Why I Travel to the Caribbean During Hurricane Season (& Why You Should, Too!)
It’s not as insane as it sounds, I swear! Traveling to the Caribbean during hurricane season can actually be a smart move……if you’re flexible and not prone to travel plan induced panic attacks. When exactly is hurricane season, you may ask? It’s June 1 through November 30. Just hear me out on the number one reason why you should travel to the Caribbean during hurricane season:
What does this even mean? Most destinations in the Caribbean (and Central America) consider high season sometime in December through April (or May), which means the other months will be considered either off season or shoulder season as it is a less popular travel time. This has a ton of benefits for you if you’re willing to be flexible in your plans!
Less people! This is “off” season for most locations in the Caribbean (and Central America) which will mean less people. Of course you might find slight upticks in visits during the summer (July & August especially) due to school breaks/summer vacations, however it still won’t be nearly the amount of people you would see in February or March. I’ve been to Aruba in August, the Dominican Republic in October and both Guatemala and Belize in October and can report that it’s been much less crowded than anticipated. From vacant beaches to near empty rum distillery tours it’s the way to go if you don’t like crowds.
You will pay less! Another benefit of shoulder season is the lower cost of accommodations along with benefits and specials to attract tourists during a normally slow time. For example: one place I’ve stayed the normal nightly rate during peak season is $1100 per night (yikesssss) however the shoulder season price was $699 (still a bit high) and they were running a special which lowered the price even more and included daily breakfast and a bottle of wine on arrival. It’s worth doing a little research into your options and then checking with them directly – the above mentioned deal was via direct booking and not a third party site.
Again, typically less expensive than during peak travel times, however you’ll want to keep an eye on prices (Google Flights in private browsing mode is my quick tip). You won’t save any money if you’re trying to book too early or too late so keep watch! Also be aware that during shoulder season some seasonal flight routes may be less frequent or non-operational so don’t be afraid to research alternate routes or carriers.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
If, as you’re finishing reading this, you’re 100 percent sold and are ready to book a flight there are a few things to consider before you do:
There is always the risk of things falling through when you travel, regardless of destination or time of year. Just know that you will need to remain flexible (and level-headed) if you’re planning on traveling to the Caribbean during hurricane season!
OK so this kind of goes without saying but be it hurricane season or “rainy season” you might have some inclement weather. If your ideal vacation is pure sunny skies and perfect beach days your entire stay this might not be the move for you to make. Major weather events aside you may very well find that it just means afternoon showers or evening thunderstorms. In Santo Domingo in October I found that it just meant moderate rain in the afternoons, however it was a welcome departure from the scorching city sun in the afternoon and didn’t put a damper on our exploring, either. I have also experience a couple heavy storms in Belize when staying on the coast but they were just a day or so…..and I wasn’t going to let them “ruin” my trip. You might not even experience any bad weather – once in August in Aruba it was nothing but sun the entire trip.
I always have a Plan B when I’m travel planning for the Caribbean during hurricane season. A couple years back I almost had to activate Plan B due to an actual hurricane – watching its trajectory live a week before departure was making me chew my nails off, however it ended up not tanking my plans. What’s Plan B? In an effort to maximize precious (and approved) vacation time that would otherwise be lost if Plan A was canceled I had an alternate destination ready, complete with priced out flights and lodging. I don’t book two trips, though! I only make sure that, should the worst happen with Plan A, I have somewhere else I would like to go that’s also in a slightly different location (so weather issues with Plan A won’t bury the backup!) and in the price range I’m comfortable with. Knock on wood but I haven’t had to activate Plan B to date, it’s just nice to know that I have options.
Speaking of options……honestly just keep the backup plan mentality and you’ll be fine. Let’s say you’re at your destination (yay!) but a tour or site you’re really wanting to put on the itinerary isn’t available due to weather/season/locusts/gremlins/whatever. Time for Plan C! Have a list of multiple activities, tours, restaurants and sites you’d like to check out that way if one is closed or unavailable you’ll have options. Can’t do a snorkel trip due to rough water? Have a hike or museum Plan C in place and you’ll still get to enjoy the day! Pro tip: This is really good practice for all travel planning, not just during hurricane season, as is keeping a loose itinerary. My formula for travel awesomeness goes something like this:
less expectations + more options = amazing trip
While there are pros and cons when it comes to travel insurance booking a trip during a more (potentially) “volatile” time might make it worth your consideration. Check first with the hotel/resort/B&B you’re booking to find out their exact policy on weather related closures and issues however more often than not they don’t offer any exceptions and you’ll be on the hook per their cancellation and deposit policies. You should read more here to find out if travel insurance is the right move for you (I almost always get it when traveling to the Caribbean/Central America during hurricane season, FYI).
Please note: I am in no way minimizing the capacity for damage and danger a hurricane can pose! The Caribbean and Central America have seen their fair share of tragic events related to hurricanes and the threat they pose should not be taken lightly. Please monitor weather systems and heed all local warnings and evacuations when traveling.
So after reading this I hope you’ll understand why it can be appealing (and amazing!) to travel to the Caribbean during hurricane season! Keeping an open mind and a high level of flexibility will enable you to enjoy your stay, experience less crowds and spend less cash.
Have you ever traveled to the Caribbean during hurricane season? Where did you go? I’d love to hear about your experience – drop me a comment below or shoot me a DM!