Cuba is one the largest Caribbean islands, a country in its own right with beautiful beaches and age-old traditions found on every corner. Those who have visited know that the music coming from the city squares and lush green valleys are a rarity in this day and age, making the country all the more alluring. Who wouldn’t want to visit? You may be going for the perfect Caribbean beaches and delicious Cuban cuisine, the relaxed Havana street-side ambiance or even just to try out cigars from their original home. If you really want to take advantage of your time there then definitely plan in some time to visit the small town of Vinales and cycle around the edges of Santiago de Cuba for stunning views.
If this wonderful country is on your bucket list and you’re wondering when the best time to visit Cuba is, let Travelstart help! We’ve compiled a guide on all you need to know, including the hottest months, the rainiest days to watch out for and the best festivals that you wouldn’t want to miss!
Cuba has a tropical climate, with a dry and wet season. There is also a period of slightly cooler days and another of extra hot and humid days. Choosing the best time to visit Cuba would certainly be during its dry season which falls between the months of December and March. During this time, you will enjoy warm, breezy days with temperatures that range in the late 20°Cs, perfect for all of your beach days and touring the cities and towns in shorts and flipflops. The wet season in Cuba falls between May and November and whereas before this was not such a popular time to visit, many now choose this time to visit Cuba.
The dry season
Between the months of December and March, there is culture and music on every corner and you’re bound to fall in love with this country! Average daytime highs range at around 27°C and there is a freshness in the air that matches the perfect blue skies. Head to the beaches on the coast and soak up the sun or plan to walk the streets of Havana.
The wet season
A season that was previously overlooked, the wet season of Cuba is a great alternative to those hoping to save a bit. The wet season falls between May and November and this may be the best time to visit Cuba if you’re happy to put up with a couple of wet and hot, humid days. Since the increase in popularity to visit Cuba, this season is now a great alternative to the dry season as it only gets really wet around the months of June and July. Average temperatures range around 31°C.
The really wet and humid days don’t come until June and July. So, if you’re keen on visiting the many UNESCO Heritage Sites, museums and historical buildings that are found in this glorious country, then you should definitely consider this period. The beginning of the wet season is also ideal for valley and farm tours, where you will experience the raw beauty of this lush country. You can opt for tours that centre around coffee, bananas and most famous in Cuba – cigars!
Average temperatures for Cuba
What to pack
There is so much to see and do in Cuba and with warm temperatures yearlong, packing for your trip will be easy-peasy. You won’t need much to enjoy your time there, but make sure to pack the essentials!
- Shorts, a few T-shirts and a dress or two
- Set of slightly warmer pants and a light jacket/cardigan (for cooler nights)
- Small day bag for your essentials when doing tours
- Sun hat
- Sarong to use as a coverup over swimwear
- Flip flops
- Quick-dry towel for beach days
- Walking shoes for hikes
- Camera and portable charger
- Water bottle
Dry season: 10 – 11 hours
07:00 to 18:00
You may be surprised to know that during the dry season in Cuba, there are fewer daylight hours than during the wet season. This is because, though its dry and mostly warm, the cooler season of the country falls between the months of December and March, with January sometimes experiencing lows of 15°C on occasion. Make sure to pack that light jacket and long pants for early mornings and late evenings!
Wet season: 12 – 13.5 hours
07:00 to 20:00
How would we describe the wet season in Cuba? Hot, humid and of course, wet! The days are quite a bit longer during the wet season and this is ideal for travellers that are less interested in the beach and more keen on city and village sightseeing – a bit of rain won’t hurt anybody! Remember though that Cuba is at risk of occasional hurricanes during the wettest months of the year – June and July.
Cuba and its gorgeous Caribbean coast are well-known for its beaches such as Playa Paraiso and Varadero. Visitors to the country make sure to take full advantage of the topaz sea water for swimming and enjoying some snorkelling and scuba diving. Sea temperatures are fantastic all year long, ranging from 24°C in January to 29°C in August. If you’re looking for the best time to visit Cuba for days spent swimming along the coastal beaches then you’re certainly in luck with these great temperatures!
How much are flights to Cuba?
High season – November to March
With its tropical coastline and charming cities, Cuba is becoming more and more popular as a travel destination. Flights during the high season (November to March) can be a bit more expensive than the rest of the year and with hotel accommodation and tours all inclusive, you could be paying out quite a bit, up to 20 – 30% more than during the low season.
Low season – April to October
The low season has become a cheaper alternative for travel to Cuba, and there’s always loads to see and do in the country with tours and day treks available all year round. Flights are more affordable during the shoulder season between April and May, and up to 40% cheaper during the wet months of June and July.
Annual events in Cuba
Havana Jazz Festival (January)
This prestigious event is the most famous jazz festival in Cuba, leading for its 34th year! The festival runs for four days towards the end of the month and is a must-see attraction. Prominent local and international artists fly into the country to perform, and if you’re unable to catch the main shows across the city’s venues, don’t fret. The festival can also be enjoyed on the streets of Havana, with many free and impromptu performances for everyone to enjoy.
Habano Cigar Festival (February)
Cuba is world famous for its cigars and this festival is dedicated to it! Cigar-lovers from across the world flock to the capital city of the country and rejoice with the best selection of cigars and all things related. There are tours to the plantations, gala dinners, trade fairs and so much more, making this event a contender on deciding when the best time to visit Ciba is! Get your smoke jacket on and enjoy this wonderful event.
Havana & Santiago de Cuba Carnival (July)
Light the streets and get ready to dance with Cuba’s most famous carnivals! Each city hosts its own carnival, and each try to outdo the other with the number of floats, dancers and spectacular costumes on display. The carnivals last for a week each and are celebrated from early on during the day into late at night. You can also look forward to a wide array of food stalls selling the most tasty Cuban food that you can find.
International Ballet Festival of Havana (November)
You may be surprised to know that one of the world’s oldest ballet festivals is held in Cuba! The event is exclusively dedicated to ballet and held every two years in Havana’s grand theatres. Those in attendance will see some of the globe’s best performers and choreographers in action as the festival has been gathering only the best since the 1960s. The festival runs for one week.
Las Parrandas de Remedios (December)
One of the biggest and most characterful festivals in all of Cuba, Las Parrandas de Remedios is held in the town of the same name every December. Expect fireworks, loud parades, and a non-stop celebration over the Christmas period, from the 16th to the 24th of December annually. The town is divided into two ‘rival’ clans, and on the 24th you can enjoy the ‘rival rumba’ between the two with dancing and loads of entertainment!
Allow your dream of visiting this magical country to become a reality with cheap flights to Cuba! South Africans will need to apply for their Cuban visa to visit but don’t worry, we’ve got that information sorted for you too so that all you have to think about is the best time to visit Cuba for you and your travel party!
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Featured image courtesy of @omarmartinez5034 via Instagram