Why Cabarete is Protected from Most Hurricanes
Hurricanes are big tropical storms that form over the Atlantic or Northeastern Pacific Ocean. If you follow the news, images of hurricane devastation and loss will likely jump to your mind.
Yes, many Caribbean nations have been affected very badly by hurricanes in the past. But, if you are worried about travelling to Cabarete in the autumn and winter months, there are some things that might put your mind at ease.
(For more info on hurricanes in general, what they are, and how they are classified and named, check out our post Hurricane Season: What You Need To Know.)
In Cabarete, we are actually very sheltered from storms by our natural surroundings. Big storms tend not to hit us, here, as they are bounced away by some pretty helpful geographical features.
Fun fact: The DR is actually nicknamed the Garden of Eden. The magical spot it occupies is free of dangerous predators, shielded from hurricanes, and grows tropical fruit in abundance.
Time for a little geography lesson. Let’s learn the basics of why the North Coast of the Dominican Republic is so protected from tropical storms.
The Mona Passage
The Mona Passage or Canal de la Mona is the 130km strait of water that runs between Hispaniola (DR/Haiti island) and Puerto Rico. It connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea.
Though it is an important trade route, it is known as one of the most difficult passages of the Caribbean Sea to sail. The strong tidal currents can change direction unpredictably. This is down to the two large islands on either side, and the sand banks that extend far into the strait.
The strait has powerful surface and internal tides. In certain circumstances, these can double up to produce hair-raising 40-metre waves!
In hurricane season, however, the dynamic currents of the Mona Passage are a lifesaver. They force storms out to the north or the south of the island, so the worst weather is pushed away from us.
Sailors in the area often take shelter from storms in the DR because of its history of relative safety.
We Got Mountains (feat. Pico Duarte)
Our mountain range would provide high ground in the unlikely case of flooding on the island.
But better than that, the high, large landmass actually deters hurricanes. Hurricanes hate mountains. Tropical storms need warm water and wind to live. Big, tall land poses a threat to their survival, so they will tend to steer clear.
The difference in pressure and temperature from the cool mountain air and the warm, sunny beach air creates a hostile environment to storms. If they do come near, they are deterred or weakened. High ground is like their kryptonite.
And we are lucky to have the highest peak in the whole of the Caribbean on our island. Pico Duarte stands at 3,098 m (10,164 ft) and is only a few hours’ drive from Cabarete.
It’s gruelling, but if you’re feeling adventurous on your trip, you can climb it! Just ask our friendly hotel staff, they’ll sort you out.
Our coastline is made up of shallow coral reef that drops into deep water pretty sharply. There’s no gradual slope of land out into the sea, which means big surges of water are stopped in their tracks.
Stormy waves hit the wall of coral and break on the reef instead of powering on into the island.
Analysis of 250 studies revealed that reefs can dissipate up to 97% of a wave’s energy, as it comes into shore. This is a big deal for coastal communities around the world, and a major reason to feel safe in Cabarete.
Check out this article for more info on just how effective coral reefs are as natural protection against flooding.
Weigh it up
We should note that the DR has been affected by a few hurricanes in the past, and there is no absolute guarantee of safety. It’s mostly been minor damage, even the giant Hurricane Irma did not devastate the coast in Cabarete.
Hopefully, being aware of the risks and also the elements at play in hurricane activity, you can make an informed choice. Check out the US National Hurricane Center website for up to date news.
And, as locals know, big Atlantic swells mean big waves here in Cabarete. The height of surf season stretches across the fall and winter months, here. So, come on down and catch some epic overheads!