Overlooked Beach Town Bargains

Cancún, Mexico…Cartagena, Colombia…Jacó, Costa Rica…there are certain beach destinations that get all the attention—and a good portion of visitors to their respective countries.

Tourism boards focus on these places. The travel magazines highlight them regularly. And, as a result, development follows…often pushing prices up across the board.

But as with anything, when you head off the beaten path, you are often rewarded with places that may not be in the mainstream but offer plenty of benefits. These are locations with smaller crowds, lower costs, unspoiled vistas, and good value properties.

Those in the know already may not like their little secret to be exposed. But who says they get to lock the gate behind them after they come in?

You can get the scoop and check out some appealing properties in the listings my researchers have found below.

Puerto Peñasco, Mexico
Listing Price: $99,000

About 62 miles south of the border with Arizona, Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, has become a go-to beach destination for residents of that state as it’s their closest beach. It’s about four hours’ drive from Tucson and Phoenix. They come in RVs or stay in the many hotels and condos strung along the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California. Still, it remains under-the-radar for most outside this region.

This area has grown in popularity with tourists—as well as hardy expats who don’t mind the desert climate and landscape—since a concerted government effort to develop the area and improve infrastructure starting in the 1990s.

One major advantage for visitors. This is a “free zone,” which means those coming from the U.S. can enter without bothering to obtain a visa.

The above property is listed at $99,000. In a gated community, it has two bedrooms with a shared pool, and is walking distance to a pristine beach, as well as several well-regarded restaurants.

Santa Marta, Colombia
Listing Price: 380,000,000 Colombian pesos ($95,997)

It’s Colombia’s second colonial city on the Caribbean and actually the first Spanish settlement in the country. Up-and-coming and appealing Santa Marta, set on an expansive bay, doesn’t get the attention of more well-known Cartagena, 150 miles to the south. But it’s attracting notice, with visitors to this historic town and its beautiful beaches increasing steadily.

Those who make it enjoy a pleasant seaside lifestyle with a Latin flair and colonial flavor, with open-air restaurants, little shops, and lively plazas in the historic centro. There, many buildings are in the process of ongoing renovation into boutique hotels, chic eateries, and more. And at night the townsfolk come out to enjoy the beachfront. Lined with a Malecon, it comes alive with music, food, and festivities.

A recent listing showcases a three-bedroom apartment with a water view and community pool, that is close to shopping malls, restaurants, and other amenities.

Playas del Coco, Costa Rica
Listing Price: $77,000

Playas del Coco sits on the northern Pacific coast, which is known as the sunniest region in Costa Rica and home to some of the most beautiful beaches.

Here you have a bustling beachfront community fronting an expansive bay. Pangas (small open fishing boats), sport fishing charters, and pleasure cruisers bob in the swells just offshore. There are shops specializing in imported items, as well as a huge variety in restaurants, from American sports bar grub to sushi to gourmet fare, catering to the in-the-know tourists and expats who make their way here. You benefit from a beautiful landscape and plenty of amenities…with low-cost real estate as well.

Close to all the action, including beach, dining, shopping, and nightlife, is a fully furnished two-bedroom condo with private rooftop terrace. The community features a pool.

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