Antigua is a tropical island situated in the West Indies within the Leeward Islands, approximately 17° north of the equator where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Along with its neighbouring island Barbuda, Antigua forms half of a twin-island nation and is often referred to as “The Land of 365 Beaches” due to the staggering number of sandy bays found along its coast.
Like most locations which lie in the tropics, Antigua’s proximity to the equator means that the region doesn’t experience four distinct seasons – in fact, there is hardly any seasonal variation at all. On the whole, the average temperature in Antigua falls in the mid- to upper- twenties year round, with the annual average minimum temperature range falling between 23°C in January and 26°C in August, with the maximum temperature range falling between 28°C in January and 31°C in August, the respective coolest and hottest months of the year.
Unlike most islands in the tropics, Antigua experiences relatively low humidity which makes the tropical weather slightly more bearable and enjoyable. The relative humidity typically ranges between 62% (mildly humid) and 91% (very humid) over the course of an average year, rarely dropping below 54% (mildly humid) or reaching as high as 100% (very humid). The air is often driest around March 1st, when the relative humidity drops below 66% (mildly humid) three days out of four, whilst it’s at its most humid around October 15th, when it exceeds 87% (very humid) three days out of four.
As well as being less humid, Antigua is also drier than most of the other Caribbean islands. The island averages only 1,140mm of rainfall each year, with precipitation most likely around August 5th when it falls on 61% of days, whilst precipitation is least likely around March 31st, when it only falls on 46% of days. Moderate rain is the most common form of precipitation, observed during 59% of days which see rainfall, followed by light rain seen on 29% of days, thunderstorms on 9% and heavy rain on 2%. The majority of Antigua’s annual precipitation falls during October, when the island experiences an average of 132mm/5 inches of rainfall over the course of 16 wet days.
Like most of the Caribbean Islands, Antigua receives a break from the sometimes overwhelming heat when the trade winds begin to blow in from the east. These winds temper the harsh heat and add an enjoyable, soothing touch to the tropical climate. Over the course of an average year in Antigua, wind speeds vary between 1 m/s (light air) and 9 m/s (fresh breeze), rarely rising above 11 m/s (strong breeze). The highest average wind speed of 7 m/s (moderate breeze) usually happens around June 23rd, when the average daily maximum wind speed is 9 m/s, whilst the lowest average wind speed of 5 m/s (gentle breeze) often occurs around October 16th, when the average daily maximum wind speed is 7 m/s.
Antigua is a great place to relax and soak up the laid back Caribbean lifestyle. The trade winds mean that it is a great location for sailing and other wind-based water sports, such as windsurfing, and the surrounding crystal clear water provides great visibility for diving and snorkelling. The average sea temperature for the island hardly changes throughout the year at all, ranging from lows of 27°C to highs of 29°C.
Antigua has one of the most envied climates in the West Indies, with relatively low humidity; lower than average rainfall, hours and hours of interrupted sunshine all combined with its idyllic location in the path of the local trade winds means that Antigua is a year-round holiday destination.
Jabberwock Beach in Antigua taken by James.
Hot Season (June to October)
The months between June and October are classed as the hot season for Antigua and are when the island experiences its highest temperatures, although they’re only a few degrees higher than the coldest temperatures, alongside a decrease in average precipitation.
At this time of year, average highs are around 31°C, whilst average lows are around 25°C. The highest temperature ever recorded during the hot season is 40°C, which was registered in October, whilst the lowest temperature ever recorded during this season is 20°C, which was registered in July, August and October.
The months from June to November form the hurricane season, so be very careful if you’re looking to holiday on the island at this time of year. Although the average wind speeds during this season can be anywhere between 17 km/h and 26 km/h, in recent years, wind speeds of up to 94 km/h have been recorded.
Catamaran Tour in Antigua taken by Austin
Cold Season (December to March)
The cold season in Antigua is when the weather is most enjoyable, with humidity being at its lowest (around 75%) and precipitation being minimal, ranging between 63mm/2 inches over the course of 17 rainy days in December and 21mm/1inch over the course of 18 rainy days in January.
At this time of year, average highs are around 29°C, whilst average lows are around 23°C. The hottest temperature ever registered in Antigua during the cold season is 34°C, which was registered in January, whilst the coldest temperature ever recorded on the island during this season is 16°C, which was registered in December.
Antigua has been severely affected by regular hurricanes for decades. One of the most recent ones is Hurricane Omar which tore across the Caribbean Sea in 2008 and destroyed nine homes, damaged many others and flooded various farms, causing $54million in damages.
The most recent hurricane to hit Antigua was Hurricane Gonzalo which was a powerful Atlantic Hurricane that affected Antigua, as well as Bermuda, the Lesser Antilles and even the UK in October 2014. The hurricane was formed on October 12th from a tropical wave in the east of the Caribbean Sea and passed through Antigua and the other Leeward Islands where it developed. During its passing through Antigua, Hurricane Gonzalo damaged trees and homes alone, whilst dozens of boats were destroyed and one person lost their life in St Martin.