This has probably happened to you before: You are inspired to take a trip somewhere, but then you realize that it is too late in the season to go... so you give up on your idea and say “we’ll have to wait until next year.”
This happens a lot in for people who want to go to the Caribbean. They are inspired by photos or videos or stories of vacationers having the time of their lives on some tropical island. They immediately decide that they want to go to that same destination. But when they start doing research, they realize that it is now the off-season, and it’s too late. The rainy season is coming, and they get worried that their vacation might be a washout. Or worse, they are concerned that their time in paradise might be interrupted by a hurricane.
It’s true. After spring break, most people forget about the Caribbean. But they are jumping the proverbial gun by a month or two. Late spring is actually a great time to visit these idyllic isles. In-the-know travelers call the late spring and late fall “shoulder seasons.” These are the times when the masses have packed it in and started planning for next year’s vacation. For savvy travelers, however, this is the best time to book. Here’s why:
Yes, there is a higher risk of rainfall in the spring. But rains are intermittent and usually quite light. An afternoon squall might blow across the islands, but it will only last for 30 minutes, or an hour at most. Then, the sun returns. Temperatures are still pleasant throughout shoulder season. They usually rise into the high 70s or low 80s. The steamy summertime that the region is so famous for usually doesn’t arrive until June.
What about hurricanes? Strong tropical storms are more common in the summer and early fall. They are very rare before June. During the summer, most storms affect the north and west parts of the West Indies. In places like Aruba and Trinidad, hurricanes are rare, even during the peak storm season.
Best of all, shoulder season travelers have their pick of hotel rooms and rental villas. And many of these tempt them with the lowest rates of the year. It is possible to take a step up from your usual vacation experience. If you want to try a luxury resort, but don’t think you can afford it, shoulder season is the best time to find the kind of deal that you always dreamed of. That luxury villa that you have had your eye on just might fall into your price range during the springtime.
The crowds are absent in April and May. But the parties are still going strong. This is when the locals let loose. Some islands actually hold their carnival celebrations over until April so that they don’t interfere with tourist season. If you head to Saint Thomas in US Virgin Islands, for example, you will run right into the middle of a carnival parade.
Saint Lucia is a good option for people who want to travel in shoulder season. One of the Windward Islands, its dry season runs through April. Saint Lucia is popular with tourists, but it is also known as being more naturally beautiful than some of the other West Indies. April and May bring cheaper rates at luxury resorts like Ladera. This collection of private condos is perched on the side of a cliff, providing some of the best views in the Southern Caribbean.
Two Leeward Islands (not far from Puerto Rico), Anguilla and Saint Barthélemy, are great shoulder season options. Anguilla is less developed than its neighbors and features luxury resorts like the Ani Villas. Francophone Saint Barthélemy (better known as Saint Barts) is widely considered one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. It boasts luxury rental villas like the Sand Club and stylishly fun small resorts like La Banane.
Have you traveled in the West Indies during shoulder season? Or have you stayed in one of the amazing resorts we just mentioned? Use the comments section to share your insights with us.