The 2017 hurricane season is already a record year—and it’s not even over yet. After Hurricane Harvey dumped four feet of rain on Houston, resulting in the deaths of 60 people and a reported $150 billion in damages, Category 5 Hurricane Irma went on to devastate the British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Barbuda, and St. Martin, in addition to wreaking havoc and causing power outages in places like the Florida Keys, Miami Beach, Charleston, and more.
Less than a week later, Hurricane Maria headed for many of the same islands—further delaying recovery efforts and also making history as the first Category 4 or higher storm to hit the island of Puerto Rico in nearly a century. As of Thursday, September 21, Puerto Rico is still entirely without power, and the effects of the hurricane’s life-threatening winds—which reportedly reached speeds of 165 m.p.h.—are so severe that it is still too dangerous for residents to go outside and survey the damage.
If you had plans to travel to the Caribbean that were canceled or are deciding what to do about a future honeymoon or wedding booking, check below for the latest report on each island.
And to help aid the relief and recovery of your favorite islands, please check out this detailed list of organizations to contact, courtesy of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourist Association (CHTA), and consider donating (or setting up a charitable wedding registry) to approved organizations like Americares, Save the Children, UNICEF, and ConPRmetidos (a local nonprofit that will donate supplies and aid specifically to Puerto Rico).
The island’s international airport has reopened, as have popular spots like the Road Bay Port at Sandy Ground. Blowing Point ferry terminal, however, will be demolished due to damage by Hurricane Irma; construction is expected to begin shortly. Hotels like CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa and the Four Seasons Resort Anguilla suffered severe damages. Starwood Capital Group CEO Barry Sternlicht told Forbes that the “property was ripped apart and it looks like a nuclear bomb went off. Over $20 million in damage.” Good news does exist, however: Nearby boutique hotel Malliouhana, an Auberge Resort, will be back online by April 2018.
Antigua and Barbuda
Barbuda suffered severe structural damage during Irma, which affected 90 percent of the island’s buildings. Colin James, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda tourist board, told The Telegraph: “We are working very hard to help Barbuda, but it will take a year for repairs to be fully completed.” Despite the damage to Barbuda, sister island Antigua remains open for business. James tells Brides exclusively, “Come visit Antigua. It remains the paradise it always was, and by visiting, each and every person is helping us support and fund the rebuilding of Barbuda."
Though thankfully spared by Irma, Hurricane Maria threatens to affect many of the islands within the next 60 hours. According to Bahamas Tourism, the northern islands do not currently have hurricane warnings in effect, and the international airports and cruise ports remain open in places like Nassau and Paradise Island and Grand Bahama Island. However, a hurricane warning is now in effect for the southeast Bahamas (Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, and Samana Cay), and a hurricane alert has been issued for the central Bahamas (Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador). Check for the latest updates here.
The British Virgin Islands
While commercial flights have resumed to Virgin Gorda, the British overseas territory suffered significant damage. And though many resorts were closed for the season, it seems they will not reopen for some time. Peter Island Resort & Spa posted on Facebook: “Since the event of Hurricane Irma, the Peter Island team has continued to work hard to assess, regroup, and recover from the effects of this storm. Our colleagues from Peter Island and their families are now experiencing the unfortunate, debilitating after-effects of the hurricane; including the loss of their homes and schools, limited supplies, and lacking the kinds of facilities and services we typically take for granted in our day-to- day lives. Recovery will take time, resources, and support to get back on track.”
Dominica took a direct hit from Maria; there were seven reported deaths and 90 percent of buildings on the island were completely destroyed. Resorts like Secret Bay and Rosalie Bay were closed for the season; while no guests were present at the time of the hurricane, the resorts have yet to announce reopening dates.
On Wednesday, officials in the Dominican Republic shut down major ports in advance of Hurricane Maria’s arrival. High winds and heavy rain thrashed the east coast of the island on Thursday after making a direct hit on Puerto Rico. The extent of the hurricane’s passing is still undetermined.
Hurricane Maria lashed Guadeloupe’s southern shores as it tracked northwest toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. One month later, however, normal operations on the lisland have resumed.
The island, as of now, remains unaffected by hurricanes this year.
The French island escaped Hurricane Maria largely unscathed. Karine Mousseau, Martinique’s tourism commissioner, also expressed gratitude that the island was also “fortunate…to have been totally spared [by Hurricane Irma].” The island is providing logistical and humanitarian support to its affected neighbors; it sent two ships on September 11 to St. Martin with much needed food and water.
The same is true of Montserrat, which said it has emerged “unscathed.”
Only 12 commercial flights are operating out of Luis Munoz Marin airport (from American, Delta, JetBlue and Spirit); ports are open for relief supplies. The U.S. territory is still suffering from lack of power and communications. Most hotels are closed until further notice.
Among the hardest-hit islands by Hurricane Maria, the French overseas territory remained without communication and power for days, but local residents were thankfully unharmed. The island’s airport has reopened, with limited flight service, and electricity has been restored in towns like Gustavia and St. Jean. Though many hotels (Eden Roc, Hotel Christopher St. Barth, Hotel Le Toiney, Le Guanahani) escaped major structural damage, according to posts on Facebook they will not reopen for the beginning of high season in November.
St. Martin/St. Maarten
This dual French-Dutch overseas territory was unfortunately one of the worst impacted islands by Hurricane Irma. Princess Juliana International Airport was wrecked during the storm, but reopens on October 10. And while no guests were present due to seasonal closure at resorts like Belmond La Samanna, the property stated that it suffered extensive damage and won't host guests until at least April of next year.
St. Kitts and Nevis
The tourism authority has reported that both islands managed to escape any major damage from both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, which passed to the south of St. Kitts on Tuesday afternoon. The airport, cruise port, and all tourism providers have resumed normal operations.
The island was thankfully spared the brunt of Irma and Maria, whose outer bands touched the island but left no damage. Resorts like Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, Anse Chastanet, and Jade Mountain are back to normal operations and are working with affected properties on other islands, offering relocation for guests with existing or future reservations.
Turks and Caicos Islands
Providenciales International Airport reopened for regularly scheduled flights on September 11. Several hotels were fortunately unaffected due to scheduled annual closures prior to Irma. Amanyara, Grace Bay Club, The Palms, West Bay Club, The Shore Club, and The Sands have all reopened, according to Travel Weekly. South Caicos was one of the hardest hit islands during Hurricane Irma, but thankfully places like the new Sailrock Resort sustained mostly cosmetic damage (reopening is planned for December 16).
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. overseas territories of St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix suffered extensive damage but thankfully received federal aid from FEMA to fund disaster relief. The USVI's main airport, Cyril E. King Airport, on St. Thomas, reopened to commercial flights on September 28, and Rohlsen Airport Terminal on St. Croix reopened on October 5. Many hotels on the island remain closed until further notice, like Caneel Bay and Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, but both properties are waiving cancelation and change fees for honeymoons, as well as offering refunds for wedding deposits.