August is an antsy month. Back to school madness descends upon parents, kids, and coeds alike, with everyone looking to squeeze in one last shore run before class starts up once again. Then September rolls into town with the first inklings of crisper weather — and the lure of the shore is only heightened. But where to go? For many east coasters, a quick trip to southern neighbors where the sands are still toasty and the waves still refreshing is dampened by the threat of Mother Nature’s beast: The Hurricane. The Gulf Coast becomes a ghost of what it once was, and Caribbean tourists flock to other beachfront locales where winds and rain aren’t so rampant. But for the brave of heart (who are more scared of a high price tag than some high winds), traveling to the eye of the storm means gorgeous, uncrowded beaches and tranquil luxury resorts at extremely reasonable rates. It goes without saying that safety comes first, and booking a trip during this time of year to some of our favorite Gulf and Caribbean destinations won’t always pan out. So make sure to double check with your favorite weatherman and get the scoop on how the winds are swirling across the Atlantic before you purchase. (You can always hit up these hurricane-proof spots if you’d rather not risk it.) But if you’re ready for a little adventure on the cheap, here’s a selection of Oyster’s favorite hurricane hideaways to get you started on your end-of-summer getaway!
A peaceful and beautiful resort, The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel was designed to be a true escape for couples and small groups that want to relax, be pampered, and enjoy a quiet getaway in Negril, Jamaica. For adults only, the intimate hotel (which maintains a maximum 47 visitors) features individual cottages, all-inclusive packages for dining at the on-site restaurant and bar, a variety of spa services, and an incredible view of the Negril cliffs plunging into the Caribbean Sea.
Offering reasonable rates year-round, the beachfront Grand Magdalena features a buffet breakfast, bicycle rentals, shuttles to a nearby beach, and numerous other freebies. Facilities include a fitness center, large pool, and nearby spa, and the hotel has numerous restaurant and bar options (although the restaurants can be pricey). Rooms are simple, and some furniture shows wear and tear, but all feature free wi-fi, flat-screen TVs, and best of all, ocean views.
This aging, but vibrant, family-friendly beach property on Freeport’s southeastern coast has 157 time-share condo units in three sections — perfect for hunkering down with the family for an extended stay. Taino offers a restaurant serving a buffet breakfast, as well as a la carte lunches and dinners overlooking the Caribbean Sea, but guests can also ferry to Port Lucaya for shops, restaurants and bars. The pool complex is impressive with a 100-foot waterslide, lazy river, swim-up pool bar, children’s area, and hot tub. Lucaya Watersports & Tours, based on the property, can arrange rentals and excursions.
The luxury Point Grace boutique is heavy on style and refinement, with British Colonial design and 28 huge multi-room suites (they start at 1,080 square feet) featuring kitchens, terraces, and high-end bathrooms. Property highlights include a lovely, tranquil pool, personal beachfront service, a small but spectacular spa, and one of the Providenciales’ most romantic dinner spots. However, its remote location on the point of the beautiful, 12-mile Grace Bay beach — while peaceful and quiet — makes it difficult to explore the rest of the island.
The Island House is a three-pearl property with an upscale beach vibe and lots of fun features for this price point. Contemporary beach style rooms are spacious and each includes a balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, which is accessible via a long wooden boardwalk. The swimming pool isn’t huge, but the additional kiddie pool is a nice touch. For a Gulf getaway on a budget — particularly during the high-hurricane-season of August through September – this is a great option.
Spread across 12 waterfront acres in the Florida Keys, Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort is a collection of upscale, tropical Victorian-style homes divided into multi-story two- and three-bedroom suites with full kitchens and water views. There are also a handful of guestrooms without ocean views. With a private beach, three pools (including one adults-only), and an array of on-site water sport activities available, the property is a great fit for vacationing families. A waterfront tiki bar is a scenic spot to sip cocktails, but a car is needed to explore outside of the resort.
Opened in November 2013, the Breathless is one of the newest, most luxurious all-inclusive options in Punta Cana. The 750-suite adults-only property is massive, so guests rarely feel overwhelmed by crowds, whether they are in one of the restaurants, at one of the pools, or relaxing on the gorgeous white-sand beach. Rates include everything from the food and alcohol to the water sports and themed pool parties, making this a solid luxury choice in the area.
This 138-room Mediterranean-style resort gets its name from Barbados’ local flower, which is ceremoniously placed in rooms upon arrival. The atmosphere at Bougainvillea is unpretentious, and reasonable prices make it a good value on the south coast — it’s especially popular with families and wedding groups. All rooms have kitchens or kitchenettes, or guests can dine at two restaurants along the water. This resort prides itself on being eco-friendly, and amenities include a spa, fitness center, kids’ club, and water sports.
The vibe at the 382-room El San Juan Hotel & Casino is that of a fun, self-contained, relaxed party. The property features a lively lobby, a sprawling free-form pool with swim-up bar, and a location right on the clean, white-sand Isla Verde Beach. Rooms are stylish and beach-y, with white bedding and furniture, bright, tropical accents, and modern touches such as clear lamps and chairs. Just make sure you’re happy staying put: Old San Juan is at least a $20 cab ride away.