The weather in the Virgin Islands, as in most places in the Caribbean, doesn't vary much from season to season. The difference between average temperatures in the summer and winter is approximately 10 degrees Fahrenheit, so the high season for tourism is dictated more by the weather in other places than in the Virgin Islands.
Winter in the Virgin Islands is like the month of May in much of the North American Southeast, with an average temperature hovering around 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). This makes winter the most popular time to visit, as North Americans escape the freezing temperatures of their home towns.
Summer brings hotter weather and humidity to the Virgin Islands, and both summer and fall have a greater chance of rain than other times of year. The hurricane season officially lasts from June 1 to November 30, but that shouldn't deter a visit. More hurricanes hit the U.S. mainland than the Virgin Islands, and with today's meteorological technology, there should be more than enough warning to take proper precautions.
The crowds are the most obvious difference between visiting during the tourist season versus the off-season, but this difference causes more changes than travelers might initially realize.
Visiting the Virgin Islands in the high season of tourism is quite an experience. The islands become a hustling, bustling swirl of vacationers, all reveling in the beautiful weather and the Caribbean experience. Hotels, shops, and restaurants offer their most extensive services with a smile. The crowds can be exciting and exhilarating, but also a little daunting. This is definitely an ideal time for small groups: singles, couples, or groups of friends who can navigate the islands with ease. The dating scene is also more lively in the high season.
Accommodations and flights should be booked at least two or three months in advance, and even earlier during certain times. Reservations are necessary, transportation is stretched thinner, and tours are generally more crowded. This is when the islands make most of their money, so every guest is treated like royalty.
...experience many of the festivities...
While the high season is exciting, the off-season may be more indicative of the true Caribbean. With diminished crowds, a less-hurried, more quintessentially Caribbean way of life prevails. During the off-season, midday temperatures may rise to an uncomfortable 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit, but the Atlantic trade winds keep the mornings, afternoons, and evenings extremely pleasant. Hotels and resorts may reduce their services and diminish their staff during the off-season, and some tours or activities may be closed altogether. Hotels also reserve their major repairs or renovations for the off-season, so it's a good idea to call ahead and make sure you won't be lodging in the midst of a construction site.
On the flip side, traveling in the off-season can be much cheaper. Hotels cut their rates from 20 to 60 percent, and tours and shops may cut prices to remain competitive. There is easier access to public transportation, tee times and golf courses, courts, water sports, and other activities. Flights and accommodations are easier to book, as are restaurant reservations.
Many people plan their vacation to the Caribbean around a certain event or festival. In the Virgin Islands, there is always something going on. The high season is filled with events like the Crucian Christmas Festival, the Blues and Heritage Festival, the International Rolex Cup Regatta, and the famous Island Carnival. Some islands hold small events on a regular basis, such as St. John Saturdays held the last Saturday of every month.
Visitors who opt for the off-season, however, can still experience many of the festivities that the Virgin Islands are known for. In the British Virgin Islands, Summer Fest is a major event for the delight of vacationers and locals alike. Events such as the Fourth of July occur in the off-season and are celebrated quite festively in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Other carnivals, festivals, sailing regattas, holidays, and fishing tournaments take place in the Virgin Islands throughout the year.
When it comes to planning your trip to the Virgin Islands, choosing when to go is probably one of the easier decisions you have to make, but that doesn't mean you should take it lightly. Take weather, crowd, cost, and must-attend events into account before you book your trip.
Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.