No one wants to get stuck in a hurricane on vacation, especially when visiting remote destinations like the islands in the Caribbean. For those wishing to travel during the Atlantic hurricane season, fears of these tropical storms ruining travel plans are amplified. Fortunately, there are a number of great destinations—including in the Caribbean—where you can go to avoid severe weather this time of year.
To prevent severe weather from ruining your trip, be prepared for any incident and figure out a strategy for safety before you depart if you're traveling somewhere more prone to hurricanes and tropical storms. Otherwise, choose a destination with good vacation travel weather or with the lowest likelihood of severe weather this time of year.
Hurricanes in the Caribbean and Southeastern U.S.
The best way to avoid hurricanes is to know when they are most likely to occur. For instance, hurricanes are expected in the Caribbean, Florida, and other states bordering the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean each year during the Atlantic hurricane season, which stretches from June 1 to November 30.
The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season falls in August and September, which happen to be the most-traveled months of summer for United States tourists. If you're hoping to travel to the Caribbean this time of year, it's the most dangerous time for severe weather—but that doesn't mean you will absolutely encounter a hurricane if you do decide to visit.
It's recommended that visitors acquaint themselves with the National Weather Service's Hurricane Awareness site so they can keep tabs on any storms that may come up. Additionally, while rates are temptingly low for travelers determined to visit Florida or the Caribbean during hurricane season, visitors are encouraged to find out if their airline or hotel has a hurricane guarantee before booking.
Relatively Safe Caribbean Destinations
While the Atlantic hurricane season will definitely yield severe tropical weather and hurricanes in the region each year, the likelihood of these storms making landfall, wreaking havoc, and interrupting your Caribbean vacation are relatively slim, no matter where you go.
In fact, not all Caribbean islands are necessarily subject to hurricanes. Islands of the Caribbean located the furthest south—including Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Curaçao, and the Turks and Caicos—are the least likely to experience hurricanes, and islands further west are less likely than islands on the eastern side of the Caribbean to experience severe weather during the Atlantic hurricane season, making them relatively safe destinations for late summer vacations.
Hurricane Likelihood by Destination
Some destinations have a higher risk of being affected by hurricanes annually than others, as evidenced by climate data from the region. In general, most destinations in the northeastern Caribbean and the southeastern United States are affected by a hurricane or tropical storm at least once every two years, but some islands to the south and west are hit less frequently.
- Cape Hatteras, North Carolina: Hit every 1.34 years
- Bermuda, Bahama: Hit every 1.63 years
- Cayman Islands: Hit every 1.73 years
- Bermuda: Hit every 1.86 years
- Miami, Florida: Hit every 1.96 years
- Turks and Caicos: Hit every 2.1 years
- New Orleans, Louisiana: Hit every 2.3 years
- Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao: Every 6.8 years
Choosing a destination that hasn't seen a hurricane in years—like Tobago, which was last directly hit by a major hurricane in 1963—or has a lower likelihood of being hit (like Aruba) is a great way to avoid travel interruptions caused by these storms this time of year.
Unfortunately, hurricanes are quite unpredictable and can begin to form just days or weeks before an already scheduled trip. For those who can't bear the idea of severe weather, they can skip the risk altogether and consider going to a beach destination not experiencing hurricanes this time of year like Greece, Hawaii, California, or Australia.
What It's Like to Experience a Hurricane
For those who haven't experienced it before, a hurricane feels like a superstorm. The same elements like wind, thunder, lightning, and heavy rain may arrive, but in more extreme measure and duration. Additionally, flooding may occur in areas close to or below sea level.
Guests at a resort can simply look to the management for guidance and safety. Others will need to take more precautionary measures. For example, if you have access to local media such as the radio, TV, online sites and social media, it's imperative to stay tuned in for weather updates. You'll start hearing warnings of the imminent event and may receive alerts on your phone.
Travelers should be aware that hurricanes can take out transmission lines, so information may get cut off at any time. It's important to have an evacuation plan, emergency kit, and a passport/ID for areas that are likely to get hit hard. If you do get caught in a hurricane, seek shelter on high ground and follow instructions.
How a Hurricane Can Affect Travel Plans
Many properties in the hurricane-prone zone offer peace of mind by allowing you to cancel a reservation without penalty if a hurricane is predicted. The hotel will typically either give a full refund or let you rebook within a year.
However, the conditions of these guarantees vary, so read the fine print—wording that says "direct impact" or "impacted by hurricane-force winds" might mean that you cannot cancel in advance, but you could be entitled to reimbursement after a storm hits.
Additionally, you may still have to pay for your flights and other tours or services you booked for your trip unless you bought travel insurance or you have a reward credit card that offers travel insurance options.