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Holding off on booking a Caribbean vacation because you’re worried about hurricanes? Don’t.
The Caribbean hurricane season runs from June through November, with its peak in August, September and October. But hurricanes aren’t inevitable—and they’re avoidable, too.
First off, the odds are definitely in your favor. Even if you’re spending two weeks in the Caribbean, there’s only a 2-3 percent chance your vacation will be affected by a hurricane. You’re much more likely to get hit by a hurricane if you live along the Gulf Coast. In fact, Miami has an almost 25 percent chance of being hit by a hurricane in any given year, higher than any Caribbean island.
Second, the Caribbean is a big place, and not all of it is in the hurricane belt. In the southern Caribbean—which includes Aruba, St. Lucia and Barbados—hurricanes are extremely rare. Western Caribbean islands like Jamaica and Dominican Republic, as well as Mexico’s Caribbean coast, are less likely to be hit by hurricanes than eastern Caribbean islands like Puerto Rico, Antigua and the Virgin Islands. To put this all in perspective, skipping a vacation in Aruba because a hurricane is predicted in Puerto Rico would be like canceling a trip to Chicago because there’s a heat wave in Atlanta.
Of course, the Caribbean isn’t your only option for a beautiful beach vacation. Despite the damage Hurricane Odile did to Los Cabos, hurricanes are much less likely to hit Mexico’s Pacific coast than Caribbean coast, and very rarely even threaten up-and-coming Central American destinations like Costa Rica and Panama.
No matter where you decide to vacation, there are several things you can do to cover yourself and your vacation investment. Most importantly, purchase travel insurance that will covered in case of that you must cancel or cut short your trip due to a hurricane. Even better are policies with cancel-for-any-reason benefits, like Funjet Vacation’s All-in-One Travel Protection, and Premier Vacation Protection from United Vacations®. These policies let you cancel or reschedule your vacation even if no hurricane is expected, but the forecast calls for rain all week.
Most Caribbean resorts also have hurricane policies. If an official hurricane warning is issued, most resorts will waive any cancellation penalties and will let you to rebook any missed nights for a later date. Again, these policies only apply to hurricanes; you’re still stuck with bad weather unless your insurance includes cancel-for-any-reason benefits.
Also take a few minutes to register with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. You’ll automatically receive travel alerts and warnings for your destination, and make it easier for the local U.S. embassy to contact you in case of evacuation (or any other emergency). And lastly, this is a given, but keep an eye on the weather. Cancelling a trip before you leave will always be less of hassle than getting there and finding yourself stuck due to weather.
Armed with all this knowledge, go forth and book your Caribbean (or other) vacation without worry—and may sunny skies greet you wherever you go.