The Off Season
In the off season, it’s easier to wander, spend time with locals, and find values at choice accommodations. Conversely, traveler services (especially transportation) may be less convenient, information rich ex-pats and seasonal workers may have moved to their next locale, and inclement weather may be more frequent. It’s a fuzzy equation, but shoulder seasons can be worth a little extra effort and hassle. The trick is that travel guides rarely give contextual information about on/shoulder/off season, aside from the variance in lodging rates.
Traveling in the off season requires reading between the lines. Traveler reviews are usually based on the high season prices and conditions. When we read that the south coast of Sri Lanka was overrun with partying backpackers, we almost skipped it. But when our train stopped in Hikkaduwa in March, we found a relaxed, down to earth haven to enjoy the pounding surf. We stayed beachfront at the widest point of the sweeping sandy beach for $25/night. The build up of the monsoon and the social ‘end of season’ vibe was exactly what we were looking for. It would have been impossible to have this experience during the Christmas and New Years holidays, but it was a perfect hideout in the shoulder season.