September is one of the rainiest months of the year in Western and Central Cuba, and the air is saturated with humidity. But temperatures are beginning to ease after two brutally hot months. The average maximum in Havana is a still toasty 86°F (30°C), and two or three degrees hotter in the eastern provinces.
While most rain is associated with short-lived, but heavy, afternoon thunderstorms, days-long tropical storms can also sweep over Cuba. September also is more susceptible to hurricanes than any other month, so this is one month you should check the local weather forecasts.
Crowds & Costs
Although the beach resorts can still be busy in early September, by the second week, visitor numbers plummet. In fact, late September and October see fewer visitors to Cuba than at any other time of year. Rooms are easy to find, prices drop dramatically, and beach-goers may find they have the sands to themselves. Hence, this is a fantastic time for budget travelers who don’t mind the possibility of some severe rainy weather.
Where to Go
Hydrophobes can minimize the chance of getting rained on by heading to María La Gorda and Parque Nacional Guanahacabibes at the extreme west of Cuba. This dry forest region makes a great base for birding and other eco-activities, including scuba diving in the Bahía de Corrientes (known for its many whale sharks).
Ironically, Baracoa is one part of Cuba that seems relatively little rainfall this month, despite bearing the brunt of the trade winds that by October will begin to deluge extreme eastern Cuba with rains. So head to Cuba’s oldest city (founded in 1511) to delight in perhaps the most beguiling, even surreal, of the island’s cities. Take your raingear, just in case, and add a hike to the summit of El Yunque, a boat ride up the canyon of the Río Yumurí, plus an excursion to Punta Maisí, at the eastern tip of Cuba.
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.
The combination of intense sunlight and storms creates dramatic contrasts that will enhance your photography. Many companies offer photography tours of Cuba with expert leaders, and several accomplished Cuban photographers do the same. Virtually anywhere in Cuba provides exceptional landscapes and street photography, and Cubans adore being photographed. Regardless of whether you want to invest in a professional SLR camera or use your iPhone, take a class or workshop, then focus your time on returning home with stellar images.
Anniversary of CDRs. Every neighborhood in Cuba celebrates the formation of the CDR (Comité de la Defensa de la Revolution) in 1960. Held each September 28, the event includes political speeches with neighborhood street parties that include games for children and, by tradition, a caldosa stew simmered in a big pot.
Traveling to Cuba in September? 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.
Western Cuba Journey – 6 Days. Pair up the colorful culture of Havana and the outdoor adventure of the Viñales Valley for an epic tour of western Cuba.