Kerala is a state located on India's tropical Malabar Coast. With nearly 600km of Arabian Sea shoreline, the region is known for its beautiful palm-fringed beaches and backwater canals which are popular for cruises. Its seaside resorts are popular tourist destinations.
Kerala is situated close to the equator and as a consequence, enjoys a tropical climate. Temperatures stay fairly consistent throughout the year, with average maximum highs between 29°C and 33°C and minimum lows ranging between 23°C and 25°C. The overall average daily temperature doesn’t drop below 27°C or rise above 29°C in the course of the year. It’s not just the land temperatures that are stable, but also the temperature of the sea, which remains fairly constant throughout the year—it ranges from 27°C to 30°C, which is incredibly warm.
Because of the region’s closeness to the ocean and the presence of the fort-like Western Ghats mountain range in the east, Kerala is presented with an enjoyable and composed climate throughout the year. The desiccated winds coming inland from the north generally create a parched climate, but because of the Western Ghats, Kerala is sheltered from the drying inland winds. It is a place that receives plenty of rain, most of which falls in the rainy monsoon season.
Most visitors will be attracted to the climate in Kerala’s coastal regions. One of Kerala’s main features is the coast with its sandy beaches, which is far more likely to receive sunshine and is less humid than inland regions. Unlike most areas of India, Kerala escapes the scorching climates thanks to the pleasant and refreshing Arabian Sea breeze. This results in the Kerala beaches being an idyllic winter sun vacation destination and a popular place for outdoor activities and water sports all-year round. Keep upto date and take a look at the forecast here.
The winter season in Kerala begins with the end of the northeast monsoons (see below) and lasts from the end of November until the middle of February. During the winter months, temperatures near the coast are still extremely high and aren’t very different from those experienced in the summer months. The average temperature is between 27°C and 28°C. Highs can reach a sizzling 32°C and temperatures rarely drop below 23°C. However, in Kerala’s highlands, where the climate is cool throughout the year, winter temperatures often fall below 10°C.
Winter in Kerala also sees very little rainfall and humidity. The winter months of December, January and February are, in fact, the driest of the year, barely receiving any rainfall whatsoever compared with the drenching monsoon season. January is the driest month with just 21mm of rainfall, followed closely by February with 26mm. Each month has just 3 wet days on average.
Winter is also the sunniest time in Kerala with much more sunny weather than the summer months. December sees 7 lovely hours of sunshine, which increases to 9 hours in January and February.
With warm weather, sunshine and little rainfall, winter is a great time to visit Kerala and escape the cold weather of the UK. In fact, it is often named as the best time of year to visit the region, as travellers can soak up the sun and avoid the wet monsoon season.
Summer in Kerala doesn’t fall in the same period of the year as it does in temperate regions in the Northern Hemisphere. Instead, the season starts toward the end of February and the beginning of March and lasts until May or June.
Summer usually welcomes higher temperatures, slightly humid weather and low rainfall in the region. In comparison to other Indian states, summers in Kerala are relatively cooler, as temperatures in other states soar above 40°C whereas Kerala sees high temperatures of 32°C to 33°C. Average temperatures are lower, at just 29°C and low temperatures can fall to 24°C.
Summer actually sees less sunshine than the winter months, but there’s still plenty for holiday makers to spend the majority of their holiday relaxing on the beach, with 7 to 8 hours of sun a day, dropping to 5 by June. Sea temperatures are also at their hottest this season, peaking at a bath-like 30°C in April and May which will feel lovely for a swim.
The end of summer sees erratic rain accompanied by some lightning and thunder as the start of the monsoon season arrives. From just 40mm of precipitation in March, it increases rapidly to 216mm in May. If you’re planning a summer trip to Kerala, it would be advisable to visit at the start of the season.
Southwest Monsoon Season
Kerala has two rainy seasons. The main one, known as the southwest monsoon season begins around May or June and lasts until the end of September. During this time, southwestern monsoon winds result in periods of torrential rain which usually last for around three months on average. Because of its location on the windward side of the Western Ghats, Kerala is always the first Indian state that is hit by the monsoon winds and receives profuse rainfall this time of year. June is the wettest month of the season, with a huge 341mm of rainfall and 26 wet days, which means that most days receive a drenching. July and August see a little less, with 28 and 24 wet days respectively.
Almost 85% of the annual rainfall in Kerala is contributed by the monsoon torrents. The inclines of the Western Ghats are among the places in India that receive the maximum amount of rainfall and the majority of the rivers in Kerala are drowned with buckets of rain by the monsoons.
Despite the huge amount of rain, May ‘til September still experiences up to 6 hours of sunshine a day and average temperatures of 27°C. However, this time of year would not be a recommended time to visit Kerala (unless you really love rain!)
Northeast Monsoon Season
The monsoon season continues from September with the so-called northeast monsoon season, or the ‘retreating monsoons’ seeing heavy rainfall continue into October and November. October is the second wettest month of the year, with 268mm of rainfall and 23 wet days, while it starts to let up in November, which sees just 13 wet days.
On the plus side, unlike the earlier monsoon season, these heavy monsoon rains generally occur in the afternoons in the form of immense downpours and thunderstorms. The mornings and evenings are generally clear and allow for sunbathing and outdoor activities. The season sees around 6 hours of bright sunshine a day and sea temperatures remain pleasant, at 29°C. Average temperatures remain just as high throughout this season too, with averages of 27°C and highs reaching 31°C. As with the rest of the year, lows never fall below 23°C.
If you don’t mind the chance of an afternoon rainstorm, then the northeast monsoon season is a good time to visit Kerala. Holidays are generally cheaper and the rainy season can actually be quite beautiful.