The weather in Cuba: what is the best time in Cuba for traveling?
Cuba is 1950s cars under the tropical sun, crumbling colonial buildings, locals smoking cigars, sipping rum and playing salsa and reggaeton music on boom boxes. It is also sultry palm trees overhanging white sandy beaches and misty jungle-covered mountains.
Cuba is known as the “no-winter island” so you can expect it to be warm. In this article we’ll give you some more tips so you know when to travel, what you need and what you should see in the time in Cuba you pick for your trip.
What is the time in Cuba like?
The Cuba weather is tropical, which means it is warm all year round. There are two distinct seasons: one that is dry, from late November to mid-April and from May to November is the rainiest time in Cuba.
Winter time in Cuba is warm in the north and can get quite hot in the south of the island. The average temperatures range from 21°C (70°F), to the average maximum temperature which is 27°C (81°F). December to February are the coolest months so it is the popular time to visit Cuba, so the island can get crowded and prices can go up.
In the summer months, from June to August, Cuba gets very hot and temperatures can reach 38°C (100°F) with extreme humidity. There can be a lot of rain, and beaches can also be crowded as it is school holiday time.
Being a tropical island, Cuba does have a season when there can be hurricanes or serious tropical storms, usually in September and October, but the Cuban authorities are good at managing these.
Weather in Cuba by month
Cuba weather in January
January is the coldest time in Cuba (without being actually cold). The average high temperature is 26ºC. The lowest, 16ºC. This month falls into the dry season, so there’s usually not a lot of rain.
Weather in Cuba in February, March and April
The Cuba weather in February is still cool, with high temperatures averaging 27ºC and low temperatures of 17ºC, and the same can be expected in March. However, the heat starts to pick up in April, with the average high temperatures reaching 30ºC and the lows climbing to 19ºC.
These three are also the driest months in Cuba. If you like bird watching, the best time to visit Cuba will be around March.
Cuba weather in May, June, July, August and September
May and June comprise the low season for traveling in Cuba.
August is both the hottest and rainiest month of the year. If you travel in July and/or August, you’ll notice that the beaches are packed with people: that’s because all the locals are on holiday around this time in Cuba. This is also the time in Cuba in which the hurricane season starts, and it lasts through November.
The average temperatures for all of these months are the same: a high of 32ºC and a low average of 23ºC.
Weather in Cuba in October
The weather in Cuba in October is still hot, but not as much as during the previous months. It’s also a contender for the best time to go to Cuba as the weather is nice but it’s not the high season yet, so the prices haven’t reached their maximum. However, since the hurricane season still hasn’t ended, you run the risk of encountering a tropical storm.
You can expect high temperatures surrounding 30ºC and lows of 22ºC.
Cuba weather in November
The weather in Cuba in November starts to get colder. This month marks the end of the hurricane season and the start of the high season for tourism, so the trip will be a bit costlier.
The typical high temperature in November is 28ºC and the low, 19ºC.
Cuba weather in December
December is considered the best time to travel to Cuba: around the holidays, Cuba receives the biggest influx of tourists, especially from countries in the Northern hemisphere that wish to escape the winter. You can expect the highest prices at this time in Cuba.
The usual high temperatures reach 28ºC and the coldest, 18ºC.
When is the best time to visit Cuba?
If you are traveling to Cuba to do outdoor activities such as trekking and wildlife watching, November to March is a good time as migratory birds can be seen in the island. There are around 370 species of birds that can be spotted in Cuba. If you go during these months you could climb Pico Turquino, Cuba's highest mountain at 1974 meters (6476 feet) above sea level. Look out for the Cuban Trogon, Cuba's national bird, which has red, white and blue, the colors of the national flag.
The Varadero Cuba weather is usually at its peak during July and August so, if you want to visit this area at this time, make sure you book ahead. The same goes for all the main beach towns in Cuba, like Cayo Coco.
If you plan to travel in April, the rain will have died down a bit and it will be warm but not too hot, so you can still enjoy some beach time. During Semana de la Victoria, or Victory Week, which happens in mid-April, Cubans take holidays to celebrate the Castro victory in 1961, so this week and Easter week may be crowded.
September is the low season in Cuba and can be cheaper than other months and also less crowded. Casas Particulares, local homes that double up as guest houses, can be particularly affordable during this time. These can be good places to stay as you get a flavor of real Cuban lives and in paladares, local restaurants run by families, food is immeasurably better than in hotels or government run restaurants.
The best festivals in Cuba
Havana Jazz Festival
This international jazz festival gathers artists from all around the world and has been running since 1997 and has become a legendary festival for jazz lovers. In 2023 the festival will be held in January.
The Havana Biennial is an arts festival founded in 1984 that features many “non-western” artists and artists from the Global South. A treat for art lovers as Havana fills up with art for a whole month. The Biennial happens every two years but suffered changes due to the pandemic.
This festival celebrates one of Cuba's main exports; cigars. The festival hosts conferences, cultural events related to cigars and trade fairs. A true feast for cigar lovers. The upcoming dates have not been announced yet.
Santiago de Cuba Carnival
Santiago is Cuba's second biggest city and the host of this famous and traditional carnival. Santiago explodes with color, drumming and dance at the end of July to coincide with Cuba's national holiday on the 26th of July. Watch the street parades called comparsas, congas and paseos.
What to pack when you travel to Cuba
- Travel insurance for Cuba is mandatory, so make sure you have your insurance sorted out before you go! Since it’s part of the Cuba entry requirements, every traveler has to comply.
- Check that you have all the necessary paperwork ready and keep your Cuba Tourist Card safe as you will need it to leave the country.
- Streets in Cuba can be uneven, so a backpack might be a better idea than a suitcase for your trip.
- Pack all your best swimwear for beach time on the amazing beaches of the island, some of the best places to visit in Cuba.
- There are many shortages of basic items in Cuba, so make sure you pack toilet paper, sunscreen and any over-the-counter medicines you might need.
- Make sure you pack mosquito repellent as zika and dengue are still risks in Cuba.