Are there really “best and worst” times to visit the Caribbean? Depending on what you hope to do there, there certainly are! Before you make plans to visit, it’s a good idea to be familiar with Caribbean weather patterns, and to be aware when peak tourist season begins. Knowing what to expect during your vacation can help you avoid uncomfortable situations, or too many rainy days.
The best time to visit the Caribbean, weather-wise
Most tourists would agree that the best time to visit the Caribbean is during the dry season, or January through April. These are the months that receive the least amount of rainfall, in almost every Caribbean country. If you choose to visit during this time, you can expect to enjoy mainly sunny weather for most of your vacation, if not every day.
If you’re looking for the best combination between low rainfall and warm temperatures, head to the Caribbean in April, June, or July. The month of May tends to bring a brief rainy season in many Caribbean countries.
The worst time to visit the Caribbean, weather-wise
The worst time to visit the Caribbean, as far as weather goes, is in September and October. That’s because this is peak hurricane season in the Caribbean. However, not all Caribbean countries are susceptible to tropical storms and hurricanes during those months. In fact, seven Caribbean countries are virtually hurricane free.
In addition, keep in mind that some Caribbean islands experience less rainfall than others. For example, the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) experience the least amount of rain year round of all the Caribbean islands. So, technically you could travel to those countries any time during the year and expect mainly sunny weather.
You may wonder if there are any advantages to traveling to the Caribbean during September and October. There certainly are! The main advantage is that this is the tourist “low season” in the Caribbean. It’s the time of year when excursions aren’t overbooked, hotels and beaches aren’t crowded, and the best vacation villas are still available to rent.
Is the water always warm in the Caribbean?
If you want to spend most of your time on the beach while visiting the Caribbean, the best time for you to visit is probably when the waters are warm! The Caribbean Sea is generally warmest during the spring and summer months (April to August).
However, many people love to book their Caribbean vacation during the winter months, in order to escape the cold weather of their home countries. Some people might find the ocean water a bit chilly from December to February, especially if cold trade winds are blowing. So, if you want to travel during the winter, head farther south, to islands such as St. Lucia, Barbados, and Antigua.
Does it ever get too hot in the Caribbean?
Obviously, the answer to that question depends mainly on what you define as hot. While the average temperature year round in the Caribbean hovers around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it does get a bit more toasty in the summer months. The southernmost islands, such as Antigua, Barbuda, and Barbados usually experience the hottest weather.
Here’s a chart showing monthly high temperatures in some of the most popular Caribbean destinations:
Does it ever get too cold in the Caribbean?
Again, this depends largely on your preferences. However, Caribbean temperatures won’t drop much lower than 70 Fahrenheit, even in the winter. Here’s an example of average monthly temperature in Antigua and Barbuda:
Best Caribbean destinations by month
In case your vacation plans are limited to a certain time of year, here are some tips about the best and worst Caribbean countries to travel to by month.
If you want to spend most of your time in the water, head to the southernmost Caribbean islands, like St. Lucia and the Cayman Islands. Otherwise, you might find the ocean too chilly up north, in places like the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.
In February, temperatures at night in the Caribbean tend to be cooler. You may not even need a fan or air conditioning. The average water temperature of the Caribbean Sea is about 78 degrees Fahrenheit. If that sounds a bit too chilly, book your trip to a southern Caribbean island, such as Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Aruba, or St. Lucia.
If you are easily irked by crowds, avoid “popular” Caribbean destinations like Cancún and Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) during March. Not only will tickets be pricier, but restaurants and beaches may be packed.
There are several reasons why so many people visit the Caribbean in March. One reason is Spring Break, and another is low rainfall and warming temperatures. We suggest traveling to “off the radar” countries like Anguilla, Dominica, St. Barts, and Curacao during these months. You’ll get the same great weather without the crowds!
Like March, April is a popular month to travel to the Caribbean. Many people get time off around Easter, and the warm weather and low rainfall experienced by most Caribbean countries during this time is definitely a plus. If you don’t mind crowds, you can head to practically any island and expect good weather in April. However, you may get the most out of your vacation if you choose a “less-visited” country.
While May weather is mostly favorable, it does represent a short rainy season for many islands. You can avoid rain showers by choosing the driest country, Aruba, or its neighbors, Bonaire and Curacao.
In general, June in the Caribbean is sunny and warm. However, skip Belize, Costa Rica the Bahamas in June if you want to avoid rain, since these countries get an average of 8 to 10 inches of rainfall. A safe bet for less rain are the ABC islands– Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao.
July marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season in the Caribbean. The Bahamas, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, and St. Lucia all get plenty of rain. Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, the Virgin Islands, and Antigua fare a bit better.
During August, tropical storms make their appearance in the Caribbean. Every country will get at least 4 inches of rain, with the exception of the ABC islands.
September and October
The weather is warm during September and October in the Caribbean, but these months have the worst track record of all months for hurricanes in the Caribbean. We suggest traveling to an island that is rarely, if ever, affected by these storms, such as Bonaire, Barbados, and Curacao.
Finally, the rain begins to let up in most Caribbean countries once November rolls around. However, it’s the heaviest rainfall month for St. Maarten.
Although November is technically part of the hurricane season, big storms are rare, so you can visit almost any country without fear.
The hurricane season is officially over in December, and all islands begin to receive less rain. However, temperatures begin to drop, making the ocean a bit chilly for some. Head south to the Virgin Islands, Barbados, or Curacao if you prefer hotter weather and warmer water.