So, what’s the best time to go to the beach? The answer to this question is going to depend on factors like your budget, what activities you want to do, the weather, and how you feel about crowds.
While there really is no bad time to visit the beach, there are certainly times that are more enjoyable than others. Essentially it comes down to personal preference.
Each season has its own unique offerings and experiences, as does the time of day that you go. To help you answer this question, we have provided some tips and factors to consider in deciding when is the best time for you to visit the shore.
Factors to Consider
When considering the best time for you, your family and/or your friends to go to the beach, there are some issues you will want to examine to assist in making your decision.
We typically think of warm, sunny blue skies, crystal clear blue water, white sand, palm trees and waves washing up on the shore when we imagine a trip to the beach. For the most part, this is an accurate description, however there are circumstances with the weather that you will want to contemplate prior to planning a trip.
Rainy Seasons: The rainy or wet season is a time of year when a majority of a region’s average precipitation occurs. This is typically a time during the summer months when the temperatures are very warm and the air is humid.
Temperatures: Some individuals love hot, humid weather and want to bask in the sun. For others, more mild temperatures are preferred. Fortunately, depending on the season, you can likely find the ideal temperatures for your trip to the beach.
Hurricane Season: If you are heading to the sandy shore during hurricane season (June through November) you’ll need to consider weather advisories. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides information regarding hurricane season and predictions on the potential for the approximate number of hurricanes anticipated during the year.
There are a few upsides to considering traveling to the beach during this time, such as hotels and rentals often offer discounted rates, due to fewer vacationers. If you are flying, you are likely to find cheaper air fare as well.
If you are planning to travel to a beach in an area that can be impacted by hurricane season, consider purchasing travelers insurance. Some locations are safer and less prone to hurricanes than others. Just make sure to do your research, have a plan, and be prepared to be flexible.
Crowds and Tourist Volume
There are times of the year, especially during the summer months and spring break, where the beaches become very crowded. If you are wanting an easier and more relaxing pace, in a quieter setting these may not be the ideal times for you to take a trip to the beach. However, if you are interested in more activities, meeting new people and taking in a variety of events, the summer and spring break are ideal times to head to the beach.
For individuals and families looking for a lot of activities, festivals and events, the summer months are ideal because this is the peak season for tons of things to do. For college students, spring break is a great beach vacation time to blow off some steam prior to final exams and graduation.
If crowds are not your thing, you may not only want to avoid the peak times of the year but also weekends and holidays that are generally more crowded.
Costs and Rates
It is important to understand that during these peak tourism times, especially in popular destinations, prices are much higher.
The average cost for a hotel, condo, and rentals are higher during peak seasons, such as summer and spring break. Due to the high demand, finding a place early is important while factoring that you will pay a premium price for a place to stay.
Additionally, the cost for flights, dining in restaurants, going out on the town, going to attractions, and general items are going to be more expensive. Your budget should be factored into your decision about when to head out to the beach.
Time of Year
Whether you are headed to the Carolinas on the east coast, California on the west coast, the Gulf of Mexico on the emerald coast, or Florida, possibly Hawaii or even a more exotic destination, they all have something to offer, no matter when you choose to go. Your planning should be based on the weather that best suits you and the activities you want to take in during your trip.
The following information provides a general guideline for what you can expect during various times of the year (based on the beaches in the United States, adjust accordingly for destinations in other parts of the world):
The summer months of June, July and August are considered peak season for tourism and visitors to beach destinations. Schools out, the weather is warm and sunny, and energy levels are running high, making everyone want to head out to the beach.
The temperatures during this time period typically ranges from the 80s into the 90s. July and August are usually the hottest months with the water temperatures at their peak. Although the majority of days are sunny, this is a rainier time of the year, especially in the heat of the afternoon.
In addition to the weather being great, you will find this time of year to have an abundance of festivals, attractions, and events taking place. Summers are the most popular times to head out to the beach, so be prepared to share the sand, sun and water with other beach goers and expect to pay a little more due to the increased tourism.
June: Temperatures are warming up and can reach into the low 90s. In most areas this is the wettest month.
July: Often the warmest month, with attractions and celebrations at their peak.
August: The heat of July usually carries over into August. Theme parks, attractions and events are taking place, giving families one last chance for a summer adventure before heading back to school. Later August things tend to slow down, making it a good time if you want to avoid some of the crowds.
During the fall months of September, October and November, temperatures start to cool off and the larger crowds begin to thin out. There is still plenty to do with a variety of festivals and events taking place. Hotels, condos and rentals are less expensive and are more readily available.
The milder temperatures allow for enjoying other activities throughout the day in addition to spending time on the beach. This can be a rainy season in some locations and is a very active time for hurricanes.
September: Is a quieter and slightly cooler month. Festivals, events and parks are slowing down but still provide options for activities.
October: This can be an ideal time for those looking for milder temperatures and wanting to have a quieter, more peaceful experience at the beach.
November: Temperatures are starting to cool off, heading into winter and the beach areas are much less populated.
The months of March, April and May attract college students and families to the beaches for spring break. The temperatures are on the rise and the humidity is lower offering very pleasant weather conditions. Hotels, condos and rental rates are lower than summer months but are higher than the off season due to larger numbers taking advantage of spring break.
With spring breakers, often heading from northern locations, the energy surge after enduring the winter months is at a pinnacle. In most beach locations this is a relatively dry period with very pleasant weather conditions.
March: March is the start of spring and is often a very sunny and dry period of time. This is also the beginning of spring breaks and college students heading to the beach destinations.
April: The days start getting longer and temperatures can get into the 80s. There are a few events and festivals taking place but still is a relatively quieter period for heading to the beach.
May: Although not overly crowded this is the start of the warmer weather. Events, festivals and attractions are starting to ramp up.
The winter months of December, January and February bring with them the coldest times of the year. Temperatures range from the 40s to the 70s in most beach locations.
With the colder temperatures comes less people heading to the beach and lower rates for accommodations. In some areas you will see attractions and restaurants that close or have limited hours. Hotels, condos, rentals, recreational venues (golf courses), restaurants, and shopping will offer significant deals and reduced pricing.
The winter months, with an aging population and many baby boomers retiring, are becoming popular times, in certain locations, to have significant snowbirds taking temporary residence. Snowbirds are individuals who reside in northern areas, who want to escape the frigid months of the north for the warmer/milder weather of the south.
December: The temperatures are much cooler but you can still experience warmer days in the 70s. There are still a few events taking place but it is a very quiet time for beach areas. Near the holidays, often attractions, restaurants and other locations will close down.
January: This is generally the coldest month at beach destinations. Snowbirds are heading south after the holidays. There is the potential for mild and relatively warmer temperatures (70s), so it’s a great time for being outdoors and active.
February: February marks the start of temperatures getting warmer and individuals getting the itch to head to the beach. Snowbirds are still around but are thinning. Events and activities start to pick up with spring break just around the corner.
Time of Day
Like the times of the year, heading out to the beach at various times of the day, you will experience different circumstances. A special note is to be aware of the warning flags and any potential dangers that may be present. You and your family's safety, while you are at the beach, should be a priority.
Everyone should at least once in their lives get up early, head down to the beach while it’s still dark and throw down a towel on the sandy beach. The sun coming up over the water is an amazing sight and experience.
Early mornings are a great time if you are looking to avoid some of the crowds. Typically, you’ll find individuals walking, jogging, doing yoga or exercising along the beach. You may also see a few individuals with a pole and line in the water trying to catch a few fish or more likely individuals in a beach chair enjoying the sunrise with a cup of coffee.
Mid-morning, between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. for many individuals is the ideal time to head to the beach. The later you go in the day, the more crowded it becomes.
Going at this time of day allows you to stake out a good location if you intend to stay all day. Families with younger children may want to head to the beach mid-morning to avoid the heat of the afternoon. Hitting the beach in the morning for some time in the water then heading back for lunch and taking in some attractions in the afternoon can be a great plan.
If you are heading to the beach in the morning and intending to spend the day, some preparation and planning should be undertaken. You want to make sure you have a cooler for snacks, that you stay hydrated, that you use sunscreen and protective clothing and have an umbrella, tent or some means of creating shade.
Don’t miss out on the late afternoon to catch the sun setting. This is a great time for a stroll along the beach, especially if you are there with someone special. The sun setting, walking along the beach, as the sun disappears over the horizon casting a glimmer over the water can be very romantic.
Late afternoon, into the evening reduces the risk of overheating or getting sunburned. It also is much less crowded and quieter. It’s a great time for a relaxing moment to be reflective on your day and how fortunate you are to be experiencing such an amazing situation.
So, after reviewing this information, have you decided when the best time to head to the shore is for you? There really is no worst time to go to the beach, just times that might be more suitable to your individual preferences.
Plan to make a day of it, or plan several short beach trips to find which time of the day is best for you. There are so many things to do and experience, and you’ll find each trip to be rejuvenating and uplifting, valuing and appreciating the time you get to stick your toes in the water and your bottom in the sand (pardon the play on the Zac Brown Band lyrics).
Are you planning a fun beach trip? Tell us about which time of the day you’ll choose to head to the shore in the comment section below!
Megan Jones leads the editorial staff of Seaside Planet. They are a multidisciplinary team of outdoor adventurers, water sports lovers, and passionate beach goers. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.