Most Expensive and Least Expensive Towns for a Beach Vacation

Florida has cities on both lists. Can you guess which ones?
The Southernmost Buoy in Key West
Which list do you think Key West landed on – the most expensive or least expensive? Unsplash

From beautiful sunsets to the sound of waves crashing at night, it’s clear that seaside vacations have a strong pull. From Malibu, California, to the Florida Keys, these sought-after places to stay are the definition of a dream beach vacation. But beautiful things like this often come with a big price tag.

Upgraded Points, a travel company, looked at the average nightly and weekly costs of beachfront hotels and vacation homes in 75 major beach towns across the U.S. to find out how much beachfront happiness costs. The study also looked at the average price of places to stay that weren’t right on the beach to find out where summer travelers would pay the most for an ocean view.

Some important takeaways from the study:

On average, guests pay about 27% more for a vacation home on the beach with a view of the water than for a vacation home that is not on the beach. The average savings from renting a place that isn’t on the beach is $909 per week, but there are some interesting exceptions. The price difference between beachfront and non-beachfront stays in Malibu is a huge $5,383 per week. In Myrtle Beach, this difference is only $35.

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On average, renting an Airbnb with a view of the ocean costs 25% more than renting a hotel room with a view of the ocean. On Airbnb, the average price to stay in a seaside house (the whole house) for a night is $538.69 and for a week it costs $3,771. Airbnb prices for seaside hotels are usually $419.39 per night and $2,936 per week.

In some places, you can save a lot more money by staying in a hotel with a view of the water instead of a beachfront home. The outer banks of North Carolina are a good example of this. In Corolla, North Carolina, the average price of a beachfront home is $668 per night, while the average price of a beachfront hotel is only $255 per night. This is a difference of $413 per night. Cape Cod and the Islands, as well as the Hamptons and Southern California, also had this happen.

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Some places, but not all, a rental that isn’t right on the beach can save you thousands per week: In Malibu, the average price difference between beachfront and non-beachfront stays is a huge $769 per night. That’s a weekly price difference of more than $5,300. In places like Cedar Key, Florida, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, though, weekly savings are less than $50.

Top 10 most expensive beach towns for a 1-week beachfront stay:

  1. Montauk, NY,
  2. Southampton, NY,
  3. East Hampton, NY,
  4. Malibu, CA,
  5. Folly Beach, SC.
  6. Kiawah Island, SC
  7. Lahaina, HI
  8. Laguna Beach, CA
  9. Key West, FL
  10. Solana Beach, CA

Key West was ranked 9th among the top 10 most expensive towns for a beachfront vacation. The average nightly home rental is $607 a night. The average nightly hotel price is $692. The average price of a weeklong stay is $4,547.

Cedar Key in Florida was the least expensive beach town with an average nightly home rental price of $189 and the average nightly hotel price of $191. The average price of a weeklong stay in Cedar Key is $1,330.

Top 10 least expensive beach towns for a 1-week beachfront stay:

  1. Cedar Key, FL
  2. Ocean Springs, MS
  3. Ocean Shores, WA
  4. Port Aransas, TX
  5. Galveston, TX
  6. Ocean City, MD
  7. Pawleys Island, SC
  8. San Juan Island, WA
  9. Myrtle Beach, SC
  10. Bar Harbor, ME

Upgraded Points is a travel company that helps travelers maximize their travel, points, and experiences.

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