By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer
Q. When is the best time to visit the Caribbean?
A. This depends on two factors: climate and price. If you are craving warmth and sunshine in the winter months, the Caribbean is hard to beat with reliably warm weather, but December to April is the high season in the Caribbean so prices are higher. By visiting out of the peak season, you will enjoy warm weather and plenty of sunshine, with considerably lower hotel prices, but higher humidity and perhaps some rain. The official hurricane season runs between 1 June and 30 November but the period of highest concern is just between mid-August and early October.
The islands that are easiest to reach, with non-stop flights from the UK, include Cuba, Antigua, Barbados and St Lucia. You can also fly with one stop en route to the Cayman Islands and Grenada, for example, and you can island-hop on local services to gems such as Anguilla, St Vincent & the Grenadines, the British Virgin Islands and Nevis.
If you’re looking for value, head to the Caribbean coast of Mexico including the resorts of Cancun, Tulum and the island of Cozumel. For something more exotic, with sensational white-sand beaches, try the Dutch island of Curaçao.
You can find some outstanding deals at the all-inclusive Sandals Resorts on superb beaches in Jamaica, Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada and Barbados. Exclusively for adult couples, they even offer over-water villa suites. If you’re travelling as a family, check out the child-friendly options at Beaches Resorts.
If you want a different kind of experience, how about renting a luxury Caribbean villa with private pool? Many of the villas are beachfront, some have a pool and they’re an inspired option for larger families or groups of friends; staff from a housekeeper to full time chef are often included too.
Media coverage might suggest that the whole of the Caribbean is regularly ravaged by hurricanes, but this is a very large region and many islands escape unscathed. As a rule, the path of most hurricanes sweeps across the northern Caribbean, over Cuba, towards the Bahamas and Florida (in late September 2022 Hurricane Ian hit Cuba and Florida). There are many islands in the southern Caribbean that are rarely affected including Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago.
If you avoid the statistically most risky period – mid August to early October – you can still enjoy relatively risk-free holidays in the official hurricane season. See our guide to the best Caribbean holidays and the hottest Caribbean islands.
You will still find great weather in June and July, and August is a popular time to visit the southern Caribbean islands, such as Barbados. I’ve also enjoyed sunny trips to the Caribbean in October and November, though you may experience short heavy rain showers in the late afternoon or evening.
Temperatures tend to remain constant throughout the year at around 29°C to 31°C. Rarely does the Caribbean get too hot, thanks to the constant sea breezes.
Know when you plan to visit? Find more detailed information about weather conditions in the Caribbean during January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December.
Month-by-month weather data for Jamaica (Northern Caribbean)
Month Average highs (ºC) Average hours of sun Average rainfall (mm) January 28 8 49 February 28 9 43 March 29 9 36 April 30 9 60 May 31 9 99 June 32 8 139 July 32 8 81 August 32 8 82 September 31 8 135 October 30 8 175 November 29 8 123 December 28 8 66
Month-by-month weather data for Barbados (Southern Caribbean)
Month Average highs (ºC) Average hours of sun Average rainfall (mm) January 28 9 61 February 28 9 46 March 29 9 47 April 30 9 63 May 31 9 118 June 31 9 152 July 31 9 122 August 31 9 154 September 31 9 176 October 30 9 180 November 29 9 161 December 28 9 94
In terms of price, the peak tourist period across the Caribbean is between Christmas and Easter. This is when most hotels put up their rates and airlines hike their fares. It’s a wonderful time to be in the Caribbean because the weather at home is usually bad, but it can get busy especially during the school holidays on popular islands such as Barbados and Antigua.
In Mexico you can find a week’s all-inclusive at a four-star hotel for less than £1,000 including flights – see a selection of the best deals.
Prices also rise from mid-July to the end of August. Not because the weather is especially good, but because this is when families want to travel. Sandals often has special offers for couples with savings of up to 40%. Families can find discounts at Beaches Resorts.
For my money, the best time to visit the Caribbean is between the end of the Easter holidays and the beginning of the summer holidays. Prices are low, beaches are uncrowded and the weather tends to be excellent. The occasional brief rain shower is even quite entertaining.
However, Jamaican-born Mandy Gore-Booth of Pilot PR reckons the best time to visit is November. “It’s the end of hurricane season, but still low-season prices and just a little bit cooler,” she explains. And, of course, the weather is usually grim at home.
What about the Bahamas and Bermuda?
The islands of the Bahamas are not officially in the Caribbean – they are in the Atlantic Ocean – but they do fall within the same hurricane belt as Cuba, Florida and the Virgin Islands. Parts of the Bahamas were devastated by Hurricane Dorian in August 2019. It is best to avoid the islands in the depths of winter – from November through February, as the weather is much cooler.
Bermuda is entirely different. This group of islands is located in the mid-Atlantic far from the Caribbean. The best time to visit is between May and October (winter is a bit too cold). March and April usually offer fine weather, but the sea can be cold if you like to swim.
See our guide to the best Caribbean holidays and information about Caribbean hurricane insurance.
For solo travellers, we recommend this luxury hotel in Barbados and – if you love spa treatments and activities – BodyHoliday in St Lucia which has rooms exclusively for solo travellers and a very welcoming atmosphere.
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Hottest Caribbean islands in JanuaryHottest Caribbean islands in FebruaryHottest Caribbean islands in MarchHottest Caribbean islands in AprilHottest Caribbean islands in MayHottest Caribbean islands in JuneHottest Caribbean islands in JulyHottest Caribbean islands in AugustHottest Caribbean islands in SeptemberHottest Caribbean islands in October
Last updated: 8 June 2023