Index


Introduction



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.

Annual precipitation is generally between 1,000 and 1,500 millimeters (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 (see Guantanamo Bay).

Winter in Cuba is pleasantly warm in the north and even quite 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 they are still possible, and they are more likely on the northern slopes, which are also exposed to cold air masses coming from the United States. These brief cold outbreaks, from December to March, may bring some days characterized by cool weather, and a bit of cold at night, especially in the north-western part (see Havana, Varadero). Sometimes in Havana the minimum temperature drops to around 10 °C (50 °F) or even below.

These cool air masses reach the southern side of the northwest (see Cayo Largo, Isla de la Juventud) less often, and even less in the south-east of the country, and particularly rarely on the south coast (see Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo), which is more sheltered.
In winter, you can visit cities and go on excursions: the sea is warm but the sun is not always guaranteed, and the air temperature is not always warm enough for swimming, at least for those who are sensitive to cold. Nevertheless, in the south-east, as mentioned, the coast south of Sierra Maestra is sheltered from the north winds, so in winter has a warmer microclimate and is usually nice for a beach holiday.

During the rainy season, there's a muggy heat everywhere, which is sometimes hard to bear, even though it is tempered by 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 showers or thunderstorms in late afternoon. In July, there's often a relative break in the rains, especially in the south, when rain showers become less frequent (even though the heat is still intense).

North-west



In northwestern Cuba, winter is pleasantly warm, but it's less warm than in the rest of the island. As mentioned, the north-west is the area that, in winter, is more exposed to short and sudden outbreaks of cool air from the United States, which can bring some days a bit cool and windy, and some rain. Occasionally, a particularly cold air mass can arrive, as happened for example in January 1977 (when the temperature dropped to 6 °C or 43 °F in Havana), in January 1981, in February 1996 (when the absolute cold record in Cuba was recorded, 0.6 °C or 33 °F in Bainoa), and in January 2010 (when a low of 4 °C or 39 °F was recorded at Havana airport). In the previous century, it seems that in January 1857 it even snowed in Cárdenas, and frosts ruined the crops. However, even in these cases the temperature remained fairly mild during the day, around 15/20 °C (59/68 °F).
Further to the south-east, in Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, we move away from the area most exposed to cold outbreaks, but we are still on the north side, and occasionally from December to March it can get a little cold here too.

Havana

The capital, Havana, is located in the north-west of Cuba, on the northern coast. Here are the average temperatures.
Havana - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)191920212223242424232120
Max (°C)262628293031313231292827
Min (°F)666668707273757575737068
Max (°F)797982848688889088848281

In Havana, rainfall amounts to 1,200 mm (48 inches) per year, of which more than 100 mm (4 in) fall per month in the hot and rainy season, from May to October. From December to February, the rains are a little more frequent than in the south-east (see below).
Havana - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)7045456012016512513515017080601225
Prec.(in)2,81,81,82,44,76,54,95,35,96,73,12,448,2
Days644471091011117689

The amount of sunshine in Cuba peaks in spring, when the winter disturbances decrease, and before the clouds and rains of the warm season. However, the sun quite often shines even in summer. Here are the sunshine hours per day in Havana.
Havana - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours779988988676

Havana

As mentioned, the sea in Cuba is warm enough for swimming all year round: in winter the water temperature near Havana is about 25 °C (77 °F).
Havana - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)252525262729293030282726
Temp (°F)777777798184848686828179

South-east



In the south-east, winter is warmer than in the north-west, especially along the south coast (see Marea del Portillo, Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo Bay, San Antonio del Sur), where there are summer-like temperatures even from December to February.

Santiago de Cuba

Santiago de Cuba is located on the sheltered southern coast. Every now and then, from December to March, there may be some days a bit cool, with low around 16/17 °C (61/63 °F) and highs of 24/25 °C (75/77 °F), and therefore not as low as in the north-west. Here are the average temperatures.
Santiago - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)212121222324252524232221
Max (°C)272727282830303030302928
Min (°F)707070727375777775737270
Max (°F)818181828286868686868482

Here is the average precipitation in Santiago de Cuba. We can notice the decrease in July (as happens in some Caribbean areas) and the dryness in winter (because, as mentioned, this area is sheltered from the winds coming from the United States, which are able to bring rainfall in winter).
Santiago - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)301740701501305595150215100301082
Prec.(in)1,20,71,62,85,95,12,23,75,98,53,91,242,6
Days324610116911147386

On the southern coast, the sea in winter is a little warmer than in the north-west; in fact, the temperature does not drop below 26/27 °C (79/81 °F).
Santiago - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)262626272829292930292827
Temp (°F)797979818284848486848281

Hurricanes



From June to November, it's the hurricane season in Cuba and the Caribbean. Tropical storms and cyclones usually come from the east, and affect Cuba especially in the eastern part. The period when 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 on the safe side, but for the rest, in this period the weather, though hot and humid and accompanied by showers and thunderstorms, all in all would be acceptable.
Some hurricanes that caused extensive damage to the island were: the «Cuba Hurricane» of November 1932, Hurricane Flora in October 1963, Georges in September 1998, Gustav in late August 2008, Ike in September 2008, Sandy in late October 2012, and Irma in September 2017.

Best Time



In theory, you can visit Cuba all year round, but during the period from May to October there'a sultry heat that is not the best for excursions. In addition, though the sun often shines during this period, thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening can break out, although the greatest danger comes from hurricanes. Therefore, you can avoid the period from June to November, or make a last minute trip, and check the weather forecast in the days immediately preceding. If you want to go in summer, however, June and July are preferable to August and September because the risk of hurricanes is lower.

If you want to visit cities and to go on excursions, the dry season (late November through mid-April) is a good time to go, while specifically the coolest period (December-February) is preferable.
For a beach holiday, in the northwest you can prefer the Easter period (late March-April), while in the south-east you can also go in winter.
In winter, sometimes the weather can be cool and cloudy, especially in the western part and on the northern slopes. Because of this, the east is more advisable for a beach holiday, especially the southern coast of the south-east (see Marea del Portillo, Santiago de Cuba, etc). The south-east coast is preferable also in July and August because it's less rainy, yet in this period the climate is characterized by an intense heat throughout Cuba, and there's some chance of hurricanes, especially in August.

What to pack



From November to April, in the north, Havana and inland hills, bring light clothing, but also a sweatshirt or sweater, a jacket and umbrella (or a raincoat). In the south-eastern area (see Santiago de Cuba), bring light clothes, but also a sweatshirt for the evening.
From May to October, bring lightweight, tropics-friendly clothing, and possibly a light sweatshirt and a light raincoat for thunderstorms.
When going to the reef, you can bring snorkeling equipment, including water shoes or rubber-soled shoes.

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