Map from Google - Cuba
In Cuba, the climate is tropical
, with a dry and relatively cool season from late November to mid-April, and a rainy and muggy season from late April to early November. The climate is fairly uniform from one area to the other, but there are some differences that are worth considering.
The annual precipitation is generally between 1,000 and 1,500 millimetres (40 and 60 inches). In the south, where the only mountainous areas are found, there is a greater difference between the north-facing slopes, which are very wet, and those exposed to the south, where precipitation drops below 700 mm (27.5 in) per year, as happens in Guantanamo Bay.
in Cuba is pleasantly warm in the north and even hot in the south, with daytime temperatures around 26 degrees Celsius (79 °F) from December to February in Havana, and around 28 °C (82 °F) in the southernmost areas. The rains are not frequent but still possible, and they are more likely, however, on the northern slopes, which are also exposed to the cold air masses coming from the United States. These brief cold outbreaks, from December to March, especially in the western part (see Havana, Varadero
), may bring some cool days, and a little cold at night: sometimes in Havana the minimum temperature drops to around 10 °C (50 °F).
Here are the average temperatures of Havana.
Average temperatures - Havana
The cool air reaches the southern side (see Cayo Largo
, Isla de la Juventud) more rarely, and still less the sheltered south coast (see Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo).
In winter you can visit the cities and make excursions: the sea is warm but the sun is not always guaranteed, and the air is not always pleasant for swimming, at least for those who are sensitive to cold. However, in the extreme south, the coast situated south of Sierra Maestra is sheltered from the north winds and therefore in winter has a warmer microclimate, so it's nice for beach life.
Average temperatures - Santiago
During the rainy season
, the air is hot and muggy everywhere, and the heat is sometimes hard to bear, even though it's tempered by the trade winds or the breeze. The hottest months are July and August. The daytime temperature rarely exceeds 33/34 °C (91/93 °F), but moisture makes the heat sweltering. The rains are often intense, but they occur mostly in the form of thunderstorms on late afternoon. The rains have often a relative break in the month of July, especially in the south, when the showers become less frequent (even though the heat is still intense).
Here is the average precipitation in Santiago de Cuba, on the south coast. We can notice the decrease in July, and the dryness in winter (because as mentioned this area is sheltered from the winds coming from the US).
Average precipitation - Santiago
From June to November, it's the season of the hurricanes
, which can hit Cuba especially in the east. The period in which they are most likely runs from August to October. Hurricanes are not frequent, but sometimes they can be destructive, bringing torrential rains and gale force winds, so this period is not recommended for those who want to be sure to plan a safe holiday. If it weren't for hurricanes, all in all the weather at this time, though hot and humid and accompanied by showers and thunderstorms, would still be acceptable, because there is still plenty of sunshine.
As mentioned, the sea
in Cuba is warm all year round: in winter the water temperature is about 25 °C (77 °F) at Havana, and 26/27 °C (79/81 °F) on the southern coast.
Sea temperature - Havana
When to go
In theory Cuba can be visited all year round, but during the period from May to October, the sultry heat deters you from making excursions. During the rainy season, the sun often shines, but thunderstorms in the afternoon of evening may be annoying, even though the greatest danger comes of course from hurricanes. Therefore, you can avoid the period from June to November, or make a last minute trip, by consulting the weather forecast in the days immediately preceding the trip.
To visit the cities and make excursions, the cooler period (December-February) it's preferable, and in any case the dry season (late November to mid-April).
For beach life, the Easter period (late March-April) is nice throughout the Country. In winter, sometimes it can be cool and cloudy, especially in the western and northern slopes of the island, so for swimming and sunbathing in winter it is more advisable to go to the east, and especially the southern coast of the south-east (see Marea del Portillo, Santiago de Cuba, etc). Even in July and August, the south-east coast is preferable, because it's less rainy, but at this time the climate is characterized by intense heat throughout Cuba, and hurricanes are possible, especially in August.
What to pack
From November to April, in the north, Havana and inland hills: light clothing, but also a sweatshirt or sweater, jacket and umbrella; in the south-eastern area (see Santiago de Cuba): light clothes, a sweatshirt for the evening.
From May to October, lightweight, tropics-friendly clothing, possibly a light sweatshirt and a light raincoat for thunderstorms.
For the reef, equipment for snorkeling, water shoes or rubber soled shoes.