Caribbean Beachfronts – Windy or Not?
What is the perfect position for a villa on a Caribbean island?
There are two clearly defined types of beachfront…leeward or sheltered, windward or open to the oncoming weather.
Building a house with a garden, or even a verandah that opens out onto a white sand beach paints a wonderful picture, but the reality of life on the beach is somewhat different.
90% of beaches are on the leeward side of the islands, sheltered from the big Atlantic rollers and storms which have carved the coastline to form rocky windward shores and small sandy coves.
Homes built on the windward side of the islands are blessed with cool steady tradewinds for most of the year. Beachfront homes built on the Caribbean side have to find a way to keep cool which can use up valuable and expensive energy using fans and air conditioners. Other ways include properly engineered scoops on the roofs for air to be funnelled naturally through the property, and properly sited windows and doors to keep air moving.
Glass windows which are constantly exposed to tradewinds blowing in from the Atlantic do suffer from ‘sea blast”, and should be specially protected against this type of exposure. Sea blast scuffs the glass so that it looks constantly dirty and slowly becomes opaque, therefore its worth spending a little more to protect your glass for longer.
Mosquitoes love still air. You are are much more likely to be a welcome target for hungry mosquitoes without the steady incoming tradewinds blasting them through the property and out the other side!
Other bugs like still air. The no-see-ums that besiege our island beaches (so called because they are almost to small to see) are wicked at dusk in still air, and with a vicious bite that leaves a tiny red mark. Watching the sun go down over the western horizon from the verandah or the gazebo at the end of the garden, somewhat loses its lazy charm when accompanied by the sound of slapping and sharp expressions of pain!
There are many solutions to dealing with flying bugs including strategically placed insect attracting lights, or citronella candles that look so nice on the terrace and do a great job of keeping the mosquitoes away.
The sea levels are slowly rising due to global warming and therefore the siting of new homes need to take this into account. The Caribbean is one of the most vulnerable places in the world to rising sea levels, and it is expected that in the next fifty years we will see a minimum sea level rise of half a metre, we should plan for more than that. Additionally, during the passage of a hurricane the level of the Caribbean sea will rise due to the low atmospheric pressure, and on top of that create destructive, smashing waves. A large boulder in the swimming pool or even on the terrace hurled in by high waves can be life threatening and expensive.
Whichever you decide, good architecture and engineering along with solid construction will make sure that you gain everything positive you can from your surroundings whilst limiting negative beachfront elements. The result will be a Caribbean island beachfront home which is perfectly positioned, windy or not!
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