A magnificent arc of white sand beach in southern Martinique at Sainte-Anne
The most common misconception about the West Indies is that it must be much hotter in summer than it is during the rest of the year. In fact, the average monthly temperatures remain remarkably stable, varying by only about 5º Fahrenheit year-round. This stability can be attributed to the tradewinds (Les Alizés) which bring refreshing breezes from the northeast throughout the year. Summer is actually a great time to visit the islands because lodging rates are much lower and the beaches, roads and restaurants are not crowded. Of course, winter and the Christmas/New Year holidays are traditionally the most popular time to go. Most holiday reservations are made months in advance.
December through May is considered the dry season, while June through November is considered the more humid season. However, in our experience, rain showers or clear skies can occur at any time during the year. In general, rainstorms pass quickly and the sun shines on most days. Average air temperatures in coastal areas range from 22º to 30º C (72º to 86º F) and in inland areas, from 19º to 27º C (66º to 81º F). Naturally, travelers will find more rain and cooler temperatures in the rain forests and higher elevations. The warm coastal water temperatures stay between 20º and 23º C (68º and 74º F).
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Hurricanes may occur any time from June through November and, historically, the most likely time is during September. Progressive technology brings more sophisticated storm warning systems every year. It is unusual for any one island to be severely affected more than once or twice every 10 years and your actual odds of experiencing a hurricane are very low. Some travelers purchase trip cancellation insurance in advance of travel, particularly during the most active period of the hurricane season.
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