When to Visit Cuba


When to Visit Cuba

The dry season in Cuba is from December to April and is the best time to visit. When the weather cooperates, cheap flights in May and November are also worth looking into.

Cuba is great all year round, some months are warmer and some wetter. There’s no best scenario that will suit everyone, so depending on your preferences, you might favor one season over another for your holiday in Cuba.

Seasonal Weather

Cuba officially has two seasons where the weather changes dramatically. There’s the dry season from December through April, where the island is flooded with tourists, and the wet season from May through November, where it’s flooded with rain.

These distinct periods have a clear influence on the cost of visiting Cuba, the activities you can enjoy, the humidity, the sea temperature, and the insects that you’ll encounter during your stay.

No matter the season though, food and drinks, entertainment, Internet, and transportation costs generally stay the same.

Dry Season

While tourists start coming in earnest in December, the highest peak for tourism in Cuba takes place in January, February, and March. This is when the majority of the 4,000,000 annual tourists come to visit.

December to April

These five months are a great time to visit Cuba, as you’ll experience daytime highs of 26–30°C (79–88°F) with nighttime lows of 15–18°C (59–64°F). The relatively low humidity of 75% is also the best it gets in Cuba.

The sea temperature will be a wonderful 25-26°C (77–79°F) and you’ll be guaranteed 7-9 hours of sunshine each day. Rainfall during this time is limited to 6-7 days per month, but only hovering around 40mm per month from December through March and 70mm or so in April.

You can easily imagine swimming in the warm seawater while bronzing all day and enjoy a light breeze at night over drinks at night.

Although this the cooler period, the sun is still intense so you’ll need to take be cautious of protecting your skin. Be sure you know what to pack, bring lots of sunscreen, and drink lots of bottled water too.

Upsides

The sunny, blue-sky weather is so deliciously good, you’ll wish you could eat alongside the deliciously fresh, home-grown vegetables. If you’re visiting before the end of February, you can still get tons of fresh lobster and shellfish. At times of low humidity, you might just wonder if Cuba even has mosquitoes.

  • The weather is incredible, you won’t find a better time to visit or tour around the island
  • This is harvest time, so tasty fresh vegetables like cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, onions, and carrots are found in abundance.
  • Shellfish and lobster are readily available through February.
  • If you’re looking for a blue sky day to spend at the beach, there’s one almost every day
  • The ocean calmness makes for a great time to swim and do light wind water sports
  • There’s no need to worry about hurricanes in the dry season, as they only start in June.
  • Low humidity means very few mosquitoes and other bugs to annoy you at night

Downsides

When you visit in peak season, you’re going to have to pay peak prices! Forgot about not booking in advance either, as even the mediocre casa particulars get booked up quickly. Also be sure to note that cooler water temperatures attract jellyfish, and help marine plant life grow in abundance.

  • Flights and accommodation are more expensive in peak season. They generally require advance booking and you’ll have to pay a premium to get upgrades.
  • There are tourists everywhere, so if you want a quiet place you’ll have to seek one out.
  • Cooler nights means cooler water temperatures which tend to attract jellyfish
  • Tidal floods may bring algae and seaweed to the beach, but they’re generally cleaned up quite quickly.

Festivals

The Habana Film Festival; (also known as the International Festival of New Latin American Film ) takes place in early December. Although the festival just recently passed, you can already see the 2020 award winners on IMBD.

The Havana International Jazz Festival takes place in the middle of January, but unfortunately, due to covid-19, it’s been posted now until 2022.

The Habanos Cigar Festival usually takes place in February but has been already been canceled in 2021, due to covid. You can still visit Vinales in March and April for plantation horse rides during the tobacco harvesting though.

Flights

Due to a high tourism demand, flying to Cuba in the dry season is also the most expensive. Airplane tickets from the USA to Cuba cost roughly $400 – $500 from December through March with a slight dip in late April to $300 – $350.

Accommodations

The accommodation within family-run villas, called casas particulares, costs around $25, no matter the season. but during the dry season, they get booked up quickly in advance so reservations are highly recommended.

For hotels, the prices significantly increase during peak season with high-end rooms ranging from $200 – $800 per night. It’s often best to book an all-inclusive resort at this time or look for a weekly deal to keep accommodation costs down.

Hit or Miss Season

The weather is completely unpredictable, but in general even in the rainy season though, it’s generally, always sunny in Cuba, for several hours during the day.

May to June

The humidity levels are still decent in May around roughly 75%, but it’s best to stay out of Havana where temperatures can peak at 30°C (86°F) during the day. In places like Holguin, Baracoa, or Santiago in south-eastern Cuba, the humidity can be a little less, and the temperature a few degrees lower.

November

While you can sometimes luck out with a week of great weather in September or October, it’s not something that happens every year. While still technically part of hurricane season, there have only been 3 recorded in November in the last century (1932, 2001, and 2008).

This precipitation in Cuba tapers off to around 7 rainy days in November while humidity dips below 78%. This too can be a good time to visit, but again, you have to careful as a few hurricanes do come in November too.

Wet Season

The wet season in Cuba has an abundant amount of rainy days, where 70% of the annual precipitation happens from May through November.

Hurricane season also falls during the wet season, but generally, May (cooler) and July (pretty darn hot) are quite safe, while June has had 5 hurricanes over the years and November only 3.

While it is not always wet during the rainy season, it’s usually a lot hotter as temperatures and humidity spike during this time.

June to August

As summer starts in earnest in Cuba, the daily highs average 31°C (88°F), and when the humidex pulses above 80%, it can feel like 38°C (100°F). In a concrete jungle like Havana, this is akin to sweat-bomb city.

June is also the start of hurricane season, and while they generally only arrive in August, there’s still the threat in July as well. Cyclones and hurricanes tend to start from the south, so while Havana is hot, it’s much safer in the North. You really have to be vigilant watching the weather here and only book last-minute flights if you notice a good window of opportunity.

While hurricanes don’t normally happen in July, the heat can be unbearable. Stay far away from Havana here and make sure wherever you’re going, there’s a big breeze.

September to October

The big hurricanes tend to hit land hard in September, like Irma in 2007, so this is generally a good time to stay away from Cuba. Weather, however, is unpredictable more than a few days in advance, and in 2013-2015, there were no hurricanes at all.

Rain is a given during this time though with 10-12 wet days in each of September and October and the humidity at 81%, hits its peak in October. Where possible stay away unless you have a clear window of great weather.

Upsides

The carnival is more than a good reason to visit while getting fresh lobster is divine. The low vacation pricing and the lack of overcrowding can also be a blessing at times.

  • The Havana Carnival, held in July and August, is one of the best in the world.
  • Shellfish and lobster are readily available from June onward
  • The cheap flights and accommodation can even make short trips worthwhile
  • Getting accommodation or flight upgrades will be a lot cheaper.
  • You usually won’t need to worry about booking anything in advance
  • With fewer tourists on the island, you’ll the locals to be even friendlier
  • If you’re looking for peace and quiet, you won’t have to go far
  • Warmer waters mean a lot less jellyfish and marine plant life

Downsides

A hurricane or two can certainly put more than a damper on things, but the lack of during the rainy season harvesting is a notable issue. The hot, humid weather also requires some getting used to, as do the extra bug which loves this type of weather.

  • Hurricanes, cyclones, and a lot of rain!
  • The weather goes beyond balmy and humid in the city, getting so hot, it’s almost unbearable.
  • Vegetables are mostly harvested in the dry season, so the selection won’t be as good
  • Sunscreen gets a lot more costly when you’re sweating most of it off.
  • Beach days are not guaranteed, and at times the water can get a little too hot.
  • It tends to be cloudy for many hours of the day, even when it’s not raining
  • High humidity means a lot more mosquitoes and other bugs to annoy you at night

Festivals

The summer just gets hotter when the Havana Carnival rolls into town in July/August. In late October through early November, there’s The International Ballet Festival of Havana that takes place at the Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

Flights

September through till the end of November is the cheapest time to fly to Cuba with prices from the USA hovering around $250 round-trip. September through mid-October can be a great time to book a cheap last minute trip, as at the time you’ll still get great weather for a week or two.

From May through to August, the flight prices are higher at $300 – $350 with May being the best bet for great weather.

Accommodations

Casas particulares are generally near their base price all-year-round, but the prices might drop to $15 – $20 in hurricane season. Since there’s a lot of availability across the board you can generally get the highest rated options at the same price.

During the wet season, the rates for high-end hotels is about half that of the dry season at around $100 – $400 per day. For all-inclusive resorts, you’re likely to see a 20–50% drop in pricing depending on how early you book and how good the weather might be that week.

Worst Time to Visit

If you have a certain dislike for rain, hurricanes, humidity, or sea temperature, there’s are certain times should not book a ticket to Cuba.

Hurricanes

September through October is by far the worst time to visit for rain and the sheer number of cyclones and hurricanes threaten the island. August is not much safe either with Hurricane Irma, one of the biggest to hit Cuba, forming on August 30th.

Rainy Days

It tends to rain almost 50% of the time during June, August, September, and October, while May and July are not much better at around 40%.

Precipitation during the months ranges from 150-200mm, but you’ll still get on a lot of sunny hours in between.

Humidity

August is the worst time to visit for heat, as the humidex reaches above 80% while the temperature hits 33°C (91°F). It’s not just hot and balmy either, as the island is under threat of a hurricane.

Temperature

June thought to August are bad with average daily highs of 30–33°C (86–91°F) and nighttime lows of 22–24°C (72–75°F).

The coolest months are January and February with daily highs of 24–27°C (74–81°F) and nighttime lows of 16–19°C (61–66°F), which to most might mean be the best months.

Sea Temperature

This really depends on preference. The coolest months are January through April where it’s a lovely 27°C (81°F). The hottest are August and September where the 30°C (86°F) water temperature might just feel like you’re in a hot tub.

Regional Highlights

The weather in Cuba can differ somewhat depending on where you are. When staying in Havana, you might experience different weather than say Varadero, Santiago, or Holguin.

December to April

This is Cuba’s dry season, so pretty much every spot is in Cuba is a good spot at this time. No matter which destination in Cuba you choose, it’s the best time to visit.

Due to the cooler temperatures, you can also do a fair bit more walking at this time, so be sure you know what to pack.

May to July

In Havana and Santiago, the temperatures increase rapidly so it’ll be hot hot hot. It is the start of Cuba’s wet season, but the heaviest rains don’t usually arrive until late July to August. Hotel prices are not as expensive and a great time to visit.

August to October

The cheapest months to travel to Cuba are August and September and is August is also when the Havana Carnival takes place.

This is also the wettest time of year in Cuba, but it is unusual to get days of persistent heavy rain near Havana. You’d normally see a bit of rain at the end of the day but nothing major. Temperatures will be at their most humid, and there is a higher risk of hurricanes and tropical storms.

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