Holidays in Cuba have become increasingly popular in recent years, with the small island attracting visitors from all over the world seeking sun, sea and a slice of the laid-back Caribbean attitude. The country has so much more to offer than just a beach holiday however, with a wealth of national parks, undiscovered rural towns and villages, beautiful neighbouring island archipelagos and fascinating local history.
May is the first month of the wet season that lasts until October, but the country doesn’t tend to experience particularly bad weather until later in the year, and you are likely to only encounter a few heavy, passing showers of rain during your stay. The high temperatures and empty beaches make May a fantastic time to travel to Cuba if you are on a budget, and there are also several excellent cultural events occurring throughout the month that you can enjoy if you coordinate your trip.
Reasons to visit Cuba in May
- May is one of the cheapest months to visit Cuba all year, as the tourist season has ended and flights and accommodation have dropped in price
- Whilst rain becomes more likely towards the end of the month, the weather in Cuba will be dry, warm and sunny for a lot of May
- The lack of tourists visiting Cuba in May will mean that you can enjoy the popular cities of Havana, Trinidad and Viñales without the usual crowds
Weather in Cuba in May
The weather in Cuba in May changes throughout the month, as the island’s rainy season begins. Most days you can expect warm and sunny mornings that progress into sudden and heavy rain showers, but these tend to pass relatively quickly.
May is still a good time to visit Cuba despite the risk of rain, as for the majority of your stay you will experience beautiful sunshine and very pleasant temperatures.
Average temperatures in Cuba in May can reach up to 31ºC, which is noticeably warmer than March and April. In the evenings and early mornings the temperature tends to drop down to about 21ºC, and is usually accompanied by a cool breeze in the northern parts of the island.
Humidity does increase in Cuba in May but is still nowhere near as bad as it will be in later summer months.
The average temperature of the sea in Cuba is around 27ºC, which is very pleasant for swimming. During the afternoons the island can get very hot if the sun is out, and taking a dip in the sea is one of the best ways to cool down and enjoy yourself at the beach.
Clouds and Rainfall
Cloud cover in May does rapidly increase as the month goes on, and you are likely to experience the clearest skies if you visit the island at the start of the month. Chances of rain also increase as June approaches, with more prolonged rainfall in the Oriente region of the country.
May is still relatively dry in comparison to the middle of Cuba’s wet season, and is the last month that tourists can enjoy clear and sunny weather before the rain really begins. It is recommended that you pack a waterproof or umbrella just in case, but you may not have to use them.
May in Cuba has around nine hours of sunshine every day on average, with mornings tending to be brighter than the afternoons where sudden rainfall is more likely. The sun in Cuba rises just before 6 am in May, and sets just after 8 pm in the evening, with days getting longer and the evenings staying light as the month progresses.
As in any hot country, levels of UV will be high in Cuba when the sun is out, and it is important to be regularly applying suncream when you are out and about.
Where to go in Cuba in May
Cuba’s capital Havana is the country’s most popular city, and in June it will be empty of the usual hordes of tourists that descend during the peak holiday season. The streets are a total mismatch of styles and eras, with old colonial buildings perched on one corner and rows of independent cafes and modern boutiques to be found around the next.
If you’re after history then the borough of Old Havana at the very centre of the city is a must-see, with classic Cuban architecture everywhere and many museums and galleries in which you can discover more about the country’s culture. The city also has a huge variety of shops, restaurants and cafes that are ideal for passing the time in as the afternoon rain pours down, and a great variety of bars for spending your evenings drinking and dancing with the locals.
If you are wanting to spend some of your time in Cuba in a city that is not so typically touristy, then Santa Clara is the perfect location. The city is the capital of the Villa Clara province and has a much more authentic and modern feel than other places on the island, with vibrant nightlife, a large university and the central square known as Parque Vidal providing a meeting place for tourists and locals alike.
Santa Clara is best known for its associations with Che Guevara, who was a major figure of the Cuban Revolution. The city was the location of the last battle of the revolution which was led and won by Guevara, and there are monuments and murals dedicated to the revolutionary figure all around the city as well as his Mausoleum.
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is one of the best places to experience diverse Cuban culture, with a lot of Afro-Caribbean influences which make it a fantastic destination for music. There are also a huge amount of museums suitable for a range of interests and many bars and restaurants if you need a break from sightseeing. Top spots in the city include the colourful and ornate Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, the impressive Cementerio de Santa Ifigenia, or the bright yellow Moncada Barracks that were famously attacked in 1953 during carnival celebrations so that rebel forces leading the rebellion could steal weapons.
Further afield, you can visit the preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site fortress known as Castillo del Morro, which is built on a cliff at the Bay of Santiago’s entrance. The structure took decades to build and was originally designed to protect the island against pirates, and now offers amazing views of the bay as well as a wealth of historical stories.
Things to do in Cuba in May
Find Da Vinci’s Camera Obscura
On the top floor of Old Havana’s Edificio Gómez Vila building is Da Vinci’s Cámara Oscura; a scientific marvel that provides 360º views of the whole city. There are only 74 of these in the world today, and it is an incredible experience on May mornings when the sky is cloudless.
Visit the Christopher Columbus Cemetery
Spending a day at a cemetery might not be the obvious choice for something to do in Cuba, but the Cementerio de Colon on the outskirts of Havana is more than just a standard burial place. With incredibly ornate tombs, Gothic architecture and detailed statues surrounding a central chapel, the cemetery is a fascinating place to visit, and you can hire a local guide to tell you more about the history of the place and those who are buried there
Spend an Afternoon in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
If you’re looking for a rainy day activity then you should definitely visit Cuba’s National Museum of Fine Arts, which is housed in two locations in Old Havana dedicated to Cuban and international art. The museum is home to an incredible collection of artworks that span a range of styles of eras, and is an absolute must for art enthusiasts or those wanting to learn more about Cuban arts and culture.
Enjoy a Carton of Local Rum
Cuba is famous for its rum, particularly Havana Club rum which is used in the majority of the country’s bars, and bringing home a bottle of the classic spirit is essential if you are visiting the island. However, whilst you are there you can also sample authentic Cuban rum that is sold in small cartons, perfect for sipping on the beach or taking on a picnic.
Crowds & costs
May tends to be one of the cheapest months to visit Cuba all year, as it is in between the winter tourist season and holiday season for local Cubans. This also means that the island tends to be very quiet, so it is an ideal time to visit Cuba’s popular cities or plan a holiday to one of its luxury beach resorts.
May festivals & events
Día de los Trabajadores
Labour Day, or International Workers’ Day, is celebrated on the first of May every year in Cuba and prompts mass celebrations all over the country. Participants wear red, carry photos of the famous political leader Fidel Castro, and celebrate the achievements and history of the labour movement.
The biggest Labour Day event happens in Havana, where workers and their colleagues take part in a parade that leads to Revolution Square in the city, followed by music and speeches from famous Cubans.
Romerías de Mayo
This festival takes place in Holguín in eastern Cuba and has evolved from a religious pilgrimage to a week-long celebration of arts, culture and diversity at the beginning of May. The atmosphere is electric throughout the festival, which includes colourful parades, music and dance performances, and workshops that allow you to participate in the cultural celebrations.
Dia Internacional Contra Homophobia y Transfobia
Cuba’s biggest Pride parade is held on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia every year and takes place in the capital city of Havana. The fight for equality has only been happening in Cuba for the past ten or so years, but the momentum of this movement has been immense and now Cuba is one of the most progressive Latin-American countries.
Frequently asked questions about Cuba in May
What season is it in Cuba in May?
The climate in Cuba is divided into two distinct seasons, and May is the first month of the wet season that continues until October.
How hot is Cuba in May?
The average temperature in Cuba in May is 26ºC across the whole month, but this can rise to the high thirties on days when the sun is out. Humidity begins to rise in Cuba in May as well, and the whole month feels very warm overall
Does it rain a lot in Cuba in May?
There is an average of 8 days of rain across May in Cuba, and some areas of the country are more likely to experience more rain, especially towards the end of the month. However, in May rain showers are likely to be sudden and short-lived, so most days will be dry the majority of the time.
Visiting Cuba in May provides one of the last opportunities to enjoy the stunning Caribbean weather that makes the island such a popular place to visit, and you should not be put off by the increased chances of rain during the month. Whether you are wandering city streets, watching the sunset on the beach or venturing out into the island’s countryside, a holiday to Cuba in May will be full of unforgettable things to see and do.
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