Skip To Content

    Here Are 9 Underrated Alternatives To Overcrowded Beach Vacations

    Beat the crowds and visit these underrated gems.

    It's summer, which means your Instagram feed is probably overflowing with friends traveling everywhere from Nantucket to Santorini. But if you're looking for an amazing vacation to take this summer without all the crowds and hefty price tags, check out these underrated beach towns.

    1. Instead of the Algarve, Portugal... go to Comporta.

    Hannah Loewentheil

    Portugal's Algarve region is beautiful, but from June through August it's packed. For a similar beach getaway full of sun, sand, and waves, consider Comporta. Just an hour south of Lisbon in the wine region of Alentejo, this sleepy seaside village is laid back yet luxurious. The road to the beach weaves past cork trees and rice paddies, boutiques sell locally crafted beach bags and caftans, and casual oceanfront restaurants like Sal and O Dinis serve the catch of the day. There are plenty of chic, affordable rentals as well as some luxury hotels like the 40-acre retreat, the Sublime.

    2. Instead the The Hamptons, New York...go to the North Fork.

    Getty Images

    The south fork of Long Island, more commonly known as the Hamptons, is a notoriously trendy summer destination. But a trip out east comes with a significant price tag. Instead of Montauk or Southhampton, book a room at Lin Beach House on the North Fork, home to the picturesque towns of Greenport, Southold, and Mattituck. There are plenty of wineries like Bedell Cellars, quaint inns, farm-to-table restaurants, and oyster bars (don't miss Little Creek). You can buy local produce and take a tour at Sang Lee Farms and frolic around one of the country's largest lavender farms at Lavender by the Bay.

    3. Instead of Saugatuck, Michigan...go to Traverse City.

    Getty Images

    Located on the coast of Lake Michigan, Saugatuck is a perennial Midwestern favorite for its sandy beaches, windswept dunes, and family-friendly vibe. But if you're looking for something more laid-back, head to Traverse City. Book a room at Chateau Chantal, a warm and comfortable inn and winery. Located on Michigan's Lower Peninsula, Traverse City is the perfect getaway for food lovers: Home to rustic, locavore restaurants like The Cook's House, Amical, and Poppycocks, cherry orchards, farms, and Leelanau County wineries, Traverse City is a culinary hotspot you wouldn't want to miss.

    4. Instead of Barcelona, Spain...go to San Sebastian.

    5. Instead of Santorini, Greece...go to Folegandros.

    Mbbirdy / Getty Images

    If you're seeking an unconventional Greek getaway, skip over-touristed Santorini in favor of Folegandros on the southern edge of the Cyclades. While many Greek islands have changed in the midst of tourism, Folegandros still maintains a traditional and authentic Greek feel. Only 12 square miles long and surrounded by the sparkling Aegean Sea, the island boasts ancient ruins, simple tavernas serving local seafood, hidden beaches accessible only by boat, and some of the most incredible sunsets in the Mediterranean. For some of the best food around, don't miss a homecooked meal at Irini or a sea-to-table dinner at Zefiros Anemos, located in the lively village of Chora. Stay at the seaside Blue Sand Hotel, but be warned: You'll never ever want to leave.

    6. Instead of Tulum, Mexico...go to Isla Holbox.

    Getty Images

    The word is out on Tulum: While everyone from celebrities to Instagram influencers is flocking to this hot spot on Mexico's Caribbean coastline, make a beeline for Isla Holbox, a small and unspoiled island in the Gulf of Mexico. There are no cars allowed in this paradise: Rather, flamingos and pelicans wander in the Yalahau lagoon, vacationers swing in hammocks over the crystal clear sea, and time moves slowly. Seafood lovers will fawn over the fresh fish tacos, grilled lobster, and melt-in-your-mouth ceviche at Las Panchas, which is always full of locals. You can't go wrong if you book a room at the bohemian Casa Las Tortugas, set on its own quiet stretch of sand.

    7. Instead of Nice, France...go to Eze.

    Milena Pigdanowicz-fidera / Getty Images

    There's nothing quite like the French Riviera...which is why your entire Instagram feed flocks to Nice come summertime. For something a bit more under the radar but equally as beautiful, book your trip to Eze. This medieval hilltop town with dazzling Mediterranean views is just 25 minutes from Nice. When you're sick of the beach, spend your time browsing the art galleries in boutiques, getting lost among the serpentine, stone streets, walking in the lush gardens, and hiking Nietzsche path for the incredible vistas of Papaya Beach. Snag a room at the adorable bed and breakfast La Vieille Bergerie, and use Eze as a base for exploring the other towns along the Côte d'Azure like Cannes, Monaco and Antibes. For one blowout dinner you'll remember for life, eat at Château de La Chèvre d’Or (the views are almost as amazing as the food), or for something more affordable, there's ocean-front Anjuna Beach.

    8. Instead of Kiawah Island, South Carolina... go to Jekyll Island, Georgia.

    Gtty Images

    Kiawah Island is a popular summer destination for good reason, but for a similar experience minus the heavy crowds, give Jekyll Island a try. This barrier island conveniently sits between Savannah and Jacksonville, and it makes for a perfect romantic vacation for couples or crowd-pleasing destination for families. The entire island is a protected state park made up of quiet, clean beaches and oak trees draped in Spanish moss, and victorian cottages. For a relaxed meal overlooking the water, try Zachry's Riverhouse, or there's the Courtyard at Cranes for a delicious low country meal, check out Driftwood Bistro. There are a handful of hotels and resorts on the island like the lovely Jekyll Ocean Club, or you can rent a cottage on airbnb. As a bonus, the island is extremely dog-friendly, so if you're looking for a place to bring your pup, this is it.

    9. Instead of Phuket, Thailand...go to Koh Kood.

    Aekkarat Doungmaneerattana / Getty Images

    Most travelers who visit Thailand seeking a relaxing beach vacation head straight for Phuket. Take the road less traveled by and head to Koh Kood, one of Thailand's easternmost islands. Over the past decade, Koh Kood has been making a name for itself, but it still remains relatively under the radar. Lush jungles, tiny fishing villages, cascading waterfalls like Klong Chao, and stunning beaches (Ao Noi is one must-visit) are just a few of the reasons to visit. Make sure to pencil in a meal at Chiang Mai restaurant, which serves the specialty dishes of northern Thailand, and stay at Tinkerbell, a small and secluded resort made up of thatched roof huts on the beach.

    Sign Up For The Bring Me! Newsletter!

    The latest travel tips, off-the-beaten-path experiences, and inspiration delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form