Have you been searching far and wide looking for cheap tropical flights? If so, you’re in good company. These cheapest flights to tropical places may surprise you.
When it comes to the tropics, you certainly have your choice of destinations. Whether that means the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, or Mexico. But before you go thinking that these locations are too cost-prohibitive, know that there are plenty of cheap flights to tropical places! It’s all about knowing where to look, and I am here to help. So, if you’re ready to head out to the most beautiful tropical paradises the world has to offer, let’s get moving!
It’s easy to see why people from around the world love visiting the tropics: because you always know what you’re getting! The tropics are warm and pleasant all year round. This makes for an enjoyable experience as you bask on the white-sand beaches, swim in the bluest of blue waters, hike through lush jungles, and take in the gorgeous scenery of this planet we all call home. Just one look at those famous overwater bungalows of Tahiti is enough to send me back to the tropics.
As you can imagine, though, it’s one thing to want to visit these regions. It’s quite another to find actual cheap flights to tropical destinations. When you want to island-hop on a budget, know that there are some sure-fire ways to do it.
In this article, I have broken down all the data I could find to bring you the top seven cheap flights to tropical places around the world. Wait until you see how affordable these getaways are!
#1 tip for finding cheap flights to tropical places
Finding cheap flights can be a challenge no matter where you’re going. Though you might expect that affordable flights to the touristy locales of the tropics would be especially difficult to come by.
Not so with Going! Formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights, Going is a world traveler’s best friend. You just sign up for its free email alerts, enter your point of origin and destination, and wait for the cheap flights to start coming in! Going will alert you of heavily discounted flights to your chosen location, including crazy-low mistake fares.
I’m talking hundreds of dollars saved on roundtrip tickets to places such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, and many tropical island locations around the world. I recently flew from Boston to San Juan for less than $100. I’ve scored plenty of other cheap flights to tropical places using Going, as well. Believe me, when you’re making the tropics your destination, getting bargains on flights goes a long way for your wallet.
The prices you pay for tropical flights depends on a number of factors. This includes the specific location, the airline, and the time of year you’re going. But with Going’s free email service–or its $49/year premium membership, which shows you more cheap flights, more often–you can be sure you’re getting the best flight to wherever you’re going.
Other considerations when looking for the cheap flights to tropical places
To help you plan your perfect tropical vacation, I’ve researched seven of the cheapest tropical flights you can take right now. You’re just a flight or two away from kicking back in the sand at the most breathtaking tropical locales.
Depending on your origin point and destination, you may have to join up with several connecting flights in larger hubs that are close to where you’re going. In some cases, that could be because your destination is on an island and has to be serviced by flights from larger nearby islands or from a mainland airport. In those cases, you’ll have to allow for different flight costs depending on where you’re originating. For example, a flight to Nassau in the Bahamas would be much cheaper from Miami than from Seattle.
No matter what tropical place you’re traveling to, know that once you arrive, you’re guaranteed a vacation like you’ve never experienced before. It’s a magical time away from home in a true paradise on Earth.
So, if you’re ready to hit the road, then grab your swimsuit, pack up your beach towels, and get ready for the most fun in the sun you’ve ever had!
1. Palawan, Philippines
Most people looking for cheap tropical flights probably don’t instantly think of the Philippines. Let alone the country’s archipelago province of Palawan! However, this is actually a gem that you need to check out if you want an affordable tropical vacation. You’ll probably have to get to Manila first before connecting to Palawan’s Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS), but that’s a cheap flight to be sure. You can fly from Manila to Palawan for just over $100, an absolute steal.
Once you’ve landed in the island’s capital of Puerto Princesa, you may want to keep things cheap by staying in a low-profile bungalow near the beaches. Depending on where you want to stay, you can get rooms on Palawan for around $20 a night. You certainly have options for more expensive resorts in Puerto Princesa or the other tourist city of El Nido, but if your plan is just to explore the island on your own, you may not need anything that fancy.
Palawan is known for being the “frontier” of the Philippines. As such, it boasts white beaches, beautiful blue waters, and picturesque ocean views. You’re free to sunbathe, swim, snorkel, or dive to your heart’s content on the free beaches. You can also rent a boat and check out all the little nearby rocky islands, go hiking through the jungle, and take in some of the local cuisine.
As you might expect, the most popular time to visit Palawan is during its dry and sunny summer. This season typically lasts from November to about May. However, if you don’t mind rainy weather, head there during the off season, from June to November.
2. Dominican Republic
If you’re originating in the United States, you probably think of the Caribbean when you think of cheap tropical getaways. When you want stunning blue-water views from white, sandy beaches, look no further than a getaway to the Dominican Republic. You can fly to Las Américas International Airport (SDQ) in the capital of Santo Domingo for just a few hundred dollars right now.
You have your choice of accommodations once you arrive. And where you stay will determine what you do while in the DR. The north (Atlantic) side of the island of Hispaniola is shared with Haiti. If you want to experience the beautiful blue Caribbean waters on offer here, you may want to stay in Punta Cana in the east or Bayahibe on the southern coast.
No matter where you stay, a trip to the Dominican Republic will be a unique experience. You’ll be basking in the sun, swimming and surfing, doing some hiking and exploring in Los Haitises National Park in the northeast. And of course, you’ll want to hang out on the white beaches with a good beer or rum cocktail.
As the DR is a Caribbean country, it sees its best weather and busiest tourist season between December and March. That’s the peak season, so if you want to escape the winter, be prepared for more crowds and higher rates. Otherwise, you can still get plenty of good weather, and lower prices, between April and June.
3. Florida Keys
One of three U.S. locations on this list, the Florida Keys are another of those places that may have slipped your attention when thinking of tropical vacation spots. Flying into Key West International Airport (EYW) will be one of the cheapest flights to a tropical destination you’ll ever take. This is especially true if you’re originating within the United States. I have found deep roundtrip discounts to Key West for well under $250.
What I have always loved about the Florida Keys as a tropical destination is that you can fly or drive there! The Overseas Highway runs 159 miles from Miami all the way down to Key West. You’ll get some gorgeous blue-water views along the way, though the Florida Keys isn’t officially part of the Caribbean Sea.
How to vacation in the Florida Keys on a budget
Seasoned travelers know the Florida Keys as one of the most scenic and idyllic locations in the United States. That means that experiencing the best that this archipelago has to offer often means spending a lot of money. However, there are actually plenty of ways to have a good time in the Keys while on a budget.
You can find cheap hotels for a little over $100 a night, depending on which island you’re staying on. Once you’re in the Keys, you can keep things affordable by sticking to all the scenic free things to do. There’s the collections of shops and galleries in Islamorada’s Rain Barrel Village, the snorkeling opportunities at Key Largo’s John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and the many shopping and eating outlets at Key West’s famous Mallory Square.
Of course, when you’re in the Keys, you’ll definitely want to lounge at one of the many free beaches. From there, take in the blissful palm trees and waters of the Gulf of Mexico or the tropical Atlantic. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Key deer and brown pelicans!
Tourist season in the Florida Keys peaks over the winter, between December and March. This is when the weather is sunny and dry. You can score smaller crowds and still enjoy nice weather in the shoulder season between April and May.
4. Oahu, Hawaii
I’ve written before about how Oahu is the cheapest Hawaiian island to visit. And that’s why I have to recommend you add it to your list of cheap tropical places to fly to. Oahu makes this list of affordable tropical getaways for a few reasons. You can get flights to Honolulu for a couple hundred dollars using Going. So, as you can expect, it’s pretty affordable to vacation there in general.
Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is one of the cheapest tropical airports to fly into. And once you’re on Oahu, you’ll find that the tourism sector is so strong that everyone wants your business! As a result, prices are kept to reasonable levels, and you should have no problem having a good time.
Once you’ve settled in, you’ll probably be wondering: “What can’t you do here.” From surfing to helicopter tours to kayaking out to the Mokulua Islands and seeing some tiger sharks, Oahu is a true tropical paradise. There’s also sunbathing and swimming at one of the island’s 100+ beaches. Also, don’t miss hiking at the remote Kaʻena Point State Park and climbing up the volcanic Diamond Head in Honolulu’s Waikiki neighborhood.
Tourist season on Oahu is heaviest through the continental winter months of December to February. You’ll have an easier time with crowds and rates if you head out during April or May. Alternatively, September to October are great months to fly here. Those periods will give you the best of everything regarding crowds, rates, and fair weather.
5. Nassau, Bahamas
With the Bahamas being fewer than 200 miles off the coast of Miami, it’s no wonder that the island nation’s capital city of Nassau is one of the cheapest flights to tropical destinations. Going has helped me fly there for next to nothing. So, I can’t recommend the Bahamas highly enough if you’re looking for a fun tropical place to stay for a few days.
How to vacation in Nassau on a budget
If you’re looking to enjoy the best that the Bahamas has to offer, be aware that it’s an expensive country. This is due to the fact that most of its materials and goods are imported from elsewhere. Never fear, though! I have you covered if you want a more affordable experience in this bona fide Caribbean paradise. Five-star resorts are not necessary to have fun here.
You can find plenty of cheap hotels in the Bahamas for as little as $65/night if you’re okay with simple. Then, you’ll want to hit up some of the free beaches right on the island of New Providence. Those locations include Cable Beach, outside of downtown Nassau; Love Beach, several miles outside of Nassau; and Saunders Beach, just a short drive out of the busy Nassau center.
Also worth checking out are the souvenir-heavy Straw Market, the Fish Fry collection of restaurants in Arawak Cay, and the Queen’s Staircase. These 66 limestone steps from the late 18th century were an emergency escape from Nassau’s Fort Fincastle.
The best times to visit Nassau (or anywhere in the Bahamas) are the shoulder seasons of October to November or late April to early May. That gives you the best weather while avoiding the normal dry-season crowds from December to March.
6. Cozumel, Mexico
As you’re on the hunt for cheap flights to tropical places, don’t bypass Cozumel. This is Mexico’s budget-friendly alternative to the ever-popular Cancún. Located about 32 miles off the Yucatán Peninsula on the southeastern tip of Mexico, the popular cruise port of Cozumel brings you plenty of Caribbean delights without all the high prices that go along with them.
It’s also pretty easy and affordable to fly there. You can use Going to get cheap rates on direct flights to Cozumel International Airport (CZM). This includes cities like Atlanta, Houston, Charlotte, and many other major U.S. hubs.
What to do in quiet Cozumel
You’ll fly into San Miguel, Cozumel’s only major city, before heading to your accommodations. You have a full range of options, from $400-a-night resorts to modest, $20-a-night hotels. It all depends on what kind of vacation you’re after in Cozumel.
I can say from experience that Cozumel is not a place you visit for the thumping nightlife. Instead it’s a great place for some peaceful time alone or with family and friends. Unlike the urban paradise of Cancún, Cozumel is generally undeveloped outside of San Miguel. So, if you’re down for a more relaxing and secluded type of Caribbean getaway, you’ve landed in the right place.
Unplug by chilling on the white, sandy beaches, including Playa Palancar. Swimming and scuba diving in the blue Caribbean waters is definitely a top bucket list activity. After that, head into town to rent a car or a bike and head up to San Gervasio. That’s the site of some centuries-old Mayan ruins that are a true marvel to see.
Back in San Miguel, you can still find all the modern comforts of a Caribbean resort town. This includes restaurants, bars, and plenty of shopping. The exchange rate of U.S. dollars to Mexican pesos is in your favor here. It’s what helps to get Cozumel on this list of cheap tropical places to fly to.
You’ll want to visit Cozumel during the Northern Hemisphere’s springtime, between March and May. That way, you can get in plenty of sun while avoiding the rain that comes later in the year.
7. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico just had to make this list of cheap flights to tropical places because it is literally one of the cheapest trips I’ve ever taken. I’ve flown to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) in Carolina for under $100. It’s truly one of the cheapest tropical airports to fly into. You can also find hotel rooms for less than $50 a night, or grab an Airbnb if that’s your thing. Best of all, U.S. citizens don’t need a passport to fly to this Caribbean haven. This is due to its status as a U.S. territory (though check with your state’s Real ID requirements to fly).
Having fun in Puerto Rico on a budget
If you’ve never been to Puerto Rico, you can probably spend most of your time exploring the capital – San Juan. There are so many interesting sites to see. As part of the San Juan National Historic Site, you’ll definitely want to check out the Spanish colonial ruins of Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo San Cristóbal, the City Wall, and the larger surrounding district of Old San Juan. Then, be sure to pass through Plaza de Armas. This is San Juan’s main square, where you’ll see the “four seasons” fountain and San Juan City Hall.
For nature lovers, be sure to kick back and relax on one of Puerto Rico’s many free public beaches. This includes Ocean Park Beach, where you’ll enjoy white sand, palm trees, and azure waters. If you’re up for some strenuous activity, get lost in the rainforest of El Yunque National Forest in the north. Or, check out the desert-like Guánica Dry Forest Reserve in the island’s south (cacti included!).
As you can guess, the best time of year to visit Puerto Rico for weather is from December to April. However, that’s also when you’ll encounter more tourists and higher rates. If you can sneak in from April to June, you’ll benefit from fewer people and minimal rain.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about finding cheap flights to tropical places
You’ve probably noticed that the tropics are expansive – covering a wide range of coastal places and islands around the world. So if you want to find best cheap flights to tropical places, here are some frequently asked questions to consider.
Where can you get direct flights to the tropics?
I mentioned above that many tropical destinations are a bit too remote for direct flights from major airport hubs. If making lots of connections and taking seaplanes isn’t your thing, you may prefer to fly to a tropical place nonstop.
Depending on where you’re going, you can definitely find nonstop flights to tropical locations, even island countries. I’ve broken down some of the most popular U.S.-originating options for you below.
Fly nonstop to Nassau, Bahamas, from:
- Fort Lauderdale
- New York
- Washington, D.C.
Travel nonstop to Kingston, Jamaica, from:
- Fort Lauderdale
- New York
Fly nonstop to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from:
- Fort Lauderdale
- New York
Fly nonstop to Tahiti from:
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
What is the cheapest tropical place to visit?
The tropics of the world encompass so much diversity, from the mainstream appeal of Cancún to the lesser-known tropical destinations of Southeast Asia. However, if you’re looking for the cheapest tropical destinations to fly to right now, I have to recommend Cozumel in Mexico or Palawan in the Philippines.
You can get a flight from Miami to Cozumel for about $250, while, if you’re already in Manila, you can fly to El Nido on the island of Palawan for a little more than $100 or so. Cozumel and Palawan also share extreme affordability of accommodations, with hotel rooms reaching lows of $7-$21 a night.
Those prices, combined with the gorgeous sandy beaches and blue tropical waters of each island, make Cozumel and Palawan among the cheapest tropical places to visit.
How far in advance should I book a flight to the tropics?
Everyone wants cheap flights to tropical places. While some inexperienced travelers might feel that waiting until the last possible moment will land you the best rates, this isn’t always the case.
Whether you’re flying to the Caribbean or anywhere else in the tropics, booking between two and eight months ahead of time will always be a safe window. However, you can get by just fine with booking between one and three months in advance.
When is the cheapest time to fly to the tropics?
Winter in the Northern Hemisphere is summer in the Southern Hemisphere. That makes the months of December to March a popular period to schedule tropical vacations. The December holidays are a particularly busy time for tropical resorts in the Caribbean and elsewhere, and you’ll find higher rates on everything in that period.
If you want to avoid higher prices and crowds of tourists, you’ll want to fly to your tropical destination of choice between April and November. Within that time frame, September to November is probably the cheapest time to fly to the tropics. You may put up with a few more rainy and overcast days during those months, but it could mean huge cost savings on airfare and accommodations. If those benefits mean a lot to you, then maybe a fall trip is on your horizon!