Jamaica has a mainly tropical rainforest type of climate (Köppen climate classification Af), with hot and humid weather. The west coast and central regions display a tropical monsoon climate (Köppen Am), and the south-central region is of tropical wet and dry type (Köppen Aw). A small region in the Blue Mountains in the mid-east has an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb), with warm summers. Jamaica is an island country in the Greater Antilles of the Caribbean Sea, 90 miles south of Cuba, and 119 miles west of Hispaniola. The tropical latitudes, trade winds, and large water bodies chiefly influence Jamaica's climate.
Jamaica is a small island between the equator and the Tropic of Cancer. A narrow coastal plain surrounds the mountainous interior landscape. Karts formations dominate the island, with two-thirds of the area covered by a limestone plateau. Rainforests, limestone forests, wetlands, woodlands, caves, rivers, and coral reefs support the terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Several small islands, such as Dolphin Island, Long Island, Pigeon Island, and Salt Island, lie towards the east and south of Jamaica in the Caribbean Sea. The northern and western coasts offer white sandy beaches and calm seas. The southern coast has black sandy beaches, with cliffs that drop 300 meters in the sea in many places. Pedro Bank is an area of shallow seas with numerous cays in the southwest of the island. Morant Bank is in the southeast, while Alice Shoal lies 160 miles in the southwest. The Santa Cruz and May Day mountains lie in the west, while the John Crow and the Blue Mountains are in the east. The Blue Mountain Peak in the eastern region is the highest point at 2256 meters in Jamaica.
Jamaica has a wet season from May to October and a dry season from November to April. The windward sides of the mountains have a tropical climate, while the leeward sides are semi-arid. Temperature differences are minimal in the year and register in the average range of 23.3°C (73.9°F) to 30°C (86°F) in the plains and 15°C (59°F) to 22.2°C (72°F) in the mountains. Summers are hot and humid, with average high temperatures above 32.2°C (90°F) in July and August. Winters are sunny and relatively dry, with average low temperatures below 21.1°C (70°F) in January. The days receive onshore breezes, and the nights have cool offshore breezes. Wind speeds remain in the average range of 19.3km/h (12mph) to 24.1km/h (15mph) for the majority of the year. The cold Norte wind from the United States from December to March lowers the evenings and night temperatures by a few degrees at the most.
The average rainfall in Jamaica is an abundant 1960.9mm (77.2") annually. Rainfall occurs throughout the year, with warm trade winds from the northeast and east. May to October is rainy, with the highest precipitation in those two months. The north coast exposed to trade winds receives the highest rainfall in November. The north and east faces of the mountains receive more significant rainfall than the south and west. The precipitation scales a high of 5080mm (200") in the high altitudes of the Blue and John Crow Mountains. The southwest region receives only 762mm (30") of rainfall. The island receives 2500 to 3000 hours of bright sunshine in the year. The southern coasts are the sunniest. The average relative humidity ranges from 65 to 90% and peaks during the wet season. The seawater temperatures are in the warm range of 27.2°C (81°F) to 28.9°C (84°F) year-round and suitable for swimming.
The record for the highest temperature in the capital, Kingston, is 36.1°C (97°F), and the lowest temperature is 17.8°C (64°F).
The best time to visit Jamaica
The best time to visit Jamaica is in the dry season, especially between December and March. The relatively low-rainfall winter months have sunny days amid moderate temperatures. Few places can boast of 8 hours of daily sunshine like Jamaica in the winter. Humidity levels are bearable, and the conditions are comfortable. The end of the hurricane season offers clear blue skies and calm waters to undertake sea excursions. Moderate wind speeds below 24.1km/h (15mph) provide refreshing air on the beaches. New Year has fair weather for a holiday on the white sandy beaches of Montego Bay in the north.
The worst time to visit Jamaica
The worst time to visit Jamaica is during the hot summer from July to October when the humidity is at the highest of the year. August and September are particularly avoidable as they coincide with the peak of the hurricane season. Temperatures reach the highest of the year, and the heat is stifling due to humidity levels above 80%. The strong sunshine causes discomfort due to the shortage of broad-leaf trees, especially on the beaches. Thunderstorms are active in the afternoon and bring torrential downpour in short periods. Cloudy skies and an average rainfall of 127mm (5") to 152.4mm (6") during each month of the summer make it challenging to sunbathe except for brief periods in the morning.
Jamaica is prone to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and landslides. The location of the island in the Atlantic hurricane belt brings significant storm damage. Hurricane Dean, a category 4 storm, brought substantial damage and loss of human life. Powerful hurricanes occur from time to time, including Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Dennis and Emily in 2005. June to October season brings hurricanes to Jamaica. Heavy bouts of rainfall cause floods in the low-lying plains. Moderate-intensity earthquakes occasionally occur as the Caribbean and South American plates grind against each other. Afternoon thunderstorms are frequent in the wet season. Karst formations are prone to sinkholes, and heavy rainfall occasionally results in landslides.
Weather in January
January is warm and sunny in Jamaica, even though it is the coldest month of the year. Montego Bay is a popular holiday destination, with fair weather and average temperatures in the 20.6°C (69.1°F) to 27.8°C (82°F) range. The average temperatures in Kingston are in the warm zone of 21.1°C (70°F) to 30.6°C (87.1°F), with 8 hours of daily sunshine. Evenings are refreshing, and the cozy nights rarely get cold. The warm sea waters average 27.2°C (81°F) at the most and are favorable for swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling. Rainfall is in short-lived outbursts that register less than 50.8mm (2") in the south and leaves pleasant conditions behind. The north coast is wet, with 144.8mm (5.7") of rainfall in Ocho Rios, while Morant Point, on the eastern tip of Jamaica, records 223.5mm (8.8"). Wind speeds remain in the average range of 19.3km/h (12mph) to 20.9km/h (13mph), with clear skies for 80% of the time. The warm winter season in January makes Jamaica a prime tourist destination for people who wish to escape the cold winters elsewhere.
Weather in February
February is usually the driest month of the year in Jamaica, with average precipitation less than 50.8mm (2"). It is still the winter season, with 8 to 9 hours of warm sunshine, and less than 12 hours of daylight. The average temperatures in Port Antonio in the northeast are lower in the range of 18.9°C (66°F) to 27.8°C (82°F) than Kingston between 21.1°C (70°F) to 30°C (86°F) in the south. Cinchona Gardens in the Blue Mountains are in the cool range of 11.7°C (53.1°F) to 20°C (68°F) and register up to 116.8mm (4.6") of precipitation. The skies remain clear 80% of the time, and the relative humidity is between 65 to 75%. Wind direction is predominantly from the east, with average speeds of 19.3km/h (12mph) to 20.9km/h (13mph). The Caribbean Sea waters register average temperatures of 27.2°C (81°F) and are favorable for swimming and other activities. The daylight begins to increase with each passing day that signals the end of the winter season. Cruises draw crowds in the fair weather of February in Jamaica.
Weather in March
March is dry and warm in Jamaica, with a gradual increase in daylight beyond 12 hours. Early mornings see the sunrise between 6 a.m. to 6.30 a.m., with refreshing air and fewer crowds on the beaches before the temperatures begin to rise. The average temperatures in Kingston are in the warm zone of 21.7°C (71.1°F) to 30.6°C (87.1°F) zone, with 9 hours of daily sunshine. The days remain in the range of 21.7°C (71.1°F) to 30.6°C (87.1°F) in Port Antonio, with 55.9mm (2.2") of precipitation and 5 to 7 wet days. Montego Bay sees muggy days 95% of the time, with mostly clear skies and wind speeds below 19.3km/h (12mph). T-shirts, sweatshirts, and shorts are the order of the day. Sunscreens and broad-brimmed hats offer the necessary protection from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Mornings and evenings are the best times for scuba diving and snorkeling in the reef. Expect the afternoons to be hot, with passing showers. March has comfortable weather for a holiday in Jamaica.
Weather in April
April is a transitional month from the dry to wet season in Jamaica, with moderate rainfall. The precipitation is between 50.8mm (2") to 127mm (5"), with a significant rise after Easter, and the atmosphere is hot and muggy. Morant Point and Cinchona Gardens are wet and receive between 152.4mm (6") to 177.8mm (7") of rainfall in April. The average temperatures are in the range of 20°C (68°F) to 31.1°C (88°F), with the north coast slightly more refreshing than the south coast. Morant Bay in the Saint Thomas County in the east, registers in the warm zone of 22.2°C (72°F) to 28.9°C (84°F), with 50.8mm (2") of rain. The skies remain clear at least 65% of the time, but relative humidity of 70 to 85% induces much sweat. Evenings bring refreshing cool breezes, with average wind speeds in the 19.3km/h (12mph) to 22.5km/h (14mph) range. The dry season ends with April in Jamaica, which is an excellent month to take advantage of the moderate conditions.
Weather in May
May brings the wet season to Jamaica, with hot and muggy conditions amid heavy rainfall. The skies are cloudy between 50 to 70% of the time, with relative humidity between 65 to 90%. The average temperatures in Negril and Black River are in the zone of 22.2°C (72°F) to 30°C (86°F), with hot days and warm nights. Morant Point registers 304.8mm (12") in 12 to 14 wet days in the month. The western coast is rainy, with 152.4mm (6") to 203.2mm (8"), and even elsewhere, May is the first maxima of the wet season. Avoid the peak sunshine hours between 12 to 4 p.m. as there is plenty of time in the 13-hour days. The average seawater temperatures reach 28.3°C (82.9°F) in May and are favorable for swimming and water activities. Rain jackets or umbrellas are necessary, but avoid afternoons, as the possibility of thunderstorms and rain is high. May offers 7 hours of daily sunshine in Jamaica despite the cloud cover and precipitation.
Weather in June
June brings oppressive heat in Jamaica, along with a rise in muggy conditions in the summer. The longest days of the year last just above 13 hours and have 8 hours of bright sunshine. Temperatures are usually in the 21.1°C (70°F) to 90°, with Kingston between 24.4°C (75.9°F) to 90°, Falmouth between 23.3°C (73.9°F) to 88°, and Port Antonio between 21.7°C (71.1°F) to 30.6°C (87.1°F). The average rainfall is in the range of 152.4mm (6") to 203.2mm (8"), with Kingston at 76.2mm (3") and Morant Bay above 330.2mm (13"). The last week of June is windy in Kingston with daily average speeds up to 24.1km/h (15mph), the highest of the year. Thunderstorms occur in the afternoons, and June begins the hurricane season. The northern and western coasts are more susceptible to tropical cyclones than the interior and the south. The relative humidity reaches 95% to make the conditions unbearable. Extreme temperatures are rare, as sea breezes temper the heat in the evenings. June records fewer tourist footfalls in Jamaica due to unfavorable weather.
Weather in July
July is usually the hottest month in Jamaica, with the average temperatures in the 23.9°C (75°F) to 91°range. The precipitation encounters minima in the wet season, and the days are sticky. Kingston sees 9 to 10 hours of bright sunshine, with hardly 40.6mm (1.6") of rainfall in the month. Ocho Rios, which is usually wet, receives a relatively moderate 78.7mm (3.1") amid a trough in the wet season. Tourists seek the relatively fresh atmosphere of the Blue Mountains. Despite the heat, the sea temperatures at 27.8°C (82°F) quickly cool off the visitors to the tropical paradise. White sandy beaches are perfect during the long evenings, as the sunset extends past 6.45 p.m. The days are muggy 90% and cloudy for at least 70% of the time. The average daily wind speeds fall under 19.3km/h (12mph) as the atmosphere longs for fresh air. July is a good chance for budget travelers to avail of a low-cost holiday in Jamaica.
Weather in August
August is a hot month in the summer in Jamaica, with muggy days amid relative humidity between 70 to 95%. The precipitation picks up again, and much of the country registers at least 101.6mm (4") to 177.8mm (7") in the month. Afternoon showers are standard, and tourists should stay in the comfort of hotel rooms between 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The average temperatures in Kingston are in the hot zone of 23.9°C (75°F) to 32.8°C (91°F), with 8 hours of bright sunshine. Spanish Town registers between 23.3°C (73.9°F) to 31.7°C (89.1°F), with at least 101.6mm (4") of rainfall in 10 wet days in August. The sea waters are at their warmest of the year at 28.9°C (84°F) but still comfortable for swimming. The daylight decreases to 12.5 hours by the end of August. Nights are warm, with occasional sea breezes that provide refreshing air in the muggy conditions. Watch out for tropical cyclones that usually arrive from the Atlantic Ocean in August in Jamaica.
Weather in September
September is hot and muggy in Jamaica, with cloudy skies 75% of the time. The chance of rain increases gradually with each passing day, along with a rise in humidity levels. The average precipitation is between 101.6mm (4") to 203.2mm (8"), with highs of 203.2mm (8") to 254mm (10") in Cinchona Gardens in the Blue Mountains and Morant Point. The average temperatures are in the range of 21.7°C (71.1°F) to 32.2°C (90°F), with Montego Bay between 23.3°C (73.9°F) to 31.1°C (88°F) and Port Antonio in the zone of 21.7°C (71.1°F) to 30.6°C (87.1°F). The intense sunshine lasts for 8 hours every day, even though the daylight decreases to 12 hours by the end of September. Tropical storms are frequent, although of moderate intensity. Avoid afternoon outings as it is the standard time of thunderstorms. An umbrella is useful for rain protection, but it is usually best to stay indoors during the short periods of heavy rainfall. September is off-season in Jamaica due to wet season and stormy weather.
Weather in October
October is hot and humid in Jamaica during the second peak of the wet season. The precipitation is in the average range of 152.4mm (6") to 254mm (10"), and even Kingston receives a high of 175.3mm (6.9") out of 812.8mm (32") annually. Morant Point, the Blue Mountains, and Port Antonio receive heavy rainfall of 254mm (10") to 355.6mm (14") in 13 to 17 wet days. The average temperatures in Kingston are in the range of 22.8°C (73°F) to 32.2°C (90°F), with sweltering conditions due to humidity levels in the zone of 65 to 95%. Cinchona Gardens in the Blue Mountains is consistently muggy between 85 to 90% due to mostly cloudy skies with heavy rainfall and only 4 hours of daily sunshine. The daylight registers below 11.5 hours, with sunset timings between 5.40 and 6 p.m. The average daily wind speeds register at 15.3km/h (9.5mph), the lowest of the year, during the first week of October. Hurricanes and heavy rainfall occur in October in Jamaica, but mostly leave blue skies in their aftermath.
Weather in November
November is a wet month in Jamaica, especially on the northern coasts. Ocho Rios registers 248.9mm (9.8"), its highest monthly precipitation of the year. The rainfall decreases in the rest of the island and is in the average range of 101.6mm (4") to 177.8mm (7"). Temperatures drop slightly to register in the range of 22.8°C (73°F) to 31.1°C (88°F), which is still warm, with 8 hours of daily sunshine. The skies remain cloudy 40% of the time, which humidity levels between 65 to 80%. The sea waters are warm at average temperatures of 27.8°C (82°F), and there is an increase in tourist footfalls on the beaches. Evenings see cool breezes, with wind speeds rising from 16.1km/h (10mph) to 19.3km/h (12mph) by the end of November. The 11-hour daylight is a signal that the winter season is on the way to Jamaica. Nights are warm and rarely cold, with a slight drop in humidity that makes the conditions tolerable. Hurricanes usually do not visit the coasts of Jamaica in November.
Weather in December
December is the beginning of the dry season in Jamaica, with average rainfall in the range of 50.8mm (2") to 127mm (5"). The average temperatures across the country are in the warm range of 20.6°C (69.1°F) to 30.6°C (87.1°F), with humid days but comfortable nights. Montego Bay registers comfortable temperatures between 21.7°C (71.1°F) to 28.3°C (82.9°F), with 104.1mm (4.1") of rainfall in 8 to 10 wet days. December has the shortest days of the year, with daylight slightly less than 11 hours and 7 to 8 hours of sunshine. A light jacket is helpful in the evenings and nights. Expect crowds at the beaches with the end of the hurricane season and calm sea waters at 27.2°C (81°F). The Caribbean cruise season is at its peak during the festive Christmas time as the conditions mellow significantly. Wind speeds register the highest daily average of 21.7km/h (13.5mph) in Montego Bay in the third week of December. Tourists from cold countries flock to Jamaica in December due to the warm weather.