Puerto Rico has one of the most unvarying climates in the world. Temperatures year-round range from 75°F to 85°F (24°C–29°C). The island is wettest and hottest in August, averaging 81°F (27°C) and 7 inches (18cm) of rain. San Juan and the northern coast seem to be cooler and wetter than Ponce and the southern coast. The coldest weather is in the high altitudes of the Cordillera, the site of Puerto Rico's lowest recorded temperature, 39°F (4°C).
Hurricane Season: Hurricane season, the curse of Puerto Rican weather, lasts—officially, at least—from June 1 to November 30. But there's no cause for panic. In general, satellite forecasts give adequate warnings so that precautions can be taken. Historically, the peaks of the season, when the most damaging storms are formed and hit the island, occur in August and December.
In Puerto Rico, hotels charge their highest prices during the peak winter period from mid-December to mid-April, when visitors fleeing from cold northern climates flock to the Caribbean. Winter is the driest season along the coasts but can be wet in mountainous areas.
If you plan to travel in the winter, make reservations 2 to 3 months in advance. At certain hotels it's almost impossible to book accommodations for Christmas and the month of February.
A second tourism high season, especially for hotels and destinations outside San Juan, takes place in July, when most islanders take vacation.
Saving Money in the Off-Season: While winter rates tend to be higher than summer rates at most properties, Puerto Rico's climate makes it inviting year-round.
However, there still is an off-season, running roughly from May through November, when temperatures in the mid-80s (around 29°C) prevail throughout most of the region. Trade winds ensure comfortable days and nights, even without air-conditioning. Although the noonday sun may raise the temperature to around 90°F (32°C), cool breezes usually make the morning, late afternoon, and evening more comfortable here than in many parts of the U.S. mainland.
Dollar for dollar, you'll spend less money by renting a summer house or fully equipped unit in Puerto Rico than you would on Cape Cod, Fire Island, Laguna Beach, or the coast of Maine.
Many hotels, particularly outside of San Juan, will charge full price during the month of July and on summer holiday weekends. Some properties, particularly guesthouses and small hotels in vacation towns such as Vieques and Rincón, have dispensed with off-season pricing altogether.
In San Juan, a trend among smaller properties is to charge higher rates on weekends and holidays than during the week, rather than following seasonal fluctuations in price.
Other Off-Season Advantages: Although Puerto Rico may appear inviting in the winter to those who live in northern climates, there are many reasons your trip may be more enjoyable in the off-season:
- After the winter hordes have left, a less hurried way of life prevails. You'll have a better chance to appreciate the food, culture, and local customs.
- Swimming pools and beaches are less crowded—perhaps not crowded at all. Again, some areas will be extremely crowded in July and on summer holiday weekends.
- Year-round resort facilities are offered, often at reduced rates, which may include snorkeling, boating, and scuba diving.
- To survive, resort boutiques often feature summer sales to clear the merchandise they didn't sell in February to accommodate stock they've ordered for the coming winter.
- You can often appear without a reservation at a top restaurant and get a table for dinner. Also, when waiters are less hurried, you get better service.
- The endless waiting game is over: no waiting for a rental car (only to be told none is available), no long wait for a golf course tee time, and quicker access to tennis courts and watersports.
- Accommodations and flights are easier to book.
- Summer is an excellent time for family travel because kids are out of school.
- You might be staying at a construction site. Hoteliers save their serious repairs and major renovations for the off-season, when they have fewer clients. That means you might wake up early in the morning to the sound of a hammer.
- Services are often reduced. In the peak of winter, everything is fully operational. But in summer, many of the programs, such as watersports rentals, might be curtailed. Also, not all restaurants and bars are fully operational at all resorts. For example, for lack of business, certain gourmet or specialty dining rooms might be shut down until house count merits reopening them.
Puerto Rico has many public holidays when stores, offices, and schools are closed: New Year's Day, January 6 (Three Kings Day), Presidents Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, and Christmas, plus local holidays such as Constitution Day (July 25) and Discovery Day (Nov 19). Remember, U.S. federal holidays are holidays in Puerto Rico, too.
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.