Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sun July 31 2016

Avoiding Crowded Beaches: All You Need to Know

Features & Advice | Melinda Crow | July 31, 2016

Avoiding Crowded Beaches: All You Need to Know

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

When traveling, crowded, cramped and noisy beaches throw a wrench into one of the main reasons to go to the shore in the first place — complete and utter relaxation. But what if you could have a stretch of sand all to yourself? Here’s how.

Pick the Right day and time

While early morning hours are usually the best times to find empty beaches, there are a few other tricks to try as well. Think about hotel turnover times. At many resorts, Friday is the busiest day of the week with guests checking out mid-morning and new ones not arriving until mid-afternoon.

Schedule your stay to depart on any other day of the week and you can almost guarantee yourself a quiet beach midday on Friday. Saturday is obviously the most popular beach day. Avoid it in favor of other activities if you don’t like crowds. And even though Sunday is sometimes a hotel turnover day, beaches may be crowded with locals enjoying their day off with family.

READ MORE: How Much Does a Day at the Beach Really Cost?

Go in the off-season

Of course when you travel in the off-season, almost any day of the week can be uncrowded. The challenge is knowing when off-season kicks in at a particular locale. Small hotels and bed and breakfasts often have actual rate calendars on their websites. Study those for a good indication of the seasons at your destination. Low rates mean lower occupancy is expected, which obviously translates to quieter beaches.

Be prepared to drive

Almost any popular beach destination has at least one out-of-the-way beach that sees little use. These are usually miles away from hotels, often with no comfort facilities. Pack your own drinks, snacks, chairs and shade. Then kick back and enjoy the silence. (Except for the lapping of the waves, of course!)

Be prepared to hike

The absolute best isolated beaches in the world often include hikes down steep trails or over multiple dunes. Be willing to go the distance and you could have the place to yourself.

Avoid well-marked beaches

If the sign says "Beach Access Here" or if a beach has a name that turns up on every Google search of a destination, expect crowds. Think outside the box by scanning Google Earth instead of search results. Look for spots that look beachy, then zoom in for details. Make sure there are few nearby facilities and you may have found yourself a hidden gem.

Consider beaches that attract divers

Scuba divers that dive from shore generally avoid beaches that are overly crowded with swimmers. Try a dive info site like for beaches that are often known only to locals and the diving community. The bonus is that if divers like a spot, it’s likely to be great for snorkeling as well.

Don’t overlook less beachy beaches

Crowds flock to long stretches of sugar-sand beaches. You may find that by forgoing perfect sand for rock, coral rubble, or even man-made jetties, you not only get the place to yourself, but have far more interesting things to look at while you are there.

Don’t stay at a beach resort

At least not a mega resort. Look at it this way, if the resort's marketing is all about the beach, that means that everyone on the property is likely staying there for the beach. Look instead for smaller facilities with intimate beaches or off-beach hotels near the previously discussed quiet beach options.

 Ask the locals or cruise ship staff

Locals at shops and cruise ship employees often hang at non-touristy beaches. Ask them where their favorites are, and then join them. Just remember the Sunday rule when it comes to local favorites.

Don’t rely on taxi drivers for beach advice; they often get kickbacks from vendors near the beach that are more important to them than whether or not you are happy with the beach they take you to. And of course, there’s always the safety factor to be considered. In some areas, having a taxi driver take you to a secluded beach may not be the best idea. If you do taxi to a beach, play it safe and have them drop you at the nearest shopping center or restaurant, rather than at the beach.

READ MORE: What Are America's Favorite Beaches?

Avoid cruise-organized beach breaks

There are obvious exceptions to this rule, but if you are sailing on a mega ship, unless your tour is described as "private," assume that you will be joined on your beach break by a large group of people and that it will take place on a popular beach that may have guests from multiple cruise ships, as well as local hotel guests.

A better option if you haven’t had time to research or don’t have a car at your disposal, may be to seek out a tour that takes you by boat to a beach. In general, those tours are smaller, they may have access to uninhabited islands, and the bonus is the boat ride itself — which is sometimes worth the price of the tour. 


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