The best time for a Caribbean cruise is from December to April when the weather is dry, sunny, and clear skies on most days. The ideal cruising conditions of mild temperatures and calm waters typically last throughout winter and spring, making it the prime Caribbean sailing season and very traveler-friendly. However, expect higher prices and larger crowds during these months.
If you’re on a budget, the cheapest time to cruise the Caribbean is between May and November, which overlaps with hurricane season for a few weeks. Fewer tourists visit the islands when it’s rainy, leading to significantly lower prices for Caribbean cruises, hotels, and tours.
The weather is generally pleasant all year round and cruising is possible any time. Temperatures usually remain around 80 degrees, with slight variations. Check our breakdown for more details on the best time to visit the Caribbean, whether you’re in the tropics for sailing, diving, or just relaxing on sun-kissed shores.
Dry Season in the Caribbean: December-April
Best for: Great weather, parties and festivals, outdoor activities (scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, and hiking) Expect: Higher prices, crowds, colder water in the northern islands during winter
Perfect weather in the Caribbean lasts from December to April, sometimes extending into May. Sunshine, calm waters, festivals in the winter, and spring break events make this a fun-filled time in the islands.
With no shortage of people seeking to escape the freezing winter temperatures for the holidays, December is one of the most popular times for Caribbean cruises and vacations. January and February are almost as popular, as they have the lowest risk of rainfall. However, don’t be surprised to see steeper prices during the high season.
Islands in the northern region also tend to cool down during wintertime. Beaches can even be more chilly for swimming in places like the Bahamas. While some may enjoy the cooler climate, if you want to spend more time in the water, choose warmer destinations like Aruba, Curacao, and other southern isles during early winter.
Students on spring break flock to the islands in February and March, taking the region’s infectious energy and colorful festivals up a notch. Parties are commonplace in these months.
Springtime brings with it bright and clear days in the tropics. For many people, the best months to sail in the Caribbean are March andApril, with calm seas, long sunny days, and excellent underwater visibility for divers. Cruising in the Caribbean is fantastic, especially before the scorching heat of the summer hits. Ports are also less crowded during these months compared to wintertime.
Keep in mind that rain showers get more frequent in May as spring gives way to summer and the weather becomes more turbulent. Other months are probably best if you’re planning to indulge in plenty of warm-weather activities.
Rainy Season In The Caribbean (June-November)
Best for: Lower prices, fewer tourists, turtle nesting Expect: Rainfall, high temperatures in the summer, families on vacation
Summer in the Caribbean ushers in the start of the wet season when the risks of rain, tropical storms, and the occasional hurricane are at their highest. It’s also hotter and more humid during these months, which can be uncomfortable for some travelers.
Despite the potential of a downpour, many families choose to visit during summer break, from June to August. The best time to cruise the Caribbean in the summer is in June, when rainfall is not yet as heavy as during later months.
The peak months of the hurricane season in the Caribbean are September and October. Some smaller establishments tend to shut down during this time, while others drop their prices significantly. Tourism picks up again in November as the stormy weather starts to wind down. Late November to early December is a good travel window for a quiet cruise vacation after the rains and before the Christmas rush.
Some say that the rainy days are the worst time to visit the Caribbean, but cruises and accommodations are cheaper and less crowded. Moreover, it’s not usually all dark days in the islands, even during the hurricane season. Hours of sunshine are still typical in most destinations, even though they might intersect with with sharp rain showers.
Turtle nesting season in the Caribbean takes place between June and November, so if you’re hoping to get a glimpse of turtles, this is the ideal time to visit.
The perfect time to sail the Caribbean ultimately depends on your priority: budget, weather, and activities.
Technically, the sailing season lasts all year round, with plenty of cruises and tour operators offering trips to the islands from January to December.
Regardless of the month and season, the islands are irresistible. Dazzling azure waters, white-sand shores, and lush jungles are the picture-perfect setting for a holiday cruise, whether you’re sailing to the eastern islands like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, or exploring the stunning shores of the west in the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Aruba.