For most of Jamaica's visitors, the decision of when to visit the island is based on pre-set vacations from work and school, but if you have the luxury of choosing any time of year to visit, knowing the ebb and flow of seasonal demands will help.
Despite a stable year-round climate, Jamaica has high and low tourist seasons. High season is when tourism is at its peak, and nearly all hotels will be booked. Meanwhile, during the low season, big-ticket items such as accommodations and even airfare can be deeply discounted. This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Caribbean provides many vacationers with an escape from the snowy winter climates between mid-December and mid-April. Jamaica is no exception with temperatures averaging between 71 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Of course, while this may be the perfect time of year for many travelers to see a little sun with easy travel plans around Christmas, New Year's and Easter especially, the popularity also comes with drawbacks.
Booking a room in Jamaica during the high season can be extremely difficult. During holidays and at more popular hotels, rooms may be booked as much as one year in advance. This doesn't mean that you won't be able to get a room, but it may not be your first choice without a little bit of forward thinking. Not only can rooms be hard to come by, rental cars can be almost impossible to procure, and reservations are necessary for things like golf, tours of important landmarks, and dining. Beaches and pools will be more crowded during than in the summer months as well.
Not only is Jamaica a nice change of pace from winter weather, but many festivals also take place. Carnival is one of the Caribbean's best known festivals; it takes place the week following Easter in either March or April and is known to draw a crowd. Junkanoo is Jamaica's traditional Christmas celebration, and several yacht races take place in the early months of the year.
Though Jamaica is always a popular destination, the slower summer and fall season from mid-April to mid-December means fewer crowds. May, June, October, and November are Jamaica's rainy seasons, where each day it is likely to rain for a short while in the afternoon. Though it's not likely to spoil your day, it can put a damper on things. Hurricanes are predictable, and visitors often know well ahead of time if there is a threat of danger on Jamaica.
Services on Jamaica tend to be reduced during the low season. Whether you're facing shortened hours at a store or simply one restaurant or bar being closed, you may not feel you're getting the same number of features and services as you might during high season. Further, the best time to renovate is when there are the fewest clients staying in a hotel. To avoid this inconvenience, ask the resort if they have plans to renovate during your stay.
For many travelers, especially families, the benefits of off-season travel can far outweigh these drawbacks. Discounts of up to 50 percent on some hotels are available and there tend to be more options regarding where to stay because so few locations are completely booked. There may be sales on merchandise as well for the souvenir-seeker on each trip. Even top restaurants may not require reservations if you're there during a particularly slow time.
Despite being the low season, there are still plenty of events and festivals that may lure travelers to the area. One of the quintessential Jamaican events is August's Reggae Sumfest which lasts for an entire week, and later in October music lovers will enjoy the Caribbean Music Expo. September and October are filled with fishing and yachting events, and art lovers won't want to miss Kingston on the Edge Urban Arts in June.
As always, the choice is yours. Visitors travel during both the low and high seasons regularly, and Jamaica is always popular. For some, the difference between the two seasons may not be as noticeable as it may be for others.
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