September is a time of transition in Cape May and is widely considered the best month to spend down the shore (especially going by the 2018 Best of Cape May results). The temperatures get cool and comfortable and the ocean water is the warmest it will be all year. With most children back in school, the crowds become much more manageable after the busy peak summer season is over.
The last days of summer in the beginning of September are some of the most cherished days of the year in Cape May for all of these reasons. Once the peak summer visitors and vacationers have all headed back home after Labor Day, “local summer” begins.
The locals, home owners, and lucky few who vacation in September have the beaches, shops, and attractions of Cape May to themselves.
The summer season can be overwhelming down the shore. Because it is so fleeting, there can be an unspoken pressure to make the most of it – beach days, BBQs, fireworks, farmers markets, gardening, outdoor concerts, movies on the beach, and summer festivals! Even though all of these fun events make the summer so special in Cape May, the frenetic energy of the season can be exhausting. September summer days are a time to slow down, recharge, and take a breath while still enjoying amazing weather.
I look forward to these days more than any others during the year because the weather and landscape are so unique and unpredictable.
The sun is setting lower so sunsets become more intense and colorful. Also, for the past few years, there has always been a weekend or two in September when Cape May experiences extreme high tides and big swells from hurricane season.
When this happens, I know I will have the opportunity to get great photos of local surfers down at the Cove and Poverty Beach.
The weather forecast and conditions heading into the weekend of September 15th and 16th were shaping up to be ideal for the last days of September summer.
Those residing in Cape May were lucky enough to miss the major effects of Hurricane Florence, and we were forecasted to have only experience some huge surf.
I wasn’t quite sure what the sunset would bring on Saturday, September 15 since there were clouds right at the horizon line. When this occurs, it’s always hard to judge what will happen with the afterglow – will it be a dud or will the sky burst into a million different colors?
After waiting for ten minutes or so, I started to walk off the beach and head back home thinking that the afterglow wasn’t going to be much of anything.
As I got to my car I took one peak back and promptly jumped out and ran back on the beach. In that short amount of time the sky had started to explode into color. Cars and people started pulling up to the Cove to witness the afterglow.
When the summer is in full swing, it’s easy to miss out on sunset because you’re caught up in other activities by the time 8 or 9 pm comes around. With the start of earlier sunsets in September, nature starts to take center stage again and sundown becomes the main event of the day for the small island community.
The awe-inspiring sight of the last summer Saturday sunset felt like a good omen for the Fall and the Offseason. Summer was saying goodbye in epic fashion and was reminding us of the fiery brilliant skies that occur in the Fall and cooler months of the year.
I so look forward to seeing more of these sunsets and all of the other things that come with the Fall season as we march into October – a bite in the air, bike rides along the promenade, the smell of firepits drifting on a cool breeze, and a general sense of recharging and freshness throughout town.
See you on the beach in October!