Summer is a great time to enjoy a beach holiday, but fall may be even better. Yes, it’s time to think about the best beaches to visit in September.
With children back at school, you’ll have fewer people around, while Europe, in particular, is happily slowing down after the busy summer. The sea has had months to heat up and retains much of that warmth for swimming.
September is low season for the Caribbean, too, which comes with many advantages, not least more space for everybody.
Here are the world’s 20 best beaches to go to in September.
Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
An almost perfect five-mile stretch of powdery white sand, this is one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. And any imperfection comes from the realization you can’t just stay here forever.
Well, maybe you can. There’s plenty of good food and drink in the bars and restaurants lining the beach, and plenty of shopping.
Some of the best things to do in Grand Cayman include everything from golf and tennis to kite-surfing and big game fishing. The Cayman National Gallery is also a short distance away if you want some intellectual stimulation.
Eagle Beach, Aruba
The widest beach in Aruba is famed for its white sands and gnarled fofoti trees. It’s regularly voted among the top ten in the world.
This beach offers a classic Caribbean setting: soft sand, blue sea, and beach huts serving rum cocktails under shady palm trees. Should you somehow feel energetic, there are also plenty of water sports, from snorkeling and scuba to windsurfing and sailing in the Caribbean.
Reduit Beach, St. Lucia
With five miles of soft, white sand, Reduit is the longest beach in St. Lucia and one of the best beaches to visit in September. It curves around Rodney Bay, backed by hotels, resorts, and the Rodney Bay Marina.
Facilities range from water sports to top-end restaurants and bars. The friendly town of Gros Islet is also nearby.
It’s a great place for a long stroll along the Caribbean Sea, with the green hills of Pigeon Island National Park as a scenic backdrop. If you want a break, you’ll find vendors offering refreshments such as coconut water and (optional) Caribbean rum.
Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Ka’anapali has everything you’d expect from a Hawaiian beach. With almost three miles of white sand and crystal clear water, it was once chosen as America’s Best Beach.
The nearby Whalers Village shops have everything you’ll need for beach chic. Shady trees provide more natural comforts.
A coral reef is great for snorkeling and helps keep the surf low for beginners. Puu Kekaa (“Black Rock”) is a famous location for ritual cliff diving.
September is a great time to visit Hawaii, with temperatures still between 60-80ºF, and ocean temperatures about the same. There are 12 hours of sunshine, although there can be some brief rain showers, as you’d expect in the tropics.
La Caleta Beach, Cadiz, Spain
One of the most beautiful urban beaches in Spain, La Caleta is the pride of Cadiz. While popular, it’s kept spotlessly clean.
Caleta means “small bay”, which perfectly describes the sheltered arc of the beach, anchored by a fort at each end to remind you that England’s Admiral Nelson fought the Battle of Trafalgar nearby.
In September, the water is perfect for swimming, but the beach is even more popular for walks. Near the old city, you’ll find plenty of good bars and restaurants a short stroll away.
Banje Beach, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Only ten minutes from the walls of Dubrovnik, you can sit on this beach and admire the view of the Old Town. The Lokrum Islands fill the view in the other direction.
This Dubrovnik beach, while pebbly, is deservedly popular in summer, with clear water and good restaurants. September is a more relaxing time to enjoy its charms.
While the sea is a bit cooler then, this is not really a beach where swimming is a priority. It’s the place to meet locals, sample Croatian food and wines, and soak up the amazing setting.
Kalafatis Beach, Mykonos, Greece
Greece is perfect to visit in September. The weather is ideal, and everyone is more relaxed as the season draws to an end.
Kalafatis Beach is one of the larger beaches on Mykonos, a deep curving arc of golden sand. One part is reserved for watersports, and the beach is especially popular with surfers and windsurfers.
The other part is reserved for those who wish to just take it easy under blue Mediterranean skies. This Greek beach has a Blue Flag, so crystal clear water is a given.
Barceloneta Beach, Barcelona, Spain
Barceloneta is a playground for Barcelona, and September is one of the best months to enjoy it. It’s not too hot, especially toward the end of the month, but the sun is still shining.
With the peak tourism season behind it, this Barcelona beach is busy, but not packed. There’s room to move around, enjoy the live music, and watch the skaters and skateboarders try to pull their stunts.
Walk the beach to take in all the notable architecture and art: from Ricardo Bofill’s W Hotel Barcelona, to Frank Gehry’s Peix. Or just sit and enjoy a drink as you snack your way through some of Barcelona’s excellent tapas.
Baker Beach, San Francisco, California
San Francisco’s beaches are not really for swimming—the water is too cold. They are all about the view, and Baker Beach has a classic one of the Golden Gate Bridge.
It’s a mile-long beach, great for a walk below the cliffs while you enjoy the sea air and breezes. Crowded in summer, September is a quieter time, and the weather is still mild.
At its south end is historic Battery Chamberlin, with its 1906 fortifications and “disappearing” six-inch gun. There are also plenty of rock pools to search for crabs and other sea life in California.
Read: One Day in San Francisco
Navagio/Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos, Greece
The most famous beach on Zakynthos is named for a wreck lying in the sand. It’s deep inside a small cove, best reached by boat, adding to the castaway atmosphere.
Protected by steep, chalky-white cliffs, you feel you have stepped away from the outside world. This is the perfect setting to unwind and enjoy the white sand and turquoise water.
Lover’s Beach, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
At the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, is Land’s End. That’s where you will find the lovely beach called Playa del Amor, or “Lover’s Beach,” in Cabo San Lucas.
It’s a gorgeous sandy beach, perfect for strolling hand-in-hand with a loved one. Snorkeling here is one of the best things to do, with the area’s rocks sheltering a variety of species.
Nearby, through a gap in the rocks, is the larger “Divorce Beach”, another one of the best beaches in Cabo. It was named by those with a wicked sense of humor for the stronger currents on this Pacific side.
Playa de Las Teresitas, Tenerife, Spain
Regarded as the town beach of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, this huge beach has room for everyone. It has been expanded over the years with sand imported from the Sahara, and a breakwater offshore protects swimmers.
That may all sound a bit artificial, but the area’s natural beauty overshadows any such thoughts. The white sand is also a welcome respite after the harsh black sand found on most other Canary Islands beaches.
Over half a mile long, this Tenerife beach has every facility you could need including palm trees, and disabled access. The small village of San Andrés is also nearby.
Golden Bay, Malta
Nestled deep between two rocky headlands, this sheltered, sandy beach near Valletta is deservedly popular.
One of the best beaches in Malta, Golden Bay is also backed by dunes, with the same gold-red sands. An expanse of unspoiled countryside—great for hiking— adds to the area’s natural appeal.
While the water is warm until at least October, the beach is protected by lifeguards only until mid-September. Be careful going for a swim if they are not on duty, as there are some very strong currents offshore.
Faliraki Beach, Rhodes, Greece
Faliraki beach stretches for almost two and a half miles, and is one of the most popular beaches on Rhodes. All the more reason to visit in September, when there is more room to enjoy its natural beauty.
The northern end is backed by upscale hotels and has a corresponding air of relaxed pampering. This is the part to chill out on a sun lounger, icy drink to hand.
Toward the south is the younger, livelier option. Here’s where you will find busy bars, and non-stop watersports in Rhodes.
Further south again is the secluded, clothing-optional section of the beach. Well marked, it’s easy to avoid, or find.
Playa de Los Muertos, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Lined with hotels, this popular beach is centered on a pier with a distinctive metal sail. Despite its popularity, the Puerto Vallarta beach is big enough for everybody.
Watersports are a given, and sun loungers are easy to rent. This is a beach to watch and be watched, filled with people enjoying themselves with beer and grilled seafood.
Take a break from sunbathing and stroll to the end to see the Boy On The Seahorse sculpture by Rafael Zamarripa.
Bathsheba Beach, Barbados
Offering a contrast to the calmer Caribbean beaches of the west, this east coast beach has Atlantic waves. Even the drive there is spectacular, letting you see a different, wilder side of Barbados.
Although it’s not a place for casual swimmers, because of its strong currents, Bathsheba is one of the best beaches in Barbados for surfers. If not a surfer yourself, chill under a coconut tree to watch the skills on show, and to gaze at the pounding waves.
Bathsheba village is a laid-back place, in tune with the surfer vibe that Barbados is known for. There are a few rum shacks, and restaurants serving fresh seafood.
Te Amo Beach, Bonaire
“I Love You” is a romantic name for any beach, but this long stretch of white sand beach carries that label lightly. One of the best beaches in Bonaire for couples, even the flights from the nearby airport departing to possibly even more exotic destinations add to the romance.
Snorkeling here is one of the best things to do in Bonaire, with plenty of tropical fish to swim with. Sea turtles are also a common sight in the water.
There are shady trees, and restaurants for cold drinks and gentle music. Thanks to its location in the far south of the Caribbean, Bonaire is a great place to visit in September when temperatures are very hot, with little rain.
Las Bachas, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos
Las Bachas, in the north of Santa Cruz, is a long, sandy Galapagos beach. It’s great for swimming, being well sheltered, and is backed by two lagoons where pink flamingos feed.
You might also be lucky enough to see turtle tracks in the sand. Sea turtles come here to lay their eggs in buried nests.
September in Galapagos brings average temperatures of 70ºF, and low rainfall. Although the sea is a bit chillier, the wildlife of the Galapagos is much more active.
The beach is named for two barges abandoned by the US Army after WWII, of which one rusting hulk remains. Bachas is the phonetic Spanish pronunciation of “barges”.
Palma Nova Beach, Mallorca, Spain
Palma Nova Beach is the central stretch of three Blue Flag beaches fronting the popular Palma Nova resort in Mallorca. All three are linked by the town’s promenade, Passeig del Mar, offering a wide choice of bars, shops and restaurants.
It’s the busiest of the three Mallorca beaches, for good reason. At over half a mile in length, it has plenty of space for sunbathing, walking or watersports.
September is a lovely time to visit the island of Mallorca. The crowds are starting to go, but the weather is at its best, and everything remains open.
Balos Beach, Crete, Greece
Balos Beach in Crete connects the mainland to Cape Tigani, with a shallow lagoon on one side, and the open sea on the other.
The rocky cape and nearby coast are rich with caves that shelter seabirds, such as shags and cormorants. The whole is a protected nature reserve, also home to species such as sea turtles and seals.
Facilities are accordingly very basic, which is all part of the appeal. This is an area of quiet natural beauty, a magical corner of one of the best islands in Europe.
Are you tempted to dip your toes in the water in September? Then browse Celebrity’s September cruises to find the perfect vacation for you.