How will you ever achieve that perfect full-body tan if your hand is constantly reaching into your pocket?! That’s why our editors have rounded up a list of 10 great-value, all-inclusive beach resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico, where the focus is on the sun, surf, and sand – not on opening up your wallet. We know that tallying up all of those “extras” (like meals, tips, cocktails, and activities) can be a real buzzkill on your happy-go-lucky vacation, so we propose bunking down at one of these all-inclusive gems instead, where nightly rates start from as little as $132 per person, per night – and never more than $250 – and that’s during the winter high season (go in shoulder or low season and snag even better bargains)! Ranging from luxury to boutique, and from family-friendly to adults-only, these standout properties deal with the costs up-front, leaving their guests to enjoy a blissfully cash-free adventure once there. After all, that soft sand is no place for hard cash! For a preview of these spectacular oases, check out our All-Inclusive Beach Resorts slideshow.
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Azul Beach Hotel, Puerto Morelos, Mexico
This stylish, small hotel in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, offers big-resort amenities with a boutique sensibility. The self-proclaimed “first all-inclusive boutique resort,” Azul, with just 90 rooms, offers sweet respite from its rowdier neighbors in nearby Playa del Carmen and Cancún. All-inclusive rates (which tally in taxes and fees, to boot) include food and drinks (including premium beverages) from four eateries and trio of lounges, champagne at check-in, 24-hour room service, live music and shows, and activities for kids and adults (think yoga classes, not limbo contests). After a morning Spanish class, snag a seaside cabana, and let a “Beach Butler” (he’ll be the one carrying the mineral-water vaporizer) take care of the rest at one of our top picks for all-inclusive resorts. Winter rates from $239 per person a night, based on double occupancy; www.karismahotels.com
Copamarina, Puerto Rico
Showy large-scale resorts dot Puerto Rico’s shores, but few offer all-inclusive packaging, which makes the affordable Copamarina a particularly attractive, family-oriented home base. Its location on the south coast next to a UNESCO biosphere reserve lets guests leave the casinos and nightlife of well-trodden San Juan behind in favor of a tranquil oasis that features activities like hiking, bird-watching, and exploring La Parguera’s bioluminescent bay. Although package rates at the property don’t factor in those extra excursions, they do allow for access to non-motorized water sports like kayaking and pedal boating, as well as daily meals at Copamarina’s two restaurants, which both draw non-resort visitors for top-notch Caribbean cuisine like lobster tail in mustard and mango sauce. Guests who opt for the all-inclusive option can also sip on an unlimited supply of select alcoholic beverages. The resort’s 106 rooms each come with balconies boasting garden or ocean views; louvered windows provide privacy. Two pools (plus two kiddie pools), a duo of Jacuzzis, a small spa, and a dive shop round out the offerings at this all-inclusive beach resort. Winter rates from $192 per person, per night, based on double occupancy; www.copamarina.com
For more options, check out this guide to all-inclusive experiences in Puerto Rico. Then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals to Puerto Rico.
Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa, Dominican Republic
Set on the east coast of the Dominican Republic in Uvero Alto (about 45 miles from the Punta Cana airport), the secluded Dreams Punta Cana earns raves for its superlative, enormous swimming pool (complete with waterfall and a swim-up bar) and array of family-friendly activities, but this all-inclusive beach resort offers much more, too, with activities that run the gamut from introductory scuba lessons to yoga to cooking classes. Guests at Dreams are free to partake in a range of water sports (kayaking, windsurfing, snorkeling), a dedicated kids’ club and teen zone, and evening entertainment like beachside movies and theme parties. The resort’s 620 rooms and suites – most with ocean views – feature four-poster beds, balconies or terraces, and well-stocked complimentary minibars. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, six restaurant options offer cuisines ranging from Mexican to Italian to Pan-Asian, while 10 bars and lounges provide premium alcoholic beverages for a poolside cocktail or intimate nightcap. Winter rates from $175 per person, per night, based on double occupancy; www.dreamsresorts.com/drepc
El Dorado Seaside Suites, Kantenah, Mexico
Shaded beach beds for two and three-course candlelit dinners served on the sand (though note a supplemental fee applies for the latter) call out the decidedly amorous vibe at this all-suite, adults-only resort lining the crystal-clear shores of Kantenah beach (about 45 minutes from the Cancún International Airport). Guests in the 280 rooms here can take full advantage of the hotel chain’s signature gourmet inclusive concept, which factors in premium beverages and à la carte meals at six restaurants, including La Carreta, where fajitas and enchiladas are paired with more than 30 types of tequila, some made in-house. Non-motorized water sports like kayaking and snorkeling are also on offer, while tennis matches and jaunts to the nearby Mayan ruins in Tulum provide dry land diversions (note extra fees apply for Tulum excursions). Even so, you’d be forgiven for succumbing to the joys of doing very little, as three freshwater pools and a winding lazy river welcome days spent lolling about in the sun at this all-inclusive beach resort. Rates from $207 per person, per night, based on double occupancy; www.karismahotels.com
Grand Pineapple Beach Negril, Jamaica
Lemon yellow-, sky blue-, and peach pink-hued cottages and pavilions confirm the cheery, untroubled vibe at Jamaica’s Grand Pineapple Beach Negril (operated by Sandals Resorts International), a 65-room property perched along the isle’s sugar-white Seven Mile Beach. Bordered by tropical gardens and sapphire waters, the all-inclusive resort anchors its offerings on the down-to-earth pleasures of island paradise – namely, basking in the sun while digging toes into the sand. When not soaking up vitamin D, guests can take to the sea via kayak or Windsurfers, or spy on the creatures below with snorkelling equipment, all of which are folded into the nightly rates. The costs also encompass all snacks and meals (served buffet-style from the Orchid Terrace restaurant) and unlimited premium beverages, including those served after-hours in the Sunset Beach Bar. Alternately, revellers can opt for nightly entertainment, including a live band four times a week, themed evening parties (galas, beach barbecues, and Jamaican nights among them), and one weekly welcome cocktail reception. Through the resort's 50 percent off sale, winter rates from $143 per person, per night, based on double occupancy; www.grandpineapple.com
Majahuitas Resort, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Named after a golden hibiscus-like flower that flourishes here, this private stretch of sand called Majahuitas is also home to a bucolic, solar-powered resort made up of eight enchanting casitas. The 18-acre, all-inclusive beach resort, accessible only by boat from Puerto Vallarta, is a primitive-style enclave (there are no phones or Internet access). Despite the lack of modern conveniences, this world-away sanctuary provides a not-to-be-missed experience for nature lovers; there’s a nearby underwater canyon and a jungle upstream well worth exploring. Since the sun is the major power source here, dinners are oh-so romantic – lit solely by flickering candles in a massive chandelier. Delicious and hearty breakfasts, lunches, and gourmet dinners are included in nightly rates, as are non-motorized water sports, and boat transfers to the island (if you're staying for four or more nights; transfers are $10 otherwise). Though a morning coffee and tea service is delivered to guestrooms ahead of breakfast, note that all other beverages are additional. Winter rates from $178 per person, per night, based on double occupancy; www.majahuitasresort.com
Occidental Grand Aruba, Aruba
One of Aruba’s most popular all-inclusive luxury resorts sits on the island’s lovely Palm Beach and boasts all the deluxe trappings you’d expect (and more): a lagoon-style pool, disco, Las Vegas-style shows, five swanky bars, and no fewer than six dining options, with mouthwatering ethnic food options on the menu, from Caribbean fusion to classic Italian to pan-Asian. Some 398 well-appointed rooms tout mahogany-stained two-poster beds outfitted with damask linens, and private balconies or terraces (many are ocean-facing). You’ll find more outdoor activities on offer than the island has divi-divi trees – spend your days enjoying the pristine surroundings via sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, and other water sports. Rates comprise all meals and beverages (including full open bar and limited in-room dining), tennis and scuba clinics, daily activities and water sports, nightly entertainment, and access to Kid’s Club for youngsters, making this one of our top picks for all-inclusive resorts. Winter rates from $247 per person, per night, based on double occupancy; www.occidentalhotels.com
Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
At the very tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, the Los Cabos area provides a Pacific playground primed for some much needed R&R – and the Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas is your ticket for a fun-filled, all-inclusive beach vacation. With two spacious swimming pools with swim-up bars – plus separate children’s pools and a hot tub – it’s easy to laze the day away in the Mexican sunshine. Looking for a little bit more structure? The RiuLand program offers daily games and entertainment for kids (organized by age group), while adults can participate in a roster of activities like beach volleyball or Spanish lessons. When it comes time to refuel, Riu’s six restaurants highlight culinary variety deriving from Mexico, Italy, and Japan. Evenings light up with live music and performances, and stretch into the wee hours at the on-site Pacha nightclub. Afterward, bed down (or continue the party) in one of this all-inclusive beach resort's 642 rooms and suites, complete with balconies or terraces, minibars with full-size liquor bottles, and 24-hour room service. With online special, winter rates from $132 per person, per night, based on double occupancy; palacecabosanlucas.riu.com
Riu Palace Paradise Island, Bahamas
On the Bahamas’ Paradise Island, much of the glitz and glory goes to Atlantis, but neighboring Riu Palace claims a 3-mile stretch of the same turquoise shores and sugar-white sands – at a fraction of the price. A $35 million renovation in 2009 refreshed the property, which claims 379 guestrooms, many outfitted with ocean-view balconies. The sizeable pool with its swim-up bar, oceanfront lounge chairs, and beach volleyball appease laidback sun-seekers, while more active vacationers can hit the links at Atlantis’ 18-hole Ocean Club Golf Course or enlist in water sports like deep sea fishing and scuba diving (for an extra charge). Guests would be hard-pressed to go hungry or thirsty here, with drinks mixed 24 hours a day and five restaurants – four of which offer à la carte dining, with gourmet dishes like steak and sushi – at your disposal (though note that the specialty restaurants require advance reservations). Even recluses will stay well-sated indoors, as both room service and minibar treats are folded into the rate at one of our top value-oriented, all-inclusive resorts. With online special, winter rates from $192 per person, per night, based on double occupancy; www.paradiseislandriu.com
Sugar Bay Resort & Spa, USVI
Nearby St. John (in the U.S. Virgin Islands) and parts of the British Virgin Islands dot the panoramic vistas from this hilltop resort on St. Thomas, a popular, yet intimate isle measuring just 13 miles wide and 4 miles long. The property is the only true all-inclusive on the island, and room rates give all guests the run of the place – flash a wristband to hop on a kayak, dip into one of three connected pools, or nurse a cocktail from the resort’s small, shaded white-sand beach. For the same price, lodgers can hop between six eateries and three bars and lounges (though note that room service is extra), most of which feature outdoor seating and views of the manicured grounds and aquamarine waters lining this all-inclusive beach resort. Savor the same scenery from a private balcony in one of the 294 guestrooms, which each overlook the resort grounds, bay, or ocean. With online special, winter rates from $190 per person, per night, based on double occupancy; www.sugarbayresortandspa.com