October is all about the escape – getting away from the crowds, putting your feet up and sinking into a blissful state of relaxation. The good news? You have plenty of options.

Choose from one of Fiji’s 333 islands to swim, surf or snorkel off palm-fringed shores; explore Italy's rugged coastline in Liguria; enjoy natural spas and lush landscapes in New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula; and discover picturesque colonial towns and paradisiacal rainforests in Costa Verde, Brazil.

A sandy beach in the Yasawa island group, Fiji
Fiji's Yasawa islands are about as dreamy as they come © Marco Simoni / Getty Images

Head to Fiji for a quieter Pacific paradise

Fiji is paradise made easy. The most accessible and tourism-attuned outpost of the South Pacific, Fiji has an idyll to suit everyone across its 333 islands. That makes it popular, which is why October is perfect: it’s after peak season but still pleasantly cool and dry; you may find cheaper deals, and you will find fewer people.

There’s white-sand-blue-sea magnificence across the archipelago – the dreamy Yasawa and Mamanuca groups are the most ‘developed’, but even here no buildings are taller than a coconut palm. You could happily swim, surf, snorkel and loll about at a lively or low-key resort here for weeks. Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island, offers the greatest variety. Make a circuit: drive the coastal Queens Rd and highlands Kings Rd, hike at Sigatoka sand dunes and taste colonial architecture and Fijian-Indian cuisine in capital Suva.

  • Trip plan: Fly to Nadi (Viti Levu). Boats run from here to various ports on the Yasawas and Mamanucas – pick a base or hop between spots. Allow a week to explore Viti Levu. Divers should head for Astrolabe Reef or Taveuni’s waters.
  • Need to know: English is the official language; ‘Bula!’ means ‘Hello!’ in Fijian.
  • Other months: May–Jun & Oct: dry, shoulder seasons, quieter; Jul–Sep: dry, busy; Nov–Apr: wet, cyclones possible.
People stroll along a cobbled street in the colonial town of Paraty, Brazil
Explore the cobbled streets of colonial Paraty © Danita Delimont / Getty Images

Go green in Costa Verde, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro gets called the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvellous City), but really, it’s the Marvellous State – the namesake province around the metropolis is equally good-looking. Indeed, just west lies the Costa Verde, where jungly hills and waterfalls tumble to a sparkling blue-green sea. Make a beeline for Paraty (186 miles, or 300km, from Rio), an elegant 18th-century colonial port set against mountains, where the cobbled streets are traffic free, bright-painted boats zip about the bay, and cafes serve up succulent seafood.

Then make a break for Ilha Grande – formerly a leper colony and prison, now a chill-out retreat ruled by Mother Nature. There are no cars, and just a few settlements. Book into a pousada (traditional style of accommodation) and spend days hiking trails into the island’s Atlantic rainforest and hopping between its 102 beaches. October, when spring temperatures rise (27°C; 81°F) but peak season has yet to start, is a good choice.

  • Trip plan: Spend a few days in Rio, then head along the Emerald Coast. Combine time on Paraty’s beaches with forays into Serra da Bocaina National Park before taking the ferry to Ilha Grande.
  • Need to know: Buses depart Rio for Angra dos Reis (for Ilha Grande ferries) and Paraty.
  • Other months: Apr–Oct: cooler, drier; Nov–Mar: hottest, busiest, rainier.
Riomaggiore, with brightly coloured buildings on the rocky hillside, and a handful of small boats docked in the harbour. Candles are lit along the wall in the foreground
The little harbour Riomaggiore at sunset © Catherina Unger / Getty Images

Roam the rugged coastal paths of Italy’s Liguria region in peace

You’ve admired the photos of pastel-hued fishing villages tumbling down a precipitous hillside to the Ligurian Sea. So, too, have hundreds of thousands of day-trippers and cruise-ship passengers who throng the Cinque Terre, along the coast east of Genoa, each summer. The five villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore attract hordes of visitors in high season, and even the spectacular walking trails linking the ports can get busy.

Come in October, though, and the pressure eases, along with prices; you can explore these gorgeous villages, nearby beaches and the dramatic coastline in peace, and even nearby jet set hangouts like Portofino become almost accessible to mere mortals. Beyond those honeypots, less busy spots such as Portovénere, Sestri Levante and Tellaro are similarly charming.

  • Trip plan: The less-touristed towns of Lévanto and La Spezia offer down-to-earth stopovers; just along the coast, Genoa is a historic port with train links to the Cinque Terre.
  • Need to know: To access footpaths around Cinque Terre you’ll need to buy a trekking card. Paths are susceptible to landslips and floods, and can be closed at short notice.
  • Other months: May–Sep: warm, very busy; Apr & Oct: quiet; Nov–Mar: cool, pleasant for walking.
A large rock stack forms a silhouette against a sky of purples, pinks and yellows
The pristine beach at Cathedral Cove © Rachel Stewart / EyeEm / Getty Images

Enjoy spring sun and the beaches to yourself in New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula

Kiwis love the Coromandel. This peninsula jutting into the Pacific has some of New Zealand’s best weather and is only a 90-minute drive from Auckland. In October you’ll find warm temperatures but fewer people. (If it does turn chilly, warm up at the Lost Spring natural spa or by digging your own thermal bath at Hot Water Beach).

The lack of crowds and general vibe makes the Coromandel perfect for an unhurried spring break. It has lots of browsable, gallery-filled towns (the legacy of an influx of arty types in the 1960s). And the glorious topography – a lush, mountainous spine, fringed by cliffs and golden shores – lends itself to leisurely scenic drives. Active pursuits are readily available – the Hauraki Rail Trail cycleway, hikes up the Pinnacles, kayaking into Cathedral Cove. But you could just hole up in a coastal cafe and watch the world go by.

  • Trip plan: Allow three or four days to amble around the peninsula. Thames (west coast) and Whitianga (east) are the main hubs.
  • Need to know: September/October is the start of scallop season; try them at the restaurants along Whitianga’s Esplanade.
  • Other months: Mar–May: cool/mild; Jun–Aug: coldest; Sep–Nov: warm, quieter; Dec–Feb: warmest, busiest.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our book Where To Go When for 360 ultimate escapes from family-friendly adventures to animal encounters and relaxing retreats.

Article first published August 2017, and last updated July 2019


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