The Best Destinations for Off-Season Travel, from Iceland to Okinawa

The Best Destinations for Off-Season Travel, from Iceland to Okinawa

If you can tolerate the heat, September is also a great time to discover Southern Arizona’s winemaking scene, with a guided tour of Willcox wine country, an hour east of the city. Alternatively, book an appointment with one of the best brands coming out of the state: Sand Reckoner has a tasting room in downtown Tucson.

Queensland, Australia

Lower humidity during the southern hemisphere’s winter makes seeing Queensland’s unforgettable natural landscapes much easier—and a lot more comfortable. You can get lost in the remote expanse of the Outback on a four-wheel-drive adventure. You can explore as much of the 894,420 hectares of the Wet Tropics of Queensland—a World Heritage Site of forests that house the highest concentration of unique plant life in the world, including 90 species of orchids. And, of course, you can pay a special visit to the Great Barrier Reef, ready for diving and snorkeling. The eco-friendly, rustic-chic Elysian Retreat (the first solar powered resort in the area) is an exceptional home base for hopping around the GBR’s 600 islands. But this is also where you can get away from it all, as only 20 guests are permitted at any one time.

Delaire Graff Restaurant’s Blesbok Loin dish

Delaire Graff Estate

Delaire Graff Superior Lodge Lounge Area

Delaire Graff Estate

October to December

South Africa

The end of the calendar year sees South Africa just emerging from winter’s grip—it’s not quite hot enough to hit its beaches, but the bush is already teeming with action. While it’s still dry in October, a walking safari at Singita Lebombo in Kruger National Park is an exceptional way to see wildlife, as there isn’t yet much vegetation for animals to hide in. Given the property’s proximity from the river, you can even spot them from the resort’s relaxing pools.

Elsewhere in the country, city streets in Johannesburg are blooming with jacaranda trees. And booking yourself into the art-meets-nature grounds of Delaire Graff Estate in picturesque Stellenbosch gets you up close and personal with the lush beauty and juicy fruits of the Cape Winelands.

Amalfi Coast

A leaf-peeping trip opens up this storied Italian destination from mid-October until early November, when many of the tourists have fled but the region hasn’t fully shut down yet. It’s a fabulous time to visit the cliff-facing winery of Marisa Cuomo Winery, which specializes in late-harvest white wines. It’s also an ideal time to stroll through colorful seaside towns: buy ceramics in Vietri sul Mare, eat your weight in pasta in Nerano, trek the hills of Positano, and soak in the architecture of Amalfi. Get the most out of Amalfi’s newest gem: Borgo Santandrea, a luxury bolthole brought to life with a mosaic of striking tiles and verdant Mediterranean-style gardens. 

Costa Rica

You’re typically advised against visiting tropical destinations during their green seasons, when precipitation is at its most intense—but that’s the tropics for you. A late-November or early-December visit to Costa Rica would likely mean that the worst of the rainfall has passed, leaving in its wake a country lush, verdant, glorious. Costa Rica’s post-rain splendor is especially visible at Nayara Springs, a luxury lodge tucked deep in Arenal Volcano National Park, where yoga sessions are staged to singing birds and jungle walks are accompanied by friendly sloths. Fewer visitors means more opportunities to soak in the beauty of the iconic, cone-shaped volcano.