Hurricane season hit the Caribbean hard, with Hurricane Irma beginning the damage and Hurricane Maria adding to it shortly after. The British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands, among others, had their homes and infrastructure severely damaged by the hurricanes. Many islands were also left without electricity and water.
However, many islands that rely heavily on tourism for their economies are welcoming visitors again this winter, making it as good a time for a Caribbean vacation as any.
Antigua, part of the two-island nation Antigua and Barbuda, was spared the worst of Hurricane Irma. The V.C. Bird International Airport remained open and most of the island’s hotels, such as Carlisle Bay and Cocos Hotel welcomed visitors. Several restaurants and businesses are still open and ready to receive guests. Some of the island’s most popular beaches, including Coconut Grove and Sheer Rocks were among the first to receive tourists after the hurricane.
St. Kitts was one of the first islands to announce it was open for tourism after the hurricanes hit the Caribbean. After Hurricane Irma, the tourism authority announced the island was unaffected. The official account of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority tweeted Nov. 15 that the best way to help the Caribbean is to visit. Fun things to do in St. Kitts include hiking, going to the beach and visiting historic areas.
Saint Martin/Sint Maarten
Saint Martin/Sint Maarten was among the hardest hit of the islands. After one month of rebuilding, the island was ready to welcome visitors. Princess Juliana Airport reopened and commenced commercial service on Oct. 10. Although many larger resorts are not equipped to host visitors, a good amount of smaller hotels can accommodate tourists. The island is unique because Saint Martin, the northern half, is French, while Sint Maarten, the Southern half, is Dutch. Both halves of the island boast excellent ship ports, nature views and food.
Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao
The “ABC” Islands, to which the three Dutch islands are sometimes referred, were unaffected by hurricanes Irma and Maria since they are located near the coast of Venezuela. Trip advisors previously suggested choosing two of the islands to explore, as the 20-minute flights to and from each of them are not the most reliable. Aruba is usually the typical Caribbean getaway, Bonaire is slightly less developed, but has a strong water sports presence and Curaçao has a mix of city life, hotels and one of the best sea aquariums in the Caribbean.
Like many other islands in the southern Caribbean, St. Lucia was not impacted by either of the two hurricanes. JetBlue Airlines offers nonstop flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to the island. St. Lucia includes several activities for the lover of travel, including nature hikes and great opportunities for swimming and other water activities like snorkeling.