Even in a region as crammed with jewels as the Caribbean, Jamaica is a beautiful island. From the crystalline waters flowing over gardens of coral and lapping onto soft sandy beaches to the towering ridges of the Blue Mountains, Jamaica offers a year-round kind of bliss. Deciding when to go can get a little tricky, so here's our guide to picking the best time to visit Jamaica. 

Editor's note: During COVID-19, please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government health advice. Events may be subject to change.

High Season: December to March 

Best time for outdoor festivals 

A woman waves a flag with a picture of Haile Selassie against sunrise while watching Capleton perform at the Rebel Salute Festival
Rebel Salute is Jamaica's biggest Roots Reggae concert © Peeterv / Getty Images

Expect sunny, warm days, especially on the coast, and lots of people. There's little rainfall, which means lots of time spent on the beach or grooving to any number of music festivals in the country. Rebel Salute is one of the biggest Roots Reggae concerts in Jamaica and is held at Plantation Cove in St. Ann’s Bay on the second Saturday of January. 

For a taste of true Jamaican history, the Accompong Maroon Festival also takes place in January. The Maroons are the descendants of formerly enslaved Africans who escaped the inland plantations and set up communities in Jamaica’s mountains. January’s festivities are a celebration of Maroon town’s nominal independence.  

Top 15 beaches in Jamaica 

Shoulder Season: April to May 

Best time for exploring the outdoors 

Jamaica blue mountains
Shoulder season is a great time to visit the Blue Mountains © David Neil Madden / Getty Images

Springtime in Jamaica means lower hotel prices and fewer visitors. The weather is relatively dry (except for Port Antonio). Before the rainy season hits, now is the time to explore the country’s rugged landscape like the Blue Mountains or the many wildlife reserves dotted throughout the island. 

Low Season: June to November  

Best time for enjoying the arts scene 

Musician Beenie Man performs during Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Low season is filled with fantastic concerts © Shelby Soblick/Getty Images

Sporadic heavy rainfall and hurricanes are an issue during this time of year. Yet despite the less-than-ideal weather forecast, Jamaica’s biggest music festival takes place in July. Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay brings in the best reggae and dancehall artists from around the world. Even if you’re not attending, you’re attending – the festivities tend to take over MoBay. 

August 6 is Independence day – expect much fanfare and celebration throughout the island. 

January 

January is prime tourist season. The weather is pleasantly sunny and warm which means the beaches are crowded.
Key events: Rebel Salute, Accompong Maroon Festival. 

February 

The weather continues to be dry and the sun continues to shine as some of the island's important cultural festivals occur in the east.
Key events: Bob Marley’s birthday, Rainforest Seafood Festival, Merritone Memories. 

A plantation growing world famous Blue Mountain coffee high up in the cloud forest of the Blue Mountains in Jamaica
Jamaica's famous Blue Mountain Coffee is celebrated in March © Rick Elkins / Getty Images

March 

You may find Jamaica less crowded, yet still blessed with good weather, as the high tourism season comes to an end. In the capital, thoughts turn to getting fit with events like the Kingston City Run.
Key events: Boys & Girls Championships (track and field), Kingston City Run, Jamaica Rum Festival, Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival. 

April

While this is the beginning of the Jamaican shoulder season, the weather stays largely dry even as the crowds, and accommodations rates, start to plummet.
Key event: Trelawny Yam Festival. 

May 

The rainy season really gears up in May, although rains pass quickly and things stay dry in the south for the nation’s top literary festival.
Key events: Calabash International Literary Festival, Jamaica Observer Food Awards. 

A model walks down a catwalk wearing a colorful dress with black high heels at Jamaica's Fashion Week.
When the humidity rises in June, head indoors to enjoy some fantastic Jamaican events © Sean Drakes /Getty Images

June 

A soupy combination of heat and humidity from the rains begins to take hold, but sea breezes on the coast and mountain chill in the interior keep things fresh.
Key events: Caribbean Fashion Week, Charles Town Maroon Festival & Conference. 

July

Phew. It’s really hot. And not just the weather: one of the island’s best music festivals heats up the events calendar. The rainy season continues.
Key event: Reggae Sumfest. 

Photo of a stone wall with the words Emancipation Park in gold letters hanging off and in front of a foundation
Celebrate Jamaica's Independence Day in August © Debbie Ann Powell / Shutterstock

August

It’s as hot as Jamaica gets, and about as humid too. In fact, the rains may be coalescing into ominous storm clouds. Yet the celebrations on the island aren’t slowing down.
Key event: Independence Day.

October 

Now the rains are coming in hard, and there may well be hurricanes gathering off the coast. On the plus side, accommodations run dirt cheap.
Key event: Jamaica Coffee Festival.

November

The rains are beginning to slacken off, although the northeast is still getting drenched. This is the end of low-season rates, so grab some bargains.
Key events: Restaurant Week, Cycle Jamaica.

December

The weather becomes refreshingly dry again, and resorts start raising their prices accordingly. During Christmas, thousands of Jamaicans fly in from the US, Canada and the UK to spend time with family.
Key events: LTM National Pantomime, New Year’s Eve, Rastafari Rootz Fest, Reggae Marathon. 

Introducing Jamaica

You might also like:

How your vacation can help save sea turtles in the Caribbean 
How to smoke weed legally in Jamaica 

Buy Epic Hikes of the World

With stories of 50 incredible hiking routes in 30 countries, from New Zealand to Peru, plus a further 150 suggestions, this book will inspire a lifetime of adventure on foot.

Buy Epic Hikes of the World

Explore related stories