There’s just something about an island vacation — the beaches? The laid-back island mentality? The knowledge that a body of water is between you and your responsibilities? Whatever it is, there’s no feeling quite like getting out of Dodge and onto an island.
But there is one thing we know: An island vacation is the quickest way to guarantee ultimate R&R, mellow vibes, and a much-needed break from things like lunch breaks and having to set an alarm. And it can also be the cheapest — at least if you stick with us.
Keep reading for the most affordable times of year to visit the world’s best islands.
An IRL paradise known for its coral reefs, secluded beaches, and tropical temperatures, the more than 300 islands that make up this South Pacific country are likely the closest it gets to heaven on earth. Considering the notoriously high fuel costs for a flight from the U.S., tourists looking for that seasonal sweet spot should aim for October and November, after peak season (May to September) and before rainy season (December to mid-April). During these months, visitors can often find more affordable accommodations as well — the extra push you might need to splurge on that dreamy overwater bungalow.
St. Barts: May-June
Caribbean island Saint Barthélemy, adorably nicknamed St. Barts, is a hot spot for celebrities drawn to its beaches, warm weather, and high-end shopping. We love it for the same reasons — especially in May-June, when those of us who don’t have a Kardashian bank account can snag deals on hotels, flights, and tours. Just after peak season, which ends in April, and before the hurricane season brings substantial rainfall and closed attractions, May-June is the sweet spot for deals on tropical temperatures.
Hawaii: April-May, August-September
Sure, Hawaii may be a year-round destination — but for those who want to avoid both crowds and inflated prices, planning strategically can make all the difference between a rained-out mess and a postcard-worthy tropical vacation. The best times to visit are in between the winter break and Valentine’s Day, and then again after summer vacation –during these months, guests can snag deals without compromising on weather. There may be a bit more rain than in June and July, but tropical showers usually don’t drop the temperatures too far and often pass after an hour or two.
Bali: April-May, September-October
Indonesia’s dreamiest island is a portrait of a landscape’s unspoiled natural beauty, popular for its adventure experiences, surf breaks and outdoor landmarks. Those looking for the Bali triple threat (low number of rain days, high temperatures, good waves) should visit in April, May, September and October; these months are considered shoulder season and have fewer visitors and lower prices than July and August.
Bora Bora: November and April
Let’s be real: If you’re going to Bora Bora, you’re going to want to spend some time at the beach. And nothing kills a good vacation vibe quite like getting rained out. Just as in the rest of French Polynesia (including Tahiti), Bora Bora experiences heavy rainfall from December-March; alternatively, high season occurs between May and October. By traveling in November and April instead of the summer, tourists can usually find less expensive flights and less crowded scuba- diving sites, without a major risk of storms.
This picture-perfect Cyclades Island in the Aegean Sea is one of the most Instagram-worthy examples of Greece’s iconic blue-and-white buildings, rugged coasts, and cobbled streets. The cliffside locale is most popular over summer, but heavy crowds and high prices go out with August; September offers lower room rates without the hassle of off-season closures. This month is particularly ideal for travelers hoping to spend time both sunbathing and sightseeing — average high temperatures range from the mid-70s to near 80, dropping a bit lower toward the end of the month.
Koh Phi Phi: April-May
A collection of islands off the western coast of southern Thailand, Koh Phi Phi — pronounced “Pee Pee” — can be accessed only by ferry from Phuket (most common), Krabi or Koh Lanta and is often toured as an add-on to the mainland. Local tourism centers on two islands: Phi Phi Don, the largest island, developed with resorts and restaurants, and Phi Phi Le, the setting for Leonardo Di Caprio’s film The Beach. Since much of the experience revolves around the water, tourists should aim to visit from April to early May; November-February is the high (and dry) season, and the rainy season starts in late May. During these in-between months, the islands are at their best: dry, warm and serene.
Capri: April-June, September-October
This striking island off the coast of Naples, Italy, is an even more scenic alternative (or addition) to an Amalfi Coast vacation; most tourists are drawn to Capri’s Blue Grotto, cliffside beaches and Roman ruins. High season for this beach destination begins over the Easter holidays and stretches to early November, but July and August are Capri’s most jam-packed — and celebrity-filled — months. Instead, those looking to save some money and still hit the beach should visit in June and September, when temperatures are still high; these months have an average of just two to three rainy days. Travelers less concerned about tanning time — and more concerned about price tag — should book for April, May and October.
Iceland: April-May, September
Iceland’s rise to popularity was swift and dramatic, quickly transforming the island from a niche adventure destination into an uptrending hot spot gone mainstream. Those hoping to catch the northern lights should shoot for early to mid-April, when you’ll be able to see the incredible natural phenomenon without enduring too-hard temperatures. Alternatively, those visiting for other outdoor experiences will find that May and September offer the best balance of moderately high temperatures and moderately low levels of rainfall. Depending on where you’re flying from (Iceland is least expensive from the East Coast), it may even be worth going during high season, when there are nearly 24 hours of sunlight — WOW air offers affordable flights from the U.S. and Canada, and packages can often compound savings.