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The West's best affordable beach retreats

The West's best affordable beach retreats: Our 10 favorite seaside places from Washington to Mexico.
/ Source: Sunset Magazine

1. Olympic National Park, WA

Picture a cluster of weathered gray cabins perched on a grassy bluff above a wind- and rain-swept beach, and you've got the drift of Kalaloch Lodge. A step above basic, the cabins have knotty-pine paneling, wood stoves, compact kitchens, and, most important, big picture windows opening onto views of the Pacific. Steps lead down to the beach, strewn with huge piles of driftwood and massive tree trunks. Nab a window table in the lodge dining room for the excellent cedar-plank wild king salmon. 44 cabins from $169; or 866/525-2562. –Kim Brown Seely

2. Ocean Park, WA

These barn-red, white-trimmed cottages recall the 1940s — a time when grassy dunes, kite flying, and beach hikes kept visitors busy for days. Outside, the cottages are retro, but inside, the style is quilty and plush, with gas fireplaces and full kitchens. Take a short dune trail to surf, sand, and some of Washington's best birding, then at day's end, stroll the herb garden, check the pond for wood ducks, and enjoy something from Blackwood's wine room while the sun paints the evening sky. 10 units from $115; or 888/376-6356. –Jim McCausland

3. Oregon Coast

Somewhere between a hotel room and a tent stands the yurt — cute, round, and real snug. Nearly 170 of them are scattered among 14 of Oregon's coastal state parks, and they're quite a deal. You cook outside, but with heat, lights, and beds for five (BYO sleeping bag), you're hardly roughing it. Our top pick? The pair of rustic yurts at little Beachside State Park on the central coast. You can't see the beach from your bunk, but you can hear it all night — and walk to it in one minute flat. Yurts start at $27; or 800/452-5687. –Bonnie Henderson

4. Newport, OR

It's known as a hotel for book lovers. And for lovers. And others just seeking a little eccentricity-by-the-sea. Each room at this hotel on the bluff at Nye Beach, a neighborhood of shingled beach shacks, is decorated in the spirit and style of a favorite author, from Colette to Dr. Seuss. 20 rooms from $68; or 888/795-8422. –B.H.

5. Half Moon Bay, CA

An hour south of San Francisco, a gathering of cheery white tent bungalows dot the rolling bluffs like so many covered wagons crossing the tallgrass prairie. The mood here's breezy and wholesome — kids riding bikes, communal cook-it-yourself barbecues, and ocean-watching from Adirondack chairs perched on the bluff. Inside, simplicity reigns, with cute plaid comforters and comfy metal camp beds. A bonus for garden lovers: The resort's idea-filled landscaping features whimsical driftwood sculptures and native plants. 131 units from $115; or 650/879-1100. –Abigail Peterson

6. Pacific Grove, CA

Find yourself smack in the middle of some of California's most pristine coast at this Julia Morgan-designed retreat on swanky Monterey Bay. Accommodations are basic but surrounded by the luxuries of nature — tidepools, coastal wildflowers, and a sandy beach. An extra $10 gets you a cozy fireplace room. 312 rooms from $130; or 866/654-2878. –Jessica Hilberman

7. Big Sur, CA

These gorgeous wood-floored yurts offer the kind of views that fetch major bucks elsewhere on this stretch of coast. Sure, there are only communal bathrooms and showers — but there are also barbecue dinners and complimentary morning waffles. And with a swimming pool and hiking trails that launch right into the heart of Big Sur, this is sleepover camp as it should have been. Space books quickly here, especially yurts 15 and 16, which are the most private. 16 yurts from $135; or 877/424-4787. –Matthew Jaffe

8. Ventura, CA

Straightforward name, straightforward premise — three floors and 24 neat, simple Victorian-style rooms with fireplaces, parked smack-dab on the sand, facing Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands. A favored getaway for locals — who know that third-floor rooms with patios and views can be had for right around $100 midweek. Ask about the dunes if you're booking a first-floor room; built-up sand can block some views but does offer extra privacy. From $109; or 805/652-2000. –Ken McAlpine

9. La Jolla, CA

Strike up the band. Located a block and a half from the beach, this is the onetime home of composer John Philip Sousa. But it's not only the inn's pedigree that makes it special — it's the details: sherry and fresh flowers in each of its traditionally styled rooms. The lower-priced rooms are a bit small, but you can stretch out in the inn's gardens and deck if you need a little extra space. 15 rooms from $179; or 800/582-2466. –M.J.

10. Sayulita, Mexico

The feel of sea air on your face and a view of early-morning fishermen setting their lines ease you into the day at the Villa Amor, on the windswept Nayarit coast. A collection of oceanfront cottages built into a steep hillside, the villa epitomizes warmth, authenticity, and artfulness. Thatched roofs, curvy adobe walls, and — in some villas — plunge pools perched right over the hill will make you wish you could pack up the mood of this place and take it home. 35 cottages from $75; or 619/822-2731. –Amy Wolf

Sunset Magazine is your indispensable guide to living in the West, full of fresh ideas in travel, garden, home design, food, and wine. .