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How to Plan a Caribbean Family Vacation

Find Your Family Fun in the Sun


How to Plan a Caribbean Family Vacation

Dolphin Cay, Atlantis resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas

© Kerzner International
How to Plan a Caribbean Family Vacation

JW Marriott Cancun kids and parents spa treatment.

© Marriott Resorts
How to Plan a Caribbean Family Vacation

Pirate's Paradise Water Park at the Sunset Beach Resort & Spa, Montego Bay, Jamaica

© Sunset Beach Resort & Spa

The Caribbean is ideal for families. In fact, there are few better places to take your children than this veritable playground of white-sand beaches, warm and clear waters that are ideal for anything from wading to water sports, and resorts that cater specifically to families with a dizzying array of swimming pools, restaurants and child-care options. Add to that activities ranging from hiking and shopping to snorkeling and eco-adventures and you have the makings of a memorable Caribbean family vacation full of adventure and fun.

Choosing the Right Caribbean Island for Your Family

If you are flying with young children, look for an island with a large number of direct flights so you can travel at a convenient time and avoid having to switch planes. Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands all have hundreds of direct flights from North America weekly.

These popular islands are also good bets for families in terms of dining and hotel options. Large resorts abound, many of them with programs specifically geared toward children, and you’ll have no trouble finding kid-friendly dining options, whether at your resort or a familiar fast-food joint.

The Best Caribbean Activities for Families

Spending time on the beach should be your first priority; one gem is the soft, white sand of Puerto Rico’s Luquillo Beach. If your kids are daredevils, they’ll enjoy the challenging waves and winds of Cabarete in the Dominican Republic, where they can try windsurfing and kiteboarding.

Other special experiences include snorkeling or diving and feeding friendly stingrays at Stingray City on Grand Cayman; hiking through El Yunque National Forest; and taking a nighttime swim in Vieques’ bioluminescent bay, both in Puerto Rico. Older kids may enjoy the duty-free shopping on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands or in St. Maarten.

The Best Caribbean Hotels for Families

The two best lodging options for families are all-inclusive resorts and villas. Prices at all-inclusives cover accommodations, meals and a dizzying array of activities. Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands all have terrific options in this category, including FDR Pebbles, which assigns each family a nanny.

The Atlantis in the Bahamas has a truly awesome children’s program, plus acres of water-based entertainment including a snorkeling trail, a shark tank and a 60-foot-long waterslide.

Villas come with a kitchen and often a housekeeping staff, but you won’t have all the built-in entertainment choices.

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