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Many travelers who squirrel away travel rewards are saving for an oceanfront vacation, paid for with points instead of cash. To maximize your rewards, start by looking for the highest-value hotel redemptions, then check award flights.
Availability is limited, and award charts, redemptions, transfer options and deals can change. Remaining flexible is key to getting the most out of your points and miles.
Remember, too, that if you’re not careful, interest charges, late fees and careless spending on a rewards credit card could cost you more than you save with your points.
Here are four beach destinations where you can soak up the sun using points and miles.
Top beach vacations to visit with points and miles
1. Kauai with Marriott Bonvoy Points
Adjacent to the Sheraton Kauai Resort and steps from one of the island’s best beaches, the Sheraton Kauai Resort Villas offer a rare deal: comfortable, convenient accommodations for significantly fewer points than you’d pay at the main resort.
From your Kauai home, enjoy boat tours of the breathtaking Napali Coast, hike through Waimea Canyon or golf at some of the nearby courses.
We found rates for a studio with refrigerator, stovetop and microwave starting at 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points in May 2023. Meanwhile, rooms on the hotel side of the property were going for 74,000 points per night. To put that in perspective, consider that the Courtyard Waikiki Beach in crowded Waikiki (and a 10-minute walk from the beach) has rooms starting at 56,000 points per night.
Get there with miles: Fly into Lihue Airport using American Airlines AAdvantage miles on nonstops from San Francisco starting at 45,000 miles round trip.
» Learn more: The best ways to rack up Marriott Bonvoy points
2. Aruba with IHG points
Aruba offers a sun-drenched Caribbean escape outside the hurricane belt, making this island retreat an irresistible option for late-summer travelers.
And unlike many destinations where reasonably priced accommodations are a block or three from the ocean, here you’ll find the affordable Holiday Inn Resort Aruba right on the beach.
Rooms at the Holiday Inn property start at just under 46,000 IHG points per night. From this sensibly priced base camp, you can dive off Hadicurari Beach or enjoy Aruba’s famous nightlife.
Get there with miles: American Airlines passengers out of Dallas-Fort Worth can find connecting flights to Aruba for as little as 27,000 miles round trip. Southwest passengers flying from Boston will find round trips starting around 48,000 Rapid Rewards points.
» Learn more: Your guide to booking award nights with IHG Hotels
3. Mauritius with Hyatt points
Looking for something a little more exotic? Something far, far away?
World of Hyatt members can find their slice of heaven in the Indian Ocean, about 1,500 miles off the southeast coast of Africa, at the beachfront Heritage Le Telfair.
The property sits on an old sugar plantation turned nature preserve, allowing visitors to explore the island’s history and natural beauty.
The beaches and the too-green-to-believe mountain peaks are the very definition of island beauty. Yet we found rooms starting at just 25,000 Hyatt points per night.
Get there with miles: Passengers departing New York-John F. Kennedy can find connecting flights on Air France for around 168,500 Flying Blue miles (which can be transferred from other loyalty programs, including Chase Ultimate Rewards, at a 1:1 point conversion rate).
» Learn more: Guide to the World of Hyatt award chart
4. Puerto Rico with Chase Ultimate Rewards points
For a truly unique experience, stay a few miles from the beach at the historic Hotel El Convento in Old San Juan, built as a Carmelite convent about 370 years ago.
This historic, boutique-style hotel is your luxury home base for exploring Castillo San Felipe del Morro and cobblestone streets lined with colonial structures.
Chase Ultimate Rewards members can find rooms there starting at about 26,000 points per night if they have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and 21,500 points per night if they have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
Get there with miles: Arrive from Baltimore on United Airlines starting at 56,000 MileagePlus miles round trip.
» Learn more: Valuable benefits of United Airlines credit cards
If you want to book a cheap beach vacation
Soak up the sun and dig your toes in the sand with an even bigger smile on your face — use these rewards programs strategically to book your beach vacation with points and miles (and save big).
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card