Wondering when’s the cheapest time to visit the Caribbean? While it’s possible to find deals all year round you’ll make great savings if you travel outside of the peak tourist months.
Visiting the Caribbean needn’t cost a fortune. In fact, if you time your trip wisely you’ll save significantly. Hotel (and villa) rates can be as much as 50% higher in peak season. And for travel during any school holiday period, you’ll pay a premium for flights. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to save on a Caribbean vacation, both before you go and while you’re there.
This guide will give you the lowdown on the cheapest times to visit as well as hints and tips about traveling to the Caribbean on a budget.
The Caribbean experiences a warm, tropical climate throughout the year. Weather patterns vary from season to season but one thing that remains consistent is that it never gets cold in the Caribbean. The seasons are divided into two main types; the dry season which runs from mid-December to mid-April and the rainy season which runs through the rest of the year. In addition there are two ‘shoulder’ seasons in the spring and autumn, plus a hurricane season which peaks from late August through September.
The dry season
Visit the Caribbean during the dry season and you can expect gloriously sunny weather pretty much guaranteed. The high season for tourism, it’s a time when visitors flock in to escape the northern winter. This peak season period is them most expensive time to visit the Caribbean, with prices soaring in some resorts. If you want to visit in peak season, check out price fluctuations from one week to the next. The highest prices and heaviest demand occur around Christmas, New Year, Spring Break and Easter. Luckily prices fall from mid-April and stay low through summer and fall.
The rainy season
The Caribbean’s tropical climate means hot sun, high humidity and frequent rain showers through the summer months. From around mid-April temperatures start to creep up with highs reaching the 90s in July and August. Due to the high humidity and risk of rain (and storms) this is the low season for tourism and the cheapest time to visit the Caribbean. Note that prices creep up a bit from mid July until the end of August, not because the weather is especially good, but because families wish to travel during the school holidays.
The shoulder seasons
If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, there are two ‘shoulder’ seasons when you’re likely to get great weather and cheaper prices. Many vacationers consider these in-between months to be the best time to visit the Caribbean. The first shoulder season occurs in late spring and the second in late fall – and both offer warm and relatively dry weather with fewer tourists around. The shoulder seasons are a great time to get cheap deals on flights and accommodation whether you book in advance or last-minute.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June to November and is the quietest time of year for tourism in the region. Many travellers are put off by the threat of storms, making this the cheapest time to travel to the Caribbean. Statistically speaking, the high risk period is mid-August through early October when many resorts offer their cheapest rates of the year. If you’re intent on traveling at this time, opt for one of the Caribbean’s southern islands as these are the least likely to see tropical storms.
The cheapest time to visit the Caribbean, month-by-month
If you’re visiting the Caribbean in April you’ll enjoy cheaper prices than the preceding months, especially from mid-April after Easter and Spring Break. The weather is almost as good as in peak season, but the beaches are uncrowded and the islands are generally quieter. The sun shines all day during this shoulder season month and daily temperatures are warm but not too hot. To avoid the risk of rain, opt for an island in the southern Caribbean such as Aruba, Barbados or Trinidad and Tobago where rainfall levels are lower over the course of the month.
With great weather and low prices, May offers excellent value for money in the Caribbean. The start of the hurricane season is still a way off and rainfall levels are low on many islands so you’re likely to enjoy a fantastic vacation. Note that May brings with it a brief rainy season on some of the eastern islands, particularly Dominica, Martinique and St. Lucia. If you’re worried about rain, opt for one of the drier islands in the south. Events-wise, the Crop Over Festival kicks off in Barbados for two months of lively festivities. There’s also the Grenada Chocolate Festival and the Sint Maarten Carnival.
June marks the start of the official hurricane season making it one of the cheapest times to visit the Caribbean. Some islands like Belize, Costa Rica and Cozumel see up to 11 inches of rain through the month. On the up side, the southern islands are less rainy making them ideal for a summer vacation. Most schools are still in session through June which means low season prices – a big attraction for vacationers on a budget. Across the islands, temperatures range from the high 70s to the high 80s in the day, with sea temperatures in the 80s.
July is the second month of the low season and is a good time to visit the Caribbean if you’re looking to save. Bear in mind that although July is considered as part of the hurricane season, it’s rare for hurricanes to strike the Caribbean before September. If you’re traveling to the Caribbean at this time of year (hello, summer holidays) expect a few tropical thunderstorms especially in the afternoons. Note that most rain showers occur in short, sharp bursts and are quickly followed by sunny skies. Look out for Reggae Sumfest in Jamaica, Antigua’s Summer Carnival, and Crop Over Festival in Barbados.
If you’re visiting the Caribbean in August you can expect to find plenty of cheap deals. It’s the height of the summer which means high heat and humidity, plus it’s well into hurricane season so you should definitely plan for some thunderstorms. Though the hurricane tag may sound alarming there are numerous islands that are not in the hurricane belt. These include Barbados, St Vincent, the Grenadines, Grenada, the ABC islands, Barbados and the islands off Venezuela. While it’s not unheard of, hurricanes in these areas are definitely few and far between.
September is one of the quietest and cheapest times to visit the Caribbean. It’s the height of the hurricane season and it’s the month with the highest levels of rainfall. While the odds of your vacation being affected by a storm are highest in September, the chances of a serious hurricane hitting are still statistically low. And by choosing the right island you can reduce the risk further. If you don’t mind the rain you can enjoy a super-cheap Caribbean vacation in September.
Another cheap time to visit the Caribbean, October is hot and humid. Although some visitors may find the humidity high, it is broken by rainstorms that occur mostly in the late afternoon and evenings. There are rarely any full days of rain in October and there’s still around 8 hours of sunshine a day so you should get some sunbathing in. Not only is October one of the cheapest times to visit the Caribbean, it’s also a great time to travel if you don’t want to share your resort with lots of other tourists.
November marks the second shoulder season of the year and is a good time to travel if you want a deal. You’re guaranteed some winter sun, and with no school holidays in the diary, beaches, hotels and aircraft are likely to be calm. Many resorts offer tempting discounts in November which is traditionally a quiet window ahead of the Christmas rush. For events, look out for Divali in Trinidad, the Food & Rum Festival in Barbados, and Restaurant Week in Jamaica.
From mid-December it’s peak season (and peak prices) in the Caribbean although you might find some deals at the start of the month. Some resorts try to tempt vacationers with deals ahead of the busy Christmas rush. Weather-wise it’s warm and dry with little chance of any thunderstorms. You can spend long, lazy days topping up your tan, or head out and explore the local attractions. Look out for the many fun events taking place across the Caribbean in December. There’s Rasta Rootzfest in Jamaica, Bachata Festival in the Dominican Republic, and the National Carnival in St. Kitts.
So, which month should I choose?
Taking into account the weather, cost and crowds, the shoulder seasons offer the best value for money. The weather is almost as good as in peak season, but vacation prices are significantly less. Time you trip carefully for late spring or early fall and you’re likely to enjoy a glorious Caribbean vacation for a lot less than you’d pay in peak season. If you’re tied to the school holidays consider visiting during the May half term when airfares can work out cheaper than other school holidays, or in mid-August when there’s a big price drop.
Other ways to save
Getting the best value from your Caribbean vacation isn’t all about just timing your trip right. There are other factors to consider that could see you slashing the cost of your trip considerably. Check our tips and tricks for traveling to the Caribbean on a budget.
Pick the right island
Some islands are cheaper to visit than others on account of their greater concentration of resorts vying for business. For example, you’re more likely to find cheap deals in resort-heavy spots like Barbados, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, than in more exclusive destinations like St. Barts or Antigua. Also bear in mind that southern islands such as Aruba, Curacao and Trinidad & Tobago are outside the hurricane zone and do not see as marked a price drop as those on the storm path.
Look out for cheap deals
If you’re visiting the Caribbean outside of the school holidays you’re most likely to find cheap deals. There are easy ways to find great-value flights using flight comparison websites such as Skyscanner, and if you’re willing to be flexible with which days of the week you can travel you’re likely to get a better deal. Sign up for newsletters from a few of your favorite airlines and you’ll get updates about introductory discounts and flash sales before anyone else.
Pack everything you need
Don’t visit a Caribbean island without all of your holiday essentials as it will cost you way over the odds to buy them out there. Sunscreen, toiletries and anything else that’s not manufactured there has to be imported which means you might be forking out a small fortune for things that would have cost you just a few dollars at home.
Book self-catering accommodation
If you’re looking at the cheapest time to visit the Caribbean, you’re probably looking at ways to save on accommodation too. Staying in a flashy hotel definitely isn’t a money saving idea. You’re better off opting for self-catering accommodation in one of the many family friendly resorts. Vacation rentals in the Caribbean aren’t as expensive as you might think, especially if you’re staying during the low season. For example, you can rent a spacious 4-person apartment in Christ Church, Barbados from around $190 per night.
Split the cost with friends
Whether you’re renting a beachfront condo or a clifftop mansion, splitting travel costs among a group can not only save money, but make a vacation more fun. This 8-person villa in Jamaica is right on the beach and comes complete with a private pool, watersports equipment and a team of attentive staff. Prices start from $495 per night (off-peak) which may sound a lot but it’s just $62 per person if you’re splitting the cost 8 ways. You can split other bills too like taxis and tour guides, these are the best way of getting around most Caribbean islands.
Look out for cheap activities
No matter where you’re going in the Caribbean you’ll find plenty of cheap and free things to do. Days spent at the beach or exploring the local sights don’t have to be expensive, and if you pack a picnic instead of eating out you’ll make significant savings. Many islands have historic buildings, botanical gardens, wildlife reserves and national marine parks that charge nominal amounts (if anything at all) for entry.
Sign up for deals
Sign up for a free newsletter with a Caribbean specialist like Top Villas and you’ll be the first to know about special offers and money-saving tips. Many vacation rentals in the Caribbean are available for cheap prices during the sales which means you can stay in style for a lot less. Also, keep an on the latest deals and special offers here.
Drink the local tipple
If you’re drinking imported alcohol in the Caribbean you’ll be paying a premium. To save cash, opt for locally-produced drinks instead. Most islands in the Caribbean produce their own beer, rum and other drinks which you can buy for a fraction of the cost of imported brands. If you’re in Barbados it’s Mount Gay rum, in Jamaica it’s Red Stripe beer, in Mexico it’s tequila, and in St. Vincent it’s a tipple made from sea moss.
And eat the local food!
The local beach bars and roadside vendors are where you’ll find the best value meals in the Caribbean. Oistin’s Friday night fish fry in Barbados serves up fried fish cutters and cold beers for cheap prices – plus you can stay for the music and dancing for free. If you’re a fan of jerk chicken you’ll find it pretty much everywhere, although Scotchie’s in Jamaica offers some of the best. Conch fritters, goat stew and roast pork are all great-value local dishes to look out for.
Tempted to visit the Caribbean?
Top Villas offers a wide range of condos and villas in the Caribbean. Book with Top Villas and not only will you get beautiful accommodation at great prices, you’ll also benefit from amazing round-the-clock customer service plus access to a wide range of travel extras such as car hire, airport transfers or help with arranging a special experience.
How to book
Follow the simple online booking process and you can secure your Caribbean vacation rental instantly without any phone calls or fuss. It’s easy to check availability, get a quote and book instantly online. Alternatively, submit an enquiry and the team will get straight back to you.
See all Caribbean villas deals here.