When a series of Hurricanes hit the Caribbean in September, many snowbirds saw their winter and spring break vacation plans thrown into doubt. Which islands were missed or mostly spared? Which would recover quickly and which are off the vacation itinerary for a long time?
Well, several islands had no damage at all and most others have declared themselves, “open for business.” Be aware, though, that doesn’t mean completely back to normal; it means roads and beaches have been cleared, airports and ferry terminals are operating and a critical mass of hotels, restaurants, shops and tour companies have reopened. Local residents might still be dealing with repairs and unreliable electricity or water, but they welcome your tourists dollars to help fund their recovery.
Prices and bookings are up this year at islands the hurricanes missed; some of these are known for being pricier destinations anyway. But it’s business as usual in the Dominican Republic and Cancun, Mexico, where the best deals are often found.
Here are ten islands you can look at for winter and spring break this year:
Anguilla is recovering at a steady pace with many shops, restaurants and tour activity providers back in business more reopening each week. Hotels have been gradually reopening since November and will continue to do so. Frangipani Beach Resort, a luxury boutique property on Meads Bay is open and a good option for families with a wide age-range of kids. There are family friendly suite options and an onsite restaurant that actually puts snapper and shrimp on the kids menu. The hotel provides free sand toys and snorkel gear and all water sports are included in the room rate, including kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and tubing, wakeboarding and water skiing behind the hotel’s boat.
Antigua suffered only minor damage and was recovered and hosting citizens of more damaged islands within a few weeks of the storms. Try Carlisle Bay, a luxury resort that offers a kids’ club for those aged 2 and up, and below age 2 for an additional fee; it’s rare for a kids club to start so young. Yoga, diving, water sports and a screening room are among the many other activities on offer.
Aruba was among the islands unscathed by all storms and is a reasonable flight from the U.S. Consider a stay at the all-inclusive Barceló Aruba. Twice a week the hotel offers diving and scuba classes in the pool so kids can test the waters before heading out on excursions. The room rate includes water-sports, kids clubs, entertainment and meals in its room fee.
The Bahamas, popular with U.S. families for their proximity and easy flights, recovered quickly from the relatively minor wind damage they sustained. Atlantis was back to normal within a few days. With its waterpark, aquarium and many dining options it’s always a good bet for families. Choose traditional hotel rooms or vacation apartments with kitchens at Harborside.
Curacao sits outside of the hurricane belt in the Southern Caribbean, which means it’s a longer flight than other places, but it also entirely escaped the fall storms. The Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort is a secluded property with an all-inclusive option, water sports, a kids camp, three pools, tennis and private beach. The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort has rooms with kitchens and has two pools and other activities. It’s within easy walking distance to restaurants and connects to its namesake aquarium.
Jamaica is the untouched island to look to if you need a value destination. It has several well-known all-inclusive brands that cater to families including two Beaches resorts, Half Moon, Iberostar and Grand Palladium and Sunscape resorts. For a lower key, budget option there’s the Negril Tree House Resort, which offers suites with kitchens, an included breakfast buffet, beachfront and pool, and a poolside grill with respectable jerk chicken. It’s an option for parents with kids too small to make the most of big all-inclusive places.
St. Kitts & Nevis
Nevis has canceled its annual blues music festival for 2018 but came through the storms in reasonably good shape and is largely operating normally. Nisbet Plantation Beach Club offers cottage rooms and suites with space for families to spread out. Toddlers and kids can swim in the pool, play on the beach or run around on the wide lawn. Breakfast is included and an all-inclusive meal option is available, too.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands have been on a steady and energetic recovery path that has 90% of its electricity restored and hotels scheduled to reopen, though some already open are hosting recovery workers.
The Buccaneer on St. Croix (USVI) was among the first to reopen, offering scuba classes for teens, tennis and beach soccer and volleyball for all ages, and a kids club for those aged 4 to 12. Standard rooms sleep 4 or 5 while two-bedroom cottages offer parents more room and some privacy. Families can make use of free DVDs, beach toys, high chairs and cribs.
St. Lucia is the Hurricane-damage-free destination for families seeking a bit of luxury this spring. All-inclusive Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa has the usual activities plus a “Splash” family wing with a small water park, paint ball zone and kids club. The family wing features connecting rooms.
Turks & Caicos
Turks & Caicos is also popular with families because of it’s only a 75-minute flight from Florida. While this island nation was hit by both storms, Providenciales is pretty much fully recovered. Club Med Turkoise reopens in February and most other resorts are already back to normal. Beaches is a popular family all-inclusive, but for a more low-key family experience try the Somerset on Grace Bay, which offers a kids club for those 5 and up. Enjoy a weekly beach barbecue or borrow the resort’s kayaks, SUPs, windsurfers and snorkel gear.
Heading on a cruise? Find out more about what kind of travel insurance you need!