Western Caribbean cruise weather can be fickle for anyone planning a vacation there because of intense rain in the fall. The western Caribbean is made up of a small number of islands such as Jamaica, Roatan off Honduras and the Cayman Islands. It also includes the Mexican island of Cozumel plus the Central American countries that face the Caribbean Sea, especially Honduras, Panama, Belize and Costa Rica. Most western Caribbean cruises include some combination of the above destinations.
Most destinations have average high temperatures each month ranging from the mid-80s Fahrenheit in the winter to the high 80s and even low 90s in the summer. Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cozumel have average high temperatures above 90 during the summer months and are the warmest of the western destinations. Belize and Costa Rica are not as warm in part because of the cooler rain forests and mountainous areas.
Average low temperatures for the region range from the mid 60s to the low 70s in the winter to the mid 70s and sometimes higher in the summer. Keep in mind that low air temperatures also mean low sea water temperatures for people who like swimming and sunbathing. The Cayman Islands have the coolest lows of any destination in the region.
The annual Caribbean hurricane season goes from June 1 to Nov. 30. The months with the most storms and hurricanes — usually two to four per month — are August, September and October. Most destinations see the highest rainfall in September and October. Total rain can go as high as eight to 10 inches in a single month for places such as Cozumel, a popular cruise port of call. Costa Rica can receive much more, but much of it falls inland rather than on the coast. Note that inland excursions such as the country’s popular zip lining have a high chance of rain.
Best Months to Go
The safest months for western Caribbean cruise weather are in the spring and summer for their combination of warm temperatures and relatively low amounts of rain. The riskiest months are December through February because of cool temperatures and September and October because of heavy rain. However, the risky months also tend to have lower prices for cruises.
Even when forecasts call for rain, the rainfall may be brief and intense rather than long and steady. The forecast may call for rain when choosing a last-minute cruise, but the weather may still be good overall.