Why fall and winter are top times to visit Puerto Rico (and tips for the whole year)

San Juan, Puerto Rico Caribbean coast along Paseo de la Princesa.
Puerto Rico's beautiful scenery makes it the perfect Caribbean destination © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Why shiver at home? With beautiful beaches, bioluminescent bays, steamy forests and a rich history that's perfect for enjoying in the sun, Puerto Rico is a snow bird’s picture-perfect haven.

Fall is hot, tropical and quiet – a calm breathing space before sun-seekers flood in for the busy winter season. For most fall visitors, the risk of tropical storms is trumped by the peace and quiet on the beaches.

No holiday time till the spring? Don't worry – the rest of the year is a good time to visit Puerto Rico too. The busy festival calendar means there's always something happening on the island, and Puerto Rico's salsa beats and lip-smacking cuisine are ever-present – the scent of slow-roasted pork fills the air throughout the year.

It never gets cold here, but it's worth paying attention to weather forecasts during the June to November hurricane season. As elsewhere in the Caribbean, the actual risk of a hurricane passing overhead is very real, and tropical storms often come with the territory. Here’s our guide to helping you decide the best time to visit Puerto Rico. 

Shoulder Season: September to mid-December and mid-April to May 

Best time to avoid the crowds 

Cobbled-stone street and colorful buildings on a street in Old San Juan.
Shoulder season is a time when the travel sector in Puerto Rico takes a breather © Dominik Dabrowski / Getty Images

On either side of the crowded high season, Puerto Rico’s tourist infrastructure takes a breather to regroup. There isn’t a significant drop in prices or services, but the crowds thin, the beaches calm, and temperatures simmer, making fall and spring very pleasant times to visit the island, passing storms notwithstanding. 

A September visit provides a chance to drop in on the Fiesta Nuestra Señora de la Monserrate in Aguas Buenas; live music and street food make for a lively atmosphere and the mountain setting is lovely. However, this is also the peak month for hurricanes. Many travelers prefer to wait till the storm risk falls in October, or visit in spring, avoiding the hurricane season completely. 

High Season: December to April and July 

Best time for relaxing on the beach 

A celebrant wears a scary multi-horned mask at a carnival in Ponce, Puerto Ric
Carnaval is just one of many festivals and celebrations taking place during high season in Puerto Rico © Bob Krist / Getty Images

December is the start of peak season in Puerto Rico as large numbers of Americans flee the cold to find refuge in Puerto Rico’s sun, sand and surf. Hotel prices rise considerably and the country comes alive thanks to a host of seasonal festivals and events like Día de los Reyes (Three Kings Day), Carnaval, and Semana Santa.   

The weather is warm, but cooler than during the sticky summer, making this a great time for trekking in the island interior. A second high season picks up in hot, sultry July when local families fill beach towns, but it's not a full-on as the winter rush. July's Fiestas Patronales de Vieques and Fiesta de Santiago show off different sides of Puerto Rico's cultural melting pot. 

Low Season: June to September

Best time for budget travelers 

A surfer goes airborne on a wave on a beach in Rincón, PR
The popular Rincón Surfing Festival takes place in November © James McGraghan / 500px

Hurricane season technically runs from June through November, but August and September are peak months for storms. You’ll be able to find discounted packages, but keep an eye on the weather forecasts and take out travel insurance just in case. As a whole, the island slows down, but there are still events to enjoy like the Rincón Surfing Festival, the Puerto Rico Queer Filmfest and the Jayya Indigenous Festival.  

January 

Travelers looking to escape the cold find balmy solace in Puerto Rico, where temperatures hover around 83°F (28°C), and where the Christmas after-party rumbles on.
Key events: Dia de los Reyes, Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, Whale watching.  

February 

Though the mountains are coolest during this time of year, temperatures stay fairly consistent along the coast. It is also one of the driest times of year, with only rare, brief, afternoon showers.
Key events: Carnaval, Festival Casals, Maricao Coffee Festival. 

March

Snowbird tourists return north, but Puerto Rico’s weather remains remarkably beautiful, with warm temperatures and little rain. This might be the slowest month for tourism all year, leaving many attractions virtually empty.
Key events: Feria Dulce Sueño, Emancipation Day. 

Good Friday procession that depicts a man portraying Jesus Christ holding a wooden cross. He is being guarded by one man and verbally attacked by a trio of other men.
Easter is a big time for religious ceremonies in Puerto Rico © Jose Burgos / iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus

April 

Trade winds bring a bit more precipitation to the north coast, though rainfall is mostly in the afternoon and temperatures continue to rise.
Key events: Semana Santa, Rincón International Film Festival. 

May 

Many small agricultural towns of the south celebrate the arrival of spring with the fruit of their harvests – including a delicious assortment of coconut, mango, shrimp and oysters.
Key events: Feria Internacional de Artesanía, Semana de la Danza. 

June

Puerto Ricans switch to summer mode, with shorter working hours and time off from school. The summer tourist season – when road-tripping locals join foreigners – swings into high gear.
Key events: Festival del Juey, Fiesta de San Juan Bautista, Festival de Flores, San Juan Pride.

Couple kayaking in the ocean in Puerto Rico
Everyone heads to the beach in July © Justin Lewis / Getty Images

July

Searing-hot temperatures drive Puerto Rican families to the beaches in droves. This is high season for sun-seeking locals, so expect plenty of company on the sands.
Key events: Puerto Rico Salsa Congress, Fiestas Patronales de Vieques, Fiesta de Santiago. 

August 

The tropical rains start to fall during the start of the peak of the hurricane season, but the parties continue every weekend nonetheless.
Key events: Bomba y Plena, San Juan International Billfish Tournament.

September 

Tourism in September can be seriously disrupted by tropical storms and worse, the month being the most likely time for a big one to hit. Travelers should keep a very close eye on the weather.
Key event: Fiesta Nuestra Señora de la Monserrate.

An old door with chipped paint with the Puerto Rico flag painted above
October is a slower season in Puerto Rico © MaxyM / Shutterstock

October 

Though this is the slow tourist season, the island’s typical assortment of parties for patron saints are scattered throughout the month. The lack of crowds makes this a great month for a visit.
Key events: Día del Descubrimiento de América, Festival de Cine Internacional de San Juan. 

November 

American tourists begin descending on the island as the weather turns cold in the north. Puerto Rico also sees many native sons and daughters return to the island for the holidays.
Key events: Rincón Surfing Festival, Calle Loíza Culinary Fest, Jayuya Indigenous Festival, Winter League Festival, Puerto Rico Queer FilmFest, Thanksgiving.

December

Twinkling lights make central plazas sparkle as Puerto Rico gets geared up for Christmas. Near the end of the month, every town celebrates the Nativity.
Key events: Hatillo Mask Festival, Las Mañanitas, Waves in the West.  

Introducing Puerto Rico

This article was originally published March 2021. It was updated September 2021.

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