UPDATE: Oct 7, 2017:
About 70% of the Caribbean region was unaffected by recent hurricanes and vacationers have more than 30 Caribbean islands to choose from for a fall escape. Many of the resorts and tour operators are offering better-than-usual promotions during this shoulder season that runs until mid-December.
Islands that still aren’t ready to offer a good vacation experience include:
U.S. Virgin Islands: St. Thomas, St. John, St.Croix
British Virgin Islands: Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda
Cuba: Click here to read the U.S. Department of State travel warning. Cuba did have extensive damage from Hurricane Irma. However, the minister of tourism reports that the airport and most resorts will be ready for business as usual by November 1st.
Where to go right now:
Antigua: This British Overseas Territory sits between Cuba and Jamaica. Although sister island, Barbuda, was wiped out by Hurricane Irma, Antigua had only minimal damage. The island is ready for visitors and a few “summer” deals are still available here. Watch what recent visitors are saying here.
Aruba: This popular island lies at the southern end of the Caribbean island chain, well outside the typical path of seasonal hurricanes. The island was not affected by recent hurricanes, and all businesses are open and welcoming visitors. Check the exciting deals that are being offered right now by clicking here.
Bahamas: The archipelago’s most appealing destinations escaped major damage. Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is located on the island of New Providence and is a quick getaway for U.S. citizens. Little Paradise Island is easily reached by bridges across Nassau Harbor. Other islands in the chain also are unharmed and visitors are welcome on Bimini, Cat Island, the Abacos, Eleuthera and other popular locations. If you’re a yachter or island hopper, take a look at the deals and adventures offered here.
Bermuda: This tiny island lies in the Atlantic east of North Carolina and was unaffected by the hurricanes. Fall is an ideal time to visit the historical British destination known for its pink-sand beaches. Check here for current promotions.
Bonaire: Known internationally as a top scuba diving spot and a year-round favorite with eco-travelers, Bonaire is near Aruba and outside the “hurricane belt.” Visitors have time to pick up a vacation deal during the Bonaire Fall Festival, which runs until November 4th. Click here for the details.
The Caymans: Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac were not hit by the hurricanes. The British Overseas Territory has some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches, excellent scuba diving, and good hiking trails through the forested interior and along seaside cliffs. Find a fall adventure to suit your interests here.
Curacao: As part of the ABC islands, along with Aruba and Bonaire, this Dutch island sits well outside the “hurricane belt” that stretches through much of the Caribbean. Find out what’s going on in Curacao’s historical capital, Willemstad, and check for vacation packages and accommodation deals here.
Dominican Republic: Punta Cana reports that the airport is operating a normal schedule, the new VIP lounge will open soon, and the resort areas escaped major damage. Airports and most resorts in Santo Domingo, La Romana, Samana, Santiago, and Puerto Plata also have resumed regular operations. However, the office of tourism recommends that visitors contact their airlines, tour operators, and hotels to confirm their reservations. The cruise ports are open and all excursions and tourist attractions are up and running. Again, travelers are advised to confirm their reservations and itineraries with their cruise company or travel agent.
Jamaica: As one of the Caribbean’s most popular tourist destinations, Jamaica offers visitors to Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Negril a wide variety of activities. Fortunately, the island was not damaged by the hurricanes, and all accommodations, eateries, and tourist attractions are welcoming guests.
Martinique and Guadeloupe: These two destinations are part of the French Overseas Territory. They are separated by the little island of Dominica, which is still struggling with the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, but both escaped a direct hit by the storms. Martinique has all the cosmopolitan charm expected from a French island, including gourmet cuisine, lively cultural events, and fashionable locals. Of course, there are also white-sand beaches, tropical rainforests, and exquisite resorts. Guadeloupe is a butterfly-shaped double island with three smaller outer islands. Visitors here enjoy uncrowded beaches, excellent water sports, and hiking trails through a national park that features an active volcano. Look for fall and winter promotions in Martinique here.
Grenada: A three-island group is an often-overlooked vacation treasure with developing luxury accommodations and devoted repeat visitors. The islands were not affected by the hurricanes.
Trinidad and Tobago: Sitting far to the southeast in the Caribbean island chain, these twin islands rarely experience severe storms. This year’s hurricane season meant little to them. All services, hotels, and tourist attractions are operating normally. The tourism board and major hotels see an opportunity to lure visitors with package promotions and accommodation deals. Click here and look for the yellow banners that signal lodging specials. Watch a promotional video here.
Turks and Caicos: The T&Cs had a few bad days when Hurricane Irma roared past in September, but the islands have made a dramatic comeback. Providenciales, the most developed island, is almost completely restored and ready for visitors. Most of the other islands are quickly catching up. See a new video, get the latest island updates, and check the status of accommodations by clicking here.
UPDATE: Sept 28, 2017:
St. Thomas’ Cyril E. King Airport in the US Virgin Islands is opening today. American and Delta plan to fly regularly scheduled flights to Charlotte Amalie from Miami and Atlanta. United is expected to fly from Newark to St Thomas next week.
St Croix’s Henry Rohlsen Airport expects to reopen next week.
St Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport and Nevis’s Vance Amory International Airport are open. Most hotels and businesses are ready to receive visitors.
The British Virgin Islands sustained significant hurricane damage. As a result, all tourist services on the islands, including Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, and Virgin Gorda will be closed until further notice.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism reports that New Providence, Nassau, and all but a few other islands were untouched or had minor damage. Tourists are welcome.
Barbados was not damaged by the hurricanes and the island is welcoming visitors.
Antigua’s hotels, restaurants, and bars are open now or will reopen before the end of October. Book now. Barbuda, Antigua’s sister island, was severely damaged by the hurricane and all hotels are closed.
The Caymans, including popular Grand Cayman, had little or no damage from the hurricanes and all tourist facilities and services are running a normal schedule.
The Turks and Caicos Islands were hit with strong winds and heavy rain as Hurricane Maria moved east of the island chain.
Dominica sustained a direct hit by Hurricane Maria and tourists are advised to delay visits to the island until repairs are completed.
Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport delayed reopening until safety concerns can be resolved. Most of the island’s hotels are damaged with plans to reopen within a few weeks.
St. Lucia, Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao were not impacted by the hurricanes and all hotels and businesses are open and welcoming visitors. Airlines are operating normal flight schedules to these islands.
UPDATE: Sept 26, 2017:
St. Martin: The two-nation island (Dutch Sint Maarten and French Saint Martin) experienced severe damage on September 6th as Hurricane Irma hit with high winds and driving rain. Hurricane Maria delivered a second blow on September 20th. At this time, Princess Juliana International Airport is closed except for limited flights allowed for military and government-sponsored aid. The seaport also is operating on a limited basis to allow aid onto the island.
United States Virgin Islands: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix sustained major hurricane damage. U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth E. Mapp announced that the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas is expected to reopen for commercial flights on Thursday, September 28th. Airlines will determine their flight schedules. Plans are underway to open the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix next week. The Commissioner of Tourism reports that the Government is working with cruise ship lines to coordinate delivery of aid and secure transportation for residents who wish to travel to the U.S. mainland. Visitors are advised to postpone vacations to all three islands and check with airlines and accommodation providers for cancellation and rebooking.
British Virgin Islands: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the U.K. advises against all leisure travel to the BVI. Tortola’s airport is closed to commercial flights.
St. Barts: Gustav III airport is officially open for commercial flights. Air Antilles (out of Guadeloupe) and Tradewind Aviation (out of San Juan) are now arriving and departing. The island’s commercial harbor is open for receiving aid for residents. Electricity has been restored in the towns of Gustavia and St Jean. Most hotels, resorts, and guest houses remain closed for repair but plan to reopen in time for the winter tourist season.
UPDATE: Sept 25, 2017:
A few Caribbean islands are still crippled from recent hurricanes. Many escaped the storms and those that didn’t are now cleaning up the mess and repairing structures, power sources, and water supplies. With few exceptions, the islands are determined to be back to full operations and welcoming visitors in a few weeks.
The islands hardest hit are:
Puerto Rico: Gov. Ricardo Rossello reports that the island is “essentially devastated” in the wake of Hurricane Maria. The Island is without power and freshwater sources. Adding to the problems, the Guajataca Dam near the northwestern town of Isabella is failing and threatens massive flooding. El Yunque National Forest is closed. Most hotels have structural or water damage and will remain closed for several weeks.The main port in the capital city of San Juan opened to allow ships to bring in water, food, cots, and generators. Puerto Rico’s Luis Marin Munoz International Airport opened to allow a dozen commercial flights to depart San Juan today, September 25th, and additional flights may depart tomorrow. However, the airport is severely damaged and regular service will not resume for several weeks.
Dominica: The island was slammed by Hurricane Maria. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit reports widespread devastation but says it is too soon to access the condition of the airport and seaports. All hotels and other tourist sites are closed.
Anguilla: Hotels have suspended reservations and requests for bookings through November. The electric infrastructure and water supply were damaged. However, the island is receiving aid from several sources including the U.K. government, and most tourist facilities will be open before the beginning of the prime winter season that begins at Christmas.
Antigua and Barbuda: V.C.Bird International Airport is open and most hotels are open in Antigua. Sister island Barbuda was hit hard and hotels are closed with no date set for reopening.
Bahamas: The northern islands escaped damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The airports and cruise ship ports are operating normally on Nassau, Paradise Island, and Grand Bahama Island. Some hotels and tourist sites were harmed by heavy wind and rain. Contact individual properties for additional information.
Dominican Republic: The Punta Cana Airport is open and accepting flights. The island’s Gregorio Luperon Airport was not affected by the storms and is operating a full schedule. The island’s hotel and tourism association reports no structural damage on the island and says that resorts in Punta Cana, Samana, and Puerto Plata are cleaning up and repairing wind and water damage. All hotels plan to be back to full operation soon.
Cuba: Havana and some towns on the north central coast experienced severe flooding. However, most areas of Havana and other major cities are up and running, ready to welcome visitors. Collin Laverty, an expert on Cuba and US-Cuba relations and the founder and president of Cuba Educational Travel reports that Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad are among the cities that are open for business.
St. Martin, St. Barts, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands: Reports of damage and repair are slow to come in from these severely damaged islands. Please check back for updates as they come in.
Little or no damage:
Guadeloupe: According to the Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board, the French island did not experience damage from Hurricane Maria, Pole Caraibe Airport is fully operational, and all tourist facilities will be back to normal in a few days.
Martinique: Guadeloupe’s sister island reports no damage and both Aime Cesaire International Airport and cruise ship ports are operating on a regular schedule. Hotels and tourist facilities are open are will be within a few days.
Turks and Caicos: The British Foreign Office reports that Hurricane Maria added to the damage caused by Hurricane Irma on the British overseas territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands. However, repairs are underway and the island’s airports are handling arriving and departing flights. Many resorts on the islands meet strict hurricane standards and remain open.
St. Lucia was not affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria but did experience tropical-storm level rain and wind on September 19th. Hewanorra International Airport is open and all flights have resumed. Hotels and most tourist sites are welcoming guests.
Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Trinidad, and Tobago lie outside the “hurricane belt” and were not affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
UPDATE: Sept 23, 2017: Good news coming in from the Caribbean Islands
As of today, Maria is a Category 3 storm 340 miles east of Nassau, moving north-northwest at 9 mph. Maximum sustained winds are clocked at 120 mph with gusts of up to 150 mph.
The Punta Cana Airport in the Dominican Republic has reopened and welcoming flights. The airport is one of the busiest in the Caribbean. The island’s Gregorio Luperón Airport was not affected by the storms and is operating a full schedule. The DR hotel and tourism association reports no structural damage on the island and says that resorts in Punta Cana, Samanà, and Puerto Plata are cleaning up and will soon be back to full operation.
According to the Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board, the French island did not experience damage from Hurricane Maria, Pole Caraibe Airport is fully operational, and all tourist facilities will be back to normal in a few days. The same report is coming in from sister island Martinique where Aime Cesaire International Airport is open and cruise ship ports are operating on a regular schedule.
UPDATE: Sept 22, 2017: Islands suffering little or no damage
Hurricane Maria skirted around the Turks and Caicos Islands on September 22nd. No damage is reported at this time, but heavy rain continues to pelt the islands. Updates to follow as they come in from the island.
Officials in the Bahamas changed the hurricane warning for the southeastern and central Bahama islands to a tropical storm warning on September 22nd. Updates to follow.
St. Lucia was not affected by Hurricane Maria but did experience tropical-storm level rain and wind on September 19th. Hewanorra International Airport is open and all flights have resumed.
The French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique escaped damage from Hurricane Maria with only downed trees and other non-structural harm.
Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Trinidad, and Tobago lie outside the “hurricane belt” and were not affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
UPDATE: Sept 21, 2017: Many islands devastated
Including Barbuda, St. Barts, Anguilla, Cuba, St. Martin, Dominica.
Puerto Rico’s outer islands of Vieques and Culebra sustained major damage from Hurricane Irma. Puerto Rico’s main island was hit hard by Hurricane Maria September 20th. On September 21st rain continued to cause what the National Hurricane Center called “catastrophic” flash flooding on parts of the island. Historic Old San Juan was battered and many buildings were flooded. The National Weather Service released a warning that the Guajataca Dam is showing signs of failing and flash flooding may affect the northwest towns of Isabela and Quebradillas. All power is off throughout the island.
Hurricane damage is substantial in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands of St Thomas, St John, St Croix, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, and Virgin Gorda. Many of the hotels, restaurants, and other businesses are closed for repairs, but many plan to reopen in October or November.
New updates and links will appear on this page as more information becomes available.