If you're reluctant to plan a Caribbean-island getaway during hurricane season (which runs from May through November) think again. While some islands sit smack-dab in the path of many hurricanes, a smattering remains blissfully outside the so-called hurricane belt, the common path taken by hurricanes in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean.
These storms are driven west by easterly trade winds in the tropics, then pulled north by subtropical high-pressure systems. The pattern leaves islands in the far south and southwest of the Caribbean mostly safe. Of course, no Caribbean island can be declared 100-percent free of hurricanes, but it pays to know the difference.
Check out our list of 10 hurricane-safe islands and plan your next summer getaway accordingly.
Part of the "ABC" island chain of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, Aruba is located just off the coast of Venezuela, safely outside the hurricane belt. Its weather is fabulously temperate and typically sunny. In fact, it has no real rainy season.
A diverse selection of resorts and hotels line Aruba's shores and cater to a wide range of budgets and vacation styles. A romantic getaway is easy to find at one of the island's adults-only resorts, and family-friendly options abound, with many hotels offering special kids programs. Palm Beach is a particularly inviting stretch of sand.
Bonaire offers a quiet alternative to its neighbor, Aruba. Still, scuba divers and snorkelers have plenty to keep them occupied. Bonaire's waters are teeming with colorful corals and fish, earning the island a reputation as one of the best dive spots in the Caribbean.
If you're serious about diving, book a stay at a resort with its own dive shop so you can access the most popular dives with ease.
The third of the ABC islands, Curacao also lies safely outside of the hurricane belt and offers visitors an array of beaches as well as excellent scuba diving and snorkeling. The main town of Willemstaad, pictured, houses most of the island's hotels. It's also a busy cruise-ship port dotted with souvenir shops.
To avoid cruising crowds, stay on the island's western reaches, where you'll find the Lodge Kura Hulanda and Beach Club, a blissfully isolated, high-end tropical escape with its own private beach and dive shop.
San Blas Islands, Panama
Panama's star has been rising among travelers for some time. Perhaps the most compelling reason to visit the Central American nation is to explore its postcard-perfect San Blas Islands.
Located just off Panama's Caribbean coast, the 360-plus islands that comprise the archipelago are -- like the rest of Panama -- generally hurricane-free.
You can reach the islands by boat or plane. Once there, you can discover the culture of their indigenous inhabitants, the Kuna Yala. The islands, particularly Dog Island, pictured, are well-known snorkeling destinations teeming with tropical fish.
Bocas del Toro, Panama
Also gifted with a prime location southwest of most hurricanes' paths, Panama's Bocas del Toro archipelago is enjoying a well-deserved moment in the travel spotlight too.
Composed of six islands, including one national marine park, Bocas remains free of mega-hotels, offering visitors lush rainforests and tranquil beaches, as well as a large coral reef with excellent snorkeling and diving.
Tobago, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
The smaller of the two islands comprising the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Tobago is located well south of the hurricane belt. Although its position means it's usually out of harm's way, the island did see heavy rains and damage when Hurricane Ivan passed near it in 2004.
Stunning coral beds and three shipwrecks have made Tobago one of the Caribbean's most popular diving destinations. The sunken 350-foot-long Maverick Ferry is a particularly popular dive. Excellent snorkeling can be found in the waters off Englishman's Bay and Mt. Irvine Beach; the latter also serves as a departure point for many of the island's sailing tours, snorkeling trips and sunset cruises.
Pictured: Pigeon Point.
Trinidad, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Located just south of Tobago, Trinidad is the larger of the two islands and is also outside the hurricane belt. Like its sister island, Trinidad did see some damage when Hurricane Ivan passed by, but it's typically safe from major Caribbean storms.
Although Trinidad is more heavily populated than Tobago, it still offers some idyllic beaches, including Las Cuevas Bay and Mayaro, the island's longest stretch of sand. At Mayaro, it's still possible to watch fisherman hauling in their daily catch. Adventurous visitors can kayak, hike and go caving.
Margarita Island, Venezuela
Located off Venezuela's northeast coast, Margarita Island experiences few tropical storms during hurricane season. The island's 106 miles of coastline feature exquisite beaches such as Playa el Agua and Playa Yaque, a popular windsurfing spot.
If you go, consider booking a boat tour of Laguna de La Restinga, a large lagoon with mangroves. It's home to seahorses, oysters and a variety of birds.
Providencia Island, Colombia
Thanks to its position in the Southern Caribbean, Providencia Island experiences sunny weather and protection from the impact of hurricanes during peak season. In fact, one of the most popular times to visit is during Carnival in late June, when Providencia erupts with parades, dances and parties.
If you go, hightail it to Old Providence McBean Lagoon National Natural Park, where you'll encounter mangrove forests and coral reefs that have earned Providencia and its environs the nickname, "The Sea of Seven Colors."
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This infrequently visited island offers excellent beaches, great snorkeling and warm, welcoming locals in the town of St. George (pictured). While Grenada sees occasional hurricanes, it's rare: The nation has been struck only three times in 50 years.
If you go, be sure to pick up some cinnamon or nutmeg; the island exports 20 percent of the world's spices.
10 Hurricane-Free Caribbean IslandsDon't let hurricane season hinder a vacation to a tropical isle