There’s a lot to love about fall -- comfortable temperatures, stunning foliage, and delicious treats, to name a few. However, not everyone loves pumpkin spice and leaf-peeping. While many folks head north in search of campfires and foliage, the rest of us can chase a never-ending summer filled with beaches, jungles, and waterfalls. For those who prefer an ice-cold beer to a hot cider, and day at the beach instead of cozying up to a fire, here is our list of the best tropical destinations to visit during the fall.
High season in the Bahamas begins around December, so getting in a trip during the fall shoulder season will likely bring benefits like lower rates and fewer people. Temperatures stay within the 80s — perfect for sunbathing on the beach or swimming in the gorgeous turquoise waters. However, it’s worth noting that this island nation sits within the hurricane belt and strong storms and heavy rain are possible until the beginning of November. In fact, the islands of the Abaco chain and Grand Bahama (home to Freeport, a popular cruise port) were dealt a devastating blow in September 2019, when Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm, made landfall, wiping out everything and taking numerous lives in its wake. We strongly encourage tourists to keep and make travel plans to the Bahamas as they rebuild. Tourism makes up a large portion of the country’s income, and other islands are ready, willing, and very able to welcome visitors.
Our Top Pick for a Bahamas Hotel: Melia Nassau Beach — All Inclusive
One of the many things we love about Aruba is that it’s a solid Caribbean island destination no matter the season. This is largely due to the fact that it lies outside the hurricane belt, meaning it doesn’t have a hurricane season. The fall months are a particularly great time to visit, thanks to a drop in the island’s trade winds and hot temperatures that hover in the upper 80s. Plus, it’s typically not too humid. For folks who aren’t quite ready to say goodbye to summer, Aruba has you covered. Stay here and you’ll be snorkeling, sunbathing, and sipping on sundowners all fall long.
Our Top Pick for an Aruba Hotel: Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
3. Riviera Maya and Cabo San Lucas
As the temps start to cool down come fall, our neighbor to the south beckons with its warm climate and miles of beautiful coastline. The coastal regions of Riviera Maya and Cabo San Lucas stay hot during the autumn months, with temperatures in the low 90s and upper 80s, though you’re also likely to encounter occasional rain showers. Even with a little rain, it’s business as usual, and you can still spend your day at the beach, exploring ruins, snorkeling, surfing, or simply eating and drinking your way around town. The Pacific hurricane season ends in September, but continues through October on the east coast. Seaweed in the Riviera Maya also tends to be less prevalent in the fall months. Plus, hotels and flights are typically cheaper during the time, in part because of hurricane season, but also because these months are the calm before the influx of Mexico’s high season, which typically starts in December. Still, we recommend booking in advance for the best deals.
Our Top Pick for a Cabo San Lucas Hotel: Casa Dorada Los Cabos Resort & Spa
Our Top Pick for a Riviera Maya Hotel: Grand Velas Riviera Maya
This fall, make like the birds and head south as the temperatures cool off back home. The Galapagos Islands are a bucket-list destination and fall is one of the best times to visit. September, October, and November are the cool and dry season here, and temperatures fall in the high 70s and low 80s during the day and high 60s at night. Marine life tends to be more abundant during these months, thanks to a cold current that brings in more nutrient-dense waters. It’s an ideal time for birders who want to see large birds fishing for food or score an underwater peek of a Galapagos penguin. However, the high levels of plankton mean the water isn’t crystal clear and it can be a bit cold — you’ll probably want to wear a wetsuit to keep warm.
Our Top Pick for a Galapagos Islands Hotel: Hotel Fiesta
5. Costa Rica
Those seeking an eco-friendly fall adventure should look no further than Costa Rica, the global leader in sustainable tourism. Over 30 percent of the country is protected land, which is key considering Costa Rica contains five percent of the world’s biodiversity. They also manage to run on nearly 100 percent renewable energy. So, this fall, swap scarves for (biodegradable) sunscreen as you share the jungle with spider monkeys and sink your teeth into fresh tropical fruits like papaya and mango. You’ll have your pick of laying on the beach, exploring jungles, climbing volcanoes, or just chilling with a good view. It’s wet season (a.k.a low season), so you can expect on-and-off rain showers throughout the day, plus temperatures in the mid-70s.
Our Top Pick for a Costa Rica Hotel: Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
Often overlooked for tropical staples like Mexico and Costa Rica, Belize is a gem patiently waiting its turn on the tourist track. What you’ll get here is a healthy dose of action, culture, and relaxation. Cave diving, snorkeling off the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, traipsing through the jungle, exploring Mayan ruins, and zoning out to the rhythm of waves on the beach are popular activities. Temperatures stay steadily in the 80s during the day and in the 70s at night. If you want to have the driest weather, book your trip for early November, as rainfall in September and October can reach double digits in inches.
Our Top Pick for a Belize Hotel: Portofino Beach Resort
7. Puerto Rico
Looking for a tropical fall getaway that doesn’t require a passport or flight over the Pacific? Enter Puerto Rico. Again, you’ll have to be mindful of hurricane season, so it’s best to plan your trip for November. Take advantage of temps in the 80s by exploring the glorious food and drink scene in San Juan, admiring the lights at one of three bioluminescent bays (the world’s brightest is on the island of Vieques), and checking out outdoor art galleries. Best of all, you’ll know your trip is helping rebuild the economy following the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Our Top Pick for a Puerto Rico Hotel: Condado Vanderbilt Hotel
Hopping over to Asia for a fall getaway might be a stretch for some people, but for those who can, the Maldives is a must-visit. Most hotels have an entire island to themselves and activities vary depending on where in the archipelago you stay, from diving with whale sharks and manta rays to cultural island visits and surfing. Temperatures in the fall tend to stay in the mid-80s during the day, followed by warm, but breezy, nights. Early fall is the low season (and also the rainiest), making it a great time to grab deals for a more affordable trip to this expensive destination. Just remember that the Maldives is a 100-percent Muslim country, and many of the hotel employees participate in Ramadan, which means they’ll be fasting while the sun is up and praying throughout the day. The latter can cause service disruptions and on-and-off opening hours.
Our Top Pick for a Maldives Hotel: Constance Moofushi
The Caribbean gets a lot of love in the fall and winter, but we’ve always had a soft spot for Bermuda. For starters, it’s just a two-hour flight from NYC. In addition to relaxing on the shores of Horseshoe Bay and Elbow Beach, you can also discover what lies beneath. Visitors can swim in underwater cave pools, snorkel in bright turquoise waters, or go cliff jumping in the lagoon. Golf is another option, as is wandering through the island’s botanical gardens. There’s no shortage of beautiful beaches, rocky cliffs, and good vibes here. It is high season, though, so be sure to book well in advance (or wait until November, when tourists aren’t flocking here in such large numbers).
Our Top Pick for a Bermuda Hotel: Cambridge Beaches
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