16 Cheapest Islands in the World to Visit

Sri Lanka, Bentota beach
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Dreaming of the most beautiful islands in the world, but the reality of your savings account isn’t exactly cooperating? Don’t worry—there’s plenty of beauty to behold without breaking the bank.
The price of airfare notwithstanding, there’s a good chance that one of the following island destinations will meet even the most modest budget.

Of course, for the absolute best prices, you’ll want to plan your travel during off-peak times and get creative about lodging, food, and transportation options. Fortunately, many of these islands offer less-expensive alternatives to resorts (such as homestays and hostels), are easy to navigate without a car (whether that means renting a bicycle or making use of mass transit), and have plenty of affordable dining options, so long as you look beyond the touristy restaurants. In fact, you can thoroughly enjoy most of them for less than $100 a day—and you won’t even feel like you’re missing out, as many of the most popular attractions and sights are often free of charge.

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Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas

Beautiful beach in Bahamas, caribbean ocean and idyllic islands in a sunny day
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As the northernmost of the 700 islands of the Bahamas, Grand Bahama dishes up plenty of budget-friendly activities alongside its white-sand beaches. Visiting Lucayan National Park, whose stunning 40 acres are home to both beloved Gold Rock Beach and one of the largest charted underwater cave systems in the world, is an affordable adventure. Meander around Port Lucaya Marketplace to experience a Junkanoo performance by day and dance to Bahamian music at night, and enjoy the public (read: free) Fortune and Lucaya beaches. There are even hotel options under $80 a night.

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Madeira, Portugal

View of Madeira

TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove

Though closer to mainland Africa, Madeira is a territory of Portugal known for its rugged mountains, lush landscapes, and award-winning wine. Visitors can find hotel rates starting at $85 a night, and enjoy plenty of low-cost activities: paddling around the volcanic Porto Moniz natural swimming pools, admiring the never-ending views from various observation points around the island, and going on a Levada walk along the centuries-old irrigation channels. No wonder it's been called the “Hawaii of Europe.”

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Dominican Republic

An empty beach with palm trees and clear water in Miches

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

Looking for one of the least expensive Caribbean islands? The Dominican Republic is full of affordable surprises. First, the beaches are gorgeous and there are more than 200 to choose from (favorites include Playa El Morro, Playa Rincon, Playa Juan Dolio, and Playa Macao). In Santo Domingo, stroll around Zona Colonial, a UNESCO World Heritage and the historic heart of the country's capital. Here, you’ll find castles, cathedrals, cobblestone streets, and cafés around every corner. During the low season (summer), you can find hotel deals starting at $33 a night.

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Sri Lanka

Nine arches bridge between Ella and Demodara, in the highlands of Sri Lanka
Michael Roberts / Getty Images

Even on a shoestring budget—think: $25-50 a day per person—Sri Lanka manages to serve up an excellent vacation. Since the South Asian island country is one of the largest tea producers in the world, start with a tea factory tour or explore the tea plantations on a peaceful hike. Taking a train ride through the hills from Kandy to Badulla or from Colombo to Galle is a scenic and affordable way to see the countryside. Of course, there are plenty of beaches, thanks to the country’s 830 miles of coastline; stop by Unawatuna to lounge in sunbeds and swim, Weligama for surfing, or Mirissa for whale sightings.

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Koh Tao, Thailand

Koh Tao, Jon Suwan Viewpoint in the morning
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Sunsets don’t get much more magical than on Koh Tao, in the Gulf of Thailand. This free entertainment is a nightly ritual for many visitors, and Sairee Beach is the place to be as the sun dips below the horizon. Another feast for the eyes that’s free of charge? Checking out the island's street art scene, with its full display of colorful murals. Street food here will likely cost just a few dollars per meal and lodging in private dormitory rooms (with a shared bathroom) may be as low as $10 a night.

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US Virgin Islands

Aerial view of woman on paddleboard
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While you might think the three main islands of the USVI—St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix—only offer luxury resort accommodations, there’s plenty of budget lodging to be had as well. For instance, visitors can become one with the area’s beautiful nature by camping at the Cinnamon Bay Beach & Campground within the Virgin Islands National Park, which encompasses two-thirds of St. John and nearly all of Hassel Island. Also free to visit is Point Udall on St. Croix, the easternmost point in the United States. Plus, each island features plenty of food stands serving up large portions of deliciously low-cost meals.  

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Isla Holbox, Mexico

Island aerial view: Mexico, Island Holbox and the ocean.
Malorny / Getty Images

Just north of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula lies Isla Holbox—but don’t let its translation of “Black Hole” scare you off of this budget-friendly island (the name comes from the dark water in the mangroves). Spend your days birdwatching the 350 different species in the area, exploring the colorful architecture, and grabbing seafood and margaritas at neighborhood hot spots. Don’t miss the bioluminescent waters here, which are visible under a dark sky with no moonlight. You can see the small and walkable town on foot, or rent a golf cart for a few hours.

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St. Kitts

Cruise port Zante, Basseterre, Saint Kitts.
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Another Caribbean favorite, St. Kitts (part of a dual-island nation with Nevis) is the ultimate affordable tropical paradise. With numerous beaches boasting free access—including Cockleshell Bay and its view of Nevis, Half Moon Bay for great bodysurfing, and secluded Banana Bay with swaying coconut trees—you could easily enjoy a whole day without spending a penny. When hunger strikes, hit such food stalls as The Coal Pot and Plantistique Cuisine for a bite to eat. And you’ll find inexpensive lodging options at Royal St. Kitts Hotel and Sugar Bay Club.

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Siargao, Phillipines

Girl with surfboard at Cloud 9, Siargao, Philippines
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Best known as a surfer’s paradise, Siargao emanates a laid-back vibe with prices to match. In fact, Cloud 9 surf break is lauded as one of the best surf spots in the world. Rent a surfboard and take a lesson from a local instructor, zone out on the white, sandy beaches, and visit the Magpupungko tidal rock pools to go cliff jumping or for a swim. The island offers homestay options with local families or dormitory-style hostels for the most affordable accommodations. For lunch and dinner, look for street food stalls serving up local dishes at mealtimes.

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Puerto Rico

View of people kayaking outside the old fortress in San Juan, Puerto Rico

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

This unincorporated U.S. territory is rich in history and culture, and a great way to enjoy the Caribbean without a passport. Home rentals are an affordable lodging option away from the higher-priced hotels, and Old San Juan is a very walkable city, which means you can skip the car rental. Stroll along the cobblestone streets, shop for handcrafted souvenirs, and visit the old forts (Castillo San Cristobal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The beaches and waterfalls are free to enjoy, and small food stalls and restaurants beyond the touristy areas are the perfect choices for dining on a budget.

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Utila, Honduras

Coral Reef in Utila, Honduras. Reefscape featuring fan coral & fish
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Arguably, the best diving in Honduras is in the Bay Islands, which is where you’ll find Utila—not to mention whale sharks, seen year-round in these waters. Less developed and even less expensive than Roatan, Utila is also known for its vibrant and cheap nightlife (think: drinks and food for a couple of bucks a pop). Visitors can also snorkel the coral reef and chill at Bandu Beach. Hotels can be found for less than $100 a night (and some at half that price if you book on the right days).

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Bali, Indonesia

Pura Taman Ayun in Bali

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto

For decades, travelers have been flocking to Bali for its beauty and inexpensive prices (remote workers especially love this island for its low cost of living). Bali is home to many beautiful and historic temples, some of which are free to visit, including Pura Taman Saraswati, with its iconic lotus-filled pond. Explore the vibrant markets, where you can shop for low-cost souvenirs such as clothing and traditional arts and crafts. Hiking is another popular pastime, as is relaxing on the powdery white-sand beaches. Look for guest houses and homestays for $10-20 a night or mid-tier hotels starting at $50 a night.

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Barbados

Caribbean view - Bathsheba, Barbados
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While it may have a reputation for luring travelers in with luxury resorts, Barbados can be very affordable if you avoid all-inclusive packages and travel during the low season (summer). Instead of renting a car, make use of the bus system all over the island, which comes in handy for checking out the various neighborhoods. There are plenty of local markets and beaches to keep you busy (some of the most popular include the picturesque Bathsheba Beach and body-surfing-friendly Dover Beach), but don’t miss other popular spots like Barbados Boardwalk, Harrison’s Cave, and Animal Flower Cave.  

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Koh Rong, Cambodia

Koh Rong, Cambodia
Diego Fiore / Getty Images

Untouched beaches for a fraction of the price of many other tropical islands? That’s exactly what you’ll get on Koh Rong. There’s no shortage of activities on Cambodia's second-largest island, from snorkeling and scuba diving excursions that are teeming with marine life to mountain biking and jungle trekking that offer impressive views. Enjoy the crystal-clear ocean waters on a kayak or paddleboard by day, or snorkel with the bioluminescent plankton long after the sun sets. Lonely Beach is a serene spot to while away an afternoon, as is taking a dip in one of the many refreshing waterfalls.

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Jamaica

Beach chairs under thatched sun umbrellas ona. beach with palm trees in Ocho Rios

TripSavvy / Anna Haines

While there are plenty of high-end resorts that could break the bank in Jamaica, there are ways to enjoy this Caribbean island without forking over a lot of cash. Focus on such accommodations as guest houses and hostels for only $30 a night, and fill up on street food for just $5-10 a meal. (Or, if you want to cook up your own meals, you can shop at local markets for fresh produce.) Instead of paying for pricey watersports and excursions, explore low-cost options on your own, like the Bob Marley Museum, the Hope Gardens, and the stunning Dunn’s River Falls and Park.

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Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Wide shot of Cable car ropeway to Hon Thom - Phu Quoc island
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Vietnam’s largest island is Phu Quoc (though it’s actually off the coast of Cambodia), and this is precisely where travelers go to soak up the sun’s rays on the miles and miles of palm-lined, white-sand beaches. Bike rentals are available and the easiest way to get around the island as you visit the local fish markets, food stalls, beaches, and villages. The Phu Quoc National Park takes up half the island and features lush vegetation and a large variety of wildlife ripe for exploration. Plenty of low-cost hostels are available for lodging, but you can also find hotels for around $15 per night.