Steeped in lush greenery, idyllic tropical beaches, and time-warped colonial towns that transport you back to the 1950s, there’s only one country in the world that could be home to such unique culture and breath taking beauty. Enter, Cuba.
With the island’s rich historical significance, UNESCO World Heritage landscapes and Caribbean climate, it’s easy to see why Cuba goes straight to the top of so many traveler's bucket lists. Perhaps you’re a total sunworshipper, enticed by the promise of crystal-clear waters and white sand beaches, or maybe it's the lively, Carnival-esque atmosphere of the coastal towns that’s drawing you in. Whatever the reason, this colourful country, known for its hospitable spirit, is ready to welcome you with open arms.
Wet and dry seasons
Whilst some may argue there really is no wrong time to visit this paradisiacal island, there are certainly some critical factors that may impact your trip to take into account, including rising and falling travel costs, mosquitoes, and most importantly, the weather.
Cuba has a subtropical climate, with both wet and dry seasons. The dry season runs from roughly November to April, and the wet season begins drizzling from around May right through until September. It’s worth considering that even during the wet season, you can still expect hot, balmy temperatures (it’s still a Caribbean island, after all) and the downpours never last too long either.
Though seemingly a 365-day oasis, Cuba does come with the risk of its hurricane season. Officially running from June until November, this may seriously alter your summer holiday plans - though the chance of a hurricane hitting the island in June or July is highly unlikely. In reality, tropical storms are only a real danger in September and October, which we would recommend avoiding to ensure a safe trip. Whilst hurricane season should indeed be taken seriously, don’t let this small threat put you off visiting this magnificent country.
So, with all of these factors to consider, it can be tricky planning a trip to this exotic island. Need some guidance on deciding on the best time to visit the land of cars, cigars and crumbling architecture? Our expert team here at good trip marketplace has pulled together the ultimate guide on visiting Cuba.
Dry season: November - April
The dry season in Cuba falls roughly from mid-November until April. And whilst the wet season does indeed have its perks (one of them being much hotter temperatures), it’s generally thought that the best time to visit Cuba is the back end of the dry season when there’s less rain, a lower risk of stormy weather and longer days to soak up the sunshine. Don't forget to take your sunglasses, cap and suncream!
It’s important to keep in mind though, that the dry season is also considered to be the peak tourist season (specifically mid-December to May) This is when prices are at their highest and crowds in the streets are the busiest. Although the average cost of one night in a casa particular (a Cuban home that’s rented out as a B&B - and the best way to experience authentic Cuban accommodation) is 30 CUC, equating to roughly 23 GBP / 28 EUR.
If it’s long days exploring Old Havana, trekking up to the mountains and adventurous diving that takes your fancy, then the dry season may just be the best time to visit for you. Here are some of our top picks of things to do during this period…
Best things to do in the dry season:
- Visit Havana - The heart and soul of Cuba, Havana is the island’s capital and the best starting point to experiencing real, authentic Cuban life. Notice how the locals welcome you, and listen out for the salsa music beating through the winding streets as you get lost in the Old Town.
- Got a little time? Take a stroll along The Malecón, Havana’s 7km famous waterfront promenade, an essential stop to take in the city’s sights.
- Get deep - The best time to dive in Cuba is between December and April, when average water temperatures are 25 degrees celsius. Cuba’s coast offers a plethora of diving spots, such as UNESCO site Jardine de la Reina, where you can spot tropical fish, dolphins, rays and even sharks.
- Viva la revolución! It’s widely known that Cubans go full out with their New Year celebrations - but these aren’t like the NYE celebrations you may know. The holiday coincides with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, with carnivals and street parties kicking off in every coastal town and village on the island.
- Ride, Sally, Ride! After the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s, the importation of American cars (and all mechanical parts) were strictly banned in Cuba, hence why being on the island feels like going back in time. And so, it wouldn’t be a trip to Cuba without experiencing at least one trip in a classic Cadillac car.
- Do you like jazz? Mid-January sees the much-loved Havana International Jazz Festival hit the town which showcases both local Cuban artists and world-renowned musicians taking to the stage.
- Bronze in Baracoa - This little-known slice of paradise is slightly off the beaten track, but absolutely worth the time it takes to trek there, thanks to its idyllic beaches, lush jungles and mouth-watering cuisine.
Wet season: May - September
The wet season is when 70% of Cuba’s rainfall occurs, but with the rain comes a lot of heat and humidity, and it rarely rains all day long, meaning this is still a great time to visit this fantastic country. Particularly if you’re looking to get a bronzed Caribbean glow, July and August are the hottest months which see temperatures rise to mid 30s°C.
July and August also tend to be very popular for tourists, as these are the summer months for a lot of travellers who are keen to revel in the delights of this Caribbean island, so expect busier beaches and more expensive flights and accommodation at this time of year.
Best things to do in the wet season:
If you’re looking to bake on the beach with a refreshing cuba libre in hand, and dash inside the rum museum during the downpours, then the wet season is the one for you. Here are our top tips for making the most of the drizzle in Cuba:
- Visit Varadero - Also known as Playa Azul (the “Blue Beach”), this beach resort town offers crystal clear waters and powder soft white sand; the perfect location to spend the day lounging and soaking up that vitamin d. Don't forget the suncream to protect yourself from the rays!
- Make a move - It’s true that salsa music can be heard bouncing off every street corner on this vibrant island. Why not do as the locals do and learn a few new moves in a local salsa class?
- See Santiago de Cuba - This city is where Fidel Castro first launched his revolution in 1953. Noticeably a more Caribbean feel than Havana, thanks to its colonial architecture, it’s carnival in July is not to be missed.
- Step back in time - It’d be a shame to visit Cuba and not learn about its fascinating modern history. Take cover from the downpours in The Museum of the Revolution in Old Havana and expand your knowledge of the country’s complicated heritage.
- Or if rum is more your tipple, pay a visit to The Havana Club Rum Museum (El Museo del Ron) to learn about the island’s most famous - and delicious - produce.
- Fancy a day trip? The mountainous Viñales Valley over on the west side of the island is world-famous for its horse riding tours, rolling tobacco plantations and Indian caves.
- Are you a night owl? Havana has a wealth of bohemian bars, cafes and clubs, that serve up ice-cold rum cocktails all night long. Make sure to order a Daiquiri like Ernest Hemingway in El Floridita (yes, this was his local), or enjoy the best mojitos in Havana at La Bodeguita del Medio.
So whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in the colourful Cuban culture, or you simply want to lap up the tropical rays, you really can’t go too wrong when visiting this beautiful island. For the best time to visit Cuba, our advice would be to think carefully about which season you’re brave enough to tackle, and consider what sort of activities you’d like to pack into your itinerary. After that, all that’s left to do is book your flights, pack your bags and prepare to fall in love with this charismatic Carribean island. You may just leave your heart there…
Want some gift ideas to remember your amazing time in Cuba, good trip marketplace has you covered! Why not treat yourself to a t-shirt, hoodie or sweatshirt with a stylish but subtle Cuban design. Or get in touch with your artistic side with a fantastic colouring book that features La Habana, Cuba.