One-of-a-Kind Beach Retreats Within Reach

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Jake's

It's time to start booking those summer vacations! Those searching for a sun-and-sand escape will find plenty of options, but what if you want a little something extra? From free hula lessons in Maui to swimming with dolphins in the Florida Keys, we picked out the best anything-but-cookie-cutter beach hotels that dish out special treats at a low price. These hotels not only offer extraordinary experiences you won't find elsewhere, but do it all for less than $200 a night.
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One-of-a-Kind Beach Retreats Within Reach

It's time to start booking those summer vacations! Those searching for a sun-and-sand escape will find plenty of options, but what if you want a little something extra? From free hula lessons in Maui to swimming with dolphins in the Florida Keys, we picked out the best anything-but-cookie-cutter beach hotels that dish out special treats at a low price. These hotels not only offer extraordinary experiences you won't find elsewhere, but do it all for less than $200 a night.

One-of-a-Kind Beach Retreats Within Reach

If you thought it was impossible to find an affordable beach resort on notoriously pricey Maui, thing again. Rooms at this 11-acre resort are decorated in just-kitschy-enough Hawaiian prints, and if that's not enough to set the mood you can attend the hotel's free daily Hawaiian cultural programs. Guests of all ages can have a blast studying ukulele playing, hula dancing, pineapple cutting and lei making. Plus every sunset brings the blowing of the conch shell, signaling the start of the nightly hula show showcasing the graceful art form that made Hawaii famous. From $143 per night; www.kbhmaui.com

One-of-a-Kind Beach Retreats Within Reach

Does it get any more retro than spending the night in a vintage Airstream trailer? And even better, one parked steps away from sandy dunes and the Pacific Ocean? This Airstream International CCD 28 (yes, the same silver bullet that Matthew McConaughey drives) has simple, clean décor and sleeps up to six people. It's not exactly rouging it: there is a full kitchen, an LCD TV with surround sound, and air conditioning. But we bet you'll spend most of your time lounging on one of the beach chairs and splashing around in the ocean. From $149 per night; www.hotelairstream.com

One-of-a-Kind Beach Retreats Within Reach

The key to this restored 36-room grand hotel on Boston's North Shore is its poetic history -- literally -- as Ralph Waldo Emerson was the New England inn's most famous guest in the early 1900s. Whether you book a romantic balconied suite or a family-friendly rental cottage, you'll have such awesome views of the Atlantic Ocean that you may be inspired to break out the old journal and let the prose flow as gently as the sea. From $179 per night; www.emersoninnbythesea.com

One-of-a-Kind Beach Retreats Within Reach

Quite different than the mega-resorts that line the cliffs of Negril, these multi-colored cottages with whimsical names like "Tiki Tiki" were made for low-key travelers who embrace the country's laid-back vibe. The place is awash with funky accoutrements you wouldn't expect in a West Indian setting like minaret-shaped window, domes, Mayan-inspired weavings, and glass bottles embedded in plaster walls. This spirit of adventure comes thanks to the hotel's creator, theatre-set designer Sally Henzell. And to encourage "stress free living", Jake's is blissfully without TVs or phones. From $95 per night; www.islandoutpost.com

One-of-a-Kind Beach Retreats Within Reach

Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Nova Scotia offers a coastal experience for a fraction of the price of a stay in Cape Cod. The White Point Beach Resort, built in 1928 as a private hunting and fishing lodge, is a family-friendly playground with two lakes, a boat house for canoeing and paddle boats, over half a mile of white sand beach, and a nine-hole golf course. You can embrace the fun summer-camp atmosphere even more when the sun goes down and the bonfire is lit for marshmallow roasting. Don't blame us if you are inspired to sneak off and short sheet the bed. From $99 per night; www.whitepoint.com

One-of-a-Kind Beach Retreats Within Reach

Naturalists and birders will go cuckoo over this private Outer Banks resort named after the local waterfowl. Not only does the hotel publicly display four volumes of the National Audubon Society's Birds of America, but it also hosts an impressive flock of bird related art, including work by Grainger McKoy, Gunter Granget, and John James Audubon himself. For an up-close-and-personal wildlife experience, the 3,400-acre Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary is practically next door. Rent a kayak off the Sanderling's dock and witness hundreds of varieties of birds that call the sanctuary home. You might even catch a glimpse of river otters, bobcats, or even red wolves. Just be back in time for dinner, served in a restored 1899 United States Lifesaving Station. From $110 per night; www.thesanderling.com

One-of-a-Kind Beach Retreats Within Reach

This beachfront casino in Gulfport boasts views of the baby-blue water of the Gulf of Mexico that can't be beat. The 560-room hotel and its 83,000-square-foot casino are also the biggest around, so of course they brought in one of the biggest chef personalities in the country. Emeril Lagasse opened the Gulf Coast Fish House, the only eatery in Mississippi featuring his legendary coastal-Creole cuisine, to pay tribute to his wife's birthplace. From $159 per night; www.islandviewcasino.com

One-of-a-Kind Beach Retreats Within Reach

There are many gems along the long road from Miami that winds down through the Florida Keys. But Hawk's Cay, smack dab in the middle of the stretch, is the only one in the U.S. with an on-site dolphin research facility and educational programs. You can feed and even swim with the resort's bottlenose dolphins and learn about the mammals without ever feeling like you're stuck in a dreary science class. The family-centric resort goes out of its way to tend to little tykes and grownups can drop the kids off at Camp Hawk and escape to the serene, adults-only pool. From $149 per night; www.hawkscay.com

One-of-a-Kind Beach Retreats Within Reach

Heading south-of-the-border usually means tacos, guacamole, an abundance of salt-rimmed margarita glasses and morning-after regret. But those looking for a healthful, blissful vacation without all the excess of party cities like Cancun and Los Cabos will love the chill, barefoot-in-the-sand vibe of this tiny wellness resort. Vegetarian cuisine is always on the menu, but seafood is naturally abundant as well. The resort has 45 thatch-roof cabanas directly on the beach and when you rise and greet the day sans hangover you'll be ready to tackle classes inside the open-air yoga pavilions. From $105 per night; www.rrresorts.com

One-of-a-Kind Beach Retreats Within Reach

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