The best time to visit the Caribbean is in the dry season, from mid-December through April. The shoulder season, May, June, July is also a great time to visit, depending on which islands you choose.
A vast region of 1,063,000 million square miles (2,753,000 square km), the Caribbean can be broadly divided into three areas, the Eastern, Western, and Southern Caribbean. Throughout the Caribbean, seasonal climate varies according to region, and that’s both advantageous for travelers and important to know.
Visiting the Caribbean By Season
Summer, part of the Caribbean’s storm season, brings increased rainfall and warm temperatures.
For a relatively rainproof summer vacation, consider Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao (the ABC Islands) located below the hurricane belt in the Southern Caribbean.
Unlike many Caribbean destinations, the ABC islands’ summer rainfall averages only about an inch per month and temperatures hover at 86℉ (30℃), reaching highs near 90℉ (32℃).
In Barbados and Antigua, summer temperatures are only a little higher than those in winter, averaging around 82℉ (28℃) with highs of 88 ℉ (31℃.) The weather gets rainier in summer, though, with Barbados receiving an average five and a half inches (140mm) in August.
Even though June, July, and August are regarded as part of the Caribbean’s official storm season, showers most often appear in short bursts in the afternoon. Summer is an excellent time to swim and snorkel when it’s sunny and to explore museums and shops when it rains.
Fall in the Caribbean is the heart of the rainy season for most destinations, although the amounts and the months with the highest rainfall differ across the region.
September is one of Jamaica’s warmest months, with temperatures averaging 84℉ (29℃). Rainfall peaks in November at just under 10 inches (254mm).
Fall temperatures average 83℉ (28℃) in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands in the Eastern Caribbean. Like many Caribbean destinations, St. Thomas experiences peak rain during the fall, with October the wettest month.
Showers generally last less than half a day in the Caribbean in fall unless there’s a big weather system passing through. When it rains, use the time to explore art galleries and shops and linger over Caribbean cocktails in a roofed bar or café.
The heart of the region’s high season is December, January, and February. A combination of sunny days, comfortable temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s, and low rainfall draws visitors. This is the best time to visit the Caribbean for reliable weather.
In Puerto Rico in the Eastern Caribbean, the average highs throughout winter remain at a pleasant 83℉ (28℃). Rainfall decreases, with February the driest month. Much of the Eastern Caribbean, including Antigua, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and St. Maarten, have similar mild temperatures and decreasing rainfall in winter.
Winter in Cozumel and Costa Maya in the Western Caribbean brings slightly cooler temperatures averaging 74℉ (23℃). Many locals find the weather too cold for swimming, but sun seekers fleeing frigid locales embrace the balmy days.
For a destination with warmer winter temperatures, consider Jamaica in the Western Caribbean, where temperatures average 84℉ (29℃).
Winter is an excellent time throughout the Caribbean for ziplining, hiking rainforests, kayaking, horseback riding, rafting, snorkeling, and other outdoor adventures, including sunning and swimming in some of the Caribbean’s best beaches.
March, April, and May are also among the best times to visit the Caribbean. Even though temperatures and rainfall increase over winter lows in some islands, visitors are rewarded with warm, sunny days that are sometimes punctuated by short bursts of rain.
In Cozumel, March and April warm up to comfortable averages of about 78℉ (25.5℃), and those months are Cozumel’s driest with precipitation averaging about 1.3 inches (33mm). Even though Cozumel’s rainfall increases a little in May, spring is a great time to snorkel and dive the island’s reefs, swim and sun, and visit Mayan ruins.
Spring in the Caribbean is a great time to swim, stroll gardens, enjoy paddleboarding, windsurfing, swimming, and other outdoor activities.
When Is Rainy Season?
The Caribbean’s rainy season runs from June through November. During those months, you can expect the most rain and the highest chances for tropical storms.
However, rainfall varies in destinations. Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao in the Southern Caribbean experience relatively little rainfall even during their wet season. On a visit to those islands in October and November, the height of the rainy season in many places, you should enjoy a relatively rain-free vacation.
Puerto Rico’s rainy season continues from April through November, with August precipitation the highest at seven inches (178mm). In St. Croix, U.S.Virgin Islands, in the Eastern Caribbean, the rainy season stretches from May through November, peaking in October with just over six inches, decreasing to 5.5 inches (140mm) in September and October.
Even in the midst of the rainy season, some destinations see a dip in rainfall. In Ocho Rios, Jamaica, July rainfall drops to about three inches (76mm) from June highs of more than four inches (103mm).
When Is High Season?
The heart of the Caribbean’s high season is December, January, and February when the region experiences both moderate temperatures and its driest months.
Because of spring holidays and generally good weather, March and April are also regarded as part of the high season.
When Is Shoulder Season?
With temperatures and rainfall increasing but not reaching summer and fall highs May, June, and July constitute the shoulder season. The weather may be more humid during these months, with the possibility of early storms passing through from the beginning of June, but this is still a good time to visit.
When Is Low Season?
Low season, August through November, corresponds with the highest rainfall and humidity. Tropical storms are a possibility. This is a good time to head to the Southern Caribbean, which is drier.
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