Travel Team | Nov 29, 2023
Summer is coming to a close and many travelers are eager for one final beach vacation. But as autumn approaches, so does the height of hurricane season.
During this particularly volatile time of year, the Caribbean may seem like the last place you’d want to travel. You might be surprised, though. The positive part about traveling to the Caribbean during hurricane season is there are certain islands that are barely affected.
Hurricane season in the Caribbean typically runs from June 1 to November 30. However, it's important to know that hurricanes can occur outside of this time period.
If you're planning a trip to the Caribbean, it's a good idea to check the latest weather forecast and hurricane warnings before you travel. You can also consult with your hotel or resort about their hurricane preparedness plans.
While no location is completely safe, some Caribbean islands are relatively well-protected from the hurricane belt. This helps to explain why those islands are such popular tourist destinations.
Why are some Caribbean islands, like the ones listed below, safer than others? First, most of them are located just to the south of the hurricane belt. This means that they are often out of the direct path of hurricanes as they travel northwards from Africa.
Additionally, these islands tend to be surrounded by large bodies of water, which can help weaken hurricanes' strength as they approach.
Finally, many Caribbean islands have mountains that can help block or deflect the winds of a hurricane. This can help reduce the amount of damage caused by these storms.
The hurricane belt is a region around the Earth that experiences frequent hurricanes. The main belts are located in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, although other areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, can also experience these storms. Hurricane activity typically peaks from late August to early October, which is why this period is sometimes called hurricane season.
A few Caribbean islands are fairly well-sheltered from hurricanes due to their location and climate. These Caribbean islands are known as the ABC islands: Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao.
If you're looking for a place to truly relax and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, then the ABC islands are the place for you. These islands offer some of the world's most beautiful beaches and a wide variety of activities to keep you entertained.
Whether you're looking to soak up some sun on the beach, snorkel or scuba dive in the crystal-clear waters, or explore the island's many shops and restaurants, the ABC islands have something for everyone.
For the best chance at a relaxing tropical vacation (with the minimal worry of an incoming storm), consider a historically low-risk destination like the options below.
The first of the ABC islands, Aruba sits significantly south of the hurricane belt. Hurricane Felix caused minor damage when it skirted about 60 miles away from the island in 2007. This is the last time Aruba was really affected by a storm, though.
In addition to its tranquil weather, Aruba boasts white sand beaches and breathtaking limestone cliffs.
Aruba is also home to the SS Antilla, a German freighter that was sunk during World War II.
The Antilla is now one of the largest shipwrecks in the Caribbean — and Aruba’s most popular dive site. This and other attractions make Aruba a must-see destination for divers, snorkelers, and history buffs alike.
To many, Barbados is associated with pop star and actress Rihanna (and who can blame them?!).
The island is also home to stunning landscapes and rich cross-cultural traditions. Barbados is often referred to as “Little England” as a former British colony because of its blend of Caribbean and English influences. Barbados has been independent of England since 1966, but afternoon high tea and cricket remain popular in many parts of the island.
As a bonus, hurricanes rarely affect Barbados. The island hasn’t been hit by major storms since Hurricane Janet in 1955.
Along with its fellow ABC islands, Bonaire is situated well below the hurricane belt. The last storm it faced was in 2016. Although that’s relatively recent compared to some of the other isles, it was Bonaire’s first hurricane in nearly a decade. That sounds like a pretty good track record to us.
Often referred to as the “diver’s paradise,” the island’s clear waters and extensive reefs make it an ideal destination for underwater exploration. Its star attraction is the Bonaire National Marine Park, home to 89 public dive sites, 350 unique species of fish, and miles of pristine coral reefs.
As the “C” in the ABC islands, Curaçao is also well-shielded from major storms. Although Curaçao experienced localized flooding during Hurricane Tomas in 2010, the chances of a direct hit from a hurricane remain slim.
Beyond its tranquil climate, Curaçao is known for its pastel colonial architecture and carefully curated museums. While its Dutch influences are unmistakable, Curaçao retains the picturesque shorelines and forests unique to the Caribbean, given the island's colonial past.
Curaçao has more than 35 different beaches that are accessible to the public, many of which are tucked away in secluded coves. And of course, no trip to Curaçao would be complete without a sample of the island’s signature blue liqueur.
Grenada has earned the nickname “the spice isle of the Caribbean” for a good reason: visitors can often smell nutmeg in the air upon arriving, and organic local cocoa is incorporated into many of the island’s dishes.
Beyond its culinary treasures, Grenada has miles of white sand beaches and, among other attractions, a remarkable underwater sculpture park.
Grenada was last impacted by a hurricane in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan passed over the island. Hurricanes remain rare in Grenada — the 2004 storm was the only one in 60 years — and the island boasts sunshine and steady breezes year-round.
That depends on the experience you are looking for. Since it’s hurricane season, there aren’t as many travelers, and that means there is a chance that beaches will be less busy just in time for your vacation.
You’ll have the chance to explore famous beaches, like Eagle beach of Aruba or Crane Beach of Barbados, without all the traffic.
It also means that popular tourist attractions, like dive boats, sailing tours, or ATV tours that lead to a natural swimming pool will be more available.
There is a chance of rain and wind if a hurricane is nearby. If you follow certain precautions, you can still have a fun trip.
Due to the increased rainfall, the surrounding areas are green and lush. There are plenty of picture-perfect opportunities to make all your Instagram followers jealous.
The idea of more rain may ruin your plans to spend time exploring islands and beaches, but this doesn’t have to waste your vacation entirely. There are many indoor activities while you wait for the rain to pass.
Some of the most common indoor activities are related to the islands’ biggest exports. If you need to dodge the rain, book a tour at a distillery – rum on several of the islands or Curaçao in, obviously, Curaçao – to see how the drinks are made and enjoy tasting a few.
There are also chocolate tours and plenty of museums, each highlighting the islands’ complex colonial histories, as well as networks of underground caves to explore.
A hurricane can be very dangerous, especially if you're unprepared for it. If you're planning a vacation to the Caribbean, it's essential to know what to do in case a tropical storm or hurricane strikes.
Here are some tips on preparing for a tropical storm or hurricane while you're on vacation in the Caribbean:
No matter the destination, hurricanes can seriously impact travelers’ itineraries. Airlines may delay flights, cruises may be canceled, and connections may be missed, among other unexpected changes to travel.
Travel insurance can help mitigate these challenges so that, whether or not you’re traveling to or from a location near a coast, you can travel during hurricane season knowing you’re protected.
Hurricanes are covered under travel insurance plans via trip cancellation and trip interruption benefits. There are many reasons a hurricane could either cancel or abruptly interrupt a trip, so it is important for travelers to be aware of the ways they will be protected by their travel insurance if they choose to go on a trip during hurricane season.
In order to be reimbursed your prepaid, nonrefundable trip expenses, your cancellation or interruption must be triggered by a covered reason. Note that the covered reasons for Trip Cancellation coverage are not identical to the covered reasons for Trip Interruption coverage, and additional terms apply to all covered reasons. It’s best to refer to your plan document to find out what these covered reasons are, but if you haven’t bought a plan yet and need a general overview, check out our blog summarizing what you need to know about hurricanes and travel insurance.
Beyond the covered reasons listed in your plan document, you can purchase optional Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage for additional protection when traveling during hurricane season.
CFAR allows you to cancel a trip for any reason at all as long as the cancellation occurs 48 hours or more prior to scheduled departure. This add-on benefit may provide peace of mind, especially when hurricanes can make a trip unpredictable. Learn more about CFAR if you’re interested in how it can help you.
Seven Corners Trip Protection plans will also help if inclement weather causes a missed tour or cruise connection. We can reimburse you up to the amount stated in the plan document if you miss your tour or cruise departure because your arrival at your trip destination is delayed for at least three consecutive hours due to inclement weather, like a hurricane.
If a hurricane is forecast to impact your travel plans, it's important to monitor the situation closely and change your itinerary as necessary.
If you decide to change plans and cancel your trip to the Caribbean, it's important to understand how travel insurance can help to make the process as smooth as possible.
Talk to our licensed travel insurance experts to choose the right coverage for our trip to the Caribbean during hurricane — or any — season.
Important Information from the United States Fire Insurance Company