Taking your family on a Caribbean vacation is a great idea — sun, water, beaches galore. But not all islands are enjoyed equally, and you don’t want to waste one precious drop of vacation time or feel like you didn’t get the most out of your time away.
So while announcing, “Hey, kids, we’re going to the Caribbean!” is a great start, now you have to figure out which of the many islands would be best for your family. Each proclaims itself better than the others, but here are a few suggestions:
Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, you don’t need to go through the expense and hassle of getting passports if you are U.S. citizens. And U.S. dollars are welcome. But don’t think it’s just like America; your family can fully experience a different country and culture. Immaculate white sand and calm water make for great days at the beach, but there are also jungles and caves to explore. And unlike some Caribbean islands that raise prices to a premium during the winter months, you can easily find year-round affordable travel packages to Puerto Rico.
Spectacular beaches, surfing lessons, horseback riding, duty-free shopping, diving, golf, wildlife preserves, botanical gardens, and other activities make the Bahamas a place the entire family can enjoy. And a tour of the Graycliff Chocolatier factory tour is sure to please. Many family-friendly and budget-friendly beach hotels and resorts are available.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The main islands of the U.S. Virgin Islands are Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas. While St. Thomas is less expensive, the other islands offer more local culture. But ferry service is easy and inexpensive, so plan to visit all three. On St. Croix, kids can snorkel and see marine life at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, and mom and dad might enjoy touring the Cruzan Rum Distillery. On St. Thomas, visit Coral World Ocean Park, where kids can feed stingrays and see a sea lion show. Because it is a U.S. territory, you can skip the passports if you are U.S. citizens, and you can pay for everything in U.S. currency.
Turks and Caicos
Family-friendly hotels and resorts have propelled the Turks and Caicos Islands to a top spot for families. Easy air service is available from nearby east-coast cities such as Philadelphia, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Miami. Along with pristine beaches and copious amounts of sunshine, you can see mangrove forests, iguanas, and go horseback riding. It’s all here, and it’s all reasonably priced. Many restaurants cater to families on a budget. Make sure you try the crispy conch fritters!
The laid back “Ya mon” atmosphere on Jamaica is perfect for a family getaway. The beaches are fantastic, but the kids will also get a kick out of climbing Dunn’s River Falls, a jungle waterfall that the entire family can enjoy together. There are many family-friendly hotels and resorts, and some even offer activities for toddlers and preschoolers. Golf, surfing, river rafting, and hiking are just some of the other activities available. Since Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean, plan your activities ahead of time; you won’t have time to do it all.