Decided you want a Caribbean Island family vacation but have no idea which island to visit?
There are so many beautiful Caribbean islands that the choices can be overwhelming. I have visited nearly twenty Caribbean islands myself and I find it hard to pick just one as the best Caribbean island for families.
The upside is that it is hard to go wrong as well. I have not been to a Caribbean island yet that I disliked and you are sure to find something about just about any island that will appeal to your family. However, this advice is not particularly useful when you are trying to find the best Caribbean island for your next family vacation.
To help you choose, I talked to my blogging friends that also love this part of the world and asked them what they would pick as the best Caribbean island for families. Below is what they came up with!
My personal pick for the best Caribbean destination for families is the Dominican Republic. We spent a fabulous month here a couple of years ago.
What I love about the Dominican Republic is the amount of variety. We love a beach resort holiday as much as the next family but we also like to couple it with lots of different types of attractions and this is the main reason that the Dominican Republic is one of the best Caribbean destinations for families.
You can visit the capital, Santo Domingo, the oldest continually inhabited, European settled, city in the Americas. Here, there is a beautiful Old Town with many museums and attractions as well as a good museum for kids, a water park and aquarium. In addition to this, there are many lovely beach towns with many outdoor attractions. We particularly enjoyed Cabarete.
Hot Tip: By all means, stay in a lovely resort and take it easy but do also take some time to explore. Spend at least a day in Santo Domingo.
Accommodation: For a solid all inclusive option without breaking the budget, we all had a great time at the Be Live Grand Marien.
Voted by me, Sharon Gourlay! You can find out more about visiting the Dominican Republic with kids here.
In Cancun, Mexico, which can at times be an overcrowded, mass-market beach destination, Isla Mujeres is an absolute hidden gem. Accessed by regular ferries departing from Cancun on Mexico’s mainland, this small island off the coast of Mexico is in many ways the exact opposite of Cancun.
From the moment you step off the ferry and hop on your golf cart, the main mode of transportation on the island, you’ll love the relaxed, easy feel around this small island.
Hot Tip: Playa Norte, or North Beach, is by far the best beach on the island. With the fine, white sand for which this area of the Caribbean is known, to the extremely shallow, calm water here, this is an ideal beach destination for families.
Accommodation: Book a condo at the Ixchel Beach Hotel and you’ll be perfectly located for an easy, fun family beach vacation.
Voted by Sarah Fazendin, A Family Travel Blog
Located just off the north coast of Panama, the archipelago of Guna Yala (‘Land of the Gunas’) is a network of coral islands that stretches some 200 km in the direction of Colombia. More commonly referred to as ‘San Blas’, this semi-automatous region is one of the few corners of the Caribbean that has been untouched by the modern world.
The area is governed by the Kuna (or Guna), a group of indigenous American Indians who warmly welcome visitors, but who do not allow non-Kuna development on their land. As such, you won’t find any resorts, glitzy restaurants or crowded cruise ports on this fervently protected archipelago, and this lack of development is precisely what makes it so special.
Granted, the lack of facilities in San Blas may not appeal to every family, particularly those who like their creature comforts, but if combined with a more general tour of Panama, San Blas is a spectacular back-to-basics stepping-stone that adventurous families will love.
For children, it’s all about the sand and sea, and very little else, but for most kids, that’s all they ever need! I’ve visited twice with my family and we’ve happily filled our days combing the beaches for ‘treasures’, snorkeling in the Tiffany-blue waters and visiting Kuna communities on some of the inhabited islands.
Hot Tip: Prepare to disconnect! There is limited wifi and phone coverage in San Blas, so remember to set your Out-of-Office message and to download any ebooks before your departure!
Accommodation: Options in San Blas broadly fall into two categories: Simple huts on land and renting a cabin on a yacht, the latter being the more expensive option. As a family, we have enjoyed both experiences (Yandup Island Lodge on land and sailing at sea) but if we had to pick between the two, we’d opt for sailing because of the greater flexibility a boat offers.
See San Blas here:
Green Turtle Cay is part of a chain of islands called the Abacos in the Bahamas. It is off the beaten path and instead of picturing mega resorts, you should picture small quaint islands with beautiful deserted beaches, friendly people who stop and wave to total strangers on the street, historical villages, golf carts instead of cars, and family friendly beach bars.
Green Turtle Cay is a small barrier Island, about 3 miles long by half a mile wide with a year round population of about 450 people. Getting to the island is easy as it is only 170 miles East of Palm Beach and it is a short 50-minute flight to Treasure Cay and a 15-minute ferry ride to cross the sea of Abaco.
Though small, Green Turtle Cay has everything that you need: 2 resorts, several marinas, 3 small 7-11 sized grocery stores, 6-8 restaurants, a liquor store, a museum, and lots of places to rent boats and golf carts.
Hot Tip: Make sure you visit my favorite beach, Gilliam Bay.
Voted by Nicole Debickes, Family with Latitude
Our whole family enjoyed our visit to the island of Bimini in the Bahamas. My kids loved all the places to play and the adults loved the island’s easy access without the crowds. Visitors can take a 30-minute flight from Fort Lauderdale or Miami via Silver Airlines which flies directly to Bimini.
Because Bimini is a small island, there are no major cruise ships that dock there, so the crowds are minimal. Bimini Undersea offers off-shore excursions for snorkeling or swimming with dolphins that can be booked online or through the hotel concierge.
Hot Tip: If you want to book an excursion, do so in advance of your trip or as soon as you arrive. Assess the weather and discuss options with the outfitter. They will have a better idea of what trips will be possible on what days. Keep in mind that during high season, the excursions are likely to fill up quickly.
Accommodation: Visitors can stay at the brand new Hilton at Resorts World Bimini, which offers a casino, three pools, two beaches and one lazy river, so there are lots of activities to keep the kids and the parents entertained.
Zip-lining over lush vegetation, exploring otherworldly caves, snorkeling in the turquoise waters, kayaking the bioluminescent bay, visiting the historic Old Town of San Juan, experiencing the delicious island cuisine, learning how rum is made at the Bacardi Factory, listening for alien life at the Arecibo Observatory, relaxing at top notch resorts, hiking to the waterfalls at the El Yunque Rainforest – with so much to occupy your time – your family will love the enchanted island of Puerto Rico!
Puerto Rico is the PERFECT destination for families – it’s relatively inexpensive, English is spoken everywhere, the currency is the US dollar and you don’t need a passport!
Hot Tip: Encourage your children to be adventurous and taste some distinctly delicious Puerto Rican dishes such as mofongo and tostones.
Accommodation: An ideal family-friendly home base to explore Puerto Rico is the beautiful waterfront resort, the Caribe Hilton. With gorgeous luxurious cabanas, plenty of pools, watersports, snuba, and a variety of kids’ activities, the Caribe Hilton is a top choice resort for families visiting Puerto Rico!
In our quest to visit every area of the world, we wanted to spend some time in the Caribbean. The natural choice, to improve our French, was either Guadeloupe or Martinique, both overseas regions of France. If you have similar goals, Guadeloupe is a good choice!
Must sees include hiking the active volcano La Grande Soufrière, taking a picnic to the windy and isolated La Pointe des Châteaux, and snorkeling anywhere along the coastline, taking in the perfectly blue, not to mention warm, water. A highlight is to try the local cuisine both in restaurants and in your own kitchen. For ideas, check out www.caribbeanpot.com.
Destreland, the largest mall in Guadeloupe, has everything you’ll need to have a comfortable stay.
Hot Tip: The ideal way to get there is to fly to Saint Lucia and stop in Dominica and Martinique with the ferry along the way to Guadeloupe, the final stop. Then you’ll have a chance to see each of those islands and, as an added bonus, Dominica is one of the 25 least visited countries in the world. I did not get off the ferry, which I regret, so I’m passing that tip along to you!
Voted by Kalli Hiller, Portable Professionals
An amazing Caribbean island to visit is Jamaica because it’s a beautiful place and everyone is so friendly.
A fun way to explore the island is to take a catamaran boat ride around the outskirts of the island and view Jamaica from the water. The catamarans stop at various places, my favorite being a cave near Negril that you can swim in.
Another fun place to visit, if you are adventurous, is Rick’s Cafe. The restaurant is located atop a cliff and many enjoy cliff jumping before their meal.
Accommodation: The all-inclusive Beaches Negril Resort is perfect for families.
Voted by Alicia Peiffer, Making Time For Mommy
Relaxing beach time is almost always a guarantee when visiting a Caribbean Island, but on Grand Cayman, you can also enjoy fun family-friendly activities. If you are interested in a mix of activities in a luxurious setting, definitely consider a trip to Grand Cayman. The animal encounter opportunities are a great learning experience for children.
Must-visits include the Cayman Turtle Farm, where you can learn about sea turtles and snorkel in a gentle lagoon, and Stingray City, where you can swim with stingrays. There are also fantastic places to snorkel, and be sure to head to the other side of the island to Rum Point, a beautiful public beach.
Hot Tip: Families traveling to Grand Cayman should consider visiting Stingray City on a Sunday, when it’s quieter and there aren’t many cruise ship passengers.
Accommodation: The Westin Grand Cayman is a great resort for families – it offers a large pool, water sports, and a perfect location right on Seven Mile Beach.
Voted by Jodi, familytravelmagazine.com
Aruba is one of the ABC islands along with Bonaire and Curacao located in the Southern Caribbean. We’ve only visited during a cruise but quickly fell in love with it. We’d love to return for an extended land vacation. Its slogan is “One Happy Island” mostly due to its friendly locals.
It’s situated away from the hurricane belt so it has fantastic weather year round. We loved its unique desert landscape with cacti along the shoreline. No tropical rainforests here. We found some of the most beautiful beaches with fine, white powder sand and calm, turquoise waters like family-friendly Palm Beach. Many are surrounded with palm trees and its trademark divi divi tree.
There’s plenty to do for visitors whether you’re here for a day or a week. Its picturesque capital city of Oranjestad, with many pastel-colored Dutch colonial buildings, is a great place for shopping and strolling. Aruba offers plenty of water activities from fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, windsurfing and submarine tours. Land activities include visits to a donkey sanctuary, ostrich farm, ATV tours or exploring Arikok National Park.
Hot Tip: Do an island tour for a chance to climb up the Casibari Rock Formation and see the California Lighthouse.
Voted by Mary Solio, The World Is A Book
If you’re looking for a laid-back, less-touristy-than-others, island, book your next flight or cruise to family-friendly St. Kitts, an Eastern Caribbean island bordered by both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. First discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, this is the perfect destination to bring your family to bask in its sunny skies, swim in warm waters, or build sand castles on its white sandy beaches.
Adrenalin-seeking families can zip-line through the rainforest. Experience a challenging hike up Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano towering above the island at 3,792 and one of the highest peaks in the Caribbean. Once you’ve climbed your way to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a bird’s eye view of the Caribbean island of St. Kitts.
Dancing to its own beat, St. Kitts merges its past to the present. Today its capital, Basseterre, is the commercial heart of the island with locals peddling the typical tourist souvenirs at the cruise port.
In the north, discover abandoned sugarcane fields and ramshackle villages fusing with today’s manicured plantation inns and the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park. To the south, discover glorious beaches and funky bars.
Accommodation: Book a stay at the expansive Kitts Marriott Resort & the Royal Beach Casino, a perfect home base for families.
What is your pick of the best Caribbean islands for families?
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