Healthy Travel Tips »
Healthy Travel Tips » Stay safe on vacation
30 Secluded Beach Towns to Visit in the Shoulder Season
Relax and recharge at remarkable beach hideaways removed from the fray.
Escape to understated, under-the-radar coastlines.
If winter's shorter days and icy temperatures have you yearning to plot your next much-needed warm-weather beach break, we've pinpointed some idyllic and unexpected hideaways for your consideration. Whether you're looking for an unpretentious atmosphere, alluring local culture or sand and surf in a close-to-home town, these choice seaside spots beckon with few crowds and plenty of charm. And by visiting during the underrated fall and spring shoulder seasons, you'll be rewarded with tempting prices and more authentic experiences. Read on to discover unspoiled off-the-beaten-track hot spots to visit at off-peak times.
Praia de Pipa, Brazil
Brazil has no shortage of postcard-worthy coastlines, but this tucked-away fishing village is especially alluring thanks to its hard-to-reach location along the country's northeast coast. When you're not dipping your toes in crystal-clear waters or lounging along powdery sands fringed by pink-hued cliffs, embrace the deep-rooted surf culture, try your hand at kitesurfing or enjoy turtle- and dolphin-spotting. Even better, the area offers a variety of restaurants, a mix of high-end and affordable accommodations and a lively nightlife scene. Take advantage of off-season prices and still-pleasant temperatures in the autumn, after the crowds from the popular summer tourism season have come and gone.
Natadola Beach, Fiji
With untouched coral reefs, dramatic shorelines and ornate temples, Fiji has long lured outdoorsy types in search of seclusion. Arrive in early October to embrace the area's beautiful surroundings and pristine sands without facing throngs of honeymooners and fellow beachcombers. Plus, Fiji's dry season lasts from May to October, meaning you can take advantage of comfortable temperatures hovering in the 60s to 80s, along with reduced-priced hotel rates and airfare. For a quiet sandy escape, head to Natadola Beach on Viti Levu, Fiji's largest island, where you can sunbathe, snorkel and surf. After catching some rays, enjoy scuba diving at Beqa Lagoon along the island's northwestern coast, which is known for its unspoiled corals and colorful tropical fish.
Cayo Costa, Florida
While sun-worshipers tend to head to nearby Sanibel Island to enjoy beachcombing, Cayo Costa's isolated barrier reef, which is only accessible by boat, offers an equally arresting backdrop and secluded coastline for shelling. Fill up your days with peaceful nature hikes, snorkeling, fishing, dolphin-watching and exploring natural gems at Cayo Costa State Park's 2,426-acre green space. Consider basing yourself on nearby Captiva Island, which houses the upscale South Seas Island Resort and offers its own opportunities for fishing, kayaking, sailing and beachside lounging on a private sandy stretch. October to November offers an ideal time to visit for comfortable temperatures in the 70s and 80s.
Windansea Beach, San Diego
San Diego's consistent sunshine, 70-mile coastline, laid-back surf culture and moderate temperatures lure travelers seeking a warm-weather getaway at any time of year. But March to May ushers in pleasant temperatures in the mid-60s and a variety of festivals across the city – don't miss the Coronado Flower Show or Mission Federal ArtWalk in April – and the chance to explore world-class attractions without battling heavy crowds. After hitting can't-miss sights, visit Windansea Beach in nearby La Jolla, a scenic stretch with sandstone rocks, a palm-fringed shoreline, a rustic thatched-roof surf shack and large swells that beckon to serious surfers. October to November also offers an appealing time to plan a trip with dwindling crowds and affordable hotel rates.
Port St. Joe, Florida
Far from the throngs of beachgoers in Miami and Orlando, Port St. Joe, in the Florida Panhandle near Panama City Beach, lures visitors with its inviting community and picturesque shorelines, says Clem Bason, CEO of hotel booking site goSeek. The town touts the nickname, "the small town with a big heart," Bason adds, highlighting its versatile neighboring state and federal parks and fishing opportunities as top draws. For near-perfect exploration conditions, plan a trip from March and April for comfortable daily highs in the 70s. Spend your days lounging along the powdery, dune-filled shoreline at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park or kayak in St. Joseph Bay, before venturing downtown to pop into lively bistros and antique shops. As for accommodations, consider the historic Port Inn.
If you're dreaming of a far-off tropical hideaway in Southeast Asia, consider Langkawi's archipelago of 99 isles, which dazzle with limestone cliffs, pristine parks (don't miss the UNESCO Global Geopark Kilim Karst Geoforest Park with its macaque monkeys and mangroves) and ample opportunities for outdoor adventure, from kayaking to stand-up paddleboarding to surfboard yoga. Though the area lacks high-rises, it boasts traditional villa-style accommodations at the Four Seasons Resort, temperatures hovering near the 80s and fewer crowds in February and March. After soaking in your surroundings, make your way to Tanjung Rhu Beach, which boasts deserted sands and striking ocean vistas. For more heart-pounding adventures, walk along the Sky Bridge or take a waterfall hike.
Paradise Bay, Malta
Malta is a underrated gem located about 50 miles south of Sicily. Matthew Kepnes, the author behind the budget travel advice site Nomadic Matt, suggests planning a trip in March or April, the short but sweet shouldering months, to dodge the tourist-heavy crowds of summer and embrace Malta's rustic natural beauty all to yourself. And while there are plenty of impressive shorelines and arresting landscapes to explore, Paradise Bay along Malta's northern hammerhead peninsula offers an especially alluring sandy stretch with its ivory sands and picturesque views overlooking the neighboring Gozo and Comino islands. While you won't contend with lots of fellow tourists during spring, for more seclusion, explore St. Peter's Pool, a natural pool with superlative sea views and limestone cliffs.
Anse Source d'Argent, Seychelles
If you're looking to unplug in an off-the-grid destination, the Seychelles, with its isolated beaches, captivating cliffs and towering boulders, is hard to match. A network of 115 isles in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles attracts those looking for the ultimate castaway experience. April, May, October and November mark pleasant times to visit, with moderate temperatures in the 70s and 80s and ideal conditions for sunbathing and snorkeling without the heavy tourist crowds and honeymooners that arrive from December to January and July to August. For a secluded shoreline, sprawl out along the pink-tinted sands at Anse Source d'Argent at La Digue, which sits surrounded by swaying palms, rugged granite boulders, warm waters and an offshore reef.
Llandudno Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
It's no secret that Cape Town's beautiful metropolis offers plenty of dramatic shorelines catering to surfers, sunbathers and wildlife enthusiasts. But beyond iconic beaches like Boulders and Clifton, there are best-kept-secret gems like Llandudno, which boasts ideal conditions for intermediate surfers and powdery sands for sunbathing. Pack a picnic and enjoy catching the rays on the boulder-framed shoreline. For even more seclusion, check out Muizenberg, a low-key fishing village with massive swells. March to May (fall in the Southern Hemisphere) and September to November are ideal times to plan a trip with reduced crowds and hotel prices. Autumn is especially appealing with comfortable temperatures in the 60s and 70s and the start of harvest season.
Kiawah Island, South Carolina
With its 10-mile coastline of white-sand beaches, cool sea breezes, flowing fairways and nesting sea turtles, Kiawah Island appeals to R & R-seekers. Early spring and late autumn offer ideal times to plan a trip to enjoy comfortable temperatures in the pleasant 60- to 80-degree range – and the chance to beat the high humidity and crush of tourists that descend on the island from April to early October. When you're not getting your heart racing on a coastal hike, sink your toes in the sand at Kiawah Beachwalker Park, book a paddleboarding lesson or simply unwind at the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which boasts ocean-facing rooms, championship courses and a top-notch spa.
Perched on Peru's northern Pacific coast, Máncora is little-known, but well worth the trek, Kepnes says. Located near the equator, the beach town offers plenty of charm with its striking coastal vistas, fuss-free attitude and lively eateries and accommodations all within walking distance along a dirt road. The area also brims with upscale boutique hotels like KiChic, a nine-room property that places an emphasis on wellness with yoga workshops and detox retreats. Aside from embracing the area's escape-it-all setting, days can be spent taking horseback rides along the beach and tackling the challenging surf swells at the nearby Cabo Blanco fishing village, which has been touted as the "Peruvian Pipeline," before refueling with ceviche and pisco sours.
A tucked-away coastal retreat perched along Oregon's 40-mile Three Capes Scenic Route, Oceanside offers commanding views of the Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge, historic lighthouses and ample opportunities for outdoor exploration, from hiking to kayaking, Bason says. After snapping a few photos of the surreal rock formations and rising sea cliffs, check out the sea lions lazing along the north coast at Three Arch Rocks or grab a bite at Roseanna's Café. After refueling with oysters or clams, make your way to "nearby Tillamook for cheese, ice cream and more," he adds. Arrive in September or October for few crowds and still-pleasant highs in the 60s and 70s.
Bound Brook Island Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
You may associate Cape Cod as a summer vacation destination, with its shingled cottages, rustic clam shacks and beautiful beaches. But it's just as alluring from late September to October, when you can enjoy less-trodden beaches and dwindling hotel rates with thinner tourist crowds. Don't skip exploring the Cape's best-kept secret shorelines: Bound Brook Island in Wellfleet, a remote stretch with rugged dunes, Atlantic vistas and few visitors. To reach the beach, you'll need to take a 1-mile path along a dirt road. But the journey is worthwhile, with striking vistas of Provincetown and Plymouth and a picturesque perch for photo ops above 50-foot-tall hill. After stretching your legs, refuel at The Wicked Oyster or PB Boulangerie Bistro in Wellfleet.
Jupiter Island, Florida
Instead of following the crowds to West Palm Beach, consider Jupiter Island, a less-frequented shoreline. Bason highlights the area's pristine wildlife preserves (hat tip: Blowing Rocks Preserve is a must for catching sight of loggerhead sea turtles), charming nearby beach towns and warm temperatures in the fall and spring shoulder seasons as top enticements. Arrive in March and April for comfortable temperatures in the low 60s and mid-70s to low 80s. Soak up the rays along Jupiter's pet-friendly shores or enjoy active outdoor adventures such as kayaking or picnicking at Dubois Park. As for accommodations, consider the Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa for upscale guest rooms and easy access to nearby parks and dive centers.
Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson, New Zealand
With its golden sands, scenic lookouts and aquamarine waters, Kaiteriteri Beach has all the trappings of an idyllic beach break. An entry point to Abel Tasman National Park, the area is best known for its quartz-filled sands. Hike along untrammeled tracks such as Withells Walk and the Kaka Pah Point and kayak to the area's unspoiled lagoons and coves. If you can steal away from the area's beautiful islets, continue to Awaroa Beach, a remote shoreline within Abel Tasman National Park. Though the waters are warm at any time of year, the tail end of summer – February and March in the Southern Hemisphere – is an ideal time to visit for fewer crowds.
Caprera Island, Sardinia, Italy
You don't have to visit Santorini or Capri to embrace idyllic Mediterranean scenery, seafoam green waters and tucked-away beaches. At Tahiti Beach on Caprera in the La Maddalena archipelago, you can enjoy secluded surroundings and ample opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing and people-watching. After sprawling along the beach, explore old town, where you can stroll along narrow streets, pick up prosciutto and pecorino in bustling piazzas and marvel at colorful architecture. For more time in the sun, check out the other sandy beaches hemming Sardinia's northwestern coast or island hop to Spargi, Santa Maria and Razzoli nearby. To reach La Maddalena, you'll need to catch a ferry from Palau, Italy.
Sea Ranch, California
For serene seaside strolls and excellent wildlife-viewing opportunities, consider an unconventional beach break in Sea Ranch, located in Northern California near the Bay Area along the northern Sonoma County coast. While you shouldn't expect daily highs in the 70s or 80s in this coastal retreat, the weather is temperate during the fall and spring shoulder seasons, and it merits a visit for its striking architecture and "still-idealistic feel of the community, founded in the 1960s," Bason says. Make the Sea Ranch Lodge your home base to take in sweeping Pacific ocean-facing views, and rooms appointed with '70s-syle gas-burning fireplaces. For more activity, hike along the trail to Gualala Point Regional Park or check out the swells at Black Point Beach.
Kauapea, Kauai, Hawaii
If you're looking to veer away from the resort-laden sands on Honolulu's Waikiki Beach, check out the cinematic coastlines of Kauai. Kauapea, a half-mile stretch that's also known as Secret Beach and is tucked amid Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Kalihiwai Bay, boasts captivating crimson cliffs, and is only accessible along a craggy trail hemmed by lava rocks. After taking in the scenery, including plunging waterfalls, explore other underrated gems across Kauai, from the awe-inspiring Na Pali Coast to Hanalei Bay and Poipu Beach – a top mecca for avid surfers. Value-minded travelers should visit from April to June or September to November, when prices drop and temperatures stay in the balmy 70s and 80s.
Greece has no shortage of enchanting isles to explore. And though Santorini – with its white-washed buildings, romantic atmosphere and cliff-side sunsets – tends to draw heavy crowds, lesser-known idylls like Naxos offer a fuss-free and equally enticing escape. Venture to Agios Prokopios Beach for shallow waters with ideal swimming conditions, powdery white sands and easy access to a variety of cafes and authentic taverns. Another postcard-worthy stretch is Agia Anna, a tiny port tucked at the end of Naxos town, where visitors can enjoy water sports, swimming and windsurfing. Time your trip for September or October, when tourists and temperatures dip but hotels, shops and restaurants haven't yet closed for the off-season.
Salema Beach, Portugal
A quiet village situated along Portugal's Algarve Coast, Salema lures visitors with its stucco architecture, mouthwatering seafood and glittering shoreline. Get acquainted with the area's arresting scenery by wandering along the main street and admiring white-washed buildings. If you're craving even more seclusion, venture to Praia do Martinhal, a half-mile stretch that attracts beachgoers, swimmers and windsurfers with its heavy winds and beautiful natural surroundings. Best of all, you can opt to stay in a stylish Salema beach resort in town (check out Casa Praia Mar) or base yourself in Lisbon, which is just a three-hour drive north of Salema. Arrive in autumn for mild temperatures and deserted sands.
Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach, Maui, Hawaii
With crimson- and ebony-hued sands, ideal snorkeling conditions and tranquil surroundings, this often-overlooked stretch near Ka'uiki Head in Maui is a hidden gem. When you need a break, soak in other must-see natural attractions in Maui, such as the legendary Road to Hana and Haleakala National Park, which houses the world's biggest dormant volcano. Beachgoers will also want to carve out some time to explore Kaanapali Beach, a 3-mile stretch that beckons to sun-seekers and surfers. Just keep in mind currents are strong, so take caution before swimming. April to May and September to November mark enviable times to plan a trip with warm 80-degree temperatures, few crowds and reduced airfare and hotel rates.
Agonda Beach, India
Goa has temping palm-lined landscapes sprinkled with rice paddies, idyllic beaches, charming villages, ancient temples and stylish hideaways. And while Palolem Beach earns top bragging rights in the Indian state for its crescent-shaped stretch and mix of high-end and budget-friendly properties, Agonda Beach's authentic fishing village is an unsung gem. Skip the high season (November to March) for a trip in April or October, when you can snap up hotel deals and embrace crowd-free sands. When you need a break from sunbathing, grab a bite at a low-key shack or brush up on Goa's fascinating Portuguese heritage – Goa was under Portuguese rule until 1961 – as you admire tilework, red-tiled roofs, Portuguese homes, churches and other storied attractions.
Dana Point, California
Far removed from the jampacked shorelines in Santa Monica, Malibu and Laguna Beach, this Orange Country escape sits amid towering bluffs and tranquil beaches. If you're traveling with kids in tow, wander to Dana Point Harbor to embrace calm conditions for paddleboarding and swimming at the aptly named Baby Beach. And if your heart is set on wave crashing, check out Doheny State Beach, a prime destination for surfing. Hardcore surfers also flock to Salt Creek Beach, which boasts an offshore reef with massive swells, along with dramatic cliffs rising in the backdrop. While winter offers a tempting time to visit with off-season rates and still-perfect 70-degree Southern California temperatures, arrive in early spring to dodge the crowds.
Le Plage de Maui, Tahiti, French Polynesia
When you picture an isolated tropical paradise removed from the masses, images of French Polynesia's ivory-hued shorelines, crystal-clear waters and unspoiled lagoons likely come to mind. And though there are plenty of beautiful beaches to choose from, Le Plage de Maui is a showstopper with its powdery sands, warm waters and palm-fringed shoreline. Along the beach, you'll find a lagoon, shallow waters and a snack bar. To reach the beach, you'll drive roughly 40 miles southeast of Papeete. Other must-see sands include Papenoo Beach, which lures surfers with large swells, and Plage du Taharuu, which features black sands and frothy waves. Plan a trip in September or October, when you can enjoy comfortable balmy weather before the wet season that begins in November.
Ned's Beach, Lord Howe Island, Australia
September and October (spring in the Southern Hemisphere) and May and June are ideal times to visit this isolated Pacific Ocean isle perched between New Zealand and Australia. While temperatures are mild year-round, with highs in the 70s and lows in the mid-50s, these shouldering months offer comfortable conditions for exploration. A two-hour flight from Sydney, the island appeals to snorkelers with its colorful coral-reef lagoon and hikers with its towering peaks formed after a volcanic eruption approximately 7 million years ago. Venture to Ned's Beach to feed kingfish or spot sunbathing sea turtles at Old Settlement Beach. Craving more activity? Hike the challenging Mount Gower for breathtaking photo ops.
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Perched on the southern tip of Costa Rica's Pacific coastline, the Osa Peninsula lures nature enthusiasts with its verdant rainforest, scenic trails and large swells. Snorkelers and divers flock to the surreal rock formations at Isla del Caño, while sun-seekers venture to Ballena National Marine Park to lounge along four pristine beaches and admire an unspoiled coral reef. Playa Uvita is especially appealing for families with shallow, gentle waters for swimming. Beautiful natural surroundings aside, the Osa Peninsula is a prime eco-friendly destination with sustainable hotels like Lapa Rios Lodge. For the best rates, visit in May at the start of the green season.
Duong Dong Beach, Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Vietnam offers plenty of unspoiled spots for beach-bumming, but Duong Dong Beach on Phu Quoc island, located about 30 miles off the coast of Vietnam, stands apart with its palm-fringed shoreline and soft white sands. Stroll through the island's charming fishing port to admire bright fishing boats, wander through the lively night market and make your way to untrammeled stretches like Long Beach. For more adventure, admire the area's underwater reefs on a snorkeling or scuba diving expedition. Time your visit strategically and skip the high season (December and January), and arrive in March or April for thinner tourist crowds and better prices at top resorts like La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc.
Ko Kut, Thailand
While there are plenty of famed tropical beaches, picturesque trails and cinematic vistas in southern Thailand, in-the-know visitors skip tourist-heavy Phuket and Koh Samui for less-trodden sands. Venture to Koh Kut (also known as Koh Kood), Thailand's 40-square-mile isle, to bask along powdery white sands hemmed by coconut trees and verdant jungles. After enjoying some beachside lounging, take a dip in turquoise waters, marvel at plunging waterfalls (hat tip: the three-tiered Secret Waterfall is a must), and venture to a beautiful lagoon. Then relax at one of the area's laid-back resorts, like Shantaa Koh Kood. Plan a trip in March or April, before monsoon season, after winter crowds have dissipated.
Anse Chastanet, St. Lucia
Immerse yourself in striking natural surroundings on St. Lucia's serene Anse Chastanet, which boasts soft white sands and translucent waters ideal for snorkeling. At the 600-acre Anse Chastanet Resort, you'll have access to two pearly white beaches and a variety of activities, from jungle biking to bird watching to yoga, along with picturesque vantage points of the iconic Piton mountains. When you need a break, get pampered with a rejuvenating treatment at the on-site spa. Then check out other must-see attractions, such as Pigeon Island National Park and Marigold Bay. Plan a trip in April or May, before the height of the summer tourism season, to score discounted hotel rates and dodge the crowds.
Balangan Beach, Bali
While Bali attracts visitors year-round with its lush jungles, ancient temples and lovely shorelines, spring is a best-kept secret. April marks the end of Bali's wet season – and a pleasant window before peak-summer season crowds arrive in July and August. Bali brims with unspoiled, no-frills beaches, teeming with coral, white sands and limestone cliffs, but Balangan Beach is a hidden gem for surfers. This little-known shoreline is a roughly 30-minute drive from Bali's Denpasar International Airport and boasts white sands, swaying palms and rocky cliffs. After catching the challenging waves and a postcard-worthy photo op or two, make your way to Padang Padang Beach, a cinematic backdrop from the 2010 film "Eat Pray Love."