We usually think of going to the beach as a summertime activity, but enjoying the sun, surf, and sand doesn't have to be limited to just the summer months. In fact, heading to the beach in the fall can be even more enjoyable than going during the middle of the summer rush. You can still stick to your summer vacation essentials and enjoy all the fun of summer vacation with the added benefits of traveling during the off-season. Here are eight reasons why early fall is the perfect time for taking a beach vacation.

There Are Fewer Crowds

Aerial photo of a wide open coastline with a surfer walking alone
Credit: CBCK-Christine/ iStock

If you're the type who enjoys having to elbow people out for space to lay your beach blanket, then a summer beach vacation might be better for you. For the rest of us, going to the beach in the early fall means significantly fewer crowds since kids are back in school. With school comes after-school activities, sports, etc., so even the locals tend to shy away from the beach during the early fall. You can very well find yourself alone on some of the most popular beaches in the world when you go in the fall instead of during the summer.

You Won't Get so Hot

Woman reading a book alone on the beach
Credit: baona/ iStock

A lot of beach-goers like to relax on the beach, soaking up the sun and reading a book, watching the water, or taking a nap. In the summer, you can only stay out in the sweltering sun for so long before you either have to take a dip or go inside for a break from the heat. If you go to the beach in the fall, you'll enjoy comfortable temperatures that will allow you to stay outside for longer without feeling like you're roasting. This is especially true if you head to a beach in the Northeast, such as those in Cape May, New Jersey. Just make sure to stick to your summertime skincare routine and wear sunscreen anytime you're out.

It's Cheaper

View of the ocean from an empty hotel
Credit: Charisse Kenion/ Unsplash

With very few exceptions, traveling in the fall is less expensive than going in the summer. This is just because summer is the busiest time for travel, so hotels can charge a premium. By booking your trip for early fall, you'll likely save money on hotels and airfare. For beach vacations, this can mean you get an upgrade on your room. For instance, you might be able to get a hotel room with a balcony overlooking the beach for a fraction of the price you'd pay in the summer.

You Can Find Some Cool Seashells

Credit: MelanieMaya/ iStock

You might avoid hurricanes during hurricane season, but you'll probably endure a storm or two during your stay, depending on the length. The storms have their perks, though. If you happen to get to the beach after a storm has rolled through, you can find all kinds of cool seashells and pretty sea glass. If you're a collector or crafter, head to the beach after a fall storm for a bonafide treasure hunt.

You Don't Have to Deal With Traffic or Parking

Aerial photo of a single car on an open road, with a bridge over bright blue water
Credit: HRAUN/ iStock

If your hotel is on the beach, you don't have to worry about traffic or parking. But, if you're going to the beach from your hotel, or if you want to check out a few beaches in the area, you'll save a ton of time just by going in the fall. See, in the summer, everyone heads to the beach, including locals and tourists. That adds up to traffic jams when you're commuting there, plus no parking spots once you finally get to the beach. Go in the fall to avoid traffic since everyone will be at work or school during the weekday. Then, once you get to the beach, you can have your pick of parking spots. This is especially useful for families and anyone who likes to carry more than just a towel to the beach.

It's Easier to Enjoy Water Sports

Person on a board, airborne over a crashing wave
Credit: Raul_Mellado/ iStock

The beach isn't the only place that's less crowded in the fall. The water itself has less traffic from boaters, water skiers, jet skiers, surfers, and anyone who's out cruising around. This makes early fall the ideal time to visit if you want to try a new water sport without a lot of other people around. It will also be easier to get lessons since there will be fewer people trying to sign up. Make sure to get a wet suit if you're visiting a beach where the water is cold.

The Beach Is Cleaned Up

Pristine white sand beach, photographed from above with a yellow umbrella and bright teal water
Credit: Alexwise/ iStock

With more people on the beach comes more trash. If you're looking for a pristine beaching experience, then head to one in the early fall instead of during the heat of summer. You'll be less likely to find yourself stepping around cigarette butts, wrappers, bottles, and anything else summer crowds leave behind. If you're a photographer or Instagram guru and want a clean beach shot, go in the early fall.

You Can Enjoy the Beach at Night

Stars light up the sky over a beach, with a mountain range in the background
Credit: Casey Horner/ Unsplash

The days are shorter in the fall, but that doesn't mean you need to leave the beach when the sun goes down. In fact, there's something magical about being on the beach as the sun is setting and the stars are starting to shine. For families with young kids who can't usually stay awake until dark in the summer, going to the beach in the fall can provide your kids with this fun adventure. Grab a couple of blankets so you can lay down and look at the stars as you listen to the waves crashing on the shore.

You Can Get a Feel for the Local Scene

Bar Harbor, Maine stores in the fall with trees changing colors and water in the background
Credit: Paulaandreaonline/ iStock

In the summer, beach towns are full of tourists. Go during the off-season or shoulder season if you want to get a better feel for how the locals live. You'll be dealing with fewer crowds, so it'll be easier to get into restaurants, shops, and attractions in town. You will also be more likely to run into locals who tend to stay away from places full of tourists during the summer.