March brings the least rainfall of the year to Havana, where the average maximum high temperature is 82°F (28°C). Some days will be a few degrees warmer, but fortunately without summer's humidity or storms. The eastern provinces, especially the cities of Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo, are already noticeably hotter than Havana and the Western provinces at this time of year and are rarely affected by any cold fronts that might still creep south from Canada to catch habaneros unawares. The weather is perfect for sunning, and the sea shallows are bathtub warm.
With so much sunshine, you’ll want to pack light. T-shirts and shorts, plus a shade hat and sunscreen, are the order of the day. But be sure to pack a sweater for the chance cold front that can still edge in from the north.
Crowds & Costs
March is still considered high season, and the most popular venues such as Havana, Trinidad, and Viñales may still be somewhat crowded with visitors. Hence, it’s wise to book accommodation and any car rental well ahead. While most hotels still have high season rates, by month’s end many will have dropped their rates for shoulder season, and it’s relatively easy to find bargains among casas particulares (private B&Bs) at any time.
Where to Go
This is a good time to explore Oriente—the eastern provinces—before the heat of summer. Holguín province has heaps of intriguing venues, including the namesake capital city.
Hang with the locals at the beaches near Puerto Padre; go scuba diving at Guardalavaca; explore Fidel and Raúl Castro’s birthplace at Finca Manacas; and time your visit to off-beat Gibara for its equally unusual Low-Budget Film Festival. With direct flights from the USA, Holguín also makes a good base from which to explore further afield, including to Baracoa, Bayamo and Santiago de Cuba.
Of course, Havana remains the main draw, sufficient to fill four or five days of exploring. With longer time, you might choose between either (or both) of the other two jewels in Cuba’s top triptych: Viñales and Trinidad. Note that while Viñales’ stunning scenery is a year-round attraction, the tobacco harvest will have ended by March. Further west lies Parque Nacional Guanahacabibes, with great scuba diving and birding—March is ideal for the latter thanks to minimal rainfall.
What to Do
Given the ideal climate, March is perfect for outdoor adventures. Nature lovers are spoiled for choice, from kayaking in the Cienfuegos and Zapata wetlands, or horseback rides virtually anywhere in rural Cuba, to hikes at Las Terrazas or in the Sierra Escambray, Pinares de Mayarí, or the Sierra Maestra mountain ranges.
For birding and wildlife consider visits to Parque Nacional de Guanahacabibes (in Pinar del Río province), Parque Nacional Zapata (southern Matanzas province), or any of the mountain zones and the coastal reserves of Ciego de Ávila and Camagüey provinces. You’d be wise to hire a local guide, especially since hawk-eyed naturalist guides increase your chances of seeing wildlife and can educate you about the ecology.
Festival Internacional del Tambor. Held in Havana, the competitive International Percussion Festival features all manner of popular music activities, from concerts to drum classes.
Festival Internacional del Cine Pobre. The windswept historic port town of Gibara, in Holguín province, is the unlikely venue for the world-renowned Low-Budget Film Festival.
International Pepe Sánchez Trova Festival. Celebrating the traditional trova music, this festival is held in Santiago de Cuba. The genre ranges from romantic ballads to more politicized nueva trova, and filin, combining bolero-inspired crooners.
Havana World Music Festival. This popular festival held in Havana each March spans the spectrum of Cuban musical genres, from traditional to the latest sounds.
Traveling to Cuba in March? Check out these great itineraries
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.
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.