Think the year's best beach days are behind you? Not so fast. With temperatures mellowed and tourists gone, now's the perfect time to visit these four seaside towns.
Padre Island National Seashore, TX
Padre Island National Seashore (PINS) is one of the most remote beaches in the U.S. – a two-mile-wide, 70-mile-long stretch of white-sand beaches and wildflower-adorned dunes about 50 miles north of the Mexican border. This time of year, when the Texas heat subsides to the 60s and 70s, it's where you go to ditch cellphone service for nothing but a tent, beer, and a fishing rod. The protected island has no roads or buildings and gives off a postapocalyptic vibe: Abandoned cars are buried to the hood in sand, miles of shells glint in the sun, and two-story deep-sea buoys, untethered by hurricanes, lean at 45-degree angles in the surf. Aside from the solitude, PINS' greatest thrill is catching a 10-foot tiger shark – from land. Attracted to shore by a unique geology that brings deep waters to the beach, sharks have been caught here for decades. The only part more exciting than snagging one? Wrestling it back to sea.
How to get there: Fly into Corpus Christi, rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and head 40 miles south to the PINS welcome station. PINS is entirely pack in/pack out, so stock up on supplies in Corpus Christi before starting out.
Best outfitter: For a guided catch-and-release shark-fishing trip, contact Eric Ozolins at Ocean Epics. [from $600/day; oceanepics.com]