The rains of September extend through October, which begins a three-month heavy rainfall season around Baracoa (at the eastern tip of Cuba). However, everywhere October is one of Cuba’s rainiest months, with the exception of Pinar del Río province.
The mountain regions of Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo receive the highest rainfall of all, often in prolonged deluges that leave everything sodden. By month’s end, temperatures are generally agreeable as the mercury falls, but expect some hot days. And inevitably, humidity remains high. The maximum high in Havana averages 86°F (30°C).
Crowds & Costs
October offers a lull between the tourist floods of summer and winter high seasons, and nowhere will you experience crowds at this time of year. In Havana and Trinidad, the solitude will be especially relaxing compared to peak season months. And you may have some beaches virtually to yourself. However, most beach resorts can appear deathly quiet at this time of year. Airlines offer lower rates, and hotel rates drop significantly. Plus, the availability of rental cars is at its best.
Where to Go
With heavy rains virtually everywhere, and increasing eastward, this is a good time to set your sights on
Pinar del Río province—the driest part of Cuba in October. Tobacco farmers are preparing and planting the fields, and it’s a great time to learn about tobacco production in the fields of Viñales and Vuelto Abajo. Combine these regions with a day or two in Las Terrazas, Cayo Levisa, and/or María La Gorda and Parque Nacional Guanahacabibes.
October is a good time to linger in Havana, with its wealth of indoor cultural venues. De rigueur museums include the Museo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum) and nearby Museo de la Revolución, but take time too to sniff out the city’s many smaller, more esoteric museums, art galleries, and off-beat venues.
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What to Do
Given the high incidence of rainfall, this is a month to plan your Cuba visit around cultural activities indoors. Cooking classes, salsa lessons, and museum visitors are great options. Most provincial capitals, plus Trinidad, offer a wealth of such activities, although Havana has by far the widest choice.
Touring Havana in a breeze-swept convertible classic American car is a joyful way of beating the midday heat, then laze away the afternoon under the fans of a shaded patio bar (the Hotel Nacional is unbeatable), enjoying cigars and rum while the rains fall. Use the same model for exploring other major cities, from Cienfuegos to Santiago de Cuba.
Since October weather more-or-less guarantees you’re going to get wet, why not do underwater? Cuba’s ocean waters abound with sea-life and boast some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs. For a first-hand look, don scuba gear and take the plunge. Cayo Largo, María La Gorda, Playa Girón, the Jardines de la Reina, and especially the waters off the south coast of Isla de la Juventud, offer the most sensational experiences. And in October, ocean temperatures are perfect.
Festival Internacional de Coros. Cuba has a rich choral tradition, as choirs from around the nation demonstrate during this annual festival, hosted at venues throughout Santiago de Cuba. International choirs also perform.
Festival de Son. Santiago de Cuba is the birthplace of son, the most quintessential and well-known of Cuba's traditional music genres. So, fittingly it hosts this annual festival, when the nation’s top performers are joined by international artists. It also encompasses concerts and competitions spanning cha-cha-cha, danzón, mambo, and salsa.
Havana Ballet Festival. Cuba’s ballet corps are world-renowned, so count yourself lucky if your visit coincides with this festival beloved of Cubans and held every two years. The main venue is the Gran Teatro Alicia Alonso de La Habana.
Traveling to Cuba in October? 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.