High Season vs. Off-Season
With its ever-pleasant weather, Jamaica is more and more a year-round destination. Nevertheless, the island has a distinct high season running roughly from mid-December through mid-April. Hotels charge their highest prices during this peak winter period, when visitors fleeing cold north winds crowd the beaches.
Reservations should be made 2 to 3 months in advance for trips during the winter. At certain hotels, think about booking a year ahead for Christmas holidays or February.
The off-season lasts roughly from mid-April to mid-December. In many cases, rates for hotels, tours, and airfare are lower than in winter—and easier to come by.
- A less-hurried way of life prevails. You'll have a better chance to appreciate food, culture, and customs.
- Swimming pools and beaches are less crowded.
- Year-round resort facilities are offered, often at reduced rates, which may include snorkeling, boating, and scuba diving.
- Hoping to clear excess merchandise, resort boutiques often feature summer sales.
- You can often appear without a reservation at a top restaurant in, say, Montego Bay and get a table.
- The endless waiting game is over: no waiting for a rented car, tee time, or tennis court.
- You might be staying at a construction site. Some hoteliers save their serious repairs and major renovations for the off-season.
- Services are sometimes reduced.
- Not all restaurants and bars will be fully operational at resorts.
- Hotels and resorts may be operating with reduced staff.
Avoiding Spring Break: Throughout March and into mid-April, it's spring-break season in the Caribbean for vacationing college students. Expect beach parties, sports events, and musical entertainment. If the idea of partying fraternity bros fills you with anxiety, beware. When you make your reservations, ask if your hotel is planning to host any big spring break events.
Along the seashore, where most visitors congregate, the island is air-conditioned by northeasterly trade winds, and temperature variations are surprisingly slight. Coastal readings average between 22°C (71°F) and 31°C (88°F) year-round. The Jamaican winter is similar to May in the United States or northern Europe; there can be chilly times in the early morning or at night. Winter is generally the driest season, but can be wet in mountain areas; expect showers, especially in northeastern Jamaica.
Inland, temperatures decrease by approximately 0.55°C for every 91m (about 1°F for every 300-ft.) increase in elevation.
Rainfall is heaviest along the eastern edge of the island's North Coast, with Port Antonio receiving the most intense downpours. The island has two rainy seasons: 1.) May and 2.) October through November.
The Hurricane Season: The curse of Jamaican weather, the hurricane season, officially lasts from June 1 to November 30. Satellite weather forecasts generally give adequate warning so that precautions can be taken. If you're heading to Jamaica during the hurricane season, monitor forecasts made by the National Weather Service and the Weather Channel.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.