Q: Hi Playground! I’d love to book a warm weather, family getaway for Thanksgiving or Christmas; we want easy nonstop flights and beaches, with other activities, too. Normally we’d consider the Caribbean, but is it too soon after Hurricane Irma, Jose, and the current threat Maria? Is it okay to visit the Caribbean now? Thanks ~ AP
A: Hi AP, This is a great question. I know there are a lot of families who usually visit the Caribbean for school holidays, but the destructive natural forces of the recent hurricanes can make it seem like the whole region is off limits. Although there are a number of islands that unfortunately will not be able to recover quickly (St Martin/Ste Maarten, Barbuda, St John, St Thomas), there are some that are doing fine, such as Antigua, The Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic.
The main island of Puerto Rico is okay to visit at present, the outer islands of Culebra and Vieques have sustained damages, however Hurricane Maria is a real current threat. Sigh.
My easiest recommendation for you now, however, is Barbados.
The island is far south and east, towards Africa, so it is seldom, if ever, is affected by the hurricane path that plagues the other Caribbean islands. Jet Blue is starting nonstop service out of Newark (about a 4.5 hr flight), starting November 19, and they also offer multiple nonstops every day out of JFK (and Jet Blue Vacations offers affordable hotel and flight packages).
The island itself is great for families, with interesting history (this is the only spot outside the US that President George Washington visited), a unique culture with a distinct British accent, gorgeous beaches and natural attractions, and cool activities such as snorkeling with hawksbill turtles, diving down in The Atlantis submarine to see underwater life, and exploring caves and rainforests.
They’re also just wrapping up a Brilliant Barbados: Kids Stay and Play Free promotion (it ends October 31), but my guess is that a number of hotels will still continue to welcome families with great deals.
Note: For more about the Caribbean’s recovery, and ways you can donate and help, visit Caribbean Travel Updates.
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All Photo Credit: Visit Barbados