Southern California

6 Affordable Beachfront Hotels in California's Best Beach Towns

These six cheap beachfront hotels in California offer the best vacation value in The Golden State's most desirable beach towns.

California is known for sun, sand, and stars and the best place to catch all three is at one of its legendary beaches. While the stars may be hiding behind shades and their lifestyles may be out of reach for most of us, you don’t have to an A-lister to score some seriously prime beachfront stays throughout the state.

The best beaches are concentrated in SoCal, where the weather is sublime and the seafood is prime, but even there you’ll find surprisingly affordable waterfront hotels if you know where to look.

We’ve scoured six of the most desirable seaside neighborhoods in the state to guarantee you the top value for the least cost in each, bringing you the very best selection of cheap beachfront hotels in California.

AIR Venice

Getting anywhere near Venice Beach on a budget seems like a feat no amount of Muscle Beach brawn could muster. However, with a little savvy intel, you could find yourself in an airy oceanfront room faster than you could drop and give me twenty, and you’ll save on more than just the hotel bill.

AIR Venice offers apart-hotel living, which means you’ll get more space and a chic apartment feel while keeping the amenities of a traditional hotel, like 24-hour front desk service and daily housekeeping. AIR Venice leans much closer to the hotel side of apart-hotel, so you’ll love the vacation vibe but shouldn’t expect the fuller kitchens that more traditional apart-hotels provide.

Oceanfront rooms come with plenty of big windows for maximizing your prime location, but if you’re less concerned with actually seeing the shore from your bed, there are plenty of other accommodations in AIR Venice with even lower rates for a truly cheap beachfront hotel experience in California.

Beyond plopping you directly at the beach, AIR Venice will encourage you to explore the rest of Venice through its handy community partners program. You’ll get discounts at neighborhood restaurants, alehouses, and activities (like surfing, bike tours, and wine tasting) just for being an AIR Venice guest, so you’ll familiarize yourself with the trendy neighborhood while saving on every part of your holiday budget.

Air Venice On The Beach

7.2(1043 reviews)

Bahia Resort Hotel

Head to San Diego’s Mission Bay for a cheap beachfront hotel experience that will surround you in as much tropical green as ocean blue on your aquatic getaway. Bahia Resort Hotel occupies the entire 14-acre peninsula that creates Santa Barbara Cove. Choose between Cove views or Mission Bay sights from your room, but you’ll love evening walks around the peaceful perimeter to admire every vista either way.

Alternatively, choose a garden view room to admire more lush vegetation than you’d typically find on a beachfront property and bank some additional savings at the same time; you’ll still have access to the hotel’s private beaches and even more exclusive shoreline cabanas-for-two (also free). Bahia’s peninsula gives you private island vibes at everyday rates, and all guests have access to complimentary cruises on Bahia Belle, the hotel’s 74-foot sternwheeler steamboat.

This property is especially great if you’re traveling with the whole family. Your kids will get a kick out of the rescue seals and ducks in the tropical garden’s ponds (and so will you) when they’re not splashing in the pool or playing in the free arcade. A host of weekly activities, from movie nights on the bay to ice cream socials and s’mores on the beach, keep life exciting for all ages. Pro Tip: Hit up the lobby any afternoon for a sugary pick-me-up from free lemonade and cookies.

Bahia Resort Hotel

San Diego
8.3 Very good (3440 reviews)

Beachfront Inn and Suites at Dana Point

Dana Point is known as the “whale watching capital of the west,” so you’re going to prefer a spot that’s not just affordable, but also has a view. Beachfront Inn and Suites at Dana Point is a boutique property of 33 rooms in tranquil blue, white, and gray, many of which come with private balconies or patios overlooking the Pacific Ocean. From here, you may sight a whale without even taking a tour, though your odds of spotting a dolphin or two are far greater. While getting up close to marine life is exhilarating, enjoying them from your own balcony with your morning coffee in hand is a memorable moment of zen you’ll appreciate looking back on long after you checkout.

Orange County’s Capistrano Beach is steps from the hotel, but you’ll also be quite close to a couple of other beaches particularly beloved by surfers. Whether you want to ride the waves yourself or just cheer on the pros, a short drive along the Pacific Coast Highway will take you to San Onofre, Trestles, or Salt Creek Beach.

If you brought kids along for your vacation, or even if you’re just a kid at heart, you may also appreciate being just about 25 minutes from Disneyland. With children in tow, this hotel’s greatest perk is its proximity to so many beaches and area attractions (after the oceanfront rooms, of course).

Beachfront Inn And Suites At Dana Point

Dana Point
8.0 Very good (2038 reviews)

Monterey Tides

Rates here may be a bit pricier than the other bargains on this list, but you can’t compare apples to oranges. Monterey is an expensive destination, so a cheap beachfront hotel is slightly more costly here than elsewhere. However, Monterey Tides is the only hotel in the area with a privately-owned beachfront and the rates are among the most enviable in town, so a stay here is a truly a top value choice when beachfront lodging is a must. If you want to save a bit, opt for an inland view.

A stay here is all about the sea, whether your room is ocean-facing or not. The glass-walled lobby looks out to the hotel’s private beach, where regular sightings of Monterey Bay’s abundant sea life are a near guarantee. You’re sure to spot seals and sea lions, and you may even be lucky enough to witness a whale breach during your stay.

Eat at Vizcaino Waterfront Food + Drink to continue staring dreamily at the surf while sampling the Spanish coastal dining of the region (dinner here is particularly impressive, as the city lights around the bay add a twinkle of magic to sunset views). For lighter bites or after-dinner drinks, you’ll appreciate Bar Sebastián’s seasonal menu of Spanish tapas and craft cocktails with similar panoramic bay views. Monterey Tides may not be the cheapest beachfront hotel in California, but you won’t find better value in Monterey.

Monterey Beach Hotel, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel

7.4(4067 reviews)

Ocean Surf Inn & Suites on Sunset Beach

Ocean Surf Inn & Suites is set one street back from the shore in famed Sunset Beach, but at these rates, you won’t begrudge the extra few steps a bit – especially when you can still see, hear, and smell the sea. If you have a little budget to spare, upgrade to a deluxe Jacuzzi room for partial ocean views (request a balcony). Whichever room you choose, the hotel offers beach chairs (and beach toys!) for your fun in the sun, and the furnished rooftop terrace is open to all guests for picturesque unwinding with a calming sea breeze.

Sunset Beach is a true beach village, where shore-town vibes run strong. This holds true from the casual cottages to the seafood-centric dining set along 1.5 miles of shoreline that hosts one of the widest beaches in the state. If you’re looking for a quieter vacay, this is the spot to hunker down for your whole holiday and sunbathe, kiteboard, or surf the laid-back shores of Sunset. However, don’t overlook this spot if you’re hoping for more activity and people-watching—Sunset Beach is just one of five beaches in the Huntington Beach area, and there’s plenty to see and do between them.

Ocean Surf Inn & Suites

Top rated
Sunset Beach
9.0 Excellent (2059 reviews)

Ocean View Hotel

Santa Monica is home to one of Southern California‘s most famous beaches and you won’t get much closer to its sandy shores or world-famous pier than by staying at Ocean View Hotel, which also happens to be among the least expensive yet quality hotels in the area.

With only the PCH separating you from Santa Monica Beach, the hotel’s free cruiser bikes are the perfect way to explore the shore or take an adventure through town. You can also snag 2 free passes to 24 Hour Fitness daily for a comprehensive workout, along with exclusive guest discounts to Cycle House for more serious spinning.

If you’re a green fiend, you’ll be especially fond of Ocean View Hotel’s commitment to eco-initiatives, which are traditionally harder to find among value hotels. Water efficiency is a top priority for this beachfront hotel, with efficient in-room fixtures, sustainable laundry practices, and drought tolerant landscaping requiring less watering. Green initiatives continue through to eco-friendly lighting, Earth-conscious office supplies, and non-toxic cleaning products for a comprehensive program bringing you a quality stay that hurts neither your budget nor the planet.

Ocean View Hotel

Top rated
Santa Monica
8.6 Excellent (174 reviews)