When you think about weather in the Caribbean, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Hurricanes, right?
Tropical storms and hurricanes obviously have a huge impact on Caribbean weather, especially between June and November. But most travelers overestimate the threat of hurricanes while overlooking other weather factors that can affect their trip. Across the Caribbean, though weather patterns obviously vary, the climate falls under the category of "tropical marine," where there is a distinct wet and dry season and very little variation in temperature. This also means that, although there is a risk of hurricanes, there is a fairly defined time of year when the risk is highest, and there is relatively little chance of certain islands being hit at all.
Bottom line: There are dozens of islands in the Caribbean, so the odds of a hurricane hitting the one you're vacationing on are slim. Some islands, like Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire, almost never get hit by big storms. And you'll dodge the stormy season altogether if you travel to the Caribbean between December and May.
Sunshine is the most prominent "weather feature" in the Caribbean. In the summer, you can expect up to 9 hours of sun each day, and bad weather is by far the exception, not the rule. Even northerly Bermuda, for example, has sunny summer temperatures from May to November.
"If you're planning an outside Caribbean wedding on a specific date, it's more likely to be interrupted by rain during the hurricane season," says Bob Sheets, former director of the National Hurricane Center. "But if you're taking a one- or two-week vacation to the islands and that's the best time for your to go, then go. You may get a day of rain, but the odds of you getting hit by a hurricane in the Caribbean are quite small."
So, check the weather before you go, but don't let the fear of bad weather prevent you from heading to the Caribbean. Chances are that the weather here will be better than what you have back home, and you'll be basking in the sunshine rather than dodging raindrops during most if not all of your trip!
Still, the Caribbean does get its reputation as a hurricane hotspot for a reason: wind. All across the Caribbean, the wind is constantly blowing at a fairly consistent rate, with totally calm waters a relatively rare occurrence. The more north you go on any given Caribbean island, the windier it tends to be. However, with the hurricane season only ranging from June-October, for the majority of the year, higher winds generally just means better surfing conditions.
For less wind and more stable conditions, visit the Caribbean during its dry season, ranging from February to June. During these months, you can expect low winds, clear skies, and very few rain showers.
However, as with all plans involving weather, it is always best to check the local weather before leaving on your trip so you can best plan out what to bring, what do to, and how to get the most out of your Caribbean getaway.