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The top five off-peak destinations for summer 2005

SmarterTravel

If the thought of summer travel still brings to mind dreamy images of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Coliseum in Rome, or memories of summer on Cape Cod and the boardwalk in San Diego, think again. Each of these destinations is at its peak in the summer, attracting crowds of people and causing prices to skyrocket.

However, there is a plethora of great destinations that offer decent weather and lower prices during the off-peak season. Our top five choices for off-peak summer travel are Miami, St. Croix, the Dominican Republic, Australia, and South Africa.

Miami

Miami is a paradise for winter-worn travelers during its high season. But as the weather heats up during the summer, hotel and airfare prices drop.

While most visitors to Miami lounge on the beach and hit the shops and nightclubs after too much time in the sun, summertime in Miami also brings a host of festivals and events. For example, tropical fruit lovers will enjoy the tastings at July’s International Mango Festival. Music lovers should head to Bayfront Park in July for the Miami Reggae Festival, featuring reggae music from a large selection of artists. August marks the fourth annual Miami Spice Restaurant Month, where foodies can indulge in three-course dinners at top restaurants for $30.05.

We searched for hotel rates in Miami Beach and South Beach to see how much you can save by traveling in the off-peak summer season—and we found savings of up to 30 percent per night.

Room type Hotel Summer rate Winter rate
Standard hotel room Brigham Gardens $70 (June 1 to November 14) $100 (November 15 to May 31)
King Suite Deluxe Bay Harbor Inn $109 (April 1 to September 30) $159 (October 1 to December 31)
Deluxe room, city view Hotel Ocean $190 (June 1 to November 15) $210 (November 16 to May 31)

Prices were on found the providers’ websites. Rates may be higher for stays over holidays.

To find more Miami hotel deals, see SmarterTravel.com’s hotel section, or visit the vacation section to check for air-and-hotel packages. Most of the major airlines fly to Miami, as well as low-fare carriers AirTran and America West. For air deals, check out SmarterTravel.com’s air section. For general information on Miami, go to the Miami CVB’s website. Top

St. Croix

The weather in St. Croix is nearly perfect year-round, making it an ideal Caribbean getaway. However, most tourists visit the island during its peak season, December through May. In the off-peak summer season, hotel prices drop significantly, and you can enjoy the balmy weather, clear water, and sandy beaches without hordes of tourists. While there is the threat of hurricanes during the summer, note that hurricane season usually hits its height in late August and September.

During the summer, enjoy fewer crowds while visiting Buck Island Reef National Monument, the U.S. Virgin Island’s 176-acre island and coral reef preserve. Or, check out St. Croix’s historical landmarks by driving the scenic 72-mile Heritage Trail, and take a tour of the 250-year-old Cruzan Rum Distillery.

In recent weeks, airlines including American and US Airways have offered summer sale prices on airfare to St. Croix from both coasts, starting at less than $300 round-trip. Hotel rates also drop during the off-peak season, so it’s worth shopping around to find the best rates on both airfare and accommodations. We compared rates at three different St. Croix hotels and found savings of up to 26 percent per night.

Room type Hotel Summer rate Winter rate
Standard double room Pink Fancy Hotel $85 (May 16 to December 14) $95 (December 15 to May 15)
Double beachside room Hibiscus Beach Resort $140 (April 1 to December 20) $190 (December 21 to March 31)
Great House Mountain View double room Buccaneer Resort $240 (April1 to December 19) $295 (December 20 to April 16)

Prices were on found the providers’ websites. Rates may be higher for stays over holidays.

Find low fares to the U.S. Virgin Islands by visiting SmarterTravel.com’s air section. Look for vacation packages in the SmarterTravel.com vacation section, or compare hotel rates with our fare-comparison tool. For more information on St. Croix, see Visit St. Croix’s website. Top

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a resort-lovers paradise, and is already considered one of the few year-round bargain destinations in the Caribbean. Most Americans taking a break from winter visit the Caribbean island during the U.S.’s colder months. While you can expect more rain and humidity during the summer, you can also take advantage of lowered prices on resorts and airfare. Summer is also hurricane season, although most storms hit in late August and September if at all.

Taking advantage of your resort’s amenities (daiquiris by the pool, snorkeling, beach volleyball, etc.) can be a great way to spend a vacation, but the Dominican Republic also has a host of summer festivals. Spice up your vacation by taking in a few days of music and dance of the meringue festival in late July or early August. Time your visit around Restoration Day (August 16), and indulge in Santo Domingo’s second Carnival.

We compared prices from three different all-inclusive resorts to see how much you can save by visiting during the off-peak season, and found savings of up to 29 percent per night.

Resort name Summer rate Winter rate
Paradise Beach Club & Casino, Puerto Plata $87 (July 1 through August 31) $101 (January 1 through April 30)
Paraiso Del Sol, Cabarete $87 (July 1 through August 31) $101(January 1 through April 30)
Grand Paradise Bavaro, Punta Cana $105 (July 1 through August 31) $147 (January 1 through April 30)

Prices were on found the providers’ websites. Rates may be higher for stays over holidays.

Keep track of the latest Dominican Republic air deals by checking SmarterTravel.com’s air section. Most of the major airlines, as well as low-fare carriers JetBlue and Spirit, fly to the Dominican Republic, so be sure to compare fares with our fare-comparison tool before you book. Check the SmarterTravel.com vacation section for the latest vacation packages. For more information on the Dominican Republic this summer, see SmarterTravel.com’s special report. Top

Australia

Australia is a country about the size of the continental United States, and as such, weather and tourist seasons vary. Generally, though, the off-peak winter months in Australia are June, July, and August, when airfare prices and rates for vacation packages tend to drop significantly. However, temperatures tend to remain in the brisk 50s and 60s, still pleasant for touring the country outdoors.

If you visit during Australia’s winter months, you can tour the Sydney Opera House, or spend an afternoon exploring the city’s highly-rated aquarium without contending with mobs of tourists. And, if you’re a foodie or a wine enthusiast, the Good Food and Wine Show in July is a must.

You’ll save the most by flying into Sydney. We found savings of about 40 percent by traveling in August instead of December. Sample fares include:

Route Summer fare Winter fare
Los Angeles to Sydney $935 $1,575
Chicago (O’Hare) to Sydney $1,372 $2,012
New York (JFK) to Sydney $1,397 $2,037

Summer fares are based on travel between July 19 and August 26 and winter fares are based on travel between December 12 and 28. Prices were found on Qantas’ website.

To find more information about visiting Australia, refer to Sydney’s official website. For air deals, check SmarterTravel.com for Australia airfare sales. Or, browse air deals from Air New Zealand, Air Tahiti Nui, and Qantas. Check SmarterTravel.com’s vacation section for air-and-hotel packages. Top

South Africa

For many travelers, South Africa is an ultimate splurge vacation. However, by traveling off-peak, you can save big on accommodations and airfare. Tourists and South Africans on vacation flood the resorts and hotels during December, January, and February, taking advantage of hot summer weather. South Africa’s mild winters shouldn’t be a deterrent, however—temperatures hover around 62 degrees Fahrenheit during June, July, and August.

South Africa has a wide array of activities to please nearly everyone. Adventurous travelers can go on wildlife safaris at Kruger National Park (and are more likely to spot the “big five” May through August). Wine lovers can sample South African wines in the vineyards around the country. For a scenic drive, any traveler would enjoy the magnificent Garden Route in the south of the country.

By traveling in the off-peak season, we found savings of up to 28 percent per night.

Room type Hotel Summer rate Winter rate
Standard luxury room (double) Buhala Game Lodge, Kruger National Park $88 (through September 30) $123 (October 1 through May 31)
Bed and breakfast double room Cedar Manor, George, Garden Route $45 (through September 30) $56 (October 1 to April 30)
Double room Tudor Hotel, Cape Town $83 (Through September 30) $108 (October 1 through April 30)

Prices were on found the providers’ websites listed in South African Rand (ZAR). Currency conversion was performed at xe.com. Rates may be higher for stays over holidays.

Air deals to South Africa aren’t common, but it’s still a good idea to browse SmarterTravel.com’s international air deals page for a sale. From time to time, Iberia, South African Airways, and Qantas offer South Africa specials. Africa vacation providers include 2afrika and Premier Tours. For more information on planning a South Africa vacation, see the South African Tourism website. Top

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