot in Thailand, particularly on the southern end of the Gulf island of Koh Tao in Chalok Baan Kao. By the time we got to Taraporn, we had already spent five days on the northern tip of the island in Sairee Village while Lori got SCUBA certified.
Chalok Baan Kao is the sleepier, less expensive, and more “local” answer to the backpacker-north and upscale-east of the island. These beach bungalows were basic, but included everything you need in paradise—ensuite bathroom with running water, hammock on the front porch, and easy access to the beach!
And the best part? You had to venture across this thing (below), night or day, rain or shine, to get between the bungalows and the rest of the village.
6. Funky Monkey / Lucio’s Place
Linga Linga, Inhambane, Mozambique
Taking a break from Thailand and heading down to Africa—way down, to Mozambique.
Linga Linga Point in Inhambane Province holds a special place in my heart and lots of memories from my time as a Peace Corps volunteer over a decade ago. Anyone willing to make the trip to this very special place will be rewarded tenfold for their efforts—and even all these years later, it’s still quite a bit of effort.
Lodging is basic, and the location is remote, but Lucio and family give visitors as authentic an experience as you can get without actually living in rural Inhambane Province. Plus, the food is always amazing.
Why stay at one of the nearby lodges cropping up when you can have the real deal?
In October 2014, a double cabana cost us US$25/night (with detached toilet and shower facilities). No, Mozambique is not a cheap place to backpack through, but you most certainly can pay much, much more at other places in the area.
7. North Beach Bungalows
Ban Chalok Lam, Koh Pha-Ngan, Thailand
In backpacker circles, Koh Pha-Ngan (Ko Phangan) may best be known for its legendary Full Moon parties at the southeastern tip of the island. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t equally—if not far more—worthy places to visit around other parts of the island.
While Koh Pha-Ngan’s more developed neighbor, Koh Samui, may cater to the luxury boutique crowd, the northern shore of Koh Phangan is still very much the real deal. As hundreds of revelers swayed to trance music, twirled fire sticks, and consumed copious amounts of everything under the sun on the other side of the island, we whiled away the days walking through the village, napping in a hammock or under a palm tree, and of course, swimming in the Gulf’s bathtub-warm waters.
Again, these beach bungalows are basic, but holy moly, you can’t beat the location! A few steps to one of the finest beaches anywhere. Oh, and don’t get me started with the fresh local seafood. Amazing!
Yep, this one was hard to leave.
8. Tobacco Caye Paradise
Tobacco Caye, Belize
So many awesome places, so little time.
Tobacco Caye Paradise beach bungalows offer the quintessential overwater bungalow on the Caribbean experience for visitors, and do not disappoint.
Tobacco Caye is another place near and dear to my heart (I know, they all are, but this one really is). I spent my 34th birthday on this island, and returned the next year when family was visiting.
Tobacco Caye lies some ten miles off the coast of Belize, literally right on the Belize Barrier Reef.
On one side of the island, the calm, shallow waters beckon snorkelers and swimmers. And on the other, the Caribbean Sea. Overwater Caribbean bungalows were US$25/night with an additional $25/night for full catering (dinner/breakfast/lunch). The food is great at Tobacco Caye Paradise and there are few other options on the three-acre island, so adding the meal plan to your overwater beach bungalow is worth the added cost.
9. Hotel La Casa Rosada
And now for something a little different. Representing the only Guatemala pick on the list (and one of the more urban locations as well), Hotel La Casa Rosada was our go-to place in Livingston while we were living in Southern Belize. Only accessible by boat, Livingston is a fairly remote place, though you might not know it strolling around town.
If you happen to find yourself in this part of the world (and trust me, you most certainly do!) Casa Rosada is a wonderful choice for a stopover en route to Belize, or on your way to explore Guatemala from Belize.
While the term “beach bungalow” doesn’t really apply here (the bungalows are indeed on the sea, but there’s no proper beach to be had for miles), this place has got a superb tropical/jungly Caribbean-meets-Latin-America feel to it. And the food is incredible.
10. Mbuyuni Beach Village
Jambiani, Zanzibar, Tanzania
I saved the best for last. But that’s how it should be, right?
Mbuyuni Beach Village is a beach paradise if I’ve ever found it, and an awesome deal, no matter which way you slice it.
We originally planned to spend three nights here and ended up spending ten! Yes, we did benefit greatly from shoulder season pricing, but the value we got here would easily justify paying much more. First-rate accommodation, excellent on-site restaurant, beachside pool, and the list goes on.
Mbuyuni offers an array of accommodation, but the beach bungalows area really what you want, packed with a number of amenities that add a hint of luxury to what could easily be a fairly rustic stay. Best of all? You’re just steps away from a jaw-dropping beautiful beach.
And, you can’t beat nearby Jambiani village on the east coast of Zanzibar for friendly, laid back locals, beautiful coastline, and great food. Unlike nearby Paje, Jambiani is first and foremost a fishing village, not a tourist hub. Look forward to having conversations with locals that don’t just include buying and selling knickknacks and snorkel trips (though you can find those too).