If there’s anything I’m an expert on, it’s tropical islands. From a young age, I’ve been obsessed with them and even had a tropical island-themed Bar Mitzvah. I love tropical islands so much that after law school, I spent 2 years living on Guam, an idyllic paradise near the Mariana Trench.
As a location-independent freelance attorney, my practice takes me all over the world. At least a few times a year, I try to travel to a tropical island and look for destinations that are budget-friendly with reliable WiFi/infrastructure.
Below are 5 of my favorite budget-friendly tropical islands for freelancers (and really, anyone else).
It’s almost a cliché to talk about how great Bali is for freelancers. Bali has practically everything a freelancer is looking for: a strong freelance community, co-working spaces, beautiful beaches and nature, and reliable WiFi.
Bali has a diverse landscape which includes rice paddies, beaches, and volcanoes. My favorite places on the island are Ubud, Seminyak, and Nusa Dua. While these places are more laid back, if you’re looking for clubs and bars, you should stay near Kuta, which is an essential stop for many backpackers and Europeans/Australians who are enjoying their gap year.
One reason Bali is so popular with freelancers is the reasonable prices of food and accommodation on the island. As an example, for $20/night, I was able to get my own 2-story bungalow at a yoga retreat on a rice paddy in Ubud, complete with an outdoor shower and bathtub. You can also find luxurious lodging for way less than what you would pay almost anywhere else in the world — for less than $100/night, I was able to get a 2-bedroom villa with my own private pool just a short walk from the beach in Seminyak.
Tenerife, Canary Islands
Europe isn’t generally known for its tropical islands; but if you keep flying south, you’ll eventually reach the Canary Islands. Located off the southern coast of Morocco, these islands are technically a part of Spain and the European Union.
Tenerife is a volcanic island with stunning beaches, great infrastructure, and affordable hotels. It’s also the largest and most populated of the seven Canary Islands (and is the most populated island of Spain).
On the north coast, you’ll find Puerto de la Cruz, which serves as the perfect base for freelancers wanting to thaw out during the winter. A rental car is helpful, but you can walk around the city’s dark, volcanic-sand beaches, explore local cuisine, and see stunning cliff-side views that are only short walk away.
While Tenerife isn’t as warm as the other islands listed here, I visited in November and it was still hot enough for me to spend my non-working hours tanning on the beach and swimming in the ocean.
The icing on the cake: with Ryanair, you can find direct, round-trip flights from Madrid to Tenerife for as low as $38.
Caye Caulker, Belize
Caye Caulker, located only a short (and cheap) boat ride from Belize City, is the only island in North America to make this list. As a rule of thumb, the Caribbean is generally not budget-friendly for freelancers or tourists, especially in the winter where tourists flock to the warm weather and pristine beaches. That said, Caye Caulker bucks this trend, with reasonable accommodations, decently priced food, and an amazing climate with crystal-clear blue water surrounding the island.
Earlier this year, I had the chance to visit Caye Caulker. I wrote a more expansive write-up of why this island is amazing for freelancers, and you can check out my blog post here: Caye Caulker, Belize: a remote worker’s dream.
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Thailand is one of my favorite countries in the world. And, within Thailand, my favorite spot is Koh Phi Phi, an island off the coast of Phuket.
Koh Phi Phi is truly stunning in terms of natural beauty, it has reliable cell coverage and WiFi, and you can find more than reasonable accommodations all over the island (I shelled out less than $30/night for a room that was steps away from the ocean, with an infinity pool overlooking the Andaman Sea). The island is also easily accessible from Phuket’s international airport, being a short, inexpensive, and beautiful boat ride away.
If you have time, be sure to check out nearby Krabi, home of some of the most beautiful tropical beaches in the world.
Palawan, The Philippines
Asia is truly spoiled when it comes to budget-friendly tropical islands and Palawan, which was named the Best Island in the World for 2 straight years by Travel + Leisure, is arguably the crown jewel of them all.
With crystal-clear blue water, breathtaking mountains and rocks rising out of the ocean in every direction, and landscapes that look too stunning to be real, Palawan can quickly overwhelm you with its beauty. Beyond its natural beauty, Palawan is a great option for freelances because of its affordable food, transportation, and accommodations.
While WiFi is not can be spotty on the island, particularly in less-developed El Nido, you can easily find comfortable cafes with reliable connections.
If you have a favorite budget-friendly tropical island that you like to visit, let me know in the comments!