|The graphic above from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Caribbean water temperatures within the last 24 hours. Click here for weather forecasts.|
Temperatures are in Celsius. In the middle range, 24 to 26 degrees Celsius translates to 75 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit and 26 to 28 C translates to 79 to 82 degrees F.
Caribbean water temperatures are comfortable for swimming most of the time and most of the year.
Water temperature in the Caribbean
averages about five to eight degrees cooler than air temperature.
But occasionally they are just too cold, so it pays to find out which destinations to avoid and when.
Ideal water temperature is a matter of opinion, but 70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit is the range where most folks feel "comfortable" swimming, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says.
Water temperatures above 78 degrees are often called balmy and are usually comfortable in the warmest destinations such as Aruba.
The chart above right shows estimated and average water temperatures each month for some of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. It also shows that every one of them falls in that range of comfortable temperatures.
But several factors guarantee that sometimes water temperatures will be too cold.
The most important factor is Caribbean trade winds, which may be strong enough to create an uncomfortable wind chill factor. They can reach 15 to 20 miles per hour or 10 to 12 kilometers per hour -- and sometimes more.
Another factor is time of day. In cooler destinations during the winter, the best time for swimming is mid-afternoon when air temperatures
Average Water Temperatures for Major Islands
|Average Water Temperatures by Month|
Click on a destination for a weather forecast
|St. Thomas USVI||78||77||78||79||81||82||83||83||82||81||80||78|
Aruba ranges from 79 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to 83 degrees in the summer. Even thiswarm southern Caribbean island can have uncomfortable water temperatures at times during winter, especially in the mornings.
range from 72 degrees in the winter to 83 degrees in the summer, but it’s important to note that the range varies based on the location of each island.
The Bahamas will have the coolest water temperatures in the winter of any major Caribbean destination. Coupled with trade winds, the water will be too cool for any swimming in the winter except for the hardiest of swimmers.
Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Maarten are all located close to each other and share similar air and water temperatures. The water temperatures will range from 79 to 83 degrees.
Jamaica is a little more north and will have water just a few degrees cooler.
Dominican Republic will see about 75 degrees in the winter to about 84 degrees in the summer.
The average water temperature in St. Thomas is around 82 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) in the summer and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius in the winter.
In Turks & Caicos, water temperature in the summer is 82 to 84 degrees (28-29 degrees Celsius) and in winter about 74 to 78 degrees (23-26 degrees Celsius).
Winter Water Temperatures
For some destinations, the water temperature can be uncomfortable in the mornings and more comfortable in the afternoon as the air temperature gets warmer.
For example, one of our visits to Cancun took place in February. The water was fairly comfortable in the afternoon, but the strong trade winds made the water even cooler and kept most people on the shore.
We found that the only time we could swim was early to mid afternoon.
We also had a similar experience in Aruba during February, despite warm temperatures, mainly because of strong trade winds.
Anyone who likes swimming in the Caribbean and plans to go during the winter months of December through February should favor southern Caribbean islands and expect the most comfortable temperatures during early to mid afternoons.