A Summer Vacation to the Caribbean?

by sockii

Most people think of the Caribbean as a winter getaway destination. But are there benefits to traveling there in the summertime?

Most people think of the Caribbean as a winter vacation destination. The sun, the warm weather, the beach and hot sand under our feet...we all dream about it during the cold winter months, making a Caribbean getaway perfect at that time of year.

So most people don't think about traveling to the islands during the summertime. But if you love the Caribbean, are there reasons to go during these "low-season" months? I'd say yes, there are plenty of advantages to travel during this time of the year - but there are also disadvantages as well. I have traveled to the West Indies many times during all seasons and will share the pros and cons of a summer vacation the the islands here.

If you're thinking about either a family vacation this summer, or perhaps a romantic getaway for two, let me present some reasons why (and why not) to consider a trip to the Caribbean this summer.

Image above: A near-empty Caribbean beach...like you may only find in the summer months? This and all other photos on this page are by the author, sockii.

What is Low-Season in the Caribbean?

Although it varies from island to island, resort to resort, "off" or "low"-season is generally from mid-April to mid-December of every year.

Reasons to Visit the Caribbean in the Summertime

Benefits and advantages of low season travel
  1. Quiet Caribbean beachBig discounts over high season prices. If you're looking for a great Caribbean vacation deal then you can't beat the summertime. Hotels, resorts and rental apartments generally have rates anywhere from 30 to 60% lower in low-season than high-season. So you can get a fabulous beachfront room for a fraction of the cost as during the season - or perhaps rent out an entire house or suite for a week or two to relax with family or friends. You'll also find it easier to get the room you want when you want - especially true if you want to cash in on rewards points where they may not even allow you to use them during peak travel dates other times of the year.
  2. Less tourists = more quiet time to relax. When you travel off-season, you can very often experience that dream of having an entire beautiful beach to yourself - or at least very close to it! You won't have to deal with cruise boat crowds or full hotels spilling their guests out all over the beaches, pool decks, or filling up the restaurants. You'll also be less likely to have to deal with beach "hucksters" trying to harass you to buy cheap souvenirs, trinkets or braid your hair since they may not even bother coming around when the crowds aren't there.
  3. Less chance of rainy days. Nothing is more depressing than going on vacation and looking forward to sunny beach days - and then spending days rained out in your hotel. I know that technically May to December is considered the "rainy season" in the islands but in personal past experience over many years traveling to several different destinations, July and August especially tend to be very dry - almost drought-like at times. May/June can be wetter, however, and don't travel in September unless you like taking your chances with hurricanes and tropical storms. You may also want to research the specific islands you are thinking of visiting, as each island's rainy season can vary.
  4. St. KittWarmer ocean waters. If you love to swim then the summer is the season for you in the Caribbean. In the winter months the ocean waters can still be rather cool in the morning hours, and also start cooling off by about 4 in the afternoon. In the summertime, the warmer weather means swimming temps are much more amenable all day long - great if you really love swimming, snorkeling, or other watersports and activities.
  5. Unique festivals and activities. Many islands schedule annual carnivals, races, and other festivals during the summer months to help draw crowds during otherwise slow times (see section below). So if you do need some excitement and activity during your trip, plan wisely and you can still find it in the summertime!

Start Planning Your Caribbean Vacation Today

Travel books available on Amazon
Fodor's Caribbean 2015 (Full-color Travel Guide)

In amazing full-color, Fodor's Caribbean 2015 covers almost 50 destinations in the Caribbean, from the Dominican Republic and Trinidad & Tobago, to Turks & Caicos and even Monts...

$24.99  $7.00

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DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Caribbean

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Caribbean will lead you straight to the best attractions this island paradise has to offer. Packed with full-color photographs, illustrations, and de...

$30.00  $9.74

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Lonely Planet Discover Caribbean Islands (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher Lonely Planet Discover Caribbean Islands is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and sk...

$25.99  $12.96

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Lonely Planet Caribbean Islands (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher Lonely Planet Caribbean Islands is your passport to all the most relevant and up-to-date advice on what to see, what to...

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Summer Festivals and Special Events in the Caribbean

If you're looking for some action in the summertime...

It's not always peace and quiet in the Caribbean during the summer months. Many islands have special events like music festivals, races or carnivals that draw crowds and are worth checking out if you are in the mood for more action.

Just keep in mind that these events tend to be very popular - so expect hotel rooms to sell out quickly. Some hotels may also go back to high season pricing during these events.

I've highlighted a few such events below, but there are many more - check out the lengthy list at A Caribbean Summer of Festivals, Food and Fun.

  • Carriacou Regatta Festival (Grenada)

    Running for over four decades, this regatta began as race for local fisherman using traditional working boats. Now it is a premiere regatta that draws visitors and competition from many other islands. The Regatta festival takes place in late July.

  • Crop Over Festival (Barbados)

    A series of summer events from visual arts competitions to music pageants, historical tours, special markets and more.

  • Culturama (Nevis)

    Culturama is Nevis' version of a carnival, with a strong emphasis on the unique culture of the island. Celebrated every late July/early August, it was begun as a way to welcome home Nevisians who have left the island to move elsewhere. One can enjoy

  • Emancipation Festival (Brtisih Virgin Islands)

    Held in late July through early August, this festival celebrates the cultural heritage of the BVI islands with pageants, parades and other festivities.

  • Reggae Sumfest (Jamaica)

    Reggae music lovers won't want to miss this late July festival on the island that reggae calls home. It is the largest annual reggae festival on the island and features local as well as international talent.

  • Spicemas (Grenada)

    Grenada's carnival festival Spicemas takes place with events throughout the summer months. Music competitions, Queen contests, parades, and all the usual carnival fun and activities can be enjoyed.

  • The St. Kitts Music Festival

    Entering its 17th year in 2013, this music festival runs every late June and has become a huge event on the island. Four nights of music cover a range of styles from reggae to rap, r&b to gospel.

Is the Low Season the "Go Season" for the Caribbean?

AOL Travel Expert Peter Greenberg explores some of the great deals one can get in the Caribbean during the "low season" - and why you should choose it over high season for a great bargain getaway.

Reasons to Avoid the Caribbean in the Summertime

Pitfalls and disadvantages of the low season months
  1. St. Kitts BeachExtremely High heat. If you're going to visit in the summer months, you've got to be prepared for it to be hot - REALLY hot. The heat and the sun can be quite oppressive and even dangerous around mid-day for those not accustomed to or prepared for the high, dry heat. I often recommend summer travelers should plan on getting in their beach time and other outdoor activities early in the morning and later in the afternoon in the summer - be ready to spend from 11am - 3pm in the cool shade, perhaps "liming" at a poolside bar or restaurant, relaxing in your room or maybe even testing your luck at a casino.
  2. Limited attractions and entertainment.Many tour operators and other businesses restrict their hours and days off-season as they just can't get enough customers to make it worth staying fully open. For instance, if you are interested in fishing trips, kayaking adventures, catamaran sails or rainforest tours, you might find options more limited in the summertime. Of course, you can always try to plan in advance by calling such tour operators and find what days they will be running trips during the summertime - or try to hook up with other travelers during your stay to charter out a minimum number of participants, which might be anywhere from 4, 8 or 10 people. Likewise, hotels and resorts may have fewer daily activities and entertainment events scheduled off season. Less exercise groups or "kids club" activities; fewer evening music performances or shows; some facilities might even be closed during the summer for "renovations". So if constantly staying busy or having lots of planned activities on hand is important to you, the summer might not be a good time to go.
  3. Beach BarRestaurants "on vacation". While you'll find it easier to get the dinner reservations at top restaurants during the summertime, you'd best be sure they're going to be open in the first place! Some may close their doors for vacation, especially once it heads in to hurricane season later in the summer. Or they may only be open for limited days of the week, dinner only instead of dinner & lunch, etc. Similarly, some restaurants and/or beach grills may have limited menus in the summertime; they aren't going to pay fisherman for premium lobster or red snapper if not enough customers will be there to enjoy them! So you may need to put in advance requests for certain dishes you'd like to sample.
  4. Fewer flights and connections. Because of reduced demand for seats, some airlines may offer fewer flights to the Caribbean during low season - and in some cases those seats may even become more expensive, not less expensive, in the summertime. So one still needs to plan in advance when booking that summertime vacation in order to get the flight connections that you want.
  5. It's not that much of a "getaway" when the weather's warm at home. When it's beach weather at home in the summer, it may not seem like as much of a treat - or worth the travel expenses - to visit the tropics in the summertime.

Which would you choose: Low Season or High Season?

Cast your vote!


Guidebooks for Specific Caribbean Destinations

Books from Fodor's - A Trusted Name in Travel Guides Around the World
Fodor's U.S. & British Virgin Islands (Full-color Travel Guide)

A perfect combination of the familiar and the exotic, the U.S. Virgin Islands are a little bit of America in the Caribbean, with the addition of beautiful tropical beaches and e...

View on Amazon

Fodor's Bahamas (Full-color Travel Guide)

Whether a traveler's style is living large at a trend-setting resort or chilling on a secluded island with an icy cold beer in your hand, the Bahamas has something for every tas...

View on Amazon

Fodor's Puerto Rico (Full-color Travel Guide)

Puerto Rico is one of the Caribbean's most exciting destinations, and with many nonstop flights from major East Coast cities, it's one of the easiest islands to reach. From vibr...

View on Amazon

Fodor's Bermuda (Full-color Travel Guide)

Bermuda is famous for pink-sand beaches, impossibly blue water, and kelly-green golf courses. But that's only the beginning. The combination of old-world British charm and moder...

View on Amazon

Fodor's In Focus Aruba (Full-color Travel Guide)

Travelers flock to Aruba for the sunny climate, perfect waters, and excellent beaches. Aruba presents more choices than nearly any other Caribbean island, from world-class ocean...

View on Amazon

Fodor's In Focus Turks & Caicos Islands (Full-color Travel Guide)

A favorite destination for American vacationers who are looking for a safe and comfortable beach getaway, the Turks & Caicos Islands offer some of the most beautiful water in th...

View on Amazon

Updated: 04/18/2015, sockii
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