Last September, Hurricanes Irma and Maria roared through the Caribbean, leaving behind an estimated $157B in damages.
And while the news cycle has long since marched on to other stories, the destruction left in their wake is a daily reality for those who live on the islands.
The good news? You can help. Now more than ever, the Caribbean needs your tourism.
“If you can come out and help, then by all means you should come out and help and assist,” Mount Gay brand ambassador and native Barbadian Niasha Sobers told us last year. “But the best thing you can do is come and enjoy your holiday.”
From Anguilla to Dominica, we’ve assembled a compendium of recovering islands that are ready and able to host your next getaway. Below, you’ll find the details on where to stay, how to play and what to sip on (spoiler: hope you like rum).
If you like cliff-top bungalows, rum tours and/or shipwreck diving, paradise awaits.
The sand down there’s as white as ever.
The Digs: Belmond Cap Juluca, reopening November 17. Evokes serious Santorini x Calypso vibes. Stay in a private pool villa and enjoy near-obnoxious views of Maundays Bay.
The secret beach: Head to tucked-away Junks Hole in Savannah Bay. It’s the site of beloved beach bar Palm Grove Bar & Grill, aka Nat’s Place. Nat’s is rebuilding from Irma and could use your support.
Bragging rites: Scuba diving, for sure. Organize a deep dive to check out the island’s numerous shipwrecks. El Buen Consejo dates back to 1772. Watch out for those cannons!
The Digs: Bungalows, anyone? Back up and running November 1, Barbuda Belle Luxury Beach Hotel’s got six of ‘em. Four-poster beds, private decks … mangroves and waves in sight.
The secret beach: Compared to its harried sister island Antigua, Barbuda’s a bit of a secret beach in itself. Still, head to Princess Diana Beach, a stretch of pink wild beach frequented by the late princess.
The rum lunch: Plan on stopping by beloved haunt Uncle Roddy’s for some drinks and the catch of the day.
Bragging rites: You won’t have to go far. Codrington Lagoon National Park is a seashell’s toss from Belle, and hosts the largest frigate nesting area in the Caribbean. The males have goofy red bellies that they inflate to attract females.
The Digs: Cuba is a massive country as far as the Caribbean is concerned, with casas particulares all over the island. But it’s the northern coast that was hit hardest by Irma, especially Cayo Coco and the surrounding towns. Royalton Cayo Santa Maria will hook you up with a luxury stay at an approachable price. (No kiddies allowed!)
The secret beach: Playa Pilar on Cayo Guillermo, an old favorite of Ernest Hemingway.
Bragging rites: Make time for Havana. Walk the Malecón at night (it turns into an impromptu block party) then head to the city’s best jazz club, La Zorra y el Cuervo, just a few blocks from the famous Hotel Nacional.
secret bay (2 images)
The Digs: Secret Bay is a collection of villas and bungalows built into a cliff-top rainforest. Private pools, polished hardwood decks high up among the trees … this is where you take the honeymoon, or come to rekindle the magic. And as it nears reopening after getting walloped by Maria, look for great rates and opportunities on some pretty epic eco-travel experiences.
The secret beach: Looks like “Red Rocks” should be on everyone’s bucket list twice. Red Rocks at Pointe Baptiste is a stretch of sun and water-beaten auburn stone ripe for a little scrambling.
The rum lunch: A couple rounds of rum punch at Hi-Rise Beach Bar in Rouseau will do the job just fine.
Bragging rites: Hey it’s the Nature Island, after all. Hike to Boiling Lake, the world’s second largest hot spring, and explore lush rainforests in Cabrits National Park.
The Digs: PR incurred the wrath of both storms and will be recovering for years. Look to Hacienda Tamarindo on the island of Vieques, a three-story bed and breakfast built around a tamarind tree, with decadent open-air stairways and unique, personally-designed rooms. The hotel is already open and offering discounts through the end of the month. (Also on the island, and a 180-degree shift: El Blok, which has a MOMA-meets-oceanfront penitentiary vibe.)
The secret beach: Just off the east coast of Puerto Rico, Vieques has untamed coastlines and its own National Wildlife Refuge, where you should have little trouble disappearing for the day.
The rum lunch: Make your way to the Tin Box (which looks exactly like its name) for some center-of-the-island BBQ. House-cured bacon, smoked sausage, catfish tacos … leave the belt at home.
Bragging rites: Kayak through the Bioluminescent Bay. The marine plankton will leave a brilliant Avatar-esque trail of blue as you pass.
Turks and Caicos
The Digs: If yoga on a private island sounds remotely appealing to you, you might wanna consider COMO by Parrot Cay. The resort opened literally a week ago after 18 months of renovation and enhancement, and offers pared-down grandeur — bright rooms, grass tennis courts and pools as large as small lakes.
The secret beach: Ferry over to less-traveled Middle Caicos and explore the empty Mudjin Harbor. There’s a cool little cavern along the water.
The rum lunch: You’re already in Middle Caicos, so make a pit-stop at Da Conch Shack & Rum Bar for conch fritters, rum, grouper, snapper and jerk chicken.
Bragging rites: For those who wrote “Be more adventurous” in an iPhone note on January 1st … you’re grabbing kitesurfing lessons on Providenciales.
Virgin Islands (British)
The Digs: Both the US and British Virgin Islands got hit hard. Rosewood Little Dix Bay and Saba Rock Resort are two killer hotels on BVI’s Virgin Gorda and each has been in full-speed-ahead renovation for a while now, so plan on following their social media for updates.
The secret beach: We spoke of white sand. Hop up an island to Anegada, where the pristine and fun-to-say Cow Wreck Beach will deliver on that promise admirably.
The rum lunch: Who could say no to Nigel’s Boom Boom Beach Bar & Grill?
Bragging rites: The Baths. A no-doubter. It’s a collection of boulders pushed to the surface of Virgin Gorda’s beach shallows by volcanic activity.