In the Caribbean, hurricane season ultimately spans half of the year, instantly making it a determining factor. And although a storm-prone region likely won’t be affected for the entirety of the season, the possibility can’t be ignored. Thanks to cheaper hotel rates and airfares plus fewer crowds, you can luck out to enjoy shoulder season in the Caribbean and all the warmth it offers still. Here’s exactly what you need to know about traveling to the Caribbean during hurricane season. As always, keep updated with weather updates before your trip, and consider travel insurance too.
Hurricane Season in the Caribbean
As a region heavily reliant on tourism, it’s important to have a conversation about hurricane season when speaking about traveling. Fueled by moist air rising off warm water, hurricanes swirl into the Caribbean from June 1 to Nov. 30 each year. Statistically, the odds are excellent that you’ll enjoy a sunny, hurricane-free holiday, but with a forecast of an estimated 8 to 12 hurricanes for the average Atlantic Ocean season, there’s always a chance that your vacation could coincide with one of them.
September is typically the most active month of the season, but it’s also a statistical probability of a direct hit —and no man controls the weather. For example, the National Hurricane Center states that while September travelers to Puerto Rico have an 8 percent chance of encountering a hurricane, it only applies if you spend the entire month there. So, if you only stay one week, the odds of a hurricane hitting are just 2 percent, even during the peak of storm season.
September Weather in the Caribbean
The average temperature in the Caribbean during the month of September ranges from 76 Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) to 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius), and the summer humidity is still lingering. On average, there are approximately 12 rainy days during September across the Caribbean, although precipitation and temperatures will vary slightly, but not significantly, across destinations.
How To Decide On Your Caribbean Destination During Hurricane Season
The Caribbean islands closest to South America typically see fewer hurricanes and are generally the best to visit during this time. These include:
- Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, collectively known as the ABC islands, are known for world-class scuba diving.
- Barbados, whose capital is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is considered the birthplace of rum.
- Belize, whose eastern coastline borders the Caribbean Sea, is the only mainland country within the Caribbean community. Although not an island, its location keeps it relatively protected from the worst hurricane activity. Once the heartland of the Maya, Belize offers culturally rich archeological sites alongside world-class scuba diving and beaches.
- Grenada, known for its beaches and rum distilleries, is sheltered by proximity to Venezuela, outside of the Caribbean hurricane belt.
- Trinidad and Tobago, industrial by nature, is particularly popular for its nightlife, music, and culture.
What to Pack
It’s the rainy season in Belize, so pack accordingly. Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you need to be boarded up indoors the entire trip. Enjoy the Caribbean — rain or shine — with some of the following must-pack items:
Breathable Clothing: It’s the tropics, after all, so you’ll want loose-fitting layers to keep you cool during the day. Don’t forget to also include a hat, sunglasses, and your swimsuit.
Waterproof shoes: Though comfortable shoes are always recommended, find something that can double for waterproof, whether it’s a sandal or tennis.
Waterproof backpack: You’ll likely be spending most of your vacation exploring. Why wouldn’t you? Grab a waterproof backpack or dry-sack, which is especially handy for marine adventures.
Rain jacket. Find something lightweight for hot weather that isn’t too bulky—rainy does not equal cold. If an unexpected shower catches you on the road, you’ll want something you can grab quickly.
September Events in the Caribbean
From Grand Kadooment in Barbados to Carnival in Belize, there is plenty to keep visitors traveling back to the Caribbean, even during the Hurricane season. With a focus on culture, here are a few major Caribbean events from late summer to fall.
- Reggae SumFest in Jamaica: Reggae Sumfest is Jamaica’s summer reggae festival held July 18 – 23 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
- Barbados Crop Over: The week-long festivities celebrate Barbados’ rich culture, and harvest of sugar, a centuries-old tradition.
- Fiesta di Cunucu: This annual tradition in Aruba celebrates the rural heritage of Aruba, with folkloric dance and music at traditional Cunucu houses.
- Belize Carnival: Since 1975, the annual Carnival is held in September in Belize to showcase local music, theatre, fashion, and dance. On September 21, Belize celebrates the anniversary of the day it gained independence from Great Britain in 1981.
September Travel Tips
Resorts and restaurants typically close during their slowest months of business, so be sure to do your research on any activities and attractions. And as numbers dwindle with people returning to school and work, hoteliers do their best to lure the curious back with hotel deals. Don’t pay full price if you don’t have to!
What To Do If A Hurricane Or Tropical Storm Strikes
If you booked a trip—and didn’t buy travel insurance—don’t panic. You’ll find an ‘acts of God’ clause or the like within your booking’s fine print; hotels and airlines will then let guests cancel or reschedule without any penalty. With particular experience in resiliency, the Caribbean’s travel industry does a fantastic job of being informed of any impending storm, with plans in place for evacuating or sheltering guests. ETA’s are more and more accurate with technological advances too, which means ultimately, the choice for traveling and staying in the Caribbean during hurricane season is up to you.