8 Best Beach Destinations to Retire in for Beautiful Views, Mild Weather, and a Laid-back Vibe

From small towns to big cities, these are the best coastal destinations for retirees.

Beautiful Ponte Vedra Beach on the east coast of North Florida.


There’s something attractive about being near the sea, whether it’s the beautiful view, invigorating air, or childlike fun of splashing in cool water. We almost instinctively choose lakes and oceans for vacations, and scientists believe that proximity to the water offers actual benefits. It’s no wonder so many people want to spend their retirement years near the sea.

To come up with a list of the best places to retire near the beach, we've researched coastal towns and cities in the U.S. and around the world.

01 of 08

Carlsbad, California

Cliffs of Carlsbad

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Located on the Pacific Coast in San Diego County, Carlsbad boasts mild weather year-round. The city, nicknamed “The Village by the Sea,” combines a small-town atmosphere, a walkable downtown, parks, restaurants, cafes, and locally owned shops all within convenient distance of San Diego (under an hour) and Los Angeles (about two hours). Niche notes the median home price in Carlsbad is about $1,070,500. According to Zillow, the average home price is $1,558,692. There’s a state income tax, but social security retirement benefits are not taxed. And yes, living on the California coast is costly, but retirees whose budget allows appreciate the beaches, scenery, weather, local events, and quality of life.

I’ve visited Carlsbad’s golf courses, beaches, restaurants, and annual Flower Fields, where locals bring picnics and pick strawberries during the season. Residents and tourists buy produce at the Wednesday farmers market, as well as attend festivals like Oktoberfest, Taste of Carlsbad, and the Spring Kaleidoscope art fair. Plus, Legoland is nearby for family visits, and Disneyland is just about an hour away.

02 of 08

Beaufort, South Carolina

Beaufort is a city in and the county seat of Beaufort County, South Carolina. It is the second-oldest city in South Carolina

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"Beaufort is an idyllic place to live for people of all ages, but especially retirees. Beaufort is known as the 'Queen of the Sea Islands,' and there's a special quality of life and code of conduct that [locals] live by that you don't find anywhere else,” travel journalist Michelle Gross, who has lived in Beaufort for several years, tells Travel + Leisure. “From the salt air and scenic marshes to embracing a slower pace of life, I'm convinced there's nowhere more beautiful to settle down than right here in Beaufort, South Carolina."

Beaufort offers history, cultural diversity, world-class restaurants, delicious seafood, and a variety of entertainment. With year-round mild weather, outdoor activities abound, including golf, hiking, biking, fishing, and boating. Niche reports the median home value in Beaufort is $312,900. There’s no estate tax in South Carolina, and residents 65 and older can deduct $10,000 of income from most retirement plans for state income tax purposes.

03 of 08

Falmouth, Maine

Two green Adirondack chairs overlook Falmouth, Maine's beautiful harbor on a sunny, summer day. Puffy, white clouds float overhead. A dock can be seen off to the right.

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Not everyone who wants to live near the ocean is seeking a tropical climate. Some retirees enjoy views of the sea along with distinct seasons — cold winters, warm summers, brisk autumns, and the return of spring each year. Maine is home to many lovely coastal towns, including Falmouth, which Niche calls “one of the best places to live in Maine.” According to Best Places, Falmouth “offers a charming downtown area with excellent shopping and dining opportunities” plus plenty of activities such as kayaking, fishing, and visiting National Historic Landmarks like the Wood Island Lighthouse.

Falmouth is located in southern Maine on the Atlantic Ocean and Casco Bay, and, as in many coastal communities, home prices here are high. Redfin’s February 2024 data indicates a median home price of $1,175,000. Retirement communities like OceanView at Falmouth provide a range of living arrangements, and the town's website describes annual community events like summer concerts, a Memorial Day parade, and Very Merry Falmouth, with a tree lighting, fireworks, and an Ugly Sweater 5K run.

04 of 08

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

Beautiful Ponte Vedra Beach on the east coast of North Florida.


Located in northeast Florida, about 30 minutes from Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach is a luxurious beach town with a range of places to live. “Ponte Vedra Beach is home to some of Florida’s most beautiful beaches and golf courses, minutes from high-end retail and restaurants,” says Ethan Loosen, who has been selling real estate throughout the area for eight years with Dream Finders Homes. “The northern part of Florida stays warm most of the year, while still experiencing the seasons during fall and winter.” 

Retirees who are planning an active lifestyle will appreciate the mild weather, golf courses, beaches, and opportunities for exploring the area. Nearby Jacksonville offers a major airport, restaurants, and nightlife. St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, is less than an hour away, and Orlando is about two hours by car. Home costs average $853,855 according to Zillow, and while prices are high, many retirees appreciate the fact that Florida has no state income tax. Health care is another plus, with a variety of hospitals nearby, including the Mayo Clinic.

05 of 08

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Colorful buildings in Ambergris Caye, Belize

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Located in Central America, Belize comprises more than 400 islands, nearly 9,000 square miles of mainland, rain forests, jungles, mountains, and ancient Maya ruins. Retirees looking for a beach destination with swimming, snorkeling, fishing, sailing, and a tropical climate might enjoy making Ambergris Caye, the largest of the coastal islands, their home. As a tourist destination, the island is home to restaurants, shops, and some of the country’s most fascinating sites. Residents speak English, and the U.S. dollar is accepted, as is Belize currency.

Belize welcomes retirees, and the Belize Tourist Board has created initiatives, like the Qualified Retired Person Program, to facilitate visas for new residents who meet income and other requirements. The cost of living is about 35 percent lower than in the U.S., and rent is 77 percent lower. On a trip to Ambergris Caye, I met several retirees from both the U.S. and European countries. There’s a lively expat community here, and according to the couples I spoke with, they meet for dinners, beach parties, and excursions to the mainland and even the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

06 of 08

Quepos, Costa Rica

Damas Island mangrove area - Amazing ecosystem mixing fresh and salt water following the strong tides that move back and forth every six hours between the pacific ocean and the river - diverse flora and fauna, near Quepos, Punta Arenas

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With shores on the Caribbean and Pacific, Costa Rica provides plenty of options for retirees who want to live near the beach. The Central American country offers a few ways to become a resident, mainly based on minimum monthly income. The cost of living is reasonable, and health care is available through both public and private systems. According to International Living, “Aside from the Hospital Metropolitano clinic at the marina, there's a modern public hospital just outside of town.”

The harbor town of Quepos, known for sport fishing, has beaches, restaurants, a marina, and shops. Roughly 60 miles from San José, the location is convenient for local and international travel. Quepos is also the gateway to the popular Manuel Antonio National Park, where visitors enjoy hiking, wildlife spotting, and remote beaches.

During my own trip to Costa Rica, I was left with admiration for its people — friendly, sincere, and welcoming. With fishing, sandy shores, and lots of natural beauty, Quepos is ideal for retirees seeking beach living and Costa Rica’s pura vida.

07 of 08

Mazatlán, Mexico

Mexico, Mazatlan, Colorful old city streets in historic city center.

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Located on Mexico’s mainland where the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez meet, Mazatlán features miles of beaches and a moderate climate. Restaurants, shops, parks, hotels, and entertainment venues offer much to do, on top of outdoor activities like boating, fishing, swimming, and hiking. The international airport is less than 30 minutes away, and there’s a ferry to La Paz in Baja. I spent some time in Mazatlán recently, and was impressed with the downtown area’s restaurants and parks. The seaside malecón, a four-mile promenade with monuments, food and souvenir vendors, and cliff divers, showcases beautiful views along with ocean breezes, making it a popular place to stroll day or evening. 

Mexico’s low cost of living is a big draw for retirees, and Mazatlán’s costs for rent and food are well below those of most U.S. cities. Mexico offers high-quality health care through private hospitals at low costs, and many retirees arrange private insurance or simply pay cash for services. If they meet minimum income and savings requirements, retirees can also apply for temporary (up to four years) or permanent residency, with applications processed through the Mexican consulate in their country of residence.

08 of 08

Nha Trang, Vietnam

View of the fishing port of nha trang

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Located about 250 miles northeast of Ho Chi Minh City and nearly 800 miles south of Hanoi, Nha Trang is a coastal city with a beautiful beach and an established expat community of about 4,000 people. The average year-round temperature is approximately 81 degrees Fahrenheit, and there are wet and dry seasons. The latter runs from January through August, while monsoon season spans September to December. 

High-quality health care is available through several local hospitals, including Vinmec Nha Trang International Hospital, which has modern facilities and an English-speaking staff. Most retirees arrange private health care coverage. According to an article by Betsy Burlingame, founder and president of Expat Exchange, “Most international retirees in Nha Trang opt for apartments or condos in the city center, close to amenities and the beach. There are also options for houses in quieter, residential areas.” Burlingame describes Nha Trang as a walkable city with reliable public transportation, vibrant nightlife, delicious cuisine, and abundant opportunities for recreation, from parks to hiking and boating.

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