Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

The Ideal Islands for Each Month of the Year

Wendy Perrin | January 21, 2018

Figuring out the optimal time to travel to an island can be tricky, what with the limited accommodations and the crowds that can overtax the local infrastructure. Peak season often does not mean the best time to go; it just means the most expensive time, based on when school’s out in nearby countries. So I thought I’d help by suggesting a few islands (or archipelagoes) for each month of the year. These are moments when the destination is at its best yet, in most instances, offers shoulder-season pricing.

Craving an island not listed below? Punch its name into the “Destinations” search box at top left; if we’ve got an Insider’s Guide for that island, you can read the best and worst times to go. If you’re seeking the right island trip-planning specialist to arrange a trip you have in mind, ask me here.

January: Sri Lanka

Tangalle Sri Lanka ocean view with palm trees

Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort, Sri Lanka.

The last two weeks of January bring delightful weather to Sri Lanka (spring-like temperatures and blue skies) and fall after the busy New Year’s period but before February, when many travelers come on half-term or over the Lunar New Year from Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Dubai, and other parts of Asia.

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

January: Koh Lipe, Thailand

kayak on turquoise water Koh Lipe island Thailand

Koh Lipe, Thailand. Photo: Journeys Within

This charming island off Thailand’s southern coast could easily be Phuket thirty years ago: pristine beaches, turquoise water, and very little development. Its peak season is Christmas and New Year’s, so if you come toward the end of the month you’ll get better rates but still enjoy ideal weather; at other times of year, access to the island becomes inconsistent.

Contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

February: Venice

aerial view of Venice Italy and surrounding water

Venice, Italy. Photo: Pixabay

All that is sumptuous and extravagant about Venice is kicked up several notches in February, thanks to Carnevale. A month’s worth of elaborate celebrations—marked by Baroque costumes, masked balls, sinful sweets, and general bacchanalian overindulgence—reaches a fever pitch in the “Fat Days” preceding Martedì Grasso (Shrove Tuesday). Carnevale dates vary from year to year but always include at least part of February.

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

February: Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi, Thailand

sunset on Koh Yao Noi island Thailand

Koh Yao Noi, Thailand. Photo: Journeys Within

These sister islands are located in Phang Nga Bay, between Phuket and Krabi. Though a short boat ride from the busy beaches of Phuket, these are small, quiet islands. You’ll find virtually no nightlife here, but what you will find is an abundance of coconut and rubber-tree plantations, tranquil villages, and lovely views of the surrounding islands. Peak season runs from December through January; if you travel in February, you’ll find similar weather but lower hotel rates.

Contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

March: Bermuda

The Reefs, Southampton, Bermuda

The Reefs, Southampton, Bermuda.

April is when the cruise ships start to arrive for the summer season, letting off up to 4,000 passengers at a time. A month earlier, hotel rates are half their summer peak, temps are in the low 70s (great for golf and tennis, if not bikinis), and there are free tours, lectures, and arts demonstrations all over the island.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Bermuda, and contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

April: Ireland

road and landscape of Beara Peninsula, Ireland

Beara Peninsula, Ireland. Photo: Celebrated Experiences

Ireland has become one of the world’s most popular destinations, which makes timing your trip all the more important. In the shoulder-season month of April you’ll find better value in hotel rates, fewer lines, and everything open for business. Yes, it may rain, but let’s be honest—in Ireland, that can happen at any time of year.

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

April: The Maldives

Beach views from Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives

Beach views from Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives. Photo: Gili Lankanfushi

April (after Easter) is when you’ll find a sweet spot of lower hotel rates and ideal weather: Temperatures are consistently in the high 80s year-round, but in April there is almost no rain or wind, so the water is calm for snorkeling and diving.

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

May: Santorini

Astra Suites Hotel, Santorini

Astra Suites, Santorini, Greece.. Photo: TrueTrips

May weather is warm but not hot, and hotel rates are more competitive than during the summer. The crowds are thinner too, which has the added benefit of ensuring the service will also be better (during the hectic summer months, service suffers).

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

May: Phu Quoc, Vietnam

2 people walking on beach in Phu Quoc island Thailand

Phu Quoc, Vietnam. Photo: Journeys Within

May is shoulder season on Phu Quoc, Vietnam’s largest island, located in the Gulf of Thailand off the country’s southwest tip. That means hot, dry weather and discounted hotel rates, but also calm seas that are great for snorkeling and swimming off the white-sand beaches.

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

May: Capri

Capri, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Capri, Amalfi Coast, Italy. Photo: IC Bellagio

Mild spring temperatures make it pleasant to explore this fascinating island, which is still in a state of tranquility before the crowds descend in June. The orange and jasmine flowers in bloom lend wonderful scents and colors; it’s also the time of year for many sailing events, as well as the annual celebration of the island’s Patron Saint San Costanzo.

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

May: Oahu

View from the Makapuu Point Lookout, Oahu Hawaii

View from the Makapuu Point Lookout, Oahu. Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Mark Kushimi

Oahu doesn’t have extremes in weather. Its temperatures are fairly constant, usually between 78 and 82 degrees, and showers seldom last long. May (except for the Japanese holiday of Golden Week, during the first few days of the month) is ideal, because the airfare is less expensive and the crowds are thinner.

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

June: Bali

ubud bali

Ubud, Bali. Photo: Yoan Carle/Flickr

June has the most reliably pleasant weather in Bali—daytime temps in the 80s and gentle breezes to keep the sun from feeling too hot—and better prices: High-season hotel rates don’t kick in until July.

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

June: Sri Lanka

beach at Nilaveli, Trincomalee Sri Lanka shutterstock

Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. Photo: Shutterstock

Sri Lanka’s east coast, stretching from the quiet beaches of Trincomalee to the surf paradise of Arugam Bay, bursts with life this month. Compared to the better-known beaches in the south, those along this coast are more secluded, with a calmer and shallower sea—perfect for whale watching, snorkeling, diving, and fishing. After Easter and before summer vacation, the crowds are smaller and the prices are easier on the wallet.

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

June: Spitsbergen, Norway

Polar bear, Svalbard, Arctic

Polar bear on the sea ice around Spitsbergen, Svalbard, the Arctic. Photo by Shelley Fry.

Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago, is one of the world’s best places to see polar bears. While Arctic voyages set sail throughout the summer, going early in the season maximizes your chances of seeing these incredible animals before the sea ice recedes.

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.

July: Con Dao Islands, Vietnam

Con Dao island, Thailand

Con Dao, Vietnam. Photo: Journeys Within

Though July is considered low season for hotel rates on the Con Dao Islands, the water is calm (ideal for snorkeling and diving) and the sea turtles are hatching: You can visit one of the protected beaches just off the main island to see them laying their eggs and the babies waddling toward the sea.

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

July: Mykonos

beach chairs by the pool Myconian Villa Collection Myconian Villa Collection in Mykonos Greece

Mykonos, Greece. Photo: Myconian Villa Collection

From mid-June to mid-July, you get the best of both shoulder and peak seasons: It’s lively but not crowded, warm but not scorching, and hotel rates aren’t sky-high. Mykonos is always windy, so bring a light sweater for evenings.

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

August: Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia

Kayaking Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Kayaking Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Tourism Australia/Delaware North Companies

August brings warm weather, 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 whales—dwarf minke whales visiting the northern reefs and humpbacks on their annual migration to Antarctica. Hamilton Island also hosts Race Week every August, a sailing regatta with festivities on and off the water.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to the Great Barrier Reef, and contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

August: Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao, Thailand

small boat on beach of Koh Phangan island Thailand

Koh Phangan, Thailand. Photo: Journeys Within

The Gulf of Thailand’s rainy season hits these islands later than other beaches (where the rains peak in June). In August, when hotel rates dip on Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao, you’ll typically experience pleasant days, perhaps with one downpour in the late afternoon.

Contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

September: San Juan Islands

Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse, Haro Straight, San Juan Islands, Washington

Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse, Haro Straight, San Juan Islands, Washington. Photo: Shutterstock

The weather in the San Juans (and the Olympic Peninsula) is usually still very nice in September, and there are fewer tourists than you’ll find in July and August. (The best time to see the resident orca whales, though, is June.)

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

September: Kangaroo Island, Australia

Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australi

Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Photo: Tourism Australia

Kangaroo Island is Australia’s own Galapagos, a time capsule of the region’s native plants and animals, largely undisturbed by civilization for thousands of years. Kangaroos, wallabies, echidna, koalas, dolphins, sea lions, fur seals, and scores of birds can be seen in their natural habitats all year round; however, antipodal spring is a particularly special time to visit, with clear and warm days returning, wildflowers blooming, and joey kangaroos emerging from their mothers’ pouches. (It’s also before the Australian school holidays hit and families start arriving in October.)

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to the Great Barrier Reef, and contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

September: Don Daeng, Laos

mom and daughter on bicycle on green path on Don Daeng island Thailand

Don Daeng, Laos. Photo: Journeys Within

Don Daeng is an island in the Mekong River; there are no cars, but the welcoming La Folie Lodge will give you a bicycle to pedal around the island’s paths. The draw here is not a sandy beach but jungle, ruins (the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wat Phou is just across the river), and many villages with a diversity of ethnicities and trades. September is officially the rainy season, making it one of the most affordable times of year to visit—but with the rains come full waterfalls and lush green surroundings.

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

October: Sicily

Sicily coastline Italy

Sicily, Italy. Photo: Pixabay/kirkandmimi

October is one of the most colorful and flavorful months in Sicily. It is the season of the harvest, which means fresh olives, almonds, and chestnuts—not to mention wild mushrooms, prickly pears, and carob—complement the island’s always-bountiful variety of culinary offerings. The air and sea temperatures are still warm and inviting, while the breathtaking array of ancient cultural sites are bathed in a crisp autumn light. Both flights and accommodations are less expensive than during the summer, and the fewer tourists mean you get a more intimate experience with the people of Sicily.

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

October: Koh Lanta, Thailand

colorful wooden boats lined up on the beach at Koh Lanta island Thailand

Koh Lanta, Thailand. Photo: Journeys Within

This charming island, off the coast of Krabi, is ideal for snorkeling and diving; be sure to visit the protected reef that hosts a clown fish restoration project. In October you’ll benefit from similar weather to the peak months of December and January, but lower room rates.

Contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

October: The Seychelles

Fregate Island, Seychelles

Fregate Island in Seychelles. Photo: Fregate Island

October brings calm winds and beautiful temperatures, but it’s not a popular time for Europeans to travel—so rates are lower than usual. It’s also the best month for spotting whale sharks.

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

October: Hawaii’s Big Island

Waipio Valley lookout, Big Island, Hawaii

Waipio Valley lookout, Big Island, Hawaii. Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

October is one of the Big Island’s driest months, with daytime temperatures hovering around 85 degrees, but crowds are thin once kids are back in school.

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

November: The Galapagos Islands

clear blue water of the Galapagos Islands Ecuador

The clear blue water of the Galapagos Islands. Photo: hugh_s20/Pixabay

Whale sharks—the largest fish in the sea, growing up to 40 feet in length and weighing as much as 40,000 pounds—are most likely to be found in the Galapagos from June to November. Blue and humpback whales are best spotted during this season too. And since so many families are headed to the islands in the northern-hemisphere summer, November is a quieter time to go.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to the Galapagos, and contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

November: Papua New Guinea

mean with lakatoi boats on beach of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea. Photo: Pixabay/freesally

There are only two months that do not fall within the country’s two monsoon seasons: November and April. That’s when it’s the least rainy and the trade winds blow. If you want to do the 60-mile Kokoda Trek, though, arrive in October, when it’s still “dry season.”

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

November: Koh Rong Samleom, Cambodia

beach at Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia

Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia. Photo: Journeys Within

When most people think of where to find Asian islands, Cambodia doesn’t come to mind—which makes Koh Rong Samleom a much more affordable alternative to its Thai and Vietnamese neighbors. Come here for hut-style accommodations and long, white-sand beaches. November is just before peak season, so prices are even lower (and the weather is still good).

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

November: South Georgia Island

King penguins in St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia Island. Photo: ExpeditionTrips

King penguins in St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia Island. Photo: ExpeditionTrips

A jewel in the Southern Ocean, South Georgia Island will appeal to anyone interested in wildlife, wild places, or the history of Antarctic exploration. The season here runs roughly from late October through early March, but what makes November special—in addition to the king penguins stretching as far as the eye can see—is the plethora of elephant seals and fur seals on shore.

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

December: Caribbean Islands

Curtain Bluff resort in Antigua & Barbuda caribbean

The beautiful Curtain Bluff, Antigua & Barbuda. Photo: Lindsey Epperly

From just after Thanksgiving until just before Christmas, you have lovely weather and can enjoy savings of up to 40% off peak-season rates. (Peak season starts just before Christmas and lasts till just after Easter).

Learn more in our Insider’s Guides to The Best and Worst of the Caribbean and Finding Your Perfect Caribbean Island Resort, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

December: Fiji

green mountain and beach with clear water on Mamanuca island Fiji

Mamanuca Island, Fiji. Photo: Pixabay/KuyaAndy

During the beginning of the official cyclone season, you’ll find tropical afternoon showers but also great resort deals: free nights, free massages, even free domestic airfares. The Yasawa and Mamanuca islands are your best bet for dry days at this time of year.

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

 

Be a smarter traveler: Read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it 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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