Fall is the best time for a sunny escape. Once September hits and that end-of-summer depression sets in, you’ll be looking for the perfect way to prolong the warm weather — or go into denial about the approach of winter. And a beach trip in October is also a wise choice for those looking to avoid crowds — many islands and beaches clear out once summer ends, but they remain no less relaxing, picturesque, and warm. Here are a few of our favorite warm-weather destinations for fall.
1. St. Barts, The Caribbean
Summer in St. Barts means throngs of tourists and streets packed with expensive cars, but fall offers a much chiller vibe. On Gouverneur Beach, you won’t find any beach chairs, restaurants, or beach clubs, just natural surroundings untarnished by tourism. When you’ve had enough beach solitude, head down to Gustavia, the capital of St. Barts, where there’s a lively bar and restaurant scene. Famed nautical-themed restaurant Bonito is a favorite among the island’s celebrity guests because of its striking views of the town below. When dinner’s over, grab drinks at Nikki Beach or Rock Bar, two of the island’s best beachside bars.
2. St. Tropez, France
The European version of St. Barts, St. Tropez is packed with wealthy, high-profile guests in the summer, but by September, they’ve all thankfully gone home. Plage des Salins, with its beachside bar and restaurant, is particularly worth checking out with its grass and pine-tree-covered dunes. To get there from the center of St. Tropez, bike or drive along the scenic Le Sentier du Littoral, a seven-mile road that runs alongside the headlands between the old port area and the beaches. For the best views in St. Tropez, check out the Citadel, a fortress built in the 1600s, where you’ll get a panoramic view the Gulf of St. Tropez and the Massif des Maures mountain range.
3. Playa Grande, Costa Rica
Just because summer is ending doesn’t mean surf season has to end, too. Playa Grande on the west coast of Costa Rica is a premier surf spot, and you can see for yourself by checking out its live surf cam. Playa Grande is also a prime location for spotting unique wildlife. In the fall, leatherback turtles congregate on the beaches to lay their eggs, and it’s common to spot as many as 800 of them gathering at once. For the truly adventurous, you can go whitewater rafting along the Tenorio River or hike the Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica’s most active volcano — but don’t worry, it’s currently in a resting phase.
4. Kefalonia, Greece
The most relaxing time to experience the Greek islands is fall. On Kefalonia, it’s no different. The place to check out for maximum leisure is Myrtos Beach. Myrtos Beach tops the list of best Greek beaches for its white limestone pebbles and perfect turquoise water. Four miles from Myrtos is the fishing village of Assos where you can sample classic regional dishes. Once you’ve had your fill of Kefalonian meat pie, head to the Ancient Acropolis in Sami, a town featured in Homer’s Iliad. Kefalonia’s relatively safe waters also make it one of the best Greek islands for scuba diving, with many diving centers — like Aquatic World and Fiskardo Divers — to help you get underwater.
5. Curacao, The Caribbean
Curacao has it all. Willemstad, the capital, is filled with gorgeous, colorful buildings that scream summer. Outside town, beaches, bays, and rugged limestone cliffs are the stuff of dreams. Curacao’s reefs, filled with marine life, are perfect for scuba divers and snorkelers, and best of all — particularly for fall travelers — the island is generally sheltered from the Atlantic hurricane season. One of Curacao’s most private, peaceful areas is Playa Lagun, a small cove set apart from the bustle of the more popular beaches that still offers clear waters, colorful marine life, and a coral reef.
6. Catalina Island, California
A favorite retreat of the rich and famous in the summer, Catalina is just as lively in the fall as it is in the summer — but without the crazy crowds. The small island 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles hosts a wide range of festivals, including the Catalina Island Concert Series, which runs all throughout the summer and fall; the Catalina Festival of Art from September 14th to the16th; and the Catalina Wine Mixer from September 21st to the 23rd. The island also offers glamorous clubs and luxury experiences like the Descanso Beach Club and the Zip Line Eco Tour. Several clubs allow you to rent beachside cabanas or even have picnics delivered to you on the beach.
7. Coral Bay, Cyprus
The best part about Cyprus is that it’s warm all year round. Even in January and February, the temperature rarely dips below 63 degrees. Cyprus’s Coral Bay has all the trappings of the classic beach getaway, including umbrellas, soft sand, and calm water. But if you want to do something besides lounge, you can immerse yourself in Cyprus’s rich history by visiting Maa-Paleokastro, an archaeological site where the first ancient Greeks settled in 1200 BC.