|The Bahamas are popular for golf in January but not swimming; © Bahamas Ministry of Tourism|
January is a good month for anyone who likes their Caribbean climate with a little less heat, lower chances of rain and maximum comfort while shopping or doing other land activities.
Air temperatures: Western Caribbean cruises are especially popular from January through April because the western islands don’t have the 90-degree heat of the summer and the Central American coast has low levels of rain.
The four most popular islands are Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Roatan, all of which become one of the hottest regions of the Caribbean during the summer.
In January, their peak temperatures average in the low 80s Fahrenheit.
Likewise, Belize, Costa Rica and Panama also have peak temperatures in the low 80s.
Rainfall: What matters even more for these Central American cruise stops is the fact that their average rainfall is much lower in January than most other months of the year.
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Costa Rica in particular has a high level of rain in January, but it is mostly in the interior where mountains and rainforests are located.
Belize also has higher rainfall in the interior for the same reasons.
The western islands usually average about two to three inches of rain in January, so the odds of a good day are high.
Water temperatures: The cooler daytime weather also means water temperatures may be a factor this time of the year.
A visit to Cancun even in February found the water too cool for swimming. Water temperatures are much more comfortable at Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia, St. Maarten and other southern islands.
The best time to go swimming is in the afternoon when the sun has heated up the water to a more comfortable level.
The Bahamas aren’t geographically part of the Caribbean, but they are lumped into the region because they are islands and located so close to the actual boundaries of the Caribbean.
But they are north enough to be much cooler than the other locations. January is a good month to visit there for golf and other land activities but not a good month for swimming and other water activities.
Turks & Caicos, which lies southeast of the Bahamas, is only slightly warmer. Once again, it is less comfortable for anyone who likes sunning and swimming.
Go farther south to find warm daytime temperatures that average in the low to mid-80s.
Rainfall: One thing that the Bahamas has in its favor during January is a low level of rainfall, which is another reason why it is a good month for land activities.
Other islands also do well including Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia and Trinidad.
Water temperatures: The farther south the better. Islands such as Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia and Barbados are more likely to have water temperatures comfortable for swimming.