Secrets of the Shoulder Season
|Drying out in Trinidad and Tobago isn't so difficulteven in the wet season. (Corbis)|
Theres a myth about our backyard tropical playground that says if you go to the Caribbean in June and July youll be beat down by endless rain and blown to bits by hurricanes, that nothing will be open and there wont be anything to do. While the recent floods in Haiti and the Dominican Republic seem to support the myth, youre wrong. This is an epic time to go, says Granville Greene, an independent travel journalist specializing in the Caribbean. Some of the best trips Ive had down there have been in the summer.
A sure way to avoid many of the headline-grabbing storms is to head to places like Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, and Trinidad and Tobago, all islands which lie on the southern fringe of the Hurricane Belt. There you can expect to find temperatures in the mid-80s (thought summer would be ridiculously hot all the time, didnt you?) and the water temps hovering in the bathtub-warm range. Trinidad and Tobago tend to be a little wetter this time of year, but the rainiest months for the others dont come until much laterOctober and November. Even the rainiest months, though, dont mean constant downpours. Rainy season means one or two days a month of rain versus almost none at all in Bonaire, says Tim Webb, president of Caradonna Caribbean Tours.
Other islands are dry in early summer as well. The skies over Martinique and Saint Vincent dont open until early July, while August hails the start of the rainy months on Saint Eustatius and Saint Martin. Turks and Caicos: it doesnt start to rain in earnest until September.
Rain isnt the only thing you wont find here this time of year, either. As the sun starts to warm the northern hemisphere, Caribbean crowds are virtually nil. That means Caribbean resorts and bungalows have to drop their pricesor at least throw in enticing freebiesto remain competitive.
On Bonaire, for example, Webbs Caradonna agency (www.caradonna.com; 800-330-3322) books diving packages for families where you can score deep discounts with unlimited diving. The inclusive Buddy Dive family package at the resort of the same name allows certified divers aged 16 to 19 to go on as many dives as they can handle for seven free days. Mom and Dad get six days of unlimited tank air and seven days in a rental car. For those who arent certified, you can take the Discover Scuba coursethat one-time introduction to divingat no additional cost. All for $579 a person with four people. Other deals include seventh-night-free stays and adventure packages with mountain biking, hiking, and kayaking to round out the diving for $955 per person for double occupancy (valid July and August).
You wont get these types of deals in the winter, Webb says, adding that Bonaire is renowned for its shore diving with 100-foot visibility. The demand then is much higher so theres no need to offer free nights or diving.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication