June is the rainiest month of the year in Havana and Western Cuba, where daytime high temperatures hover in the high eighties Fahrenheit (and hotter on several days of the month). Central and Eastern Cuba will be even hotter. The air is humid, which feeds the huge thunderstorms that build by late afternoon and account for the usually short, sharp, heavy rainfall.
Most days you can take advantage of the sunny mornings and early afternoons before cozying up in a bar before the rain falls. In common with the rest of the Caribbean, June also often sees at least one storm that can linger for days. But while June is officially the beginning of hurricane season, they only very rarely strike Cuba so early.
Many travelers thoroughly enjoy visiting Cuba in summer, so don’t let the high temperatures and humidity put you off. Simply plan your days accordingly, with sightseeing in early morning, mid-day spent in an air-conditioned or breezy locale, and evening out on the town when the late afternoon storms have cooled things down. Raingear is a must, but you’ll still need to pack sunscreen and a shade hat.
Crowds & Costs
Travelers from Europe and Canada tend to stay away (they’ll return for summer vacations by late July). Budget-conscious travelers will be happy to see lodging rates plummet by June, and the beach hotels fill up with Cuban families taking advantage of discount packages. Car rentals are easier to come by at this time of year, and you’ll have a greater chance of securing a reservation at Havana's most in-demand restaurants. Plus, you can enjoy strolling the colonial plazas without elbowing your way through a crowd.
Where to Go
June is a good time to focus on cultural venues, such as air-conditioned art galleries and museums. In Havana, plan to explore Habana Vieja and other outdoor venues, such as Fusterlandia, in early morning while the air is still fresh. Then hit one or two museums in mid-day, or cool off by touring the city in a breeze-swept convertible classic American car. And linger the late afternoon under the fans of the Hotel Nacional’s patio bar, enjoying cigars and rum while the rains fall. Use the same model for exploring other major cities, from Cienfuegos to Santiago de Cuba.
Trade winds along the north coast help keeps things cool. Make the most of them by taking a road trip along the Costanera Norte—the North Coast Road—that runs along much of the Atlantic seaboard. With two weeks or more, you can follow it all the way from Havana to Baracoa.
Fascinating stops should include Santa Clara and Remedios, Morón, Puerto Padre, and Banes. And be sure to journey across the pedraplenes (causeways) to Cayos de Villa Clara and Cayo Coco to marvel at the breeze-kissed snow-white beaches.
What to Do
June sees the beginning of the marlin runs in the Gulf Stream off the coast of northwest Cuba, drawing large numbers of anglers (there’s a reason the Hemingway Sportsfishing Tournament is held this month). The fishing for tarpon and bonefish is also superb further east in the newly opened fisheries of Cayo Romano and Cayo Cruz. And tarpon, bonefish, and permit and jacks can still be encountered in large numbers off Cayo Largo and other sportfishing areas off southern Cuba.
While this is not a good month for bicycling or other strenuous activity, virtually any ocean activity is welcome. An active vacation that includes sea kayaking and snorkeling is a no-brainer, and easily arranged through Cuba’s own EcoTur S.A. (most hotel desks arrange such excursions).
Or, escape the heat with full immersion: scuba diving is well developed in Cuba and you’re never far from a dive center. Scuba aficionados might even book a week-long package along one of the live-board vessels that ply the waters off Cayo Largo, Isla de la Juventud, and the Jardines de la Reina.
Fiestas San Juaneras (Carnival). In late June, even the colonial city of Trinidad hosts a lively carnival—a four-day fiesta of partying, musical events, displays of (often drunken) horsemanship, and lively street parades featuring elaborate floats and costumes.
Hemingway Sportfishing Tournament. The author himself established this event in the 1950s and it still draws international competitors keen to win one of the world’s premier prizes for sportfishing. It’s hosted at Havana’s Hemingway Marina.
International Golden Bolero Festival. Celebrating Cuba’s popular bolero genre of music, this event organized by UNEAC (Union of Cuban Writers and Artists) draws crooners to Havana’s Teatro Mella.
International Corhabana Choir Festival. Cuba has a strong choral tradition, and this festival honors it by hosting Cuban and international choirs with concerts and choral workshops throughout Havana.
San Juan Camagüeyano (Carnival). Camagüey also hosts its carnival in late June. It’s not quite equal to that of Rio de Janeiro, or even Santiago de Cuba, but the city resounds to conga rhythms and locals partying like there’s no tomorrow.
Traveling to Cuba in June? Check out these great itineraries
Havana in a Heartbeat – 4 Days. Just a few days to spare? Then this quick take on the capital city provides an immersion that connects you to Cuba’s creative culture and lifestyle.
Adventurous Cuba – 8 Days. The perfect combination of nature and culture, this trip will take you to Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad, plus the wildlife-rich Zapata Peninsula.