101 Holidays

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Best time to visit the Caribbean

By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer and Editor of 101 Holidays

The best time to visit the Caribbean depends on two factors: climate and price. You want to visit in a period of good weather but out of peak season. Unless money’s no object, of course.

Generally, the time to avoid is the hurricane season which officially runs between 1 June and 30 November. However, the high-risk period is usually confined to a short period from mid-August to early October. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit Jamaica and Cuba with winds of 150mph in the first few days of October.

You will still find great weather in June and July, and many people visit in August without any problems. I’ve also enjoyed sunny trips to the Caribbean in October and November, though you may experience short 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 in the Caribbean during January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December.

In terms of price, the peak period 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 so bad, but it can get busy especially during the school holidays on popular islands such as Barbados and Antigua.

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.

You can reduce the risk of high winds and heavy rain by travelling to islands in the north of the Caribbean, away from the so-called hurricane belt. Examples include Jamaica, Cuba, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands. Find more detail on the best time to visit Barbados and the Dominican Republic.

A little further north is the Bahamas – not officially in the Caribbean – and this is good to visit in the summer (and a little too chilly for a beach holiday in December or January).

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 says 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.

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 – The BodyHoliday in St Lucia.

Last updated: 3 October 2016


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