Reward Points Battle: Hotels.com vs. Bonwi

Las Vegas hotel rewards

hotels.com rewards compared to Bonwi

If you use Bonwi to book your hotel stays, you’re probably going to earn a big reward payback much faster than with other services. How much faster? Let’s compare how long it would take to get a free hotel room night from Hotels.com compared to Bonwi.com.

We picked three cities in the USA and assumed you had a budget of less than $150 per night. Then we looked at how many nights you would have to book to get a free hotel stay in return.

How the Programs Work

With Hotels.com, the rules are easy to understand: stay 10 nights and get one free. “The value of your free night is the average price of the 10 nights you collect.” Once you have completed 10 hotel stays, you can book whatever hotel you want at any time with the credit based on the average stay amount.

With Bonwi.com, it’s less simple but that’s because the points you earn are variable. The upside is much greater. Instead of having to stay 10 nights to earn an award, you could earn a free stay after just two or three nights. See some real examples in this video.

There’s also upside on the redemption part since the payout is not an average of price paid. Your points may be worth more in some markets than others, so you can cash in faster just by choosing a hotel requiring fewer points.

What Would You Get From 10 Nights of Stays?

Let’s say you actually do stay 10 nights in hotels over the course of several months. To check out what would happen in a real case scenario, we looked at real booking options for December and January in three well-traveled cities: Las Vegas, Orlando, and New Orleans.

Las Vegas hotel rewards

If you booked three nights at the SLS Las Vegas, you would pay the same at either site: $391 for three nights with taxes, but really $488 once you factor in the rip-off $32 “resort fee” that really should be included in the rate. With Hotels.com you would earn 3 credits of your 10, or 30% of what you need for a free stay. With Bonwi you earn 9,641 points. That’s enough to actually book another hotel already in Las Vegas the following week: one night at Golden Nugget, Planet Hollywood, MGM Grand, or many others.

In other words, 30% of the way to a free night vs. 100% of the way there.

If we then book four nights in Orlando at Holiday Inn Express Sea World we’ll pay $304 total with taxes/fees and earn 9,321 Bonwi points. The Ramada Plaza Resort would be $341 for four nights and earn just a shade less.

At Hotels.com you would be four credits closer to your free night, but the average comes down because these hotels are cheaper than the one in Vegas: $74 or $101 per night. At Bonwi, once again you’ve earned enough to cash in for a free night in most cities, or you can combine the points with what you earned in Vegas  and be at close to 19K–enough for two nights somewhere or one night in a luxury hotel instead.

Then let’s say we have to go to New Orleans in January for a trade show. The official hotel is out of our $150 budget range, but either of the choices pictured below will do the trick. For each of them we earn more than 7,200 Bonwi points for our stay. At Hotels.com we pay the same amount and would have finally gotten to our 10 nights.

New Orleans hotel rewards

Yippee—we get a free night’s stay! But hold on: that free night is based on the average of what we have spent per night, which comes out to $102 if we picked  the Hotel Modern for this last stay and the Holiday Inn Express for Orlando. Their formula would be $341+$304+$378 divided by 10. You can now book a hotel with them that is listed for $102 or less.

With Bonwi, in contrast, we are up to 26,525 points earned from those same 10 nights. What can you get for that? Here are some ideas:

  • 3 nights at most Las Vegas off-strip hotels or at MGM Grand
  • One glorious night at the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans (dollar value of $349)
  • Any plane ticket valued at $265 or less
  • A $250 gift certificate to Target, Best Buy, Amazon, or the Apple Store.

Your rebate value from Bonwi ranges from 25% to 35% depending on how you use the points. Your rebate value from Hotels.com is always 10% and you can only use it for hotels. With Bonwi you can use your points at any time. With Hotels.com they are useless until you have spent 10 nights in hotel rooms booked with them.

The winner in this rewards program battle between Hotels.com and Bonwi.com? Well, that depends on whether you prefer to earn a little or a lot.

Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers

There’s nothing better than giving gifts that people will really use, especially for friends and family who frequently travel. With the holidays fast approaching, this week’s Travel Tip Tuesday focuses on gift ideas that make travel easier and more enjoyable for those in your life.

Travel Books

Before visiting a new destination, most travelers love to read up on where they are headed. Travel books are full of information about local highlights, directions/ways on how to reach them, and what to expect upon arrival. You might also consider including a day pass or membership to a local museum alongside the travel book/guide.

Travel Clothing

One pro travel tip is to be prepared for anything, and clothing is no exception. Whether the person receiving your gift will be roaming the streets of London or the trails of Machu Picchu, brands like L.L. Bean and REI design travel-focused clothing with features such as hidden/extra pockets, wrinkle-free fabrics, and easy layering. Consider gifting a lightweight and wind-resistant jacket, fashion forward all-terrain footwear, or a comfortable pair of jeans that can handle the wear and tear of being on the road.

Dry Bag

You’d be surprised how handy a dry bag can be while traveling; particularly for the travelers in your life who enjoy kayaking trips, hiking, or any kind of adventure travel. A dry bag keeps clothing, food, electronics, or anything else sealed airtight. It’s an inexpensive gift that can prove invaluable during a sudden thunderstorm.

Travel Towels

Not all towels are made equal. A quick-dry travel towel is essential for most backpackers and hostel goers because they’re easily repacked without dampening the rest of your belongings. Full-sized travel towels take up much less room than regular towels because of their micro-fiber design.

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are essentially small bags that are packed separately before anything is added to your suitcase. They also help keep everything organized and protect belongings from water damage, spilled shampoo or toothpaste, etc. They can be purchased individually or as a set and are an ideal way to keep any suitcase neat and tidy. Clothes and other travel items can be grouped together to make unpacking and repacking a breeze.

Portable Games & Journal

Small games can offer a little entertainment for a long plane, train, or bus trip. Not only will they help pass the time, they can also give you a reason to get to know the passengers sitting nearby if you invite them to join. A journal is also a great gift idea, as it allows travelers a means to pass the time and keep record of their new experiences made along the way.

While you’ve got many gifting options this coming holiday season, just remember that a travel gift will go far, and remind them of you when they’re away.

 

Stay tuned for the latest edition of Travel Tip TuesdayHear from our experts on all elements of travel as they share their personal experience and knowledge, which spans everything from fascinating must-see locations, to practical and informative suggestions.  Ready to explore? Let Bonwi help ensure that your next getaway is the best one yet.

Best Time to Book December Travel

When is the best time to book December travel? It’s a simple question, but the answer depends on a few things, namely your plans, your flexibility, and the type of travel you’re taking. Because December is a busy travel month, finding the best rates requires a strategy. With that in mind, we’ve crunched historical travel data for December so as to provide you with better insight on how best to book travel in the coming months.

Flights Vs. Hotels

The first thing to consider is the difference between airfare savings and hotel savings. Airlines have become increasingly adept over the years at ensuring that every possible seat on the plane is filled before takeoff. Hotels, on the other hand, have far more flexibility in their booking availability, leaving ample opportunity for last minute deals.

The Best Time To Book December Flights

Some travelers are still under the impression that the earlier you book a flight, the better rates you’ll get. We found that 20% of travelers in 2016 booked their December flights at least 70 days before their departure date. On average, these passengers paid 70% more than those who purchased their tickets during the optimal booking window. It’s worth noting that longer-haul flights tend to get booked earlier and that this plays a part in higher prices, since the best deals are rarely found when booking more than 70 days in advance.

We also know that booking flights last-minute can be costly. Despite this, nearly 10% of travelers waited until just 10 days before booking their flight, and we found that travelers who booked flights within a week of their departure date paid nearly 50% more than those who booked during the optimal booking window. So what is the optimal booking window? Travelers booking flights from 60 to 70 days prior to departure saw the lowest ticket prices.

The Best Time to Book Hotels in December

On the contrary, we found that it pays to wait when it comes to hotels. Last December, the lowest hotel rates came to those travelers who booked from 1 to 25 days before their check-in date. Those looking for rooms over New Year’s Eve, saw rooms become substantially cheaper over the last few days leading up to the holiday – as much as 40% less than the average price 30 days out from check-in. Booking hotels last-minute can pay off, but just remember:

  • Exceptionally popular destinations, like Manhattan over New Year’s Eve, may book-up quite early. By comparison, a beach cottage on California’s Central Coast could likely offer a fantastic last-minute deal.
  • The number of travelers booking last minute hotel rooms (1 and 2 days out) skyrockets, meaning you some of the better options may sell out quickly. Keep an eye on availability.
  • Being flexible on the type of hotel and its location can go a long way. A mid-range hotel may offer a great rate, buy a luxury hotel may offer something even deeper. See what your budget affords you across different classes of hotels.

So What’s Your Best Strategy?

Road-Trip: Pump the breaks on booking early, unless visiting an exceptionally popular destination where hotel options will be limited. Watch rates dip as your desired check-in date approaches, then strike when it feels right.

Just A Flight: Confirm your travel plans now, you’re in the optimal booking window of 60-70 days prior to departure.

Flight + Hotel: Decide how much flexibility you have within your itinerary. Book your flight now. Monitor hotel prices and availability as your trip approaches. If you’re taking an extended trip over the last week of the year, consider booking a room in advance for the first half, then making a second reservation mid trip in order to save the most money.

 

Whether booking December travel or any time of year travel, check out Bonwi.com for your next getaway. And don’t forget to continue to check out our blog every Tuesday for more Travel Tips. Let Bonwi make sure your next adventure is the best one yet!

Four Amazing Ideas for the Upcoming Festivities

Each year on the fourth Thursday in November, Americans traditionally gather for a day of festivities that typically revolves around feasting, football and family. No matter how or when your traditions first started though, there is nothing in the rulebook that prevents you from making some adjustments, or even starting traditions completely anew. In this week’s Travel Tip Tuesday, we have included some ideas to help inspire you to spice up the festivities soon to come.

Mother Nature’s Artwork

Viewing the changing leaves during autumn is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to experience America’s natural beauty. The crisp air and bright colors inspire travelers to embrace the outdoors. Cooler weather makes it the perfect time to go for a hike or embark on a road trip to admire the stunning fall foliage. As temperatures drop and days grow shorter, nature seemingly transforms into a masterpiece of color all around us. There is no shortage of beautiful fall scenery to be explored across the United States, and you don’t have to travel far to take part in the phenomenon. From New England to the Pacific Northwest, deciduous trees put on their dazzling display for everyone to enjoy.

Celebrating In The Big City

While big cities typically feature skyscrapers and paved roads in place of trees shedding their leaves, their abundance of restaurants, parades and seasonal activities more than make up for the lack of autumn colors. In fact, big cities can be awesome places to partake in festivals. There is nothing quite like the spectacle and extravagance of a parade marching through downtown streets. We highly recommend traveling to New York City this year to attend the Macy’s Day Parade. It is an amazingly entertaining event, and vastly different in person than on television. It’s guaranteed to be an experience you’ll never forget.

Wine Country and Orchards

During the fall harvest season, some of the best places to visit are wine-country regions from California to Virginia. It’s easy to combine leaf-peeping with stops at farmers’ markets and apple orchards, not to mention seasonal treats such as cider, donuts, and pumpkin pie. For families, autumn’s corn mazes, hayrides, and roster of kid-friendly festivals are added incentives to keep traveling after school is back in session.

Resort Getaway

Several hotels and resorts around the United States make the upcoming festivities completely streamlined and easy, allowing you more time to sit back and enjoy each day alongside your family. Doesn’t it seem more appealing to cozy up in a luxurious hotel and have the hard work done for you, rather than stress for hours in the kitchen preparing a seemingly endless feast? All you have to do is eat, sleep, and relax. Family-oriented resorts offer fun activities during the coming months such as building gingerbread houses, creating and decorating wreaths, or turning butter, marshmallows, and popcorn into delicious treats!

 

Stay tuned for the latest edition of Travel Tip Tuesday where you hear from our experts on all elements of travel as they share their personal experience and knowledge, which spans everything from fascinating must-see locations, to practical and informative suggestions. Let Bonwi help ensure that your next getaway is the best one yet.

How to Earn a Second Vacation From Your First Mexico Vacation

Marquis Los Cabos Resort

Marquis Los Cabos Resort

Imagine you travel to a Mexican beach destination like Los Cabos or the Riviera Maya for a long weekend holiday. Then after you’re done, you’ve earned enough credits to use for a free flight or hotel stay on your next vacation. Wouldn’t that be nice?

If you’re using Bonwi and paying attention to the point earnings, it’s a whole lot easier than winning a contest. It’s a sure thing in fact. It’s next to impossible to get a free flight or hotel room so easily with regular reward programs, but here you know in advance what you’re getting.

Los Cabos Hotel Points Paybacks

Let’s take a look at Los Cabos and see what you could get during a three-day weekend vacation in December.

Points back for Los Cabos Resorts

If you book either of the two all-inclusive resorts pictured there—Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach or Marquis Los Cabos—you would earn more than 31,000 points for your long weekend stay. What could you get for that number of points? A round-trip flight costing $310, a name brand gift certificate worth $310, or an even higher value many times by booking another hotel.

Hotel Point Paybacks in the Riviera Maya

I plugged in the same December dates for the Riviera Maya and look what you would earn from Grand Residences in Puerto Morelos or the brand new Andaz Mayakoba. You’d get more than 36K from one and 41K from the other.

hotel loyalty point rewards Riviera Maya

If you do the math, you’re basically getting a rebate of 20% or more on what you’re spending. That’s several times the amount you get from any traditional loyalty program.

Again that’s enough for a round-trip flight to many locations. Maybe even Cancun again! You just convert the points at a penny a mile so you don’t have to worry about blackout dates.

Or the payback would make for a huge Christmas present for someone by way of a gift card. The other option is to use it for more hotel stays. Let’s say you decided to go to Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta next time on vacation. If you signed into Bonwi and checked what you could get for your points total, you’d see dozens of hotels where your point total would get you a free three-nights’ stay. You would have to go down a star level or two at the beach, but in some interior cities you wouldn’t even have to do that.

We’re using Mexico as an example because when it’s cold up north, a lot of people head that direction. You could just as easily use it for a ski vacation though, or to just stay cozy inside with your new surround-sound system you bought with your Best Buy gift card. We won’t judge–just enjoy!

Find great hotel deals and the highest rewards for Los Cabos and the Riviera Maya.

Travel Tips to Simplify Your Thanksgiving Travels

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of traveling during the Thanksgiving season, you know the roads and airports are always jammed. Here are expert tips and tricks for making one of the busiest travel holidays of the year easier than ever. You can thank us later!

Be Mindful and Thoughtful

Can holiday travel feel stressful? Does it help to take out your frustration on fellow passengers and travelers? It doesn’t have to be this way. Frame your journey as an exciting adventure. Everyone traveling has a similar goal to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones. Practice slowing your breathing if long lines or traffic are causing you stress.

Travel Light

Everyone flying will be packing carry-ons to accommodate their journey. Overhead compartments will fill up quickly. Try to pack everything into a backpack that will fit under the seat in front of you. If you have gifts or bulky items, consider shipping them to your final destination ahead of time.

Travel at Odd Times

The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, closely followed by the Sunday after the big day. Fly to your destination a few days early and fly back on Friday when the masses are out shopping the best deals of the year. Drive through the night to avoid traffic.

Stay Connected

Smartphone users can take advantage of apps that provide updates on airline statuses, road traffic, weather, and current news. Social media is a great resource to be the first place to hear about anything that might go wrong with your flight. Airlines can also be more responsive to public pleas of assistance on social media.

By using these tips as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip. Read more of our Travel Tip Tuesdays for more in-depth information about the best way to travel. After picking up a few tips, start planning your Thanksgiving travel with Bonwi.com.

In Honolulu, Hawaii, Don’t Miss a Trip to Hanauma Bay State Park

Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay State Park in Honolulu, Hawaii is located inside a volcanic cone, and is a must-see for visitors to Oahu.
Hanauma Bay State Park in Honolulu, Hawaii is located inside a volcanic cone, and is a must-see for visitors to Oahu.

If you find yourself traveling to Honolulu Hawaii, there are usually a couple reasons why. Including, (but of course not limited to) the sun, pristine beaches, and pure relaxation the tropical Island has to offer. But if you ask any local, they’ll say that a trip to Honolulu is incomplete without a visit to Hanauma Bay State Park, a marine life conservation area, and underwater park.

Formed inside a volcanic cone, the bay is home to a thriving marine ecosystem. All visitors are required to watch an introduction video about the bay’s marine life, conservation, preservation, and safety rules before entering the park. This is primarily because of the years of abuse and neglect the bay has faced due to millions of people unknowingly destroying the plants and animals that prosper there.

 With over 3,000 visitors a day, there is no doubt that the bay is a premier destination because of its warm water snorkeling and the way it encaptures the island with its picturesque views. To enter the park, there is a general admission fee of $7.50, however, this doesn’t include the parking fee, locker fee, and several other add ons.

Snorkeling the crystal clear waters of Hanauma Bay State Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Snorkeling the crystal clear waters of Hanauma Bay State Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The state park does offer a few tours that visitors can choose from, the most basic one being the “Extended Tour”, which costs $25. Not a bad price! The tour includes round-trip transportation from Waikiki Hotels to Hanauma Bay, a narrated mini tour on the ride to the bay, masks, fins, and a snorkel, and 4.5 hours on the beach. This basic tour is perfect for visitors looking for a cheap day trip to the bay, equipped with snorkeling and easy transportation.
However, if you are looking for a more advanced tour that visits several different locations, then it’s best to opt for the “North Shore & Hanauma Bay Tour”, which includes two tours in one day. The tour not only stops at several different beaches including Pipeline Beach and Waimea Bay, but it also allows you free access to kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
 Don’t miss the chance to jump off enormous “Jump Rocks” which are large hunks of lava that act as perfect places to either jump off of or catch a glorious view of the aqua landscape. A quick stop at Turtle Town for lunch is also included in the package, and the shrimp plate is highly recommended by previous visitors.
End the day with a visit to the famous Dole Pineapple Plantation where you’ll get the chance to try the delightful “Dole Whip” pineapple ice cream and walk around the beautiful pineapple gardens. The “North Shore & Hanauma Bay Tour” premium package costs $149 for adults and $135 for children. It’s pricey, but the jam-packed day full of adventure is totally worth every penny.
Hanauma Bay State Park is just one opportunity out of hundreds that Honolulu offers. But just keep in the back of your mind, Hanauma Bay Beach was voted the best beach in the entire United States in 2016, so it might just be worth a visit!
If a stay in a Honolulu Hotel is in your future, find the best deal on all of Oahu’s hotels at Bonwi.com, and use your points to save for a future trip as well!

Exploring the Seven Seas

Whether you are a beginner or just need a refresher, this week’s Travel Tip Tuesday explores what elements to consider for your next trip below the surface.

Gear Up Sensibly

Do your homework, watch for sales, and then when the time is right, make your move to save money.

Buy Don’t Rent: This may seem counter-intuitive, but when you’re looking at the big picture it’s less costly to buy scuba gear and/or snorkeling equipment than it is to rent. This becomes more apparent the longer you own your items, which can be a very long time given proper care. Though it may make sense initially to rent your gear until you’ve determined what sizes and brands best suit your needs, owning will reduce the expense of future dives to little more than air tank refills and cleaning supplies.

Consider a One-Brand Package Deal: Find three or four big items that strike your fancy, all from the same manufacturer, and buy them together as a package deal. Doing so will afford you more room to negotiate down the sticker price(s).

Ask For Free Air: When making a major gear purchase, it’s a good idea to request a little extra from the vendor (e.g. Five free tank refills as part of the sale). Such requests are often granted, particularly by established dive stores.

Shop Around For Used And Generic Items: Dry boxes, general-purpose bags, first-aid kits, tools — anything you need that’s not unique to diving may likely be found for less money at big box stores.

Keep Top Of Mind…

Always thoroughly check your equipment before every dive. Take care of your gear, and it will take care of you. Wash and soak each item in fresh water after every saltwater dive, and allow them to dry thoroughly out of the sun to maximize their lifespan. With regular inspections you can detect and fix small tears and loose fasteners before they turn into costly problems. Warning signs of faulty equipment include air leaks, broken buckles, strange smelling/tasting air, and a jumping needle on your air gauge when you take a breath out of your regulator. Store your gear someplace dry that is out of the sun.

While you’re under the surface, it’s easy to be mesmerized by what exists below you. Don’t forget to look upward into the blue every once in a while. Much of the time that is where the larger sea creatures or schools of fish will be located. Enjoy exploring the countless sights there are to see, and bring with you a waterproof camera to record all the fascinating things that are indeed unlike anything on Earth.

Pick Your Perfect Venue

Do you prefer wrecks, sea life, caverns, drift dives, underwater scenery – some of each? Give thought to what sounds best and determine your diving location based off of what you’re after. Do you want to be somewhere that’s ideal for beginners? Somewhere that’s known for its photographic brilliance? There are endless diving locations available to meet your every preference. Below are a few of our favorites for you to consider:

Barracuda Point – Malaysia

Schools of circling sharks and barracuda congregate beside massive walls of coral in Malaysia’s Barracuda Point.

Great Barrier Reef – Australia

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is home to manta rays, octopi, turtles, bull sharks, clouds of fish, and the most spectacular coral found anywhere.

Cayman Islands – Caribbean

Amazingly deep drop-offs, fascinating shipwrecks, and some of the coolest coral in the Caribbean can be found underwater in the Cayman Islands.

Sharm El Sheikh – Egypt

A British vessel, the Thistlegorm, sank in 1941 and its cargo of war supplies is now a coral-covered home to numerous forms of sea life here in Egypt.

Great Blue Hole – Belize

More than 300 feet across and 412 feet deep, the Great Blue Hole in Belize is outlined by coral reef and inhabited by sharks.

 

Ready for some underwater fun? Plan your next adventure with Bonwi.com!

Tips on Saving During Your European Getaway


Looking for budget friendly tips for your next European getaway? Below are our top cost-effective tips to consider during your European travels.

Traveling by foot or on public transportation will help you appreciate the beauty found within cities, and will save on expenses as well. Use public transport in place of taxis, and buy 24-hour, 3-day or even weekly public transport passes, which work out cheaper than single tickets.

Take advantage of “Welcome Cards”, such as those found in Berlin, Germany, which includes free public transportation and many discounts to sights, tours, restaurants, museums and more.

Use ATMs rather than travelers checks. You’ll get your cash cheaper and faster. While ATMs give the best possible rates, they do come with transaction fees. Minimize these fees by making fewer and larger withdrawals. Store the cash safely in your money belt.

Buying your maps in Europe will cost a fraction of domestic prices, plus you’re likely to find a wider selection.

Take advantage of leisurely ferry trips along coastlines, tandem-bicycles, or even horse-drawn carriage rides. Such means of transportation are not only means of saving money, but also perfect opportunities for relaxation and stress-free personal time to reconnect.

Trimming your budget certainly doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of your trip, and in many cases doing so will result in a far more intimate, rewarding, and unforgettable getaway.

The 5 Best Florida Beaches Easily Reached From Orlando

Florida beach from Orlando

Florida beach from Orlando

People fly from all over the world to go to Orlando, home of Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios amusement parks, and much more. This is a land-locked city though, so if you want a Florida beach vacation you need to drive east to meet the Atlantic Ocean or west to reach beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.

Both coasts are easy to reach in a rental car, however. Most of the way you will be on large highways and the roads are well-marked. The closest beach to Orlando is only one hour away from the gates of Walt Disney World, while the farthest one on this list is just two hours away.

Cocoa Beach, Florida – 1 hour

beach near Orlando
(photo courtesy Visit Space Coast Tourism)

Near the Cape Canaveral area where the United States launched most of its manned rockets into space, this is the closest beach to Orlando. Like all but one here, it’s on a narrow barrier island jutting out into the sea. Expect soft golden sand but big waves sometimes: this is one of the best surfing spots in Florida.

There are four public beach access areas with parking (for a fee), so it’s easy to come here on a day trip and return to your hotel in Orlando that night. For the kids there is also a public skate park and several playgrounds. The Kennedy Space Center has a visitors center open to the public.

Daytona Beach – 1 hour 15 minutes

Daytona Beach Florida

Best known as home of the Daytona 500 Speedway where NASCAR auto races take place, this is a beach where cars rule. You can drive right onto the hard-packed sand and park your car on the very wide beach. This makes any stretch of the beach easily accessible in your vehicle, in an area that stretches more than 15 miles from New Smyrna Beach through Ormond Beach.

Prices are reasonable at Daytona Beach for lodging, meals, drinks, and activities, so this is a good spot for a couple or family on a budget. The area has a surprisingly robust art scene, plus the region is frequently cited as one of the best beach values in the USA.

Clearwater Beach – 1 hour 45 minutes

Clearwater Beach Florida

Often voted as the prettiest beach in Florida, this is a compact white-sand beach area that is only 2.5 miles long. Much of it is connected by paved walkways and bike lanes and there are plenty of restaurants and beach bars with a view of the green and blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The water stays much warmer here than on the Atlantic coast, with temperatures only dipping down below F20° for one month in February. The water is very calm here, making it a good choice for young children. Search on Bonwi for the best Clearwater Beach resort deals.

St. Petersburg Beach – 1 hour 45 minutes

St. Pete Beach Florida

The Tampa Bay area’s other main beach is St. Petersburg, a long stretch of sand dotted with a variety of hotels and condo complexes. There several similar barrier island beaches immediately to the north such as Treasure Island and Madeira. As with Clearwater the sea temperatures are pleasant most of the year and there are seldom waves large enough to knock down even the smallest child.

This is a beach area where you pick a spot and park or you explore by car-there’s no boardwalk or path along the sea. It’s worth heading to downtown St. Pete for restaurants and nightlife, catching a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game, or exploring the Sunken Gardens area filled with tropical plants. The Salvador Dali Museum faces the Bay. Several well-regarded breweries are located here too, including Green Bench and 3 Daughters.

Anna Maria Island – 2 hours

Anna Maria Island Florida

For a taste of Florida the way it used to be before the state got so developed, head to Anna Maria Island where no building can be more than three stories high. There are no huge sprawling resorts here and the main things to do are eat seafood and lounge on the beach.

Just seven miles long and a few blocks wide, this is an easy island to navigate and there’s a free trolley to get around on once you’ve found your parking spot. There is a playground on the most popular public beach access spot and there are shaded picnic tables.

Wherever you go in Florida, you’ll earn the most points back to use for a future vacation by booking your hotel and rental car with Bonwi.com.

All photos by Tim Leffel except Coco Beach.

5 Florida beaches that are 2 hours or less from Orlando