It’s hurricane season and you’re wondering whether you should cancel your travel plans to the Caribbean. After Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated several of these beautiful tropical havens in 2017, it’s easy to wonder whether you’ll be drenched in torrential downpour before you can ever take a dip in the ocean.
Furthermore, as we know from the tragic circumstances reported from many of the islands during and after Maria, hurricanes are extremely unpredictable and dangerous.
When is the hurricane season in the Caribbean?
Officially, the hurricane season in the Caribbean begins on June 1st. It lasts until November 30th. It’s at its peak in August, September, and October. Although you probably won’t see it advertised (most businesses wouldn’t want to call your attention to potential bad weather) you may be able to find reduced rates on hotels and tourist attractions during hurricane season.
Often, you’ll see late August through November referred to as “the low season” or “the rainy season”. Hurricanes are one of the reasons why these months are the low season. Nearly anywhere you travel in the Caribbean will be less busy during these months. Also, you’ll generally find more deals and lower prices.
You can find some great deals on luxury accommodations in the Caribbean, especially during Fall, or the “low season”.
Why do hurricanes form in the Caribbean Sea?
Hurricanes occur when the ocean has been warmed over the summer months. In the Caribbean Sea, the weather’s nice and toasty during April, May, and June. As the warm, moist air over the ocean rises upward, less air is left near the ocean’s surface. This creates an area of low pressure. Surrounding air comes in to fill this area, and the warm air continues to rise. As this warm air cools off, it forms clouds. Wind spins the clouds. Then, more clouds join them until a swirling cloud system forms. The clouds spin faster and faster, creating a gap in the center, called an eye.
Once the winds in the storm reach 39 mph, it’s called a tropical storm. It becomes a hurricane when the winds reach 74 mph.
Did you know that some Caribbean islands are less at risk for hurricanes than others? That’s why you can confidently book your ticket to one of the safest islands in the Caribbean, without worrying about getting caught in a storm.
The safest Caribbean islands during hurricane season
Generally, the southernmost Caribbean islands are hit by less hurricanes than those in the “hurricane belt”. The hurricane belt runs through the islands located in the central and eastern parts of the Caribbean Sea.
However, some Caribbean islands (at least the inhabited ones) are not in the hurricane belt (Note: some consider them to be part of the hurricane belt, but located in its southern fringes). That means they are less likely to experience heavy storms than islands to the north and east of them. These are the safest Caribbean islands to visit during hurricane season:
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Providencia Island
- San Andrés
Which island is the safest?
Arguably, Bonaire is your best bet when it comes to hurricane probability– there’s only a 2.2 % annual risk of a hurricane happening there, according to tripsavvy.com. However, the ABC islands– Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, are all located below the hurricane belt. Trinidad and Tobago is also located in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea. These islands were out of reach of the paths of Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017.
Some believe that you’re least likely to meet with a tropical storm on Aruba. Aruba is dry and arid, almost desert-like. It purportedly experience the least rainfall out of any of the other safest Caribbean islands. Furthermore, ABC.com reports that hurricanes pass over the island only every 28.8 years.
Gorgeous Curacao also experiences hurricanes only every 28.8 years on average. Tucked away in the southern Caribbean Sea, it hovers just over the South American continent, well out of the path of the so-called “hurricane alley”.
What about the 2017 hurricanes?
You may be wondering whether any tourist attractions, hotels, or beaches were damaged or closed in Caribbean countries, due to the 2017 hurricane season.
Of course, hurricanes occur every year, but 2017 in particular caused an extreme amount of damage, especially to the island of Puerto Rico. However, some islands were completely unaffected by it.
The following islands were not impacted by the devastating 2017 Hurricanes Irma and Maria:
- The Cayman Islands
- Trinidad & Tobago
- The Dominican Republic
- The Bahamas
- St. Croix
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- Turks and Caicos
The following islands are currently rebuilding from a large amount of damage caused by the 2017 hurricanes (pay them a visit and help support local businesses!)
- Puerto Rico
- St. Thomas
- St. John
- St. Martin
- St. Barts
- British Virgin Islands
There’s no doubt that Caribbean islanders are resilient and strong. Despite the damage inflicted on their buildings and businesses by the storms, they have banded together to rebuild and restore what was lost. Today, these amazing islands are just as beautiful as ever.
Plan your trip
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to predict exactly where and when hurricanes will occur with 100% accuracy. However, it’s a good idea to check the forecast and consult predictions before you go.
Check out the National Hurricane Center’s 5-day graphical outlook for the Atlantic Ocean.
Before you head to one of the safest Caribbean islands, you should keep in mind that you still might run into some rain showers, especially if you go from June to November. Think carefully about what to wear. Pack your umbrella and a rain poncho or two, and don’t be afraid to get wet! (After all, aren’t you going to get wet while swimming anyway?)