After a bumpy 2020 many of us can’t wait to flop on a tropical beach, glass of fresh mango juice (or something stronger) in hand. There’s nothing like snorkeling on a coral reef to bring down your stress levels. While many people worry about the cost of an exotic vacation, some hotels and airlines are offering incentives such as lower prices and zero cancellation fees to encourage more visitors. Here are some of the best cheap tropical vacation destinations open for business in 2021.
Editor’s note: Save these ideas for when it’s safe to travel again, and always follow all COVID-19 restrictions, rules and safety regulations both at your destination and upon returning home.
With most cruise ship schedules on hold until at least April 2021, the second busiest cruise destination in the world is attempting to fill up its hotels by offering rooms at up to 30 percent lower than normal. The lush Mexican Caribbean island is fringed by excellent snorkeling sites and the ruins of a Maya temple is tucked away in the heart of it.
If you have a few extra hours to spare, you can save even more money by flying to Cancun airport rather than Cozumel airport, then taking a luxury ADO bus ($15) from the airport to Playa del Carmen (65 minutes), where you can hop on a fast ferry to Cozumel ($14 Tourist Ticket, 20 minutes).
Where to stay: The Explorean Cozumel is an affordable choice (often with big discounts on rooms), and with food and beverages included in the rates, it’s a steal.
Having been battered by two back-to-back hurricanes in 2020, Honduras is facing a long recovery period and so is very keen to see tourist dollars flowing back in. This is a destination where you get a lot of value for money at the best of times, with four-star rooms for under $100. But some Honduras hotels are offering excellent deals in 2021 including up to 20 percent off regular rates.
Tourism hubs like Roatan island (40 miles off the mainland) offer beautiful beaches, coral reefs, sloth tours and rum tastings.
Where to stay: Check out Paradise Beach Hotel’s cute clusters of guestrooms, villas and suites on the beachfront, surrounded by palm trees and pools. The hotel frequently offers discounts and cheap packages.
‘Done’ the Caribbean and want to see something new? Then Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) could be your next big adventure. According to a recent report, Cabo Verde is eager to entice travelers after being hit hard by a drop in tourism last year. If you’re working remotely or looking for a long stay trip, you’re in luck – they’ve launched new work visas that allow you to stay for up to six months.
But whether you’re heading to Cabo Verde for six months or six nights, you’ll easily find accommodation for under $100 a night. Turquoise lagoons and creole culture await you on these ten volcanic islands. Head to Boa Vista island (Portuguese for ‘good view’) for laid-back vibes and pristine golden sands.
Where to stay: Some of the hotels are closed until more tourists venture back but things are starting to pick up. Ouril Hotel Agueda is a solid three-star hotel near the sea with a rooftop bar. Rooms are under $100 a night and currently there’s 25 percent off.
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Recently Grenada has totally revamped its tourism framework “to competitively position Grenada with target audiences”. That’s good news for bargain-hunters and those who appreciate natural attractions such as white sand beaches, waterfalls and reefs will love it. The islands are also famous for their spices, so spice tours should also be added to any foodies’ Grenada bucket list.
The tourist board has launched a heap of deals and incentives, including discounts on rum tours, spa day passes, outdoor adventures and scuba diving experiences.
Where to stay: Check out the three-star Sea Breeze Hotel for a simple affordable option (under $80/night) just four minutes’ walk from the beach
You can usually get the best deals on flights to Thailand by booking at least one month in advance, but this year many routes are almost half price if you use a bargain flight site to book, such as CheapOair. Once you’ve grabbed a flight deal, you’ll find everything in Thailand is incredibly cheap.
For blissful beach vibes, fly to Koh Samui or Phuket, or if jungle is your thing, head to Chiang Mai. If you’ve seen The Beach, the filming location, Phi Phi Lei (scheduled to reopen this year after extensive conservation works) is a must-see. You can’t stay on this protected island, but you can book a trip/hire a taxi boat to take you there from Phi Phi Don, Krabi, Ao Nang or any of the other neighboring tourism hotspots.
Where to stay: On Koh Phi Phi Don (‘Big Phi Phi Island) try the contemporary Thai three-star, Phi Phi Island Cabana Resort, with excellent views of the beach and sublime limestone cliffs for around $60 per night.