These 8 Caribbean Islands Hardest Hit by the 2017 Hurricanes Are Ready for Your Return
Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm with 155-mile-per-hour winds, was the strongest to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years. The storm took 2,975 lives, left thousands homeless, left the entire population without electricity for months, and caused $94 billion worth of damage. But up from the devastation of 2017, a generation of young and passionate entrepreneurs are reviving and reinventing the island's hotel, restaurant, and bar scenes. Their creativity and ambition is turning San Juan into a true Caribbean design and culinary capital. Find out where to eat, stay, and play right now in San Juan, and meet the amazing people behind the recovery, here.
British Virgin Islands
When Hurricane Irma slammed into the archipelago that forms the British Virgin Islands, it was a Category 5 storm that set off seismometers intended for earthquakes. The damage throughout the beloved islands from Tortola to Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke, not to mention the many pristine private islands with luxe resorts, was unprecedented. But the BVIs are ever-beautiful, and a bevy of resorts, boutique hotels, and beach bars, are back and ready for your return, whether planting yourself in one spot for a glorious week, or chartering a yacht and cruising this watery playground. To read more about what's open and why it's time to book at BVI trip right now, go here.
Since the northern eyewall of Hurricane Irma passed over this beloved, low-lying island and destroyed nearly everything in its path, the road to recovery has been paved with incredible determination and high spirits. The result is the return of some of the most luxurious resorts and villas in the entire Caribbean along with beach bars of renown. Another result is a remarkable volunteer organization—Anguilla Stronger—that took much of the recovery into its own hands, and continues to serve locals with food, supplies, and ongoing assistance. To vacation on Anguilla after the hurricane is to embrace not only its world-famous beaches and love of life, but to be able to witness Anguilla Stronger in action, and feel a real part of the island's recovery. To learn more about Anguilla Stronger and the incredible properties reopened and ready for your visit, go here.
U.S. Virgin Islands
Hurricane Irma ravaged the three main islands—St. John, St. Croix, and St. Thomas—of the U.S. Virgin Islands on September 6th, 2017. In the aftermath, its residents have worked passionately and tirelessly to recover and reopen shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, resorts, and villas. On rugged, luxurious St. John—the scene of the greatest damage, many say—villas and small hotels have returned, and there is a family-like intimacy for travelers returning this season that makes the island feel even more special. On St. Thomas, while many major resorts are still not reopened, the central zone that services cruise ships has a cheery, open-for-business feel. On St. Croix, which sustained the least amount of damage in the USVIs, beloved properties are back, and new hotels have opened. To learn more about where to book now in the U.S. Virgin Islands and learn more about the recovery, go here.
Rugged and divine, the Caribbean hotspot of St. Barts was savaged by the eyewall of Hurricane Irma, which slammed into the island on September 6 with sustained winds of 200 miles per hour. Some of St. Barts's most iconic beach resorts were badly damaged, as were its villas and homes, not to mention the island's famous restaurants. But St. Barts has bounded back with incredible speed, and you'll find villas, boutique hotels, and resorts already open and a number more returning in time for Festive Season (the two weeks of Christmas and New Years). To learn more about where to book now for your next escape to (and where to eat and drink on) St. Barts, go here.
Hurricane Irma tore across both the Dutch and French sides of this popular Caribbean island, culminating in tearing off the roof of Princess Juliana International Airport. While bravely operating out of a temporary, tented facility, the airport will reopen (with a new roof designed to sustain winds of more than 185 miles per hour) in early 2019, and there are hotels and resorts open and ready for visitors in both St. Martin and St. Maarten. To read more about what's back, reopened, and ready for business right now, and how you can support recovery efforts, go here.
Low-key and nature-forward, Dominica was the first Caribbean island to be savaged by Hurricane Maria, on September 18th. Winds of up to 165 miles per hour (with higher gusts) tore the lush landscape apart, and recovery here has been invested in restoration of natural assets as well as rebuilding homes, restaurants, shops, and the charming small hotels that make the island a fantastic getaway. To learn more about what's open now on Dominica and how to book an incredible voluntourism vacation through the island's Nurture the Nature Island program, go here.
In a region filled with heartbreak, the story of sweet, beautiful Barbuda may have been the most heartbreaking of all. After enduring 185-mile-per-hour winds and 15-foot waves, residents emerged after the hurricanes to find two-thirds of the buildings on their island destroyed. The entire population—about 1,600 residents—was evacuated to sister island Antigua. But the island, and its residents (and a famous colony of frigatebirds) are coming back. The Barbuda Belle, a landmark hotel, is reopening in November 2018, and excitedly awaits the return of caring visitors. To read more about Barbuda's inspiring comeback and book your trip, go here.