Dark storm clouds over oceanPhoto by Thomas Lipke on Unsplash

2022 HURRICANE SEASON: DAMAGE AND TRAVEL UPDATES FOR THE CARIBBEAN ISLANDS

July 11, 2022

It’s been almost four years since hurricanes Irma and Maria tore through the Caribbean, yet the threat of more damaging storms looms as the region enters what promises to be a very active hurricane season.

The lingering pandemic hasn’t helped the area’s recovery tourism prospects, but the good news is that barring any major storms this summer and fall (fingers crossed!) the region should be back to almost 100% and ready to welcome back guests when guests are allowed to return.

While you should check with your travel professional for advice on specific destinations, here’s a high-level, island-by-island update on how the Caribbean is navigating the dual recovery challenges of a pandemic and hurricanes.

For the latest pandemic-related information on many of the islands and countries mentioned here, as well as ones not included in this update, consult the State Department’s country-by-country COVID page.

In addition, you should consider specialty travel insurance for any travel to the Caribbean. A low-cost, spur-of-the moment jaunt can be covered with simple flight protection, while a Caribbean cruise can benefit from cruise insurance.

Palm trees blowing with dark blue skyPhoto by Ashok Munde on Unsplash

ISLAND-BY-ISLAND HURRICANE DAMAGE AND RECOVERY TRAVEL UPDATES

Anguilla

Year hurricane damage sustained: 2018

Status: All clear w/COVID restrictions

Anguilla is recovered from the 2018 hurricanes and is at level-1 travel status (“Exercise Normal Precautions”), according to the State Department. 

Anguilla requires masks on ships and in other spaces where persons can’t socially distance.

For the latest news on alerts and issues in Anguilla, visit the Ministry of Health & Social Development on Facebook.


Antigua/Barbuda

Year hurricane damage sustained: 2018

Status: All clear w/COVID restrictions

Antigua and (especially) Barbuda were among the hardest-hit islands in 2018, and while rebuilding and recovery took years, the infrastructure is finally in place to welcome back tourists.

The State Department has given the islands a level-1 rating, and mask mandates have been lifted, though mask-wearing in public spaces is encouraged.

Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travelers need to produce recent negative COVID test results to be admitted to Antigua or Barbuda. 

You can get updates on the situation in the islands at Visit Antigua & Barbuda.

Damaged building interior after stormPhoto by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash


The Bahamas

Year hurricane damage sustained: 2018

Status: All clear w/COVID restrictions

The Bahamas have fully recovered from the hurricanes, but are currently at level-2 (”Exercise Increased Caution”) status, mainly due to crime. Incoming visitors need to supply proof of a recent negative COVID test, and a mask mandate for large indoor spaces remains in place.

For information on the latest developments, visit The Bahamas’ travel-requirements page.


British Virgin Islands

Year hurricane damage sustained: 2018

Status: All clear w/COVID restrictions

Properties and attractions on the islands are back to their pre-hurricane status.

The islands are open to American tourists (with proof of vaccination and the proper paperwork), and are at level-1 status with the State Department.

The U.S. Embassy’s COVID-19 page has full details.

Tour boat moving past islandPhoto by Yap Chin Kuan on Unsplash


Dominica

Year hurricane damage sustained: 2018

Status: All clear w/COVID restrictions

Dominica’s neighborhoods felt the brunt of the storm, and were just rounding back to something approaching normal when the pandemic hit.

The country is currently allowing travelers from the U.S., though unvaccinated travelers have to produce proof of negative tests before being allowed to enter the country.

For more information, check out the updates provided by the Discover Dominica Authority.


Dominican Republic/Haiti

Year hurricane damage sustained: 2018

Status: All clear

Shortly after both countries recovered from the hurricanes, they were hit hard by the pandemic. Their paths have diverged since then, however.

The Dominican Republic is currently welcoming tourists with no restrictions. 

On the other hand, the State Department recommends that travelers not travel to Haiti because of crime

For information on the Dominican Republic’s return to tourism, consult the country’s tourism website. Information on Haiti is available from the U.S. Embassy's COVID page

People sorting through debris after stormPhoto by Susan Mohr on Unsplash


Puerto Rico

Year hurricane damage sustained: 2018

Status: All clear

Puerto Rico’s recovery from hurricanes Irma and Maria and a subsequent earthquake was very nearly complete when the pandemic hit. Now the island is reopened and has been a popular destination for mainland American tourists.

Virtually all hotelsrestaurants, golf courses, and other facilities are open and are welcoming tourists.

For the most up-to-date information, visit Discover Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico flag hanging from balconyPhoto by Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash


St. Maarten/St. Martin

Year hurricane damage sustained: 2018

Status: All clear w/COVID restrictions

Though the island has recovered from the hurricanes, the Dutch side is at level-3 status, and the French side is level-4. 

You need to supply proof of a recent negative test, and a seven-day quarantine is recommended for visitors to the French side of the island. The Dutch side requires travelers to buy a travel medical plan onsite. 

In addition, travel from other Caribbean islands is banned, and cruise ships are not allowed to dock. 

The St. Martin website has the most recent information on COVID-related procedures and restrictions.


Turks and Caicos

Year hurricane damage sustained: 2018

Status: All clear w/COVID restrictions

The Turks and Caicos have fully recovered from the hurricanes, and are open to tourists, though there is a vaccination requirement.

The TCI Assured website has the latest details.

Cruise ships remain banned from the islands.

People relaxing on tropical beachPhoto by Joel Casilla on Unsplash


U.S. Virgin Islands

Year hurricane damage sustained: 2018

Status: All clear

The U.S. Virgin Islands had a long road back from the hurricanes, and they had almost made it all the way back when the pandemic struck.

However, like Puerto Rico, the USVI are welcoming mainland tourists once again, and encouraging them to follow the same sorts of cautions they would if traveling anywhere else in the U.S. 

The USVI Department of Health has updated information for travelers considering a visit to the islands.



HURRICANE DAMAGE TRAVEL UPDATE FOR OTHER ISLANDS

All other Caribbean islands can be considered to be recovered from the 2017 and 2018 hurricanes, and most have lifted the bulk of their COVID-related travel restrictions.  

For up-to-date information, follow the updates on Travel & Leisure, find the country you wish to travel to on the State Department’s country-by-country COVID page, or consult your travel professional.

Travel safely!


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