A lot of people ask me where to go in August: It’s one of the few times of year when they can take a week or two off from work, yet it’s also when so many places are hot, crowded, filled with tourists, devoid of locals, and priced at their most expensive. If all you need is an easy beach escape with the family, consider the southeastern United States: Southeast kids are back in school by mid-August, which means lower rates at lovely, breezy, kid-friendly coastal resorts in places like Virginia’s Northern Neck and St. Simon’s and Sea Island, Georgia. If you’re itching for something more adventurous, though, consider these:
(Don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year. If you’re wondering when’s the best time to book your destination to get the best value for your dollar, see our “What to Book Now” series.)
Ever since Wendy went there one August several years ago, she’s been urging other East Coasters to flee to Newfoundland in late summer, as an antidote to the crowds, heat, and beach traffic that choke the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. You get a foreign island with dramatic sweeping landscapes, lighthouses and fishing villages galore, roads to yourself (well, you plus a few moose), a distinct local culture, and incredibly friendly people, all without having to schlep too far from home. (You can fly there via Toronto or Halifax from many U.S. hubs.) A must on any Newfoundland itinerary is the Fogo Island Inn, a fascinating five-star philanthropic experiment that Wendy says has the most soul of any hotel she’s ever seen. Read why Wendy loved it there.
Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons
July and August bring the best weather of the summer, with warm days and cool nights; wildflowers are blooming, hiking trails are usually free of snow, and rivers should be clear of spring runoff, making for perfect fly-fishing conditions. All other summer activities, such as biking, rock climbing, rafting, and horseback riding, are easily available. (Skies may be hazy from area wildfires in August.)
You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this. Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons.
August days are usually clear and sunny (ideal for seaplane and helicopter flights). It’s prime time for kayaking, hiking, fishing, and river rafting, not to mention bear- and whale-watching. August is when Wendy chose to take her family to Whistler (see We Had the Best Family Trip in Whistler and We Never Put on Skis and I Can’t Believe We Did This: Mountain Climbing in Whistler), as well as to the Discovery Islands (see My Extreme Week in Canada and 6 Otherworldly Escapes That Feel More Remote Than They Are).
The Caribbean and Mexico for Diving and Snorkeling
Even though it’s officially “hurricane season” in the Caribbean in August and September, usually all that means is that it’s humid and rains for a couple of hours in the middle of the day. The seas are generally the calmest, with good visibility, relatively few tourists, and values to be snagged. On the Riviera Maya, August is the perfect moment to swim and snorkel with whale sharks. You should buy insurance if you book a trip, though.
You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.
Mid-June through mid–August is the middle of the rainy season, but prices are relatively low, everything is lush and green, and weather patterns are predictable: You get beautiful sunny mornings for adventure activities, and the strong showers in the afternoon give you time to rest while listening to the tropical rain that cools things off for the evening.
Alaska Small-Ship Cruises
August is especially inviting for a small-ship expedition cruise to Alaska, as daylight remains long, wildlife is plentiful, and the glaciers are uniquely illuminated by the late summer sun. Stay up late at this time of year and you may even be treated to the gorgeous green glow of the Northern Lights.
You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this. Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Small-Ship Alaska Cruises.
May through August is technically Brazil’s winter, but in Rio de Janeiro the thermometer rarely drops below 75, and it’s also the driest period. There are often off-season festivals and events (literary, gastronomic, jazz) that attract mainly Brazilian crowds. In Trancoso, the off-season (i.e. June through September) is pure bliss: Temperatures are still in the high 70s to 80s, and you will often have mile upon mile of palm-tree-backed beaches all to yourself.
August to December is the dry season in the northern regions of the Brazilian Amazon—including Manaus, Santarém, and Belém—which means the river levels are lower and beaches are exposed. People are often shocked by the beauty of the white-sand beaches that form here, making a trip to the Brazilian Amazon unique from the experiences one can have in Ecuador or Peru’s swaths of the same river system. In fact, there are few other places in the world where you can have a different beach entirely to yourself each evening at sunset.
Iceland’s high season starts to taper off in the second half of the month, meaning that you’ll find fewer crowds, more hotel availability, and somewhat better prices—but the weather is still pleasant for exploring the country’s awesome landscapes.
You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.
Sure, Austria is crowded in August, but the days are relatively long, the weather is great, and there are music festivals—especially opera—all over the country. You can usually find good hotel deals in August, except in Salzburg, which hosts its six-week classical music festival (one of the biggest in Europe).
Cambodia and Angkor Wat
Late May through early September is Cambodia’s green season. It rains two days out of three, but the mornings are almost always sunny and bright, with rain clouds gathering toward the late afternoon; get out of bed early to explore when Cambodians are most active ahead of the midday heat, and you’ll enjoy far fewer crowds and vibrantly green rice paddies. Plus, the money you save on shoulder-season hotel rates you can spend on massages, world-class golf, and fine food.
You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this. Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Angkor Wat and Siem Reap Without the Crowds.
Anytime between June and October—the dry season—is excellent for seeing wildlife, since the animals congregate around a few main water sources. But for boating around the vast labyrinth of lagoons and channels that make up the Okavango Delta, no time is better than June, July, and August, when the water reaches its highest levels and the climate throughout Botswana is at its most pleasant (daytime temps during those months are usually in the mid 70s, though the mercury can drop into the low 40s at night).
East Africa Safaris: The Great Migration
The best time to see the Great Migration—one of the grandest wildlife spectacles on Earth, with more than 2 million wildebeest and zebra on the move and predators lurking nearby—is July through September, and the best place to be is in the Masai Mara National Reserve. There are more than 15 different river crossings in the Masai Mara (bottlenecks along the migration route where the animals must avoid hungry crocodiles and lions), with great names like Smelly Crossing, Rekero Crossing, Football Crossing, Helicopter Crossing, and Double Crossing. You need to be patient, and in the right location at the right time of day. To increase your odds, consider staying at two camps in different locations.
You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this. Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to The Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania.
Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia
August brings clear blue skies, good visibility for divers and snorkelers, and calm seas (the wind usually dies down at the end of July). It’s also a great time to view wildlife: dwarf minke whales visiting the northern reefs, manta rays off Lady Elliott Island in the region’s southern zone, and humpback whales—including Migaloo, the world’s only known all-white humpback—on their annual migration to Antarctica.
Summer skiing, anyone? August is the top month for skiing in New Zealand: You’ll get the most reliable (very high quality) heli-skiing conditions in August, and combining that with a tropical island can be fun.
Other Good Options This Month
Click on any of the destinations below to find out why August is a good time to go.
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