11 of the Most Obscenely Expensive Beaches To Visit in the US

Luxury beach town

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Luxury beach town
Cheapism / DALL-E 3

Bank Account Beached

In the market for a beach vacation, but not sure where to start? Packing up and heading to one of the country's most storied and beautiful beaches is usually easy enough to do. Unless of course, you've chosen one of the most expensive beach towns in the country.

Back in July, TravelMag looked into some average hotel prices for August 2023 in the world’s most expensive beaches, and some of them were quite a sight. Curious about what it might cost to visit one of these lavish beach destinations while you're planning your 2024 escapes? Let’s take a look.

Nantucket, Massachusetts
Nantucket, Massachusetts by Billy Wilson (CC BY-NC)

1. Nantucket, Massachusetts

Average hotel price per night: $694

If I were to do an impression of a rich person, I would probably make some reference to "summering" in Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. It seems like the type of place people flock to just to flaunt their money. Seven bills is a lot to pay for a hotel room, and when you add that to the fresh lobster claws and luxury shopping you’re surrounded by, this is no cheap vacation. You honestly might as well go to Europe.

Montauk, New York
Dr. Alan Lipkin/shutterstock

2. Montauk, New York

Average hotel price per night: $478

Montauk was once a sleepy vacation town that didn’t seem like the type of place where you’d pay nearly $500 for a hotel room. These days, it’s the type of place where romantic comedies take place; the type of place that 10 years ago was called the most expensive place to stay in New York state. Who knew the beach would outdo Manhattan?

Kennebunkport, Maine
mike innella/istockphoto

3. Kennebunkport, Maine

Average hotel price per night: $406

You probably won’t see Stephen King walking around in the height of the busy season, but (the very-fun-to-say) Kennebunkport is the priciest beach in Maine. You’ll pay $30 a day in parking alone if you’re a non-resident, and if you’re thinking about eating fancy seafood, going whale watching, or doing anything else that rich New Englanders do, the tab keeps going up and up.

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Provincetown, Cape Cod

4. Provincetown, Massachusetts

Average hotel price per night: $404

On the north side of Cape Cod, you’ll find Provincetown in all its Northeastern glory. Lighthouses, white sand beaches, and stunning sunsets are the norm here. That, and $35 lobster rolls.

Related: Shore Enough: The 50 Most Beautiful Beaches in America

Bar Harbor, Maine

5. Bar Harbor, Maine

Average hotel price per night: $384

Hotel rooms that almost reach $400 probably won’t even be the most expensive part of your trip to Bar Harbor, Maine. Though the free-to-explore Acadia National Park is easily accessible, it’s no small bill to shell out for a day of water activities like paddle boarding and kayaking (a half-day tour can be as much as $80 a person), especially if you’re paying for the entire family. 

Related: Unusual Beaches in America to Visit in Your Lifetime

Santa Monica Beach and Pier

6. Santa Monica, California

Average hotel price per night: $360

Believe it or not, not every expensive beach town is in Massachusetts or Maine. Southern California has its share, too, and it should come as no surprise that iconic Santa Monica is on the list. A day at the pier on its own can kill your wallet, and that’s before you’ve hit any of the best (and most expensive) LA restaurants and shops. Oh, and parking is almost $20 a day, too.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

7. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Average hotel price per night: $359

Here’s a chilling statistic from ZeroDown: In order to live in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, you need to make at least 102% of the national average salary. Is that you? Not sure why you’re reading Cheapism if it is, but unless you’re making over 100 grand a year, this might be a trip worth skipping. If $3-per-hour parking fees don’t sufficiently attack your bank account, perhaps the $100 crab legs at Henlopen City Oyster House will.

Cape May Point landscape

8. Cape May, New Jersey

Average hotel price per night: $346

Well-preserved Victorian homes, 100-plus-year-old architecture, a bevy of fine dining options, and four-star bed and breakfasts are just some of the reasons you can expect to spend a fortune on your trip to Cape May. Plus, if hanging out with simple commoners on the beach is beneath you, you can pay a casual $22,000 for private cabana access.

Portland, Maine, USA Downtown City Skyline
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

9. Portland, Maine

Average hotel price per night: $317

The food, vibrancy, and culture of Portland, Maine, make the place worthy of a visit before you even get to the beach. The problem is, that means you’ve already had an expensive trip before you’ve dipped your toes in the water. Nothing like some farm-to-table dining and a $300-per-night boutique hotel to make you wonder where your money went.

Ocean City Beach House

10. Ocean City, New Jersey

Average hotel price per night: $310

Just because Ocean City is known as a family-friendly vacation destination doesn’t mean it won’t cost you. Paying for a family is expensive, and even if you’re on your own, those music festivals, high-end yacht rentals, and seaside dining experiences aren’t going to pay for themselves.

Pismo Beach, California

11. Pismo Beach, California

Average hotel price per night: $293

Wine tasting, cheffy seafood, and plenty of golf course space are only a few of the reasons you’ll be spending serious money in Pismo Beach. And look: When it comes down to it, and you’re faced with the option of visiting one of Pismo’s many luxury spas right there on the ocean, with California’s coastal wind in your face, it’s gonna be hard to say no.