Low-Key Beach in Central America or the Caribbean
November 3, 2016 6:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a laid-back, beachy, inexpensive place to go in January or February this year, ideally somewhere that I can reach by direct flight from Miami or Ft Lauderdale. And I'm looking for a specific kind of place to stay there.

I'll be in South Florida this winter at some point and I'd like to fly from there to somewhere in the Caribbean or Central America where I can hang out on a relatively quiet beach for 4-6 days.

What I'm looking for is pretty specific, but hopefully the fact that I'm very open geographically will make it easier to find!

- Ideally under $50/night for a room/bungalow/hut to myself, though I can stretch this if need be. I definitely understand how much this limits me!
- Right on the beach (or like, up the hill from a beach).
- I'll be by myself, so ideally a place that's friendly to solo travelers without being a crazy party scene. I'm thinking of something like a hostel or a less-stuffy bed and breakfast, where there's a common area for guests to hang out but where you have your own space.
- I'd love a less-developed beach/town.
- Other things to do besides hang out on the beach would be nice, maybe a day trip or two.
- A beach that's swimmable (ie, not strictly a surf beach).
- Reached with relative ease from Miami or Ft Lauderdale. I don't mind some ground travel (I assume some would be involved to get to a less-developed beach) but I'd love it if the travel could be like a half-day.

Basically, I'm looking for what you'd be able to find in one of the less-developed beaches of Thailand, if you're familiar, but in this hemisphere.
posted by lunasol to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
We went to Puerto Rico last December and I remember seeing some AirBnB studio apartments maybe not quite that cheap, but more in the $60-80 a day range. That was in San Juan area, so major tourist area, if you are looking outside of the big cities I imagine you might find something around $50.
posted by COD at 6:35 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Roatan? I think American Airlines has a direct flight from Miami.

It's a small island, so you won't have to do much ground travel to get to the beach. The west side of the island (West End and West Bay) is more touristy and the East Side is less touristy and more locals. Most everyone speaks both English and Spanish, so if you don't speak Spanish that shouldn't be a problem.

There's a range of accommodations available from the very expensive and luxurious to backpacker style. You'll definitely be able to find something for $50/night. This place, for example.
posted by Lingasol at 8:25 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest Puerto Rico as well, but Rincon.
posted by snickerdoodle at 8:30 PM on November 3, 2016

Fly to cancun, and then get away from that madness - north, by bus then ferry, to Isla Holbox. Hostel & Cabanas Ida y Vuelta Camping (holboxhostel.com) offers accommodations ranging from individual cabins to just hammocks with mosquito netting, depending on your budget and level of adventure.
posted by Kabanos at 8:40 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

The simplest would be Puerto Rico, the cheapest a "backpacker paradise" like Tulum (via flights to Cancun). You can also go further south in the state of Quintana Roo to Bacalar or Mahahual for a quieter more off-the-beaten-path place, but you'll have to pay via the hours on the bus. From another mefite fellow I met in a different part of Mexico: https://pointsofdeparture.wordpress.com/tag/mahahual

If you've never been to that area, and don't have a fetish for the unspoiled, I'd just stick to Tulum, as the bus from there to Bacalar is maybe four hours more each way in addition to the three hours from Cancun to Tulum.

Stay at the rental cabins in Xpu-Ha for beachside cheapness if you can deal with kinda run-down accomadations. Beautiful quiet beach!
posted by pynchonesque at 12:00 AM on November 4, 2016

For many years now, my go-to, secluded beach vacation has been to Montezuma, Costa Rica. It's very small, with a definite hippie vibe, but with all the amenities. There are several bars, a pizza place and a few casual restaurants. There's also a small store next door where you can pick up pretty much anything, to include booze, at reasonable prices.

Temps at the time you're going will be in the nineties, and rain will be unlikely.

El Sano Banano is a family-owned place with a good reputation and in your price range. The small beach is a five minute walk, the larger beach is about 10 minutes. (The family also owns the larger and more expensive Ylang-Ylang Resort on the big beach; ESB guests can use their pool.)

There's lots to do in the area, and the friendly ESB folks are good at making hassle-free arrangements for you, to include transportation and packing a lunch if you need one.

Getting there: fastest is Miami to SJO, and then fly from there to Tambor on either Sansa or Nature Air (30 minutes). It's another 30 minutes by taxi (about $35 including tip) to Montezuma. (The local flights do not leave from SJO. That's a 20 minute taxi ride. Which might sound complicated, but it's all easily managed.)
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:53 AM on November 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thanks for these answers! Though the small number does tell me this is maybe a bit of a tall order. I now have Montezuma, Holbox, and Tulum on my shortlist.
posted by lunasol at 7:40 PM on November 4, 2016

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