As vacation season ramps back up, it’s no secret that many of the popular beach vacation destinations in the United States are hitting all time highs in numbers of tourists descending on the sand. With staffing numbers at all time lows and vacationers at all time highs, chaos is an almost certainty at most of the popular areas. That is, if you can even find accommodations. Vacation rental and hotel prices are at the highest level we’ve ever seen, and are still at near 100% booking capacity. So instead of focusing on areas that are going to make you feel like sardines on the beach, this article is going to highlight the beach vacation destinations we feel are under the radar. Think of this as a guide to the places locals go to escape the onslaught of sunburnt tourists.
Fripp Island, South Carolina
With a population of under 1000, you probably haven’t heard of Fripp Island. This secluded and private vacation destination is located northeast of Hilton Head Island, but is far less crowded. It’s a long drive from any major cities and doesn’t offer an abundance of public beach access. While this makes it difficult for day trippers, it is ideal for people staying on the island. This is one of the least crowded beach destinations in the United States.
Golf carts are the preferred transportation method on Fripp Island, keeping with the ultra laid back style of the area. If you are looking to relax, this is your spot. Most Fripp Island vacation rentals are in the form of beach houses or condos. To be perfectly honest, there’s not much to do on the island that doesn’t involve the beach, the water or golfing. But if your idea of a peaceful vacation involves some combination of those activities, you won’t find a quieter beach vacation spot. Check Availability of Fripp Island Vacation Rentals on VRBO.com
Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island is a barrier island straight east of Savannah, Georgia. The proximity to Savannah makes it an easy trip in and out if you choose to fly. It’s about 25 miles from the Savannah Airport (Airport Code SAV) so it usually makes sense to get a rental car, which also makes it much easier to explore the area. There are three main beach areas of the island, South Beach, Mid Beach and North Beach. Each of these sections of beach has a distinct feel, with the North and South Beach areas having more shops and restaurants, and Mid Beach more peaceful quiet beachfront.
There are a variety of vacation rental options on Tybee Island, with many different price points. The rental prices correlate directly with the proximity of the rental to the beach. There are beautiful beachfront houses like the one pictured above, or much more affordable options a short walk from the beach. There are a few large condo complexes on the island, but the majority of the island is houses and very small condos. This keeps the beaches from being crowded and is a huge perk of vacationing here. We recommend making the choice of where you stay based on how close you want to be to the action of the island. If you are looking for the quietest beach above all else, Mid Beach is where you want to be. Check Availability of Tybee Island Vacation Rentals on VRBO.com
Don Pedro Island, Florida
Don Pedro Island is a slightly more adventurous destination than the others on this list. If you are up for a little adventure, you will be rewarded with one of the most beautiful and least crowded beaches in Southwest Florida. The island can only be accessed by ferry (check their schedule here https://palmislandtransit.com/). You can take a rental car on the ferry but most people park at the ferry dock use a golf cart to get around on the island. This is only a trip I’d recommend for travelers who don’t mind doing some leg work figuring out the logistics of making a trip like this work.
All that being said, Don Pedro Island is the least busy vacation destination on this list (by far). The beaches are absolutely incredible. Because of the challenge of getting here, Don Pedro Island house rentals are extremely reasonably priced. There aren’t many places in South Florida where you will find a better value on a beachfront vacation rental. The houses are also spread far enough apart that it often feels like you have the beach to yourself. If you put in the time to figure out how to make this island work for your vacation, you will be rewarded with one of the most private and beautiful beaches in Florida. Check Availability of Don Pedro Island Vacation Rentals on VRBO.com
Mexico Beach, Florida
Once a busy tourist destination west of Panama City, Mexico Beach was essentially wiped off the map by Hurricane Michael in 2018. The before and after pictures of this beautiful beach town are heartbreaking to look at. The massive rebuilding effort started in the years following the hurricane and is still an ongoing process. More and more restaurants and beach bars are reopening every month, and Mexico Beach is on the rebound. The numbers of tourists in the area are way down from the pre Hurricane Michael years, but they are steadily increasing.
Essentially every single one of the buildings in this charming beach city is brand new. The area relies on tourism revenue and is desperate to get vacationers back in town. The deals here are bar none the best in the Panhandle, whether that’s accomodations or food and drinks. It’s a perfect combination of sparkling new beach rentals combined with businesses motivated to attract people to the area. If you want to experience this beautiful stretch of beach before it’s unbearably crowded again, this is the year to do it. When word gets out that Mexico Beach is back, look out. Check Availability of Mexico Beach Vacation Rentals on VRBO.com