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Caribbean Weather in November: 5 Islands with More Sun

Updated on October 02, 2016
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Scott Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean, including three visits to Cancun.

Aruba wins the award for bluest skies and waters in November. Credit: Scott Bateman
Aruba wins the award for bluest skies and waters in November. Credit: Scott Bateman
Hurricane Lenny was a rare November hurricane for the Caribbean.
Hurricane Lenny was a rare November hurricane for the Caribbean. | Source

Caribbean weather in November is not nearly as bad as what happens in September and October during the annual hurricane season. But it pays to pick destinations carefully.

The annual hurricane season officially begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Historically, the peak of activity for tropical storms and hurricanes will take place in September and October.

On average, September has four named tropical storms with two becoming hurricanes, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

October typically has four tropical storms as well, but few become hurricanes. Even so, rainfall remains high in October.

Caribbean hurricanes in November are rare. Tropical storms are rare as well.

But like October, November rainfall in the Caribbean remains high for many destinations.

The following information uses 30-year historical data for more than 20 popular destinations. The information comes from local meteorological services.

The numbers are averages, which means a destination with an average of five inches of rain in November might receive more or less during any single year.

VIDEO: Best Islands in November

Curacao is one of the best destinations in November for rain. Credit: © Scott Bateman
Curacao is one of the best destinations in November for rain. Credit: © Scott Bateman

5 Best Islands to Visit in November

Aruba wins the award for lowest rainfall in the Caribbean. It is usually the best island to visit during that time of year.

This arid island off the coast of Venezuela averages three inches of rain in November, which is quite high even for Aruba.

The island is the most arid in the Caribbean with an interior that is like a desert. Most months it averages only an inch of rain or less.

Tied with Aruba is the Bahamas, which also receives three inches. That hugely popular island chain will have an average high temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit compared to 90 degrees for Aruba, according to the World Weather Organization.

Although 82 degrees sounds comfortable compared to the temperatures in the northern states and Canada, it also means water temperatures may start to become cool and uncomfortable for swimming during large parts of the day because of cooler temperatures at night.

The next best destinations, which average four inches of rain apiece, are Curaçao and Jamaica.

Curaçao is near Aruba, and both lie at the edge of the Caribbean hurricane belt. Its average daytime high temperature is 88 degrees or about two degrees cooler than Aruba.

Jamaica is slightly cooler as well with an average high temperature of 86 degrees.

Canadian and European tourists will find that Havana, Cuba also averages only four inches of rain during November and has an average high temperature of 82 degrees.

The above chart shows the average inches of rain each destination receives during November. Credit: Scott Bateman
The above chart shows the average inches of rain each destination receives during November. Credit: Scott Bateman

Caribbean Hurricanes in November

The Caribbean hurricane season officially ends on Nov. 30. But hurricanes in November are rare.

Historically, the Caribbean averages no hurricanes and one tropical storm every other year, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

It is tied with June for the least active month of the entire season. But rainfall is higher than normal for many destinations.

November Destination Poll

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10 Worst Islands for Rain

The lush and tropical island of Dominica leads all other destinations for rainfall with an average of 15 inches during the month.

It's because of the heavy rain that the island is popular for eco tourism, rainforests and water falls. But they are better seen in other months -- usually mid spring to late summer.

Bocas del Toro in Panama takes second place with 11 inches.

Guadeloupe and Trinidad, two more lush and green islands, average about eight to nine inches of rain during the month.

Barbados, Cayman Islands and St. Lucia receive an average of seven inches of rain, which makes them unattractive destinations for either long-term stays or Caribbean cruises.

San Juan, St. Maarten and St. Thomas follow with six inches apiece.

It is worth noting that cruises to these islands become less frequent during these months because of the rainfall risk. But they often are less expensive as well.

Honorable mentions go to Cancun and Cozumel, which often get drenched in September and October but see an improvement in November.

St. Maarten has a lot more blue in other months of the year. Credit: Scott Bateman
St. Maarten has a lot more blue in other months of the year. Credit: Scott Bateman

Temperatures in November

Temperatures in the Caribbean during November are usually comfortable for just about any island destination.

Average daytime highs range from the low to mid 80s Fahrenheit for most locations. Central American destinations such as Belize, Costa Rica and Panama will be somewhat cooler on the coast and much cooler in the interior.

Water temperatures will start to become a factor for many locations because of nights that are starting to become cooler with the impending arrival of winter. Swimming is often comfortable in the mornings and somewhat more comfortable in the afternoon.

Winds are a factor as well because of their chilling effect. People who visit the Caribbean for sun and swimming will find November less inviting than for those people who like touring, shopping, dining and other such activities.

Eastern Caribbean in November

Eastern Caribbean cruises drop off in the fall including November because of the hurricane season.

Many eastern islands continue to receive higher than normal amounts of rainfall, which is why western cruises are more popular during this time of year. Some even have more rain historically than September and October.

Although the Bahama islands aren't technically part of the Caribbean, they are a popular stop on eastern cruises and have the best average rainfall of any major islands in November.

But temperatures also are quite a bit cooler than during the summer.

Other than the Bahamas, most eastern destinations have a high risk of rain.

Cancun experiences lower rainfall during November than many eastern Caribbean destinations.
Cancun experiences lower rainfall during November than many eastern Caribbean destinations. | Source

Western Caribbean Weather

The western Caribbean has better weather in November than the eastern islands. As a result, cruises to this part of the region are more common during the month.

Cancun, Cozumel and Jamaica are the three most popular destinations in the western Caribbean. They receive higher than normal rainfall, but their average of four to five inches is still below the eastern averages.

Even Costa Rica, which also is popular, does well in November with five inches of rain. Costa Rica normally receives a high amount of rain as an eco tourist destination with many rain forests.

Ways to Ensure a Low-Risk Visit

An important decision for anyone visiting the Caribbean during the hurricane season is whether or not to buy travel insurance to protect against weather that ruins a vacation.

Because November is at the tail-end of the season, the risk of a hurricane or major tropical storm is low. As a result, travel insurance is less important.

Still, the above charts show a high risk of heavy rains for many destinations. So another option for someone wanting to go in November is to make a last-minute vacation.

Most major storms form in the east and move west toward the Caribbean. Forecasts and satellite imagery will help in predicting the weather for many Caribbean islands days and possibly a week or more in advance.

Anything who is willing to plan a last-minute trip book hotels and flights within days of a trip if they are available, if the price is right and if the weather forecasts for an island show a lower risk of rain.

Best Rain Destinations

show route and directions
A markerAruba -
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Aruba has the lowest rainfall in November of any Caribbean destination.

B markerNassau -
Nassau, The Bahamas
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Nassau comes in second place, but water temperatures will be cooler.

C markerCuracao -
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Although Curacao is close to Aruba, it gets slightly more rain.

D markerMontego Bay -
Montego Bay, Jamaica
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Montego Bay also gets lucky.

E markerHavana -
Havana, Cuba
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Havana also receives four inches, although it is more accessible to Canadian and European visitors than Americans.

© 2014 Scott Bateman


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    • promisem profile image

      Scott Bateman 6 months ago

      Hi, Dorothy. If we go by the historical averages, you will probably have temperatures in the mid to upp 80s Fahrenheit. It's hard to predict this far out how much rain you will receive.

    • profile image

      Dorothy Martens 6 months ago

      I'm going on a cruise Late Sept. Early October, we are going to St Marrtens

      and St. Kitts, Turks and Caicos, and San Juan Puerto Rico. What is the weather during the first week of October?

    • promisem profile image

      Scott Bateman 18 months ago

      Yes, Diane, it certainly does. It's also a good thing you aren't in the Bahamas right now in the middle of Hurricane Joaquin. Thanks for your comments.

    • Dianemae profile image

      Dianemae 18 months ago

      Great article full of useful information. I spend Thanksgiving in the Bahamas and will head to Jamaica in December. Beats shoveling snow!!

    • promisem profile image

      Scott Bateman 2 years ago

      Your best bet is probably Bocas del Toro. It's a group of islands just off the eastern coast of Panama and known for beaches, landscape and things to do. They should give an ocean swimmer plenty of interesting challenges. Thanks for your comments.

    • profile image

      Antonio 2 years ago

      Great article! I'm heading to Panama in a few weeks, I'm a keen ocean swimmer (long distance) and looking for an island preferably with warm water, sunshine, calm and very clean, any suggestions? Thanks!

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