After the devastation caused to Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria made landfall in September 2017, you might be hesitant to visit this spectacular tropical island during the hurricane season, which runs from June to November each year. Even if a hurricane isn't as strong as Maria was, you could end up spending a few days looking out from your hotel room at a rain-soaked beach.
However, you can rest assured that Puerto Rico is well on the way to recovery, with electricity restored to most of the island and reconstruction of major attractions near completion in 2019. Additionally, the airports are fully operational, cruise ships have returned to San Juan Harbor, and there are plenty of great destination hotels where you can relax even in the off-season.
Still, if you're visiting the island of Puerto Rico, you should be aware of the possibility of sudden tropical storms, floods, and even hurricanes. Prepare for your off-season trips by reviewing these tips for visiting the island during the Atlantic hurricane season.
Get the Facts on Hurricane Season
Hurricane season typically runs from June 1 to November 30 in Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean. This overlaps with peak travel dates during summer holidays for the kids and major national holidays like the Fourth of July and Labor Day in the United States.
Hurricane season covers a long period of time, and while there is a risk of hurricanes throughout that period, the weather is typically fine for most of the season. However, because it's hurricane season and it's warm in the continental U.S. during these months, it's low season for tourism in Puerto Rico.
Get Low-Season Deals
Puerto Rico tourism rates vary depending on the time of year. While the temperatures hardly change, you'll pay premium prices from mid-December through mid-April for the near-perfect weather and tropical vibe of the island. Known as the peak season, this time of year is marked by temperatures topping out above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) and only sinking down to the upper 60s F (just below 20 C) at their lowest.
However, during the off-season from late April through mid-December, you can find tremendous bargains at some of Puerto Rico's best resorts, and the temperatures are just a bit warmer, with afternoon highs averaging well above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) and lows in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C). Puerto Ricans also know that business is slow, this time of year, and island business owners offer all sorts of deals to entice visitors throughout the season. In fact, sometimes these price drops are so drastic that you can get into a four-star hotel at a two-star price.
Benefit From No Crowds
One of the main features of visiting Puerto Rico during the offseason is that restaurants, hotels, and activities will all have open tables, rooms, and reservations. The throngs of crowds found in Puerto Rico from November to May ebb by the middle of hurricane season, meaning you'll have access to some of the most popular attractions in the region.
This is especially true of Vieques and Culebra islands; because they are smaller, you'll find their best restaurants booked far in advance, hotels fully booked, and generally far poorer accessibility during high season. During hurricane season, you have a much better chance of getting a reservation in a hot restaurant or a room in your top hotel choice.
Another benefit of traveling to Puerto Rico during the offseason is that you may be able to visit one of the island's beaches and find a secluded stretch of sand that is virtually your own for the day. That kind of exclusivity is much, much harder to get during peak season.
Have Fun Inside When It Rains
During hurricane season, it's likely to rain just about every afternoon during your trip, which is why this time of year is also called the rainy season. However, that doesn't mean your trip has to be a washout; there are plenty of ways to stay entertained in Puerto Rico during a downpour.
The casinos are open no matter what's going on outside, barring a true catastrophe, of course, and the restaurants are just as appealing, even if you might get a little wet getting there. Additionally, the old, walled city of San Juan can be enjoyable even in the rain if you can brave a few raindrops—just bring an umbrella.
Take Comfort in Hurricane History
Hurricanes have devastating power grids and destroyed communities around the world, but in Puerto Rico's case, you'll find that history indicates a few positives when it comes to storm damage. Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 5 and was immediately regarded as the worst natural disaster ever recorded in Puerto Rico. It was the 10th strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, but before Maria, Puerto Rico had not been hit by a Category 5 storm since the 1930s.
The last major hurricane to cause severe problems on Puerto Rico before Maria was Georges in 1998, which was a Category 4, and it was the first storm to directly impact the island since the San Ciprian hurricane in 1932.
Decide for Yourself
All things considered, you have to ask yourself if booking a vacation to Puerto Rico in hurricane season is worth the risk. Of course, it doesn't take a major hurricane to literally dampen your holiday; if you are traveling during these months you might well experience days of rain. However, when it’s not raining, the weather is just as warm, the sun just as bright, and the island just as gorgeous as it is during peak season when you pay peak prices. So check the forecast in the days leading up to your trip and plan for a great time. Like the postman, Puerto Rico tends to deliver at all times.