If you’re planning a vacation right now, you have plenty to consider — including varying health restrictions and safety concerns as COVID-19 infection rates go up and down around the world. Then there’s your budget: Do you need to save money or are you able to splurge? We have some ideas for either scenario, and for different interests. Just be sure to check local COVID-19 restrictions and, when considering international travel, keep current on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest country-specific travel advisories for your destination.
If you’re considering ...
A beach vacation in the U.S.
Save: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, to be sure, isn’t just a “beach” — it’s a vacation mecca. The area, essentially 60 miles along the coast of South Carolina (known as the Grand Strand), includes 14 different communities. So there’s beach-going, yes, but also golfing, outlet shopping, strolling the boardwalk, and visiting two beautiful state parks, among other diversions. It gets crowded in summer, but you can still find good deals, particularly during the shoulder season.
Where to stay: Lined with condos, Myrtle Beach offers value vacations via bargain timeshare rentals that start at about $50 a night through the service Redweek, a marketplace timeshare owners use to sell their weekly stays. For about $100 a night, you might get a two-bedroom, two-bath condo at the Ocean Enclave by Hilton Grand Vacations, which has two pools and an onsite restaurant for when you don’t want to cook. There are also loads of big chain hotels that aren’t too pricey (depending on the time of year).
Fun activity: Ditch the crowds at Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens in Little River, just north of Myrtle Beach, to explore the salt marsh and spot shorebirds (free).
Dining tip: Make a pilgrimage to Little Pigs Bar-B-Q, which has been dishing up fall-off-the-bone ribs and pulled pork sandwiches since 1963.
The Big Island (about 4,000 square miles) is especially rich with natural beauty. Must-sees include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and some spectacular waterfalls on the island’s east side.
Where to stay: Set on the white sand cove on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel keeps guests engaged on-site with an array of activities and amenities, including outrigger canoeing, night snorkeling with manta rays, tennis and pickleball courts, an 18-hole golf course, hula lessons and art tours (rooms from $1,100). Or spend less for a luxe experience on the same coast at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, which has two golf courses, three pools, a water slide and a spa (rooms from $685).
Fun activity: Get a bird’s-eye view of the volcanic island, including the active Kilauea volcano, by air with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters ($649 per person).
Dining tip: The resort’s own Manta is renowned for its macadamia nut-crusted mahi-mahi, but it’s also worth considering a trip to nearby Merriman’s in Waimea, the flagship restaurant of chef Peter Merriman, a champion of farm-to-table fare.
A beach getaway abroad
Save: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Stretch your travel budget in Mexico, where a dollar gets you about 21 pesos. In the resort town of Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast, beautiful beaches and a distinctly Mexican feel are the main draws. Adding to its appeal: wonderful restaurants, lively bars and quirky boutiques, especially in Old Vallarta, a bustling area just south of downtown with winding cobblestone streets.
Where to stay: You can chill at expansive beachfront pools and enjoy sunset views at many different resorts here without spending a bundle, including at Banderas Bay at the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa (rooms start at $149).
Fun activity: Take a break from beachcombing to explore Puerto Vallarta’s thriving art scene on a free two-hour public sculpture tour offered by Galeria Pacifico every Tuesday.
Dining tip: Explore the city’s taco scene with Vallarta Food Tours, which offers a tour that stops at seven food stands you can trust (about $50).