While Summer holidays are usually reserved for family adventures, travel abroad, and making memories, you should know that some regions in the Caribbean also consider this time of your most dangerous for travel.
Now you may be wondering, “How bad can it get?”. Honestly, 90% of the time, it won’t be but a mist of rain to ruin your beach day and some high swells at the beach, but now and again, the storms are more prominent, and the risk gets higher. Hurricane season officially runs from June 1st through December 1st (although storms come through later than that), and it brings with it added risks when traveling to the Northern Caribbean.
Does this mean you should not travel during these months? Heck no! These are some of the best times to travel to the Caribbean. Not only is it less crowded, but you can also find some great hotel deals. One of my favorite places to stay is La Vista Resort in St. Maarten. Usually traffic tends to wind down, and there are all sorts of fabulous fresh fruits that grow during these times! I highly recommend traveling to the Caribbean during the “wet season: but I urge you to be an informed traveler.
Things you should do before you go:
- Travel insurance, and no, not the Covid kind, but rather, spend the few extra dollars should your flights or hotel be canceled due to an upcoming storm. The weather is so heavily monitored during these months that storms rarely creep up on you, but they can turn on a dime, and you may find yourself sitting at the airport, only to find out that your flight has is canceled. Why take the risk?
- Pack a large ziplock bag that will hold all your essential documents. This will prevent your passports and paperwork from getting wet, as with most storms comes plenty of rain.
- Always store digital copies of your passports and ticket info on your phone. Should you have to evacuate quickly, most of you will certainly already have your phone on hand, but many may forget to grab other essentials. Take it from me; you may only have seconds to get out. You can store these images on your phone and lock them so that should your phone get lost or stolen, your info is still safe. Don’t store them on a cloud or email as the internet and power could go out, and you won’t be able to access them.
- Head over to your local dollar store and grab a few lightweight flashlights that you can toss into your suitcase. They will come in handy should there be a power outage. Don’t forget the batteries. One per family member should be great (these also provide great entertainment for kids while your waiting for the lights to come back on)
- Search local numbers for your airline and the local airport so that if you need to leave, you have all the info at hand to be able to call and get on that last flight out.
What to do if a storm arrives you while you’re on vacation:
- Stay informed. If there is chatter about upcoming weather, don’t pretend it’s not there, instead tune in several times a day and keep ahead of the forecast. This way, your not caught off guard. Your local front desk should be able to provide you with up-to-date weather info on any named storms.
- Should you be caught in the path of a storm, be sure to hit the ATM before things get wet. Once the power goes, you won’t be able to buy or make credit card transactions, so that cash will be a lifesaver. Make sure to put it in your hotel safe until you need it.
- Once you know the weather will hit, stock up on bottled water, easy-to-cook foods like pasta, rice, and canned foods. Don’t forget the matches! It can be hard to get those gas ranges to light when the power is out!
- Travelling with small children? Stock up on diapers and formula as this tends to run out quickly.
- If you are evacuated or booked on an earlier flight once a storm passes, you can donate any purchase you make to the local red cross, which will help out local families who will most certainly need them after a storm.
What should you do after a storm?
- Check with your hotel staff to make sure it’s safe to venture out of your rooms and off the property. It will all depend on the strength of the storm that passed. Try and keep your devices charged, and don’t drive around until you can confirm it’s safe to do so. Debris may block roads and cause damage to your rental.
- If it’s a small storm with minimal impact, you can probably go about enjoying your holiday but be sure to be cautious when swimming. The ocean can hide debris rather quickly, and you may be in danger of cuts from glass, metal, and other debris that can settle on the ocean floor.
I have weathered many storms growing up in St. Maarten and know that they can be scary to go through, especially if it’s not something you have experienced before. Most hurricanes will pass the islands and leave them slightly bruised, but now and then, you may encounter a hurricane of immense proportions, and it will certainly pay to prepare. None of the tips I have given you take much effort, but by following them, you will put yourself at an advantage should your vacation be interrupted by one of these weather giants.