Cuba is known as a country that is frozen in time, and it is this preserved sense of authenticity that makes it such a popular travel destination. But despite the historical architecture and an abundance of rural areas, Cuba has a vibrant energy to it that can be heard in its music and seen in its people, making the island a truly diverse and unique place to visit.
Christmas on a Caribbean island might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about visiting Cuba in December, but with gorgeous weather and brilliant beaches surrounding the country, it makes for a wonderful alternative holiday destination at the end of the year.
Reasons to visit Cuba in December
- December sees some of the best weather that Cuba experiences all year, with dry and sunny conditions almost every day
- Cuba does not shut down over Christmas and instead offer a less commercialised and more laid back celebration of the holiday, if that is what you are looking for
- Whilst big beaches and cities are likely to be busy, the more rural areas of Cuba are still relatively quiet and perfect for exploring in the sunshine
Weather in Cuba in December
December is right in the middle of Cuba’s dry season, which makes it a brilliant time to visit the island as the weather will be wonderful. The weather in Cuba in December will typically be sunny, hot and dry, although there is a small possibility of a sudden cold spell coming in from the north.
Almost every region on the island will benefit from the good weather, and eastern regions will be a few degrees warmer. Baracoa is the only exception to this, with this area on the east of the island receiving a lot of rainfall throughout December.
The average high temperature in Cuba in December is 27°C, but this can vary by a few degrees depending on where you are on the island. In the evenings and early mornings, the average low temperature is 18°C, which is very pleasant after long, hot days and still warm enough to enjoy sitting on the beach or dining outside.
The sea temperature in Cuba in December is high, with an average of 27°C throughout most of the day. This is ideal for swimming, snorkelling and diving as the water feels very warm.
Clouds and Rainfall
There are very few cloudy and overcast days in Cuba in December, with chances of clear skies increasing as the month progresses, and chances of rain decreasing at the same time. There are five days of rain on average in December, with a higher chance of showers on the north of the island.
December is one of the sunniest months in Cuba, with an average of seven hours of sunshine each day. The sun tends to rise at around 6.30 am in the morning and then sets around 5.30 pm at night.
The bright sunshine and clear skies in Cuba in December means that UV levels will be very high, so make sure that you are wearing adequate sun protection when outdoors, and try and stay in the shade during the hottest parts of the day.
Where to go in Cuba in December
If you’re getting tired of the crowds that have flocked to Cuba in December, then a great place to escape to is the community and nature reserve that can be found in the Sierra del Rosario mountains known as Las Terrazas. It’s a brilliant place to stay the night or to visit as a day trip if you have an interest in Cuba’s countryside and wildlife, as its location is perfect for hiking and bird-watching in particular.
The small eco-village began as a simple reforestation project and is now home to a hotel, arts venues and an outdoor activity centre that make it an ideal place to visit when the weather is good. The main attraction for many visiting Las Terrazas is the chance to take a zipline canopy tour over the village and surrounding forest, for a uniquely fast and adrenaline-filled experience.
Peninsula de Zapata
The combination of busy cities and beaches and beautifully warm weather in Cuba in December means that exploring the rural parts of the country is a good way to see the country away from the crowds and still make the most of the sunshine. The Península de Zapata region in the south of the island is perfect for just that.
The highlight of this part of Cuba is the snorkelling opportunities, particularly amongst the coral reefs of the famous Bay of Pigs. You can also visit the Ciénaga de Zapata National Park, home to a huge amount of wildlife including flamingos and crocodiles across its marshes, wetland and coral reefs.
María la Gorda
Diving is an incredibly popular activity in Cuba in December, and another brilliant rural location that is particularly good for watersports is the small settlement of María la Gorda. Situated on the west of the island, the area is mainly frequented by those who are serious about diving, with only a small shop, diving centre, a hotel and two restaurants, and is a great alternative to some of Cuba’s busy resorts.
Those who also just want to spend some time relaxing by the sea will love María la Gorda, which has many unspoiled white sand beaches that will be quiet even in December.
Things to do in Cuba in December
Hike Through the Countryside
The small chance of rain and low humidity in December makes for perfect hiking conditions, meaning that you can explore Cuba’s mountains and forests on foot and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Popular hiking locations include the Viñales Valley, the Sierra Escambray mountains or any of the country’s national parks.
Take a Road Trip
Road tripping through Cuba is all the rage at the moment, and a great way to see as much of the island as possible at your own pace. You can even hire one of the classic vintage cars that Cuba is famous for, to really travel the country in style.
Go Clubbing in a Cave
A unique experience for those who want to get involved with Cuba’s nightlife is to spend an evening at Disco Ayala in Trinidad; an underground cave that has been turned into a nightclub. This spot is very popular with the locals but is still relatively undiscovered by tourists, and makes for a very memorable night out.
Snorkel or Scuba Dive
Warm sea temperatures and dry weather conditions make activities in the ocean a no-brainer if you are visiting Cuba in December, and snorkelling or scuba diving are a great way to appreciate the incredible variety of marine life that surrounds the island.
There are professional diving centres around Cuba to provide you with all the equipment and guidance you may need, and popular spots include Cayo Santa Maria, Playa Esmerelda, and the town of Guardalavaca.
Crowds & costs
It is peak tourist season in Cuba in December, with many visitors from Europe and Canada flocking to the island to enjoy the warm weather. The week of Christmas and New Year is the busiest on the island, but from the middle of the month hotels will get booked up and flights will be very expensive.
Whilst it is mainly the beach resorts that have been busy in previous months, in December cities like Havana and Trinidad will also be packed with tourists, so it is important to secure your accommodation well in advance if you are coming to Cuba in December.
December festivals & events
The biggest cultural event in December in Cuba is Las Parrandas; a carnival-style celebration that originated from the city of Remedios. The tradition is said to have started when a priest in the 1800s encouraged the children of the city to make noise in the streets to encourage more people to attend church before Christmas, and the event grew from there.
Now, Las Parrandas is a special event across Cuba, with a sense of competition between neighbourhoods as to who can put on the most impressive light or firework show, and which musical performances are the best. Street parties take place for a few days leading up to Christmas Eve and are a wonderful celebration of Cuba’s unique culture and the differences between the regions of the island.
Procesión de los Milagros
The Procession of Miracles is a religious pilgrimage that takes place in the middle of December in Cuba every year and sees thousands of people come to the town of El Rincón on the edge of Havana. Pilgrims walk, crawl or drag themselves to the shrine of Saint Lazarus, who was known for his miraculous work with the sick and poor, hoping that their difficult journey will grant healing or miracles.
Frequently asked questions about Cuba in November
Is it cold in Cuba in December?
The weather in Cuba is likely to be hot and sunny in December, as it is right in the middle of the country’s dry season. There is a small chance of spells of cold weather, but most of the month will have an average high temperature of around 27°C.
Can American’s visit Cuba right now?
Cuba and America have a complicated political past, which has resulted in travel restrictions for U.S citizens wanting to come to the country. It is still possible for people to visit Cuba from America however, and a full list of authorised reasons for travel can be found online.
Do I need injections for Cuba?
There are no specific injections required for a trip to Cuba, but travellers may want to consider getting up to date boosters against cholera, hepatitis A and B, rabies and tetanus depending on their individual circumstances.
Whether you want to spend your time sipping mojitos beside the sea or trekking through rainforests, Cuba has a vast range of experiences to offer travellers coming to the country. The ideal December weather means you can enjoy the best of the outdoors on the island, and experience a slice of tropical sunshine in the winter. What’s not to like?