When is the Caribbean Hurricane Season?

Many of you are worried about the Caribbean hurricane season and would like to avoid such an experience when planning a vacation...and I don't blame you.

If you decide on a cruise vacation, you'll be happy to know that one great advantage is that the ship can usually sail around the worst of the storm. Unfortunately, the ship might have to skip a scheduled port as a result of a storm.

If you're on a 'land vacation', you have no way of escaping the hurricane.

So when does it start?

Officially, the hurricane season in the Caribbean is from 1 June to 30 November, but as we know, Mother Nature hasn't quite been herself in the last few years so this is an 'estimate'. As an example, last year it started to snow here in November which was early and unusual and not welcomed at all! So who knows what she'll do each year.

According to the AOML (The Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory), there is a peak period within the hurricane season, which is from August to October and within that peak, early to mid-September is the pinnacle.

pier destroyed by hurricane Wilma in Cozumel
Pier destroyed by Hurricane Wilma in Cozumel

But Hurricane Wilma is an example that sometimes a storm will hit outside of the season, usually in May or December. Wilma formed October 15 and dissipated October 26, 2005. We were in Cozumel in December 2005 and saw the destruction as you can see from my photo above showing what is left of the pier used by cruise ships.

We never had to worry about the Caribbean hurricane season mainly because we always either cruise at the end of October, beginning of November or during the Christmas holidays.

We never even looked at the Caribbean weather forecast or more specific Caribbean weather such as for the islands and ports we would visit.

Another reason we might have escaped the tropical storms during our cruises is that we always choose a 9 or 10 day cruise and they do sail further down south. The "ABC" islands, Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, are considered to be out of the main hurricane zone. Trinidad and Tobago are also south of the hurricane belt and rarely get hit.

Some Interesting Facts

  • Eastern Caribbean and US East Coast - at risk mid-August to mid-September
  • Western Caribbean (which includes Mexico and Belize), the hurricane season gets worst from mid-September into early November
  • But Jamaica, which is part of the Western Caribbean, has mainly been hit late August-early September
  • Bonaire has just a 2.2 percent annual risk of being affected by a hurricane
  • Islands of the Western Caribbean are less likely to be affected by hurricanes than those of the Eastern Caribbean
  • The Dow Jones Island Index recently ranked Curacao as the Caribbean island least likely to be hit by a hurricane, followed by Bonaire, Grand Cayman, Barbados, and Aruba
  • But in 2004, Hurricane Ivan did major damage to Grenada, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, St. Vincent, and Tobago

Clearly it's the luck of the draw as to which islands will get hit.