Ultimate Caribbean Destinations to Visit in 2018 - Post Hurricane Update

Which Caribbean islands and destinations can you still visit in 2018, after the damage hurricanes Irma and Maria left behind? Did you know that 75% of the islands in the Caribbean were untouched by Hurricanes Irma & Maria?

Hurricanes hit the Caribbean region every year or so. But in 2017, two of the deadliest hurricanes hit some of the most idyllic — and tourism-dependent — destinations.

The weeks are going by, and some of the damaged islands are recovering quickly, others more slowly, while some islands are now almost uninhabitable.

British Virgin Islands

For us, Americans and Canadians, it means one of our favorite regions in the world has been taken away from us. Being so close to home, and offering heavenly landscapes, luxury resorts, stunning wildlife, adrenaline filled activities and finger-licking cuisines, the Caribbean has always been one of the best destinations in the world.

How about now? What are the best Caribbean destinations to visit in 2018, after the hurricanes Irma and Maria?

The Low-Down about the Hurricanes Irma and Maria

From August 30 to September 16, 2017, category 5 hurricane Irma hits the Caribbean. On its path, Irma’s strong winds reached 185 miles per hour and kill a total of 134 persons. The damage costs are over $64.66 billion US dollars, and it is unofficially ranked #4 costliest hurricane.

Before the Caribbean could even catch its breath, another category 5 hurricane, this one named Maria, hits the region from September 16 to October 3, 2017, with winds as strong as 175 miles per hour. As of November 13, a total of 129 fatalities have been recorded (direct and indirect) and the damage cost reaches over $51.2 billion US dollars. It is the costliest hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history.

As we all watched those two deadly hurricanes destroy everything on their way, we felt powerless.

The weeks have passed, and now we are all wondering what we can do to help. Because in reality, we are talking about real people: dads, moms, kids, even babies, who lost their homes, lost all their belongings, lost their lives. We all want to help, and quite frankly, we are a very bad human being if we don’t care about those people and don’t want to help them, in our own way.

The best Caribbean destinations for 2018

How can we help?

The best way to help the Caribbean is to visit the Caribbean.

All the destinations that were hit by the hurricanes were planning to welcome a certain amount of tourists and travelers, and the money that comes along with it.

In fact, most of the Caribbean’s economy relies on tourism. Part of the devastated islands’ recovery will be tied to how quickly visitors reappear.

If most of us, as travelers, we choose other destinations than the Caribbean, then people will lose their jobs, families won’t have money to pay the rent and kids will go to bed hungry at night.

Yes, we can truly help the Caribbean by visiting the Caribbean. And by the way, have you ever imagined a more pleasant way to help the ones in need?

The Dominican Republic, one of the best Caribbean destinations

Playa Rincon, Dominican Republic

Still, traveling and going on a vacation is precious time and money for us, so we want to help but also choose our destination wisely.

Here’s the truth about the Caribbean destinations that were severely damaged, the ones that already recovered and the ones that were never even touched.

This list is updated frequently. Last update on December 12, 2017.

The Caribbean destinations that were severely damaged

Here are the Caribbean destinations that were very severely damaged and that cannot fully welcome tourists yet. Some parts of those islands are OK, while other parts are still recovering.

Please visit the official destination or more particularly hotel’s websites to know more details about their recovery and open to business status.

Anguilla

Anguilla is bouncing back from Hurricane Irma’s devastation and is on the road to full recovery. Many hotels and guesthouses are open for business. The airport was opened soon after the sad events, and now plans are underway to expand the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport. 

Barbuda

Barbuda was destroyed by the hurricane which passed directly over the small island: 1 person died and 90% of homes were destroyed. All of its 1,600 residents were moved to Antigua before Hurricane Maria. Now all of Barbuda needs to be rebuilt.

Antigua, on the other hand, has been spared by the hurricanes.

British Virgin Islands

Virgin Gorda, The Baths, British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands (including Tortola)

Commercial airline flights have resumed to the British Virgin Islands at the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport.

The Tortola Pier Park’s cruise and shopping facility are on the track of getting restored. The BVI ferry companies (Road Town Fast Ferry and Native Son) have resumed operations between the BVI and the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas). Also, many sea charters have also announced that they will resume operations in the winter season.

Still, most impacted land facilities remain unavailable.

Dominica

Access roads to nature-based tourist sites have been damaged and remain closed until repair work is complete. Thirty-five percent of reefs at dive sites were damaged, and all of Dominica’s nine dive operators remain closed with most not expected to reopen before January.

Still, LIAT Airlines and Seaborne have resumed commercial flights to Dominica, operating at limited capacity. According to the Dominica Tourism Board, 32 of the country’s 73 hotels or resorts suffered moderate damage and are available to operate “now or in the near future.” Another 27 properties were severely damaged or destroyed.

L’Express des Iles fast ferry service is operating daily between Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Lucia. Water restoration is ongoing and truck-borne water continues to be distributed to the communities without a supply. A number of properties have reopened to visitors and guests.

Puerto Rico

Culebra Island, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico – Updated on December 12, 2017

As of December 12, 2017, more than 100 hotels in San Juan have resumed their operations, and more than 1,718 restaurants are open and ready to welcome visitors. San Juan is ready to receive travelers who want to enrich their travel experiences by helping others. Historical walks and bicycle tours are offered to tourists.

On November 30, the island welcomed more than 7,000 cruise passengers, the first group of passengers to cruise to the island after the Hurricanes. The passengers of the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas and the Carnival Conquest were received with an extremely warm welcome – Puerto Rican style. The festivities included free salsa classes, rum, and cocktail tastings, as well as traditional percussion groups, craft markets, street performers, children’s fairs, and more. In November and December, it is estimated that 58 cruises will be visiting San Juan. That means San Juan will welcome nearly 110,000 passengers.

The reopening of hotels and the arrival of cruises are important steps towards the restoration of the tourism industry. Puerto Rico will officially open its doors to travelers on December 20th.

St. Barts

St. Barts is recovering well from the passage of Hurricane Irma. Flights resumed at Gustaf III Airport on October 1. Electricity, water, and telecommunication systems are up and running throughout the island. Debris has been cleared from the roadways and all roads are fully accessible. Still, most hotels are still recovering and aren’t open for business.

Sint Maarten/St. Martin

Even though Princess Juliana International Airport is open to commercial flights since October 10, all tour operators have canceled their flights to both sides of the island – at least until Spring 2018. Some hotels have reopened, but essential services and infrastructure just won’t be ready for this Winter’s season.

US Virgin Islands

US Virgin Islands

US Virgin Islands including St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix

The U.S. Virgin Islands is getting back to the business of welcoming visitors to its shores following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The airports on St. Croix and St. Thomas are now open to commercial flights, and one of the flagship hotels on the island of St. Croix, The Buccaneer, has announced it is accepting reservations for leisure guests arriving on or after November 1. Seaport facilities are also open, and the Territory is looking forward to welcoming cruise visitors since November 11. Debris clean-up on roadways and beaches is ongoing.

The Caribbean destinations that have already recovered

Antigua

Antigua has been spared by the hurricanes: no properties were damaged at all. Antigua is reporting it is open for business with excursions, tour operators, restaurants and hotels welcoming visitors.

Cuba, one of the best Caribbean destinations

Cayo Coco, Cuba

Cuba

Varadero has fully recovered from the hurricanes (I know, I was there 3 weeks ago!), while Cayo Coco’s airport, The Jardines del Rey international airport, has resumed operations.

Dominican Republic

The hurricanes didn’t make direct hits on the Dominican Republic and any minor damage was cleaned up within a week or so. 

Turks and Caicos, one of the best Caribbean destinations

Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

The Bahamas

The main tourist destinations in The Bahamas – Freeport, Nassau – were completely spared by the Hurricanes. You can book your winter vacations there without any worries.

It was only parts of the southern and less-inhabited islands that were more severely damaged.

Turks and Caicos

The Turks and Caicos Islands are making a strong and speedy recovery following the passage of Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Maria did little to delay the rebuilding, and additional damage was minimal across most of the Turks and Caicos’ east islands. South Caicos, Grand Turk and Salt Cay aren’t fully functional as of today but are expected to reopen for high-season by mid-December.


The Caribbean destinations that were spared

Yes, 75% of the Caribbean was untouched by Hurricanes Irma & Maria!

Having been spared a direct hit by Hurricane Irma and/or Maria, these Caribbean destinations didn’t suffer damage to their infrastructure and are ready to welcome guests now and in the upcoming winter season. 

  • Aruba
    Aruba, one of the best Caribbean destinations

    Eagle Beach, Aruba

  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Bonaire
  • Cayman Islands
  • Curaçao
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guyana
  • Grenada
  • Haiti
  • Jamaica
  • Martinique
    The Bahamas, one of the best Caribbean destinations

    Man-O-War Cay, Abaco, The Bahamas

  • Mexico
  • Montserrat
  • Nevis
  • Saba
  • St. Eustatius
  • St. Kitts
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent
  • Suriname
  • Trinidad and Tobago

As you can see, most of the Caribbean region has remained untouched by the hurricanes’ devastation.

The Caribbean destinations still without the Zika Virus

As you can read in my article Discover Zika Free Caribbean Islands5 destinations are still not infected with the Zika virus: Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Barts (Saint Barthélemy). Even if there hasn’t been a case reported in over a year, it is important to note that there is still a risk of infection according to the CDC.

So if you are looking for the ultimate Caribbean destination to visit in 2018, which are the safest (without the Zika virus) and most pristine (that is 100% recovered or hasn’t been touched by hurricanes), here are the 4 ultimate Caribbean destinations to visit in 2018:

Guadeloupe, one of the best Caribbean destinations

Terre-de-Haut-les-Saintes, Guadeloupe

The 4 ultimate Caribbean destinations to visit in 2018

  • Bermuda
  • Cayman Islands
  • Guadeloupe
  • Martinique

If you choose one of those 4 countries, you are assured of the best conditions to enjoy your vacation… well, that’s quickly said. It doesn’t mean everything will be perfect, and maybe another Caribbean island would be a better fit for your interests. Finally, you won’t have the satisfaction of helping the ones in need.

Only you can decide which Caribbean destination you’ll choose for 2018, and what motivates you.

Where were you planning to go this Winter?

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Showing 26 comments
  • Lacey
    Reply

    I hate hearing how hurricanes devastate places. Mostly because I’ve first hand seen the damage. These locations look beautiful!

    • Dominique Lessard
      Reply

      Yes they do look beautiful and the people are so strong and resilient!

  • Rosie
    Reply

    Love this post and that it shows what a beautiful earth we have!! Excited to check out some of these places. Way to go

    • Dominique Lessard
      Reply

      Thanks a lot Rosie! We live on a beautiful planet indeed! I wish you a great winter 🙂

  • Evelyn, PathofPresence
    Reply

    Well, its getting very cold here in Santa Fe New Mexico and we are ready for a vacation. You have motivated us to go to the Caribbean – it looks ABSOLUTELY amazing, and we can’t wait!! Thank you! Thank you!

    • Dominique Lessard
      Reply

      I’m happy I could help you with your travel decision! I wish you a great trip 🙂

  • Neha
    Reply

    Wow such a beautiful place to visit…adding in my list

    • Dominique Lessard
      Reply

      Thanks! There are a lot of gorgeous places to visit in the Caribbean 🙂

  • My Travelogue by Bhushavali
    Reply

    That’s a very interesting post! Sometime nature does take a toll on some places and share an updated version of what to expect in every place is very useful, esp for international tourists.

    • Dominique Lessard
      Reply

      Thanks so much for your comment! That’s my main purpose: help international travelers get accurate travel information on destinations.

  • Blair villanueva
    Reply

    Hurricane is not good, same us strong typhoon us here in the Philippines. But life must moved on and keep on enjoying.
    After every disaster comes a good sunshine… And a nice seashore.

    • Dominique Lessard
      Reply

      You are right! Almost anywhere in the world now there are disasters that strike. It is the Caribbean’s turn now. As the Philippines recovered, the Caribbean will too.

  • Liz Gen
    Reply

    I feel sad about those islands that has been battered by the hurricane. At least 25% were only affected. Hopefully they can recover soon.

  • Rye Santiago
    Reply

    I’m not a beach person, but I’m willing to give Latin America a try. I love winter so the cold doesn’t bother me. 🙂

    • Dominique Lessard
      Reply

      Good for you! I don’t like the cold, so in winter I have to travel to somewhere sunny and warm. Latin America is as hot and humid though 😉

  • Restless Heart Blog
    Reply

    Poor people of the Carribean, I hope they recover from the storm quickly, can’t imagine losing a home 🙁

    • Dominique Lessard
      Reply

      Can’t imagine losing my home either. We have bad snow storms in Quebec, but it never destroys anything. The good news is that 75% of the Caribbean is in perfect condition, and traveling to this region will help people rebuild what has been damaged.

  • Divyakshi Gupta
    Reply

    Hearing about the hurricanes was heartbreaking. I saw the news and it felt terrible to see nature’s fury being inflicted upon such a paradise!! This is a brilliant article and I love how you have encouraged people to visit the Caribbean islands and help the locals return to normalcy. This is just so good!! Love your pictures. They are insanely beautiful and this is a bucket list destination! SUCH pristine waters! <3

  • Saakshi
    Reply

    Thanks for putting this together. I had written a similar article on a ghost town in India which was devastated by natural hazaard. I love how you revived the place for tourism.

    • Dominique Lessard
      Reply

      Thank you so much Saakshi! I’m only trying to help the families that are still having a hard time because of the hurricanes 🙂

  • Suruchi Mittal
    Reply

    Caribbean islands are on list from long time. It is really sad that it has been hit by two hurricanes simultaneously. Definitely tourism is one great way to recover from loses. As you mentioned 75% is safe and has recovered so it can be great spots for 2018.

  • LaiAriel R. Samangka
    Reply

    Caribbean has long been on my bucket list and hearing about the hurricanes was somehow heartbreaking for me. I will surely visit here If I get the chance. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful destination with us.

    • Dominique Lessard
      Reply

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read it! I’ve visited a couple of Caribbean islands so far and they were all lovely!

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