You’ve been scanning the travel pages; your ideal itinerary is duly noted; your savings are almost there, and you’re excited to book your ‘once in a lifetime’ Caribbean adventure. Question is: when is the perfect time to visit? After all, you don’t want to get there and then the weather spoils your dream plans.
The Caribbean is a truly ‘tropical’ paradise and has over 700 islands for you to discover and explore. Each has its own distinctive character, with gorgeous surroundings and lots to see and do, as well, of course, chilling on those glorious white sands or relaxing by the pool.
So, when is the best time to travel to the Caribbean? This really does depend on where in the Caribbean you want to visit, what you want to do, and essentially what your budget is. When it comes to weather, this destination does have one of the preferable climates in the world, with temperatures averaging between 24-29°C throughout the year. It’s therefore not too hot and not too cold, yet it does rain and can get breezy in certain months. The northern islands are also in the hurricane path during the hurricane season.
Of course, if you want to avoid the crowds and don’t mind a bit of rain, you may prefer to go out of the preferential season and get your holiday at a better price. You may want to go wildlife watching, and there are better times to go to see the nesting turtles and migrating birds. Or you may be planning your honeymoon and your focus is on relaxing and sunbathing on one of the ‘picture book’ white sandy beaches. With this in mind, the perfect time to travel will alter depending on your agenda.
Before you book your vacation, we recommend you consider the seasons, as this can be a significant factor in determining, when is the best time to travel to the Caribbean. There are also slight weather variables depending on if you are going to the northern or southern islands, including temperature, rainfall and risk of a hurricane in certain months. On some Islands, the offshore winds can also make it feel colder at times.
High season in the Caribbean is typically from December to April, as this is the time to enjoy lovely warm sunny days, blue skies, with a low humidity and comfortably cooler evenings. From May to June you can expect higher temperatures and it is more humid, with a risk of the odd daily shower.
Wanting to visit the Greater Antilles Islands, such as Jamaica or the Dominican Republic? Here the high season tends to be from Christmas until Easter and it can get quite busy and pricey. May to July is also a good time to take a trip, as is November when it is a bit lower in temperature.
Aruba is on the up and becoming increasingly popular. Whilst the weather here is tropical, it isn’t extreme and tends to have a consistent temperature of 28°C. Also, with its trade winds, the weather feels a lot more comfortable for sunbathing on the beach. The rainy season here tends to be October to January.
Next on our list: when is the best time to visit the Caribbean island of Barbados? In our humble opinion, it has to be early spring, whereby the season dictates lots of sunshine and comfortable heat with the least chance of rain. March is perfect for a beach break. Alternatively, if action and sightseeing is more your thing, then the cooler winter months are ideal. When we say ‘cool’, we still mean around 26°C.
Hurricane Season in the Caribbean
If you’re planning on taking a trip to the Caribbean between June and November then you’ll need to have hurricane season on your radar, with August and September being the riskier months. If however, you want to take advantage of the much lower hotel and cruise rates, there are two reassuring facts worth noting. One: even though hurricanes are vast, they cannot pass each and every island in the region. Two: some of the islands very rarely get hit, so are safer bets.
One of the better places to visit during the hurricane season is Aruba. This Island is part of the ABC Islands previously known at the Dutch Antilles. This group of islands are situated south-east of the Caribbean and has the least number of recorded hurricanes. Other Caribbean islands not normally in the hurricane pathway are Barbados, Grenada and Tobago.
So when is the best time to visit the Caribbean in the hurricane season? It may be worth knowing that each year there are typically between eight and eleven hurricanes and depending on where you go, you can negate the risk. In Cancun in Mexico, the hurricane season tends to be from September to December, although major hurricanes are rare, occurring every couple of years or so. So this destination can be a good ‘out of season’ contender, particularly if you have a lower budget.
If you do decide to travel during the Caribbean hurricane season, please go prepared. Whilst some of the islands are unlikely to bear the brunt of the hurricanes, it can still happen. We recommend you get travel insurance that, in the event, will cover travel and safe accommodation expenses.
Once you're there, if you see a weather report indicating a hurricane to the west of you, its most likely to be going away, as nearly all hurricanes in this region move from east to west.
Wildlife Watching in the Caribbean
Weighing up the quieter and therefore cheaper times to visit, against the climatic conditions, early December and early May are probably the better months to take a trip.
In fact, some of the more mountainous islands, such as St Lucia and Dominica, are better for wildlife safaris and adventures during these months, as it’s a lot quieter. Both these destinations are the Caribbean’s birding hotspots. As well as these two islands, the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis are fantastic destinations for turtle watching, with May being the peak month to witness the turtles coming up the sandy beaches to lay their eggs.