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Where to Go in August: The Best Places to Travel

by Brook Wilkinson | July 26, 2018

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.)

Newfoundland

Breaching humpback whale, Newfoundland

July and August are prime time for spotting humpback whales in Newfoundland. Photo: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

Unlike so many other destinations, Newfoundland is blissfully temperate and uncrowded in summer. It’s a bit like Ireland, with a combination of gorgeous green countryside, small-town charm, and people with a gift for storytelling and gathering in pubs. July and August are also prime whale-watching time, when 5,000 to 10,000 humpbacks arrive—followed by 21 other species of whales and dolphins and an astonishing 35 million seabirds.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Newfoundland, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons

kayaking in jackson lake grand teton national park

Grand Teton National Park is full of outdoor activities in the summer, including kayaking on Jackson Lake. Photo: Billie Cohen

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.)

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

British Columbia

Heli-hiking at Kinuseo Falls in Monkman Provincial Park

Heli-hiking at Kinuseo Falls in Monkman Provincial Park, British Columbia. Photo: Hello BC

The August days are usually clear and sunny (ideal for seaplane and helicopter flights) and British Columbia’s seasonal wilderness lodges, which typically open in mid-May, have been operating long enough to work out any kinks. August is also prime time for kayaking, hiking, fishing, and river rafting, not to mention bear- and whale-watching.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to British Columbia, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

The Caribbean and Mexico for Diving and Snorkeling

underwater diver with fish in Los Cabos, Mexico

Diving in Los Cabos, Mexico. Photo: Los Cabos Villa Vacations

Don’t count out the Caribbean in August and September, even though it’s hurricane season. The seas are generally the calmest, with good visibility, few crowds, and great value to be had. On the Riviera Maya, this is the perfect moment to swim and snorkel with whale sharks. You should definitely buy insurance if you book a trip, though.

Ask Wendy to find the right local expert to design your trip and ensure you get VIP treatment.

Costa Rica

Monteverde Costa Rica

Monteverde, Costa Rica. Photo: Shutterstock

Mid-June through midAugust 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.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Costa Rica Luxury Eco-Travel, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

The Arctic

Arctic swimmer floating in snowy lake at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

Spend your summer in the Arctic. Photo: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

Summer through early fall brings the best weather in the Arctic. Late summer is the best time to see whales in Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago. As for the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, beluga whales—the beautiful all-white species known for their high pitched twitter—congregate by the hundreds there between July and mid-August.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to the Arctic by Land & Sea, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Brazil

The Estrela d’Agua pousada on Praia dos Nativos, Trancoso, Brazil

The Estrela d’Agua pousada on Praia dos Nativos, Trancoso, Brazil. Photo: Thomas Robinson

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.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guides to Rio de Janeiro and Trancoso, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

The Amazon

A picture-perfect sunset, as seen from the Negro River, , a tributary of the Amazon in Brazil

A picture-perfect sunset, as seen from the Negro River, a tributary of the Amazon in Brazil. Photo courtesy Matueté.

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.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guides to the Brazilian Amazon and Five-Star Brazil, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Iceland

Volcanic scenery, Iceland

Volcanic scenery in Iceland. Photo: Iceland Tourist Board

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.

Ask Wendy to find the right local expert to design your trip and ensure you get VIP treatment.

Austria

Wachau Austria view of village and green field

Summer in Austria is all about beautiful weather, long days, and festivals. Photo: Austria Tourism Board

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).

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Austria, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Cambodia and Angkor Wat

Victory Gate of Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Victory Gate of Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Photo: ABOUTAsia Travel

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.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Angkor Wat and Siem Reap Without the Crowds, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Botswana

Elephants tussle in Botswana. Photo: Wilderness Safaris/Caroline Culbert

Elephants tussle in Botswana. Photo: Wilderness Safaris/Caroline Culbert

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).

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Botswana’s Small Safari Camps, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

East Africa Safaris: The Great Migration

Great Migration, Mara River, Kenya

The Great Migration on the Mara River. Photo: James Friedman

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.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to The Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia

Great Barrier Reef aerial view

Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Photo: Shutterstock

August brings clear blue skies, good visibility for divers and snorkelers, and calm seas (the wind dies down at the end of July). It’s also the best 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.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to the Great Barrier Reef, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

New Zealand

Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. Photo: Rob-Suisted/New Zealand Tourism

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.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to New Zealand, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Other Good Options This Month

Click on any of the destinations below to find out why August is a good time to go.

Alaska Large-Ship (Affordable) Cruises

Alaska Small-Ship Expedition Cruises

American West: River Rafting

Baltic Cruises

Bolivia

Canadian Rockies

Cuba: beach time

England’s Castles, Manor Houses, and Gardens

England: London

European Canal Barges

Fiji

French Polynesia: Tahiti

Gorilla Trekking

India: Agra and Ladakh

Mexico City

Mongolia

Montana and Wyoming: Yellowstone National Park

Nepal: Upper Mustang

Norway 

Papua New Guinea: trekking

Peru

Scotland

St. Barts: value season

Turkey: Istanbul

Washington: Seattle

Zambia

Zimbabwe

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

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