7 Caribbean Vacations to Take Outside the Hurricane Belt
Postponed flights, washed-out beaches, canceled reservations—the threat of an impending storm can really put a damper on vacation plans. Your best bet for avoiding an unforeseen bad weather forecast? Book a trip beneath the hurricane belt, where tropical storms—though not unheard of—are definitely few and far, far between.
The easternmost island in the Caribbean belt has not been hit by a major hurricane since 1955 and, while its beaches (all public) are undoubtedly beautiful, it’s Barbados’s culture and cuisine that have been drawing more visitors in recent years. Every October, the Food and Rum Festival takes over the streets of Bridgetown and surrounding parishes; this year, award-winning British chef Tom Aikens makes an appearance. Although the island is chock-full of quality all-inclusive resorts, The Crane outdoes them all with its colonial-style villas, five pools, and sprawling village housing its own shops, art gallery, and jazz club.
Bonaire’s position on the outer edge of the hurricane belt means that, though it experiences some tropical storm effects (like minor beach erosion and reef damage), direct hits are exceedingly uncommon. Designated a marine park in 1979, the 24-mile-long island is a beautiful example of conservation, home to unique wildlife including lizards, donkeys, and over 200 species of birds as well as 86 highly-sought-after snorkeling and diving sites and beaches riddled with caverns and coves. Another favorite pastime is renting a glass-bottom kayak and exploring the island’s mangroves and shallow bay lagoons—a testament to how clear the water is here.
Being sandwiched between Aruba and Bonaire means Curacao is as likely to experience a hurricane as its neighbors. (In other words, not very likely.) On this island, it’s all about the highs and lows—namely, diving down to see the Superior Producer (one of the area’s most famous shipwrecks), hiking the 1,230-foot peak of Mount Christoffel, and all the excitement found in between. Willemstad, the main town, is a colorful village with a little bit of everything, including a floating market, shops, museums, restaurants, and bars where sips of the island’s namesake blue liqueur—made from the endemic Laraha fruit—are a must. Sleep it off at Baoase Luxury Resort fronting Mambo Beach, where some of its 23 tropical rooms and villas have plunge pools overlooking the sea.
It’s difficult to find one bad thing to say about Aruba: its temperate south Caribbean waters make its reefs (and wrecks) some of the most popular scuba diving sites in the world; its sugar-white beaches—made up of crushed shells, not sand—are cool at any time of day; the island hosts more than a few prehistoric sites, including ancient cave pictographs and mysterious rock formations; and those famous divi-divi trees make for some spectacular photo-ops. While there are plenty of all-inclusives to choose from, our sleep of choice remains the Ritz-Carlton, Aruba—a romantic-but-still-family-friendly grand dame on Palm Beach whose every guest room has a balcony and sea view.
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St Vincent and the Grenadines
Compared to other spots in the Caribbean, the 32 islands comprising St. Vincent and the Grenadines remain surprisingly underdeveloped. It could be because of their size (the biggest is only twice the size of D.C.) or their remoteness—lying 100 miles off the coast of Barbados, the nearest neighbor. Technically, the islands lie within the hurricane belt, but no serious storms have passed through here in more than 60 years. The private island known as Mustique is a playground for the jet-set, having hosted everyone from Will and Kate to Mick Jagger in its highly prized rentable villas. Even if you’re can’t splash out, the 20-room Cotton House is a beautiful alternative: follow up horseback rides and tennis with a sunset cruise before heading back to Pasture Beach to spot nesting sea turtles.
Trinidad and Tobago
Looking to go really off the grid? The islands of Trinidad and Tobago are as far away from the typical Caribbean crowds (and the prices that follow them) as you can get. Forget sprawling all-inclusives or booked-up excursions; here, it's all about the laid-back lifestyle the Caribbean was once known for, where days are spent at barefoot beach bars alongside locals followed by nights spent falling asleep to the waves in humble guesthouses. For a little more energy, head into town on Trinidad for a taste of local art at galleries like 101 and The National Museum; the most magical experience in Tobago happens at night during a bioluminescent paddle-board tour off Pigeon Point.
Grenada, colloquially known as the Island of Spice due to its fertile crops that grows nutmeg, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, is one of the least-visited islands in the Caribbean—making it also one of the most affordable to visit. What you’ll find when you get there: lush rainforests full of waterfalls and papaya and cacao trees; volcanic craters cradling freshwater lakes; shorelines teeming with tuna, mackerel, and dolphins; the world’s first underwater sculpture park; and refreshingly low-key hotels like the luxe Mount Cinnamon Resort & Beach Club, perched on a hill overlooking popular Grande Anse Beach.
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