Travellers have tended to avoid the Caribbean in summer. But the tropical tide seems to be turning. There was a 48% increase in air travel to the Caribbean between June and August 2023 compared to the same period in 2019. So, why are holidaymakers changing course and setting their summer holiday sights on the Caribbean? Whether you’re planning a family getaway, have got festival fever or simply want to avoid the crowds, these idyllic islands have plenty to offer in the peak holiday months. And while it might rain a little, the Caribbean is still suitably sun-soaked during the summertime, so you won’t miss out on the much-needed vitamin D.
Those six weeks away from the classroom are a long-awaited luxury that shouldn’t be wasted. When it’s time to swap school bags for suitcases, your thoughts will naturally turn to the sun-kissed beaches of Europe. But the Caribbean in summer is an unexpected contender for a school holiday to remember. Little ones can live out their desert island daydreams, playing pirates on pristine, sugary sands and hunting for buried treasure. The sea is typically tranquil, perfect for paddling (by foot or vessel) or practicing a new swimming stroke. And at an average of 28 degrees, the bath-like water is blissfully warm. Adjacent to those world-beating beaches, all-inclusive resorts offer a medley of made-for-families accommodation and activities, meaning the grown-ups can take it easy knowing there’s plenty to keep all ages entertained. The summer is also turtle-nesting season in the Caribbean, so if you’re lucky you might get to spot hatchlings making their way across the sand to the ocean. They definitely won’t see that at school.
At first glance the forecast might put you off planning a trip to the Caribbean in summer. While June, July and August all fall in the rainy season, that doesn’t mean non-stop, holiday-hampering downpours. Instead, you can expect blue skies and sunshine in the morning, before the clouds gather and a tropical storm appears in the afternoon. Sandwiched by sunshine, storms are usually short and intense (just long enough for an indoor nap) and are always followed by a fabulous sunset. Summer also marks the start of the hurricane season, which runs from the beginning of June to the end of November. Historically, the season peaks from August onwards, however by their very nature hurricanes are tricky to predict. In general, the northern Caribbean is hardest hit, with the southern islands considered the safest. Heavy rains and hurricanes are always something to consider if you want to visit the Caribbean in summer. But don’t let the potential weather deter you. There’s plenty of sunshine to savour between showers. And paradise is still paradise, even when it pours. For the best chance of staying dry, stick to the islands in the south, including the ABCs of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, or Trinidad and Tobago.
High season in the Caribbean falls between December and April when conditions are warm and dry – ideal for winter or springtime sunseekers. That winning weather also means the holidaymaking crowds are at their height. Meanwhile, when Europe and North America bask in the seasonal warmth of July and August, fewer travellers feel the pull of paradise; the Caribbean in summer has historically been more popular with those on a pilgrimage to peace and quiet. Evolving travel trends may have blurred the lines between high and low season, with increasing numbers visiting year-round. But summer is still the best time for your trip if you want to avoid the crowds. Because it’s hard to beat that beach-almost-to-yourself buzz, something that can seem as elusive as a unicorn during a European summer.
Summer is the season of carnivals and festivals in the Caribbean, celebrating culture, history, food, music and more. From the six-week extravaganza of Crop Over Festival in Barbados (more than 200 years old, this event originally marked the end of the sugar cane harvest) to the dancing and drums of St Lucia’s eponymous carnival in July, the islands burst into local life in the Caribbean in summer. Vibrant, varied and vividly colourful, attending a carnival or festival is your ticket to experiencing a more authentic slice of Caribbean soul. To revel in the region’s most famous musical export, plan your visit for July and head to Reggae Sumfest in Jamaica, the home of reggae. This distinctly Caribbean sound is on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage list. And there’s no better place to hear it than at the genre’s foremost festival.
Low season typically means lower prices. So, if you’re planning a trip to the Caribbean and want to enjoy more for your money, summer is the season to save. Whether that means splashing out on a few more luxuries, or enjoying an extra week in the sun, it’s always nice knowing your budget is going a little further.
Header Image by Aaron Colussi