Surviving a Hurricane on Grand Cayman Island

“August is hurricane season, isn’t it?” I asked myself, before booking the flights to Grand Cayman Island. “It’s okay! There won’t be a hurricane while we are there.”

The year was 2004. It was my first international trip in a dozen years and I was excited! Grand Cayman was such a wonderful destination that my parents had chosen to go twice and my dad is not keen on flying. They hadn’t taken me, being that I was in college and all. I wanted to go someday and that day had finally come!

Hurricane preparations!

Hurricane preparations underway at our hotel.

Disclaimer

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When is Hurricane Season in Grand Cayman anyway?

Hurricane season officially starts on June 1 and ends on November 30 (though hurricanes can be unpredictable). Technology is again our friend here and can give enough warning so that you can take precautions should a storm strike during your vacation.

Hurricane, what?!

The week started out with beautiful weather. We snorkeled daily and went diving a few times. Mid week, there was talk of a hurricane headed our way. There wasn’t much news about whether it would hit Grand Cayman Island or not. The news coverage was US based and focused on whether the hurricane would hit Florida and where.

The locals started hurricane preparations, because Grand Cayman was expected to be hit. We were nervous. While travel insurance wasn’t on my radar yet as a must have, we did have dive insurance (I believe it may have included some trip coverage, too). We decided we would stay unless ordered to evacuate.

Diving in Stingray City!

Diving in Stingray City! That’s me on the right.

We were able to get in some great diving at Ghost Mountain and Stingray City. Stingray City was on my must dive list. It did not disappoint, even when a stingray got up close and personal with me!

My Second Hurricane

I was nervous about the hurricane. My youthful optimism was sure we would be fine, even though I’d been through evacuating before a hurricane before. However, it was the Outer Banks of North Carolina and we were driving. It was rather unpleasant; I was a teen and my parents were the ones making the decision to stay or leave. Traffic was the worst I’d seen and our 14 hour drive home was at least 20 hours. I had no idea how to get off an island or what the cost would be.

"The

There was so much wind. The rain wasn’t hard like a Midwest thunderstorm. It felt soft, at least early on. We didn’t venture out after dark. It was nerve wracking. We were expecting it to be bad enough to lose power, maybe for days.The night was so long, but I finally collapsed into bed. I decided that staying awake and worrying wouldn’t change the outcome and I might as well get some sleep.

The Aftermath

Luckily, Charley was kind to the Caymans. It changed course and we only experienced the outer edge of the storm. It was later in the season when Hurricane Ivan swept through and caused considerable damage to the Caymans.

"Why

Florida wasn’t so lucky. The damage was pretty bad as far inland as Orlando . In fact, the only time that Charley affected my traveling party was on our return trip. We’d originally been scheduled to fly through Orlando, but the airport had been heavily damaged. We were rerouted and ended up getting home a few hours earlier than we were originally scheduled.

Nowadays, I wouldn’t consider traveling without insurance. I’d also never dive without dive insurance (I recommend World Nomads and if you use this link, it helps support my site – please see my disclaimer above and thank you). Thankfully, during my dive certification class, they drove home the point that you needed dive insurance or you could end up paying thousands of dollars for a trip to the hyperbaric chamber.

A calm day on Grand Cayman Island.

A calm day on Grand Cayman Island.

How we Survived the Hurricane

We got lucky.

We woke the morning after to a calm day. My traveling partners and I toasted surviving the hurricane unscathed with a bit of kahlua in our coffee, thankful our hurricane experience was mild.

What has been your most harrowing experience while traveling? Have you ever weathered out a hurricane while traveling?

 

*all pictures included are scans of prints.


14 thoughts on “Surviving a Hurricane on Grand Cayman Island

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  3. Arnie says:

    Well, I can say that we have never had any harrowing experiences like that! We just can’t compete. I think I’d like to keep it that way.

  4. Carol Colborn says:

    I wouldn’t say harrowing. We try to time our trips to places when there would be no weather problems. But just now in late Spring we went to the Alberta Skywalk in heavy snow!!! Bummer

    • natalie says:

      Smart move! It was definitely not the best planning on my part. It was, however, much more affordable at that time of the year and there were a few other factors that contributed to our timing in that visit.

  5. Megan says:

    A crazy story! I’ve headed to the Caribbean in the tail end of hurricane season and thankfully have missed them so far. Glad the trip turned out pretty well in the end! And agree insurance is entirely worth it. Haven’t had to use it yet though.

  6. Christina says:

    Wow! That must have been such a scary experience. It is amazing that you still got some visibility while diving. I am relieved to say we have never had a harrowing experiencing like you have had to live through.

    • natalie says:

      It was, especially not knowing what was going to happen because the US news wasn’t covering it and that was all we could find!

      We did all of our diving and snorkeling before the hurricane, so the visibility was great! I’m sure it was pretty poor afterwards.

    • natalie says:

      Yeah, this was long before I realized travel insurance was a good thing and not a rip off! The dive insurance offered some protection, though. I know better now!

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