If you have travel plans or are considering traveling to the Caribbean, Florida Keys, or Mexico this fall, this is what you need to know:
FLORIDA…The Florida Keys were expected to reopen for tourism on October 20, but were ready three weeks ahead of schedule. In fact, the first cruise ship to arrive post-hurricane, Empress of the Seas, has happily come and gone from the port of Key West. So no worries if you have cruise plans! If you’re driving, the Overseas Highway is intact and open all the way. Many businesses have reopened and both Key West International Airport and Marathon International Airport are fully operational. Most tourist attractions are open, including the Key West Lighthouse & Museum, Hemingway House, Key West Shipwreck Museum, trolley tours, ghost & other tours, conch train, and most icons, including Sloppy Joe’s and Schooner Wharf Bar. There was some damage to the Southernmost Point Marker but it has already been repaired and is camera ready! Key West and Key Largo (and the Everglades) were largely spared the brunt of the hurricane, but Marathon, Pine Key, and some other places along the Lower Keys were not so lucky. Some restaurants and resorts are still not open, so be sure to check before you go. The Dry Tortugas National Park will reopen and ferry service will resume on October 28. San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Site and the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail are open during daylight hours. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park did not suffer much damage but at post time was not yet open. While every day that passes sees much improvement, there is still a lot of debris yet to be collected so you will see big piles of debris, especially along side streets. After all, roughly twenty-five percent of homes were destroyed or badly damaged. But Governor Scott and all the businesses that depend on tourism are encouraging folks to come as planned. In fact, it is a good time to get a great deal. Resorts that normally charge $400 or $500 a night, such as LaConcha Hotel & Spa and Playa Largo Resort & Spa have slashed their rates and are offering free bicycles and resort credits. In addition to most tourist attractions being open, annual events are being held as planned. The 14th annual Oktoberfest was held on October 7. The Key Largo Film Festival was held from 10/8-22. One of the biggest annual events, Fantasy Fest, will take place October 20-29. For more information, visit www.fla-keys.com. Click here to view Florida Keys webcams to see for yourself!
FYI: Read on to learn the best day to buy an airline ticket to get the lowest fare!
CARIBBEAN…Some islands in the Caribbean were hard hit by the hurricanes while others were barely impacted. Right now, most of the Caribbean (75%) is welcoming tourists. Places that aren’t ready for tourism include Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Bahamas, St. Barts, Cuba, Dominica, Barbuda, St. Maarten/St. Martin (the airport just reopened), and Turks & Caicos. However, it is business as usual in Aruba, Belize, Barbados, Curacao, Roatan, Bonaire, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Vincent, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Grenadines, Trinidad, and Tobago. For more information and to see special deals, visit http://www.caribbeantravel.com/.
FYI: Five islands that rarely see hurricanes include Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Curacao, and the Dominican Republic.
MEXICO…Two major earthquakes hit this country in September, causing a great deal of destruction and the loss of many lives. Areas impacted include Mexico City, Puebla, and Morelos. While most tourist attractions, restaurants, and resorts are open (airports too), it is advisable to check with your hotel and local tourist authorities to find out the latest news–even if you’re visiting another region. For more information, visit https://www.visitmexico.com/en.
FYI: The best times to book holiday flights to get the best fares for Thanksgiving (10/26), Christmas (10/21), and New Year’s (11/4). Isn’t it interesting that you get a lower fare for Christmas flights a week before the best fare is available for Thanksgiving? Data collected and analyzed by Orbitz.