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Jillian Dara is a freelance travel writer and fact checker. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, USA Today 10Best, Michelin Guide, Hemispheres, DuJour, and Jetsetter.
The best time to visit the Bahamas is from mid-April to early July, after the Spring Breakers have flown north and before hurricane season arrives in early August. Though the Bahamas are a reliably popular winter destination, its offseason charms have been largely overlooked: bookings are less expensive, beaches are less crowded, and there’s more of an opportunity to engage with the local culture via monthly festivals and weekly regattas.
Weather in the Bahamtogether
The Bahamas is known for having sunshine most days of the year, though that doesn’t mean the summer months become unbearably sweltering. Thanks to the trade winds that sweep through the island chain, you’d be surprised to discover it’s breezier on a July afternoon in the Bahamas than an early June morning in New York City. It rains more regularly in May and June, though the rainfall is relatively mild (and usually welcome: known in the Caribbean as “liquid sunshine.”) Hurricane season is at its peak in August and September, though they’re less of a threat in the Bahamas than they are on the East Coast of the U.S. If you’re a worrier, remember to purchase your travel insurance beforehand, as you can’t claim retroactively.
Peak Tourist Season in the Bahamas
Unlike the tropical climate, which remains relatively temperate year-round, the cost of travel in the Bahamas spikes during the wintertime, with hotels charging rates up to 50 percent higher than in the summer months. The season begins in mid-December and continues until mid-April, ending just after Spring Break. Late spring and early summer are more economical for travelers, as the cost of travel drops in the off-season — for outer islands, in particular.
Key Holidays & Festivals in the Bahamtogether
Of all the parades and festivals that occur on a near-weekly basis throughout the Bahamas, the Junkanoo is the undisputed favorite. The energy and joy of the vibrant street parade, with its intricate masks and creative costumes, is reminiscent of Mardi Gras or Carnival, though its heritage is distinctly Bahamian. The festival’s name derives from the name "John Canoe," an African chief who, even after being forced into slavery in the West Indies, never stopped fighting for his right, and the right of his people, to dance, sing, and have a good time. The celebration continues today, as the Junkanoo is now the National Festival of the Bahamas.
Other key holidays, such as Emancipation Day and Independence Week, occur in the summertime, so there’s never an off-season for celebrating Bahamian culture. But even if you can’t attend any of these holidays, there are other cultural activities you can partake in year-round, particularly in the capital of Nassau. Weekend cricket matches (the national sport) take place from March to November, while bird walks are held on the first Saturday of each month from September to May. Additionally, a Tea Party is thrown by the Ministry of Tourism at the Governor’s House on the last Friday of every month. The Tea Party is not to be missed, offering a unique chance to experience Bahamian culture and cuisine.
The New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade is the most highly-anticipated event of the year, kicking off at 2 a.m. on the first day of the year. Since the winter holidays aren’t just peak season for Junkanoos, but for tourists as well, visitors should book accommodations, and look into flight deals, well in advance of their arrival. January is peak season, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a hotel room available on January 1 without having booked several months in advance.
The New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade takes place on many of the Bahamian islands (including Abaco and Grand Bahama), though the largest celebration occurs in Nassau.
The weather in the first two months of the year is very dry, with temperatures staying in the mid-60s to high 70s Fahrenheit. This month is in the heart of peak season, and Valentine’s Day is also especially popular for weekend travelers to the islands.
The Mid-Winter Wahoo fishing competition will take place on Bimini (the old stomping grounds of Hemingway).The Farmer’s Cay Festival is a boat festival that will take place on the Exuma Islands.
The temperature starts rising in March, reaching the high 80s, and the rain starts pouring a little more regularly, marking the end of the dry season. This is still peak season for travel, as many hotels will be fully booked through the month, and airfare will potentially double in price.
Crowds will begin to thin out by mid-April, just when the average temperature creeps up to the low 80s. It’s the perfect time of year to sit by the water and watch the boats race by upon those iconic crystal waters, for which the nation is named. “Bahamas” is derived from the Spanish, who called the area ‘baja mar’, which means low sea, or clear waters.
Crowds will thin out in mid-April, so by May you will get to fully enjoy the tranquility of the islands (and the warmer weather). The peak season of December to March can be occasionally brisk, in the 60s F, while the temperature loiters in the low 80s F in April and May.
George Washington referred to the Bahamas as the ‘Isles of Perpetual June’, and there’s something to be said for being in the most blissful destination in the world during the most blissful time of year. The tradewinds, such a blessing in the summer months, are what made this tropical archipelago such a favored destination for sailors and pirates.
The Cat Island Rake and Scrape Festival which celebrates local Bahamian music and culture, and is the most happening event on Cat Island for the entire year.
July is a great time to visit, not only for the warm weather and the slashed prices, but for two key events: the Junkanoo Summer Festival, and Independence Week.
Reach out to the tourism bureau if you’re interested in participating in the Junkanoo Summer Festival, as there are smaller Junkanoos where visitors can dress up as well.
August is slightly warmer and rainier, but the temperature is usually hovering around the low 80s F—a benefit of the country’s northwest Caribbean location. The pace is slower, the tourists have left, and there’s a more laid back, island-style vibe to the Bahamas.
The rainy season continues, though an afternoon rain-shower or thunderstorm passes by quickly, potentially followed by a rainbow. The prices are lower in September as well, so it’s a good time to book a villa, or treat yourself to an extravagance you’d normally skip.
After late spring/early summer, the months of October and November are also ideal travel times. Though October is technically considered part of hurricane season, the threat is far lessened — and prices won’t rise until the high season starts up in mid-December.
November is the last calm before the storm of holiday vacationers, and is also a perfect time of year to claim as your own in the islands. If you’ve wanted to celebrate a holiday in the tropics, but Christmas was always too difficult to coordinate, consider Thanksgiving. Though merely a week away from the peak season, there are still affordable flights to be booked, and rooms to be reserved. Plus, what better way to stave off the oncoming winter by fighting it preemptively?
Although the last month of the year marks the beginning of high tourism (and high costs) in the Bahamas, it’s well worth a visit to witness the Junkanoo parades in all their holiday glory. The day after Christmas was a holiday traditionally given to slaves — alongside leftover boxes from their master’s unwanted presents — which is why it’s called the Boxing Day parade.
The Junior Junkanoo Parade is held the second Thursday of December.The Boxing Day Junkanoo Parade starts promptly at 2 a.m. the morning after Christmas.
The best time to visit the Bahamas is the shoulder season from mid-April to early July. The weather is comfortable and it's after the peak tourist season, so it's also a great time for finding travel deals.
May and June are rainier than other months of the year, but rainfall in the Bahamas is typically light and shouldn't interfere with your trip. The hurricane season goes through August to September.
Winter is the high season for tourism, so expect extra big crowds from December through March. Hotel rates are at their highest during these months, so book as far in advance as possible.
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Weather Spark. "Average Weather in Nassau, Bahamas, Year Round." Retrieved February 10, 2021.
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Britannica. "The Bahamas | History, Geography & Points of Interest." Retrieved February 10, 2021.