Where to Avoid Hurricane Season in The Caribbean
During the summer and early fall, hurricanes roll through the tropics. In the Caribbean, Central America and the Southeastern U.S., these storms are a relatively common occurrence. Most are not the Category 5 news-makers that everyone in the world hears about. However, even a tropical storm or low-powered hurricane is enough to rattle the shutters and shake tourists’ nerves.
Most travelers simply avoid the entire region between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer during hurricane season. Hurricanes have hit the West Indies as early as May, but the “official” season is from June through November. Two of the most destructive storms in most people’s memories, Katrina and Andrew, both hit in August.
Even during the height of hurricane season, the odds of having a storm-free holiday in the Caribbean are high. Hurricanes come all the way from the West Coast of Africa, so there is always plenty of advanced warning. That said, the idea of having to evacuate your island or of being stuck in a hotel while a potentially deadly storm passes overhead can be unnerving. The possibility is enough to convince most people that the whole region is off limits from June through November.
Traveling outside of Hurricane Alley
The general rule for hurricane-free travel in the Caribbean is that the closer you are to South America, the lower your chances of having your vacation spoiled by a storm. The autonomous Dutch islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao avoid almost all hurricanes. The trio were side-swiped by Hurricane Felix in 2007, but that was a very rare instance. Most storms pass well to north, leaving these three islands completely untouched.
The “ABC” Islands
In addition to its colorful Dutch-colonial buildings, Aruba has some of the Caribbean’s best casino resorts. The island remains quite dry, even when the rest of the region is affected by seasonal rains. Because of this arid climate, most of the inland resembles desert. Horseback treks and 4x4 expeditions are as popular a part of the Aruba experience as suntanning and swimming.
Aruba’s little sister, Bonaire, is a natural island that draws comparisons to Saint John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Eco-tourism and high-end holiday rental developments dominate this small but beautiful land mass.
The largest of what many people call the ABC Islands, Curacao has an almost endless list of beaches and dive sites. The biggest highlight, however, is arguably the well-kept colonial capital, Willemstad. The brightly colored Dutch-style buildings have earned the town a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
The best prices on Aruba and its peers can usually be found in summer and early autumn. Rates on hotels, airfares and package vacations depend on demand, not on rainy seasons. Snowbirds from colder climes in the U.S. and Europe drive up prices from December through April. Rates generally bottom out in September and October.
Other destinations where storm chances are low
Another Hurricane Alley alternative is northern South America. Though they are geographically on a different continent, English-speaking Guyana and Dutch-speaking Suriname are culturally and economically part of the Caribbean. Known more for their eco-tourism than for their beach resorts, these two countries are rarely affected by tropical storms (though they do see quite a bit of rainfall during the summer months).
Southern Windward Islands are also relatively safe bets. Strong storms are rare in Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada, though Hurricane Ivan caused extensive damage to the latter in 2004. That said, Grenada has only had 25 tropical storms in the past 143 years, and only eight of those reached hurricane strength.
Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire probably won’t see any hurricanes this summer or fall. These islands are certainly the best option for hurricane-free travel in the Caribbean. However, if you stay anywhere in the southernmost parts of the region, your chances of a dry and safe holiday are generally quite high.
More by Josh Lew
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