Beach vacation on the cheap

Three years ago, we went to the Alabama coast and had a marvelous time.

But the cost? Yikes.

I loved the Gulf Shores condo we rented. (The Lighthouse)

But just three nights at the place cost us more than $1,000. By time we factored in gas, food, etc… well, it was one pricy vacay, believe me.

This year, I did some research, and eventually found a place near Fort Morgan, a 15-minute drive from Gulf Shores.

A “Sunsuite” at the Gulf Shores Plantation cost us less than $1,000 for FOUR nights. Breakdown: $250 deposit with $750 due at check-in.

The Lighthouse was definitely more luxurious, but given that Hubs and I are tent-campers, anything that has a shower, bed and functioning kitchen is just fine by us.

I would describe our Sunsuite as “family-home shabby.” For example, the shower knob lacked the actual knob, but still worked. The bedspread likely came from a big-box store.

But a Sunsuite, which sleeps four, suited our needs: A place to eat a quick breakfast, change in and out of swimsuits, grab lunch, change in and out of swimsuits and sleep.

Here are Sunsuite layouts. We had the one on the right.

Perfect size for a small family, especially one that spends most of the time outdoors!

Hubs and I shared a bed in the nook.

Our bed, temporarily occupied by the children.

Another view of "the nook."


The kids slept in bunkbeds tucked into a space between the living area and the kitchen.


They agreed that each got to spend two nights in the upper bunk.

Here’s the living area. I forgot to shoot a photo of the kitchen, but it was sunny yellow with a table for four.

This is a sleeper sofa, but the kids preferred the bunk beds.

Our mini-balcony-for-two offered a lovely view:

My Hubs isn't included. You'll have to bring your own.

Taken (by Hubs) from our balcony.


Still Life: Hubs Foot


Tootie chills on the balcony

Gulf Shores Plantation has six large and nicely maintained pools. We tried out every pool but the indoor one. Whirlpools also are scattered throughout, including a large outdoor one and a couple inside of our building, Plantation Dunes, as well.

Larger condos and cottages are available, but as I said, we were trying to avoid a costly vacation this year. So a Sunsuite was perfect for us. We had access to a laundry room and towel exchange. A card entitled us to free DVDs throughout our stay, although we never used it. Nor did we use the fitness room, since Hubs and I convinced ourselves that charging through the waves and swimming in large pools constitutes exercise!

Here’s a layout of the entire complex:

On our beach vacations, we typically eat breakfast and lunch in the condo and then eat out at dinner. Tomorrow, I’ll describe our dining experiences, the good, bad and overrated…

5 thoughts on “Beach vacation on the cheap

  1. I’m glad you posted this! I had a hard time finding a condo that would fit us all in the right configuration, so I may check this out next time. And I’ll have to do a post on where we stayed, too — San Carlos condos.


  2. What unit did you stay in that was $500 a night??? Granted we’re going off season (early fall), but we got a 2 bedroom + bunkroom at the Lighthouse for $180 a night.


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