In this series, Lonely Planet’s team of writers and editors answers your travel problems and provides tips and hacks to help you plan a hassle-free trip. We sent this Caribbean-related question to Dallas-based travel journalist Alex Temblador, who has crisscrossed the region from Barbados to Bonaire.
Question: My family is traveling to the Caribbean this summer for a wedding. Should I be worried about visiting during hurricane season?
Alex Temblador: The Caribbean is a popular wedding destination – who can blame couples for wanting to get married on a white sandy beach with the sun setting over the ocean? The region’s many resorts are equipped to host all wedding activities and house the guests, and before and after the big day, an entire island – like Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic – awaits for the couple and their wedding party to explore.
If you’re scheduling a trip down to the Caribbean for a wedding this summer, I would understand your apprehension about those strong storms that arrive most frequently in the summer and fall months. The threat of a hurricane can put a damper on any wedding trip.
But trust me: you have little to worry about.
While the season runs from June to November, historically the most hard-hitting hurricane month has been September – which means that if the nuptials are scheduled for June, July or November, you’re probably going to be fine. Also keep in mind that meteorologists track tropical storms in the Caribbean fervently – meaning that no matter when the wedding is scheduled, you’ll have insights and predictions days in advance, giving you plenty of time to change your travel plans if necessary. Even if you somehow find yourself at the hotel on the wedding day and a hurricane is upon you, stay calm. Most resorts are designed to withstand hurricane winds and have hurricane safety plans in effect.
Even during the most hurricane-prone months, some Caribbean nations are unlikely to take a direct hit. Take Barbados, for example: because of its location in the southeastern corner of the Caribbean and a phenomenon called the Coriolis force, the island has a lower chance of being in the path of a hurricane, making it the perfect summer wedding destination. (Think 80 white-sand beaches, rum tastings at Mount Gay Rum and a submarine tour to the bottom of the ocean in between wedding festivities.)
Similarly situated Caribbean destinations like Bonaire, the San Blas Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Curaçao and Grenada are also safe bets for weddings this summer. Think about it like this: hurricanes usually begin as tropical storms southeast of the Caribbean. These storms travel northeast toward the USA, gaining more power from the warm water until they turn into hurricanes. This means that storms are at their least dangerous as (or even if) they pass over these southeastern islands. On occasion, a tropical storm or a low-level hurricane will pass nearby, but it’s rare for these nations to be hit straight on, something you can clearly see by comparing countries in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Historical Hurricane Tracks map.
For further piece of mind, I’d also recommend buying travel insurance with hurricane coverage, no matter where the Caribbean wedding is taking place. A hurricane or tropical storm could delay your flight, even to a destination otherwise unaffected by a storm. Many travel-insurance companies offer payouts for long delays or trip cancellations related to hurricanes. Booking with a travel advisor is another way of staying on top of circumstances that could disrupt the wedding trip.
One final thing: no matter where a summer wedding is held in the Caribbean, rainy mornings, intermittent showers and brief downpours can occur any day. Be sure to pack a poncho or umbrella in addition to that colorful wedding outfit.
After all, rain on a wedding day is good luck.