Best Time To Go To Jamaica For An Unforgettable Vacation

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A trip to the Caribbean comes with near perfect weather, and year-round temperatures from the mid-70s to high 80s. The weather in Jamaica is no exception. But there is more to consider than just the weather when asking: When is the best time of year to go to Jamaica?

Many travelers say that the best time to go to Jamaica is November until mid-December, when resort and flight deals are great and peak season hasn’t arrived yet. If you don’t mind the crowds though, your best bet is to visit Jamaica between mid-December and April, when the weather is optimal for a beach vacation.

Picture: Everything you can possibly imagine is beachside at Beaches Negril — from lazy rivers to lively pools, from restaurants to swim-up bars.

With a population of about 2.9 million people, Jamaica has long established its presence on the world map being recognized for everything from athletics, music, and its aromatic Blue Mountain Coffee. With three major cities and 14 parishes, tons of tourists travel to Jamaica annually and visit its hotspots like Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril.

By the end of this article, you will know just when to visit to get exactly the sort of vacation experience you’re looking for.

Not sure which place to stay? Find the best areas to stay in Jamaica in our handy guide!

In this article on the Beaches blog:

Seasonality in the tropics!
Jamaica each month of the year
Jamaica summer vs winter
Liquid sunshine: rainfall in Jamaica
Major events in Jamaica

Seasonality in the tropics!

Picture: If you're looking for a family beachfront getaway with an intimate private beach, a Pirates Island Waterpark, extra large accommodations, the only all-inclusive golf program for kids and near Jamaica's best attractions, Beaches Ocho Rios is for you.

Before booking your flight and all-inclusive resort in Jamaica, it helps to know more about the various seasons of traveling within the Caribbean. If you’re going to be visiting between the seasons, here’s what you need to know:

Peak season in Jamaica

The peak season for those visiting Jamaica usually begins mid-December and goes through until April of the following year. In this high season, Jamaica is a hub of activity and you’re sure to find lots of tourists flocking the popular sites and beaches - and there’s plenty of them in Jamaica. From families, to couples and groups of friends, everyone is intent on making the most of their vacation on an island with near perfect temperatures.

If you’re heading to Jamaica at this time of year, be sure to pack sunscreen, a hat and insect repellent for your trip, because you will need them in the Caribbean sunshine. Also, book your resort at least three months in advance to ensure that you’re able to stay at your preferred location. The best hotels and resorts get booked up quickly for peak season.

If you’re traveling to Jamaica for Christmas (lots of Americans do!), you might want to make that booking a year prior.

Don’t know what to pack? Read the complete packing list for Jamaica.

Non Jamaican Arrivals 2018 Jamaica

Low season in Jamaica

Low season for visiting Jamaica goes from July until October. Low season travel can mean great deals on your entire vacation, including flights, resorts and even water sports. It is also much easier to get a seat at a dinner table of a popular restaurant without having to book it beforehand. Due to more appealing rates, low season travel is ideal for travelers on a budget.

Shoulder season in Jamaica

The shoulder season falls in between peak season and low season. This season occurs from about Mid-April to July and November until mid-December. The weather in Jamaica at this time is as sunny as the high season and rates are better throughout, so it is easier to strike a deal in your favor. You’ll also have more of the island to yourself, but there will still be enough going on to keep you occupied.

What is it like to visit Jamaica each month of the year?

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What is Jamaica like in January? The temperature is around 82 - 84 °F in Jamaica in January (this is as ‘cold’ as it gets in Jamaica), with a low chance of rain. The ocean temperature is around 81 °F and the wind is calm. At night it’s around 70 - 73 °F.

What is Jamaica like in February? Much like January, in February it’s around 82 - 84 °F in Jamaica, paired with the lowest amount of rainfalll throughout the year. The ocean temperature is around 81 °F and the wind is calm. At night it’s around 70 - 73 °F.

What is Jamaica like in March? In March it’s around 84 °F in Jamaica, paired with a low amount of rainfall. The ocean temperature is around 81 °F and the wind continues to be calm. At night, you’ll find temperatures of around 72 - 75 °F.

What is Jamaica like in April? April is at the end of peak season for Jamaica. The temperature is around 84 °F, paired with a low chance of rain. The ocean temperature is around 81 °F and the wind is calm. At night it’s around 72 - 75 °F. Easter is a popular time for events in Jamaica - keep an eye out for the dates of Jamaica’s carnival, the International kite festival in St. Ann and Montego Bay’s Yacht Club Easter Regatta.

What is Jamaica like in May? If you are visiting Jamaica in May you’ll find temperatures of around 86 °F, a slight increase from the cooler ‘winter’ months. The chance of rain increases slightly, and the ocean temperature is around 82 °F. Expect the wind to be calm and nighttime temperatures to be around 73 - 77 °F.

What is Jamaica like in June? In June, temperatures in Jamaica rise to a warm 88 °F. The chance of rain is equal to May and the ocean temperature is around 82 °F. Nighttime temperatures are around 75 - 79 °F. If you’re visiting Jamaica in June, make sure to attend Ocho Rios’ jazz festival!

What is Jamaica like in July? In July, Jamaica enters the low season and temperatures are the hottest it gets, at 88 - 91 °F. The chance of rain is around the same level as May and June. The ocean temperature is around 82 °F. Nighttime temperatures are around 75 - 79 °F. If you’re traveling to Jamaica in July, Reggae Summerfest is a must do event!

What is Jamaica like in August? In August, similarly to July, the temperatures in Jamaica are as warm as it gets with 88 - 91 °F. The chance of rain is comparable to the months of May until July and the ocean temperature is around 84 °F. Nighttime temperatures are around 75 - 79 °F.

What is Jamaica like in September? Jamaica’s daytime temperatures in September are a bit lower than in July and August with 88 °F. The chance of rain increases slightly compared to previous months and the ocean temperature is around 84 °F. The wind is calm and nighttime temperatures are around 75 - 79 °F.

What is Jamaica like in October? In October, the temperatures in Jamaica further drop to a more comfortable 86 - 88 °F. Expect tropical rainfall on some days, but these often break for sunshine quickly. The ocean temperature is around 84 °F. The wind is calm and nighttime temperatures are around 75 - 79 °F. Make sure to check out the yachts at the yearly Marlin tournament in the first week of October.

What is Jamaica like in November? The temperature in Jamaica is around 84 °F in November and the chance of rainfall is lower than in October. The ocean temperature drops a few degrees to around 82 °F. The wind is calm and nighttime temperatures are around 73 - 75 °F. Make sure to sample some local cuisine during Restaurant Week, which is a popular event in Jamaica in November.

What is Jamaica like in December and during the holidays? In December, the peak season starts, and is a very popular time for tourists traveling to Jamaica. The temperature is around 84 °F, the chance of rainfall decreases significantly, and the ocean temperature is around 82 °F. The wind is calm and nighttime temperatures are around 72 - 75 °F. Ideal circumstances for a tropical getaway and a spectacular NYE!

Jamaica summer vs winter: a different kind of winter blues...

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Winter isn’t a term you’ll hear often when visiting the Caribbean. You could say it's always summer in Jamaica.

The region only recognizes two seasons, wet and dry, which mark the main differences in climate at various points in the year. The wet (or rainy) season is usually from July to October. Once that’s gone by, you’ll be left with the dry season which means more consistent weather and less tropical rainfall.

July is the hottest month in Jamaica, with a maximum temperature of 91°F. January is usually the ‘coldest’ - although you’ll still find highs of 82°F.

Though Jamaica is a small island, you’ll notice slight differences in temperature in the various towns.

Temp Montego Bay Jamaica

Temp Ocho Rios Jamaica

Temp Negril Jamaica

Liquid sunshine: rainfall in Jamaica

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The rainiest month in Jamaica is October, which is towards the end of the wet season. Booked your vacation in Jamaica this month? Don’t worry! Tropical rainfall will come, and it will go, leaving plenty of hours left in the day filled with sunshine and warm temperatures.

The driest months seen in Jamaica are February and March, which see the least amount of rainfall. These months fall smack in the middle of peak season.

When comparing the rainfall in the different towns in Jamaica, overall you can expect less rain in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, compared to Negril. This shouldn’t scare you away from this amazing beach paradise though!

See the average rainfall by area below to pick your best time to visit Negril, Ocho Rios or Montego Bay.

Rainfall Montego Bay Jamaica

Rainfall Ocho Rios Jamaica

Rainfall Negril Jamaica

Major events in Jamaica throughout the year

Caribbean Carnival Festival Costumes

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If you’re looking to attend a particular event or are interested in something unique to do on vacation, then this might determine when the best time to travel for you is. Jamaica is home to many fascinating events throughout the year, some of our favorites include the following:

Calabash International Literary Festival

This literary festival normally takes place around February, and was founded in 2001 by Colin Channer, Kwame Dawes and Justine Henzell – three people whose love for the arts inspired them to launch this biennial festival. It consists of three days of poetry, spoken word and music and visitors and locals are free to stop by, free of charge but are welcome to donate to the worthy cause. Several international authors have participated in the festival including Sir Derek Walcott, Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, Jamaica Kincaid, Edwidge Danticat, Kei Miller, Eleanor Catton, and others.

Jamaica’s carnival

Jamaica carnival, also known as Bacchanal, happens over a week, starting on Easter Sunday until the following weekend, which culminates the carnival season. This includes Jouvert, Kiddies Carnival, Socacize and Mas Camp which all take place before the “jump up” in Kingston.

St. Elizabeth horticultural society flower show

Since 1963, this agricultural show has taken place in the parish of St. Elizabeth, in the town of Black River. It has been held every Easter Monday since its inception and is one of the biggest flower shows on the island, with a new theme celebrated every year.

International kite festival

This event is also called the St. Ann Kite Festival, because it is held in the parish of St. Ann (where Ocho Rios is located) every Easter Monday. The International Kite Festival is indeed a fun day for families; kite flying competitions are held throughout the day as well as a dancing and bun eating competition. By evening time, the stage transforms into a classical reggae show, and you’ll likely be stuffed beyond belief with authentic Jamaican eats by the time you’re ready to leave.

Montego Bay’s Yacht Club Easter Regatta

As Easter rolls around the corner, the Morgan Bay Yacht Club hosts their Easter Regatta along the North Coast of the island. It is usually held in April, preceded by the yacht club’s annual J-22 International Regatta and the Great Yacht Race.

Jamaican curry festival

This festival is a display of Jamaican talent, cuisine and culture. A variety of seafood such as crab and lobster is curried as well as other delicacies such as chicken, shrimp, goat and even fruits such as mangoes. Jamaican chefs are the culinary experts contributing to the festival held in May.

Ocho Rios jazz festival

This festival is a few weeks of fun and exciting jazz shows, presentations, exhibitions and concerts which take place throughout the town of Ocho Rios and the capital of Kingston. The festival takes place in June and has been staged since 1991.

Reggae Summerfest

This summer festival which normally takes place in July, has been in existence for 27 years features a range of Jamaican and Caribbean artists. Past events have featured acts such as Chronix, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Romaine Virgo, Koffee and Spice. Throughout that week, several activities are held under different themes such as the All-White Blitz Party and A Sound System Explosion.

Marlin tournaments

This deep-sea fishing tournament has been held yearly for the past 55 years. The tournament usually attracts 40-50 yachts and, in 2018 alone, more than 180 anglers came out to try their hand at catching the biggest Marlin in Jamaican waters. The competition is held in the first week of October.

Heroes Day

This public holiday is celebrated every year, on the third Monday of October. Activities throughout the day are held in memoriam of the seven national heroes of Jamaica; Marcus Garvey, Sir Alexander Bustmante, Samuel Sharpe, Paul Bogle, George William Gordon and Nanny of the Maroons, who is the sole heroine. These heroes contributed to the island’s freedom from slavery and to the general improvement of the social conditions of the land.

Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week is a 7-day period where residents and tourists are encouraged to head out and sample the dishes and cuisine prepared at the various restaurants on the island. This event caters to foodies and families and extends to over 100 restaurants in Jamaica. Restaurant week gets underway in November.

And so… the absolute best time to go to Jamaica

Picture: There's a magic to Jamaica that is as soul–stirring as a sunset and as innocent as a child's smile. Wherever you go in this enchanted paradise, you will find natural beauty so stunning, it will take your breath away.

What is the best time to go to jamaica? This all depends on what you want to get out of your experience in this beautiful Caribbean island. Do you want a quiet experience where you can focus on taking in waterfalls like that of Dunn’s River Falls or relax on the exquisite Seven Mile Beach?

Tip: Check out all Jamaica’s points of interest, it’s best beaches and - if you’re bringing the kids - the things to do in Jamaica with kids.

Or do you want to take in the vibrant culture of Jamaica, during carnival in April, or at a time of year filled with concerts and other exciting events like the annual Reggae SumFest in July?

Now you’ve read our handy guide, you’ll be able to determine the best time to visit Jamaica (with or without the family), so that you can book your trip, and head out on a vacation of a lifetime.

Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Writing for 13 years, Kylie discovered that experiences tell the best stories. As a Caribbean mother who wrote for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, she believes inspiration is even found in our kids!