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Beach with palm trees at sunset
Romolo Tavani | Adobe Stock

The Best All-Inclusive Vacations Under $500, Including Airfare

These days, it’s almost impossible to find a vacation to a tropical destination that includes airfare and lodging for less than $500 per person. Almost. Those who know where and how to look, however, can easily end up on a sunny beach, or sipping mai tais at the bar of an all-inclusive resort, without having handed over five Benjamin Franklins for the whole experience. Need a bit of guidance getting there? Below are four all-inclusive tropical vacations—plus four bonus budget beach destinations—including airfare for under $500 per person.

Editor’s Note: The airfares, hotel rates, and vacation package prices in this story are sample prices only, and may vary depending on your specific travel dates.

The Best Destinations for All-Inclusive Vacations Under $500

All-inclusive resorts and packages allow guests to take care of all food and lodging expenses upfront, meaning they can relax on vacation without fear of unexpected costs cropping up during their trip. These four destinations offer travelers a chance to book an all-inclusive vacation and roundtrip airfare for under $500.

The Dominican Republic

Beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic at sunset
bruno ismael alves | Adobe Stock

The beaches of the Dominican Republic are as beautiful as any in the Caribbean, and round-trip flights to the island can cost as little as $180 from Chicago or Miami. Choice Hotels’ Ascend collection includes two all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic with incredibly low nightly rates: Travel during the off seasons—spring and fall—and you can nab a stay at Emotions by Hodelpa Juan Dolio for as little as $100 per night, or at Emotions by Hodelpa Puerto Plata from $97 per night.

Both are beachfront properties with a variety of restaurants, as well as outdoor pools, in-room fridges, microwaves, an on-site fitness center, and a location that’s within easy distance from the airport and major attractions. Members of the Choice Privileges Rewards Program also earn points by staying at either resort.

Pick the right dates, book a few nights, and do the math, and you’ll have gotten yourself a Caribbean vacation that includes airfare, hotel, food, and beverages (yes, even the alcoholic kind) for under $500.

Jamaica

Beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica
Paulo | Adobe Stock

For travelers willing to travel in the off-season—between mid-April and mid-December—a four night stay at the beachfront Royal Decameron, an all-inclusive property on Montego Bay’s lively strip, and roundtrip airfare can cost as little $474 when booked as a package through CheapCaribbean.com.

The Royal Decameron is within easy walking distance of the city’s best hot spots, shops, and restaurants, though all your food is already taken care of on-site. To stick to your budget, you can also stick to admission-free attractions in Jamaica—including Negril Cliffs and Castleton Gardens—and use local buses and taxis instead of renting a car.

The Bahamas

Cruise ship in Nassau, Bahamas on a sunny day
Costin79 | Adobe Stock

While not a classic all-inclusive resort vacation, you’ll certainly find everything you need on board a cruise ship to the Bahamas. And if you’re setting sail from Florida, you can, without too much effort, find a four-night cruise for about the cost of a single hotel night in any major American city.

A quick Expedia search brings up plenty of three- and four-night sailings from Florida that start under $300 per person, while Cruises.com offers a similar list. Cruise prices typically include all the food you can eat, live entertainment, and calls at ports such as Nassau, Freeport, and, often, private islands belonging to that cruise line. We even found a 4-night cruise departing from Miami going to the Bahamas for $169 per person! 

Cancún

Playa del Carmen at sunset
Leon718 | Adobe Stock

Roundtrip flights to Cancún from southeastern airports like Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, and Miami can be found for as little as $183. You’ll find the best deals during off-season, mid-summer through autumn, and fares tend to be cheaper for travel on weekdays than weekends.

Riu Hotels & Resorts operates a series of all-inclusive resorts in Cancún, including the HOTEL RIU DUNAMAR 5* which has rooms available for as little as $137 per night. For those who would rather bundle their airfare and hotel, CheapCaribbean.com offers deals on several all-inclusive vacation packages with airfare that will get you to Cancún for under $500. This vacation package to Riviera Maya  includes three nights at the Bahia Principe Grand Coba, a 5-star hotel right by popular Playa Del Carmen complete with spa, casino, and beach access. 

Other Top Spots for a Budget Vacation

If all-inclusive resorts aren’t your style, there are still plenty of other cheap tropical vacation spots to explore.  While additional expenses like food and excursions won’t be covered, you can still find round-trip airfare and lodging for under $500 at these destinations.

Puerto Rico

Coastline of San Juan, Puerto Rico
Martin | Adobe Stock

You can often find round-trip flights from Miami to San Juan for around $100—with some weekday options as low as $75—and flights from other parts of the east coast are usually under $200 thanks to budget airlines like Spirit. 

Vacation rentals are the most affordable option for accommodations and you can find several cheap options that are right by the beach – like this two-bedroom condo that costs just $89 per night or this spacious studio with spa tub and patio for just $99 per night.

Stretch your budget even further by spending your days lounging on the gorgeous beaches around the island, all of which are free and open to the public, or seeking out fun free experiences in the capital city of San Juan, like the University of Puerto Rico’s Botanical Garden.

Oahu, Hawaii

Aerial view of Honolulu on Oahu, Hawaii
jdross75 | Adobe Stock

Budget airlines like Southwest and Alaskan have made trips to Hawaii affordable. Several times a year, these airlines have sales that bring flights to Hawaii down to less than $300.  (Airfare sites such as Airfarewatchdog, SmarterTravel’s sister site, will alert you when fares drop.)

If you’re lucky enough to snag one of these low fares to Honolulu—or if you’re the lucky owner of a Southwest Companion Pass, which is actually fairly easy to get if you keep an eye out for associated credit card offers—Oahu has worthwhile low-budget lodgings that could help keep your tropical vacation total under $500. Vacation rentals will once again give you the best bang for your buck, with many highly rated options on Vrbo listed at less than $100 per night.

Once you’re there, Honolulu doesn’t have to be expensive since the city has plenty of cheap street food and affordable restaurants—Moose McGillycuddy’s is a favorite for low-cost breakfasts—and bus transportation is easy and much less expensive than renting a car. Plus, many of Oahu’s most worthwhile attractions are free or open for a nominal fee, including hiking up Diamond Head ($5 for entry, $10 to park a vehicle in the lot), paying tribute at Pearl Harbor’s USS Arizona (free), and sunbathing on Waikiki Beach (free).

Florida

Aerial view of Miami Beach
Kuteich | Adobe Stock

Americans looking to keep their tropical vacations under $500 don’t actually have to leave the contiguous part of their continent to laze on the beach while shaded by palm trees. Orbitz’s list of vacation package deals under $499 usually offers some worthwhile all-inclusive deals to Orlando. Likewise, Travelocity has a dedicated Flight + Hotel Deals Under $400 page that includes various packages to Miami and Orlando, with stays at properties like the Westgate Vacation Villa Resort and the Boulan South Beach.

If you’d rather book airfare and lodging separately, check out Expedia’s round-trip fares to Orlando for less than $100. Couple that with affordable lodgings, like the family-friendly Coco Key Hotel and Waterpark Resort—just $132 for a room that sleeps four and only $19 more for a King Suite—and you’ve got yourself a memorable tropical trip with the kids that won’t break the bank.

Tips for Finding All-Inclusive Vacations with Airfare Under $500

Wherever you choose to book your affordable tropical vacation, one key strategy to keeping it under $500 is to understand what average prices look like for where you want to go—and to be ready to buy the minute you see fares that are listed well below that.

“If you’ve been watching for a good fare and you find one, don’t hesitate,” says Jeff Klee, the CEO of CheapAir. “When you go away for a few days or hours to consult with friends, or just continue to shop around, you may be surprised to find that the fare has disappeared while you mulled it over.”

One other tip for keeping vacations under $500, from Klee: “Flexibility is your friend. Unless your trip is for an event tied to a specific set of dates, often just shifting your search dates by a few days can offer big savings. Remember that mid-week flights—Tuesdays and Wednesdays—are usually a much better value than those on the weekend.”

All of the products featured in this story were hand-selected by our travel editors. Some of the links featured in this story are affiliate links, and SmarterTravel may collect a commission (at no cost to you) if you shop through them. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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