While it may be impossible to tap into climate’s crystal ball, some excellent resources can statistically gauge weather trends and rainy seasons across the world, helping you decide the right time for a vacation and sometimes preventing a total travel washout (even during hurricane season).
Understand the Atlantic Hurricane Season
There’s a reason the finest resorts across Florida, the Caribbean, and Mexico lower their prices in excess of one-half from June to November. And that’s called hurricane season. Essentially you are getting a discount for the risk, but it’s important to note that some destinations—and months—are far less risky than others. Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, the so-called “ABC Islands,” fall out of the hurricane belt, making these islands a better bet during the entirety of the Atlantic hurricane season. For other islands, September tends to be the riskiest month for booking travel (and if you book with the right credit card and your trip is cancelled, you’ll be covered). June, July, and often November tend to be sweeter spots in the eastern Caribbean. Though the mayhem of the 2017 hurricane season is still fresh, don’t let it completely erase nearly a decade of summers of excellent weather in the Caribbean and Florida.
Match the Weather to Your Travel Goals
Weather patterns foster changing landscapes throughout the year, so be sure you pick the right time of year to achieve your travel goals. Also, do a bit of detailed research on seasonal variations within your intended destination. For example, August is winter in Cape Town, South Africa—cold and rainy and bare—and thus the worst time for pursuits in South Africa wine country. However, August happens to be the best time for a wildlife safari in the country’s eastern reaches, where dry conditions make animals easy to spot. The Maldives has far less sun and far more rain in July and August, but these are the prime months for diving with huge schools of manta rays. Commence your due diligence by simply typing “Best Time to Visit X” in your Google search engine. For basic summaries and consistency among forecast descriptions, try Lonely Planet. Click on your intended destination, then navigate to “Survival Guide” and “When to Go & Weather.” Lonely Planet doesn’t offer much in terms of luxury recommendations, but when it comes to basics like weather, the online version of this old-fashioned guidebook is concise and easy to read!
Search Beyond Weather.com
You may have already found that weather.com—while great as a primary go-to source for our weather in the United States—lacks statistical data on monthly temperature and rainfall averages for a vast number of exotic locales. So for weather trends outside North America, we tend to visit holiday-weather.com, which provides a wealth of charts and graphs on annual average weather conditions, including temperature, sea temperature, rainfall, humidity, daily sunshine hours, average rain days, and average fog.
Absolute versus Relative
Rainy season is such a vague term, such that not all rainy seasons are created equal. That holds true when comparing destinations and even comparing months within the same destination. So when searching weather websites keep in mind both absolute rainfall (sheer quantity) and relative rainfall (quantity compared to another destination or another month). For example, the peak of rainy season in Honolulu (January) averages 2.4 inches of rainfall, nearly one-quarter less than Miami’s 9.2 inches of rainfall during it’s peak rainy season (October).
Go with the Flow
Even with all the advances in meteorology and excellent online tools, often the age-old adage holds true: “You can’t predict the weather.” It’s always a smart idea to have a backup of good reads, downloads of new shows, and a spa nearby in case the rain still strikes!