Cheap Beachside Holidays

Beach holidays are often about nice resorts and expensive hotels situated adjacent to a popular stretch of coastline where all the beautiful people can be seen sunning themselves on the recently graded, clean, white sand.

Well, to be honest, I can’t think of anything worse and I enjoy beachside holidays.  I much prefer to visit quiet country towns that quite often have pristine beaches which, at times, you have all to yourself.

I have fond memories of family holidays to South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.  We would spend the early mornings fishing, the rest of the day lazing around the beach or wandering around the town, and the evening dining in one of the local hotels, usually on the local fresh seafood.  The average holiday would last about a week, but we would quite often have a one or two day break throughout the year to recharge the batteries. 

 Point TurtonCredit: Steven Pike

Half the fun is choosing a location and, if possible, it pays to visit before you book your vacation.  The small country towns over here in Australia are great because everything is close together.  One of my favourite towns has the caravan park located on the foreshore, the hotel about 100 metres along the esplanade, the jetty right in front of the hotel and the swimming beach between the caravan park and the hotel.  If you choose not to stay in the caravan park, there are holiday flats and units further along the esplanade and a street behind the hotel.  It is not really necessary to use your car for the week.

There are a few essentials your small town should have if you are to enjoy your very low key beachside vacation.

Number 1 is a nice beach.  You will likely be spending quite a bit of time on the beach, so make sure it has nice clean sand without too much seaweed.  Keep in mind though that beaches can change character immensely from season to season, so if you visit in winter and the beach is loaded with weed, don’t be too alarmed.  Speak to the locals or have a look at postcards or photos taken in summer.  The water should be crystal clear on a good day with plenty of sand on the bottom.  If the beach is sheltered, even better, and you will be able to see the weed or reef areas.

Sometimes the swimming beach may not be on the same stretch of coastline as the town.  Another spot I like to visit has the town and jetty on the east facing shore, but the coastline itself is rocky and deep, with no family friendly spots to swim.  (It’s good for snorkelling though, but that’s another story).  However, a quick walk around the headland to the northern facing shore and there lies the swimming beach; a small but pristine stretch of white sand between rocky outcrops.  There is a designated swimming area right in front of the beach and the water is usually calm and clear.  There are now three swimming platforms, all in varying depths of water, and a shelter shed which provides some shade; a brilliant spot. 

You have found a nice beach in a little seaside town.  Next, look at the accommodation.  Most caravan parks in these towns are situated right on the shoreline and most have self contained cabins available and these are usually situated in the prime spots.  If my entire family is with me, we will opt for the cabins for comfort and convenience.  If it’s just my son and I though, we go for either a powered site or an unpowered site, depending on length of stay.

In peak times caravan parks in costal towns can become crowded, so it pays to book ahead.  Off peak though, it is possible most times just to turn up and take your pick of spots.

EdithburghCredit: Steven Pike

If a caravan park does not suit, then there are usually plenty of holiday homes, units or flats available for hire.  You will have to book these, peak or off peak, but you would be almost guaranteed one during off peak times.

The local hotel may also have rooms available, and there are always a few motel rooms, but the motels tend to be situated on the highways outside of town, so this usually means a car trip every time you want to go into town.

There are not likely to be any fancy restaurants, but you will want to make sure the food at the hotel is to your liking.  This has never been a problem for me.  I think if you order the local produce, you can’t go wrong.  Summer vacations like these mean seafood to me and there is never any shortage of that.

It is a good idea if there are a few places of interest nearby, so if the family wants a break from all the lazing around on the beach (?), you can go and have a look.  What generally happens here is, you will go for a drive to another nice little town and you will find another nice little beach.  The kids will want to go for a swim, so you’ll end up spending the day lazing on the beach again, albeit a different beach.

Places of interest come in handy of the weather takes a turn for the worst.  These places don’t have to be expensive.  Nearby wildlife and national parks are easy and the kids never seem to tire of feeding the animals.  National parks often have some interesting natural feature and this is always worth a visit.  Short walks or hikes are another idea, along with fishing, surfing or anything else you enjoy.  My son loves exploring deserted stretches of coastline, particularly the exposed beaches and headlands.  He is fascinated by the flotsam, both natural and man-made, that washes up.

There is nothing more you need really to enjoy a relatively cheap vacation by the beach.  The largest expense is usually accommodation, but even that is miniscule compared to that which you’ll pay if visiting a highly populated, highly commercialised stretch of coast.  It really is an excellent way to spend a week or so and I’ll bet that you return from such a vacation completely relaxed; and your family will thank you for it.