Hurricanes Irma and Maria attacked the Caribbean as if it was their mission this September, leaving billions of dollars of damage in their wake. Reports say that Barbuda (sister island of Antigua) is no longer inhabitable, and a tragic news story about Puerto Rico comes out every day.
And, let’s not forget about St. Maarten and Dominica, where as much as 90 percent of the islands were destroyed.
While all the bad news may make you wonder if the Caribbean is worth visiting, it’s important to note that there are still plenty of reasons to visit the selection of islands that make up this part of the world. Before you eschew the Caribbean and book elsewhere, consider these reasons to visit anyway:
Plenty of Islands Are Outside the Hurricane Belt
If you’ve been dreaming of visiting the Caribbean but are worried about running into damage that might ruin your trip, keep in mind that plenty of Caribbean islands are outside the hurricane belt—and that many didn’t encounter a hurricane at all.
Barbados, Curacao, Grenada and many other islands aren’t anywhere near the typical hurricane zone. Many others like Jamaica and Grand Cayman saw no damage at all while some resort destinations like the Dominican Republic and St. Kitts/Nevis saw only a passing blow.
Damaged Islands Need Your Money and Help
Since many Caribbean islands rely on tourism as their main source of income, actually visiting an impacted island is one of the best ways you can help.
By spending your money at hotels and restaurants, you’re putting cash right into the hands of people who can desperately use it.
Many Damaged Islands Are Already Back Up and Running
Some islands that noted damage were able to turn around and reopen to tourists rather fast.
Antigua, for example, is mostly open and just as beautiful as ever, its CEO of the local tourism board told The Telegraph. Anguilla appears to be on its way back in business, and the islands that make up the Bahamas are mostly back up and running as usual.
The Caribbean Offers Any Travel Experience You Could Want
You could fly to Europe to experience Dutch, French or British culture, but several islands in the Caribbean offer European flair—and often food—since they are colonies of larger countries across the pond.
Visit Curacao for a taste of Dutch delicacies like bitterballen and stroopwafels, for example.
And, don’t forget that the Caribbean is more than just beautiful beaches. The islands boast mountains you can climb, amazing snorkeling, plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation and amazing foodie experiences featuring local ingredients like seafood and spices.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria may have battered part of the Caribbean, but the islands still have plenty to offer visitors. Whether you love seafood or snorkeling or giant stretches of white sand beach, you can still find it in the Caribbean.
And right now, they need you more than ever.