When you’re a parent, there’s nothing better than seeing your children have fun. The stress of planning a family vacation, however, could be enough to turn anyone off of the task.
Unless, of course, you head to the Caribbean, the paradisiacal region full of calm waters, incredible food, and tons of adventure just a stone’s throw from the U.S.
All of these islands will offer snorkeling, beautiful beaches, and a wide variety of dining options that almost always factor in kids’ palates. So instead, we focused on the unique activities that make our picks the best Caribbean islands for family vacations.
With more than 700 islands to choose from, the Bahamas offers an almost endless array of activities for every kind of traveler—especially those with kids to entertain.
If your kids are water bugs, for example, you could take them to Pirate’s Cove Zipline and Water Park on Grand Bahama, where they can exhaust themselves on a zipline then relax by the beach. (Or at the very least, play in the nearby sea while you relax on the beach.)
There is also Aquaventure, located at the famed Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island, home to nine water slides and myriad other activities. For the more adventurous in your family, there’s even one slide that offers a near-vertical drop—straight down into an acrylic tunnel surrounded by marine life.
And of course, there’s the Pirates of Nassau, an interactive experience located in the heart of Nassau, where the whole family can learn about the history of smuggling and piracy and decide if the pirate’s life is the one for them.
While this is not technically an island, it’s a Caribbean destination that you do not want to miss if you’re planning a vacation with kids.
Head to the Azul Beach Resort Sensatori in the Cancún region, where they offer an all-inclusive experience tailormade for families. Don’t worry about lugging a stroller or crib or even packing enough diapers; they have everything you might need on hand.
Feel free to drop your kids at the Azulitos Playhouse, where they can spend the day learning about the local ecosystem, splashing through a mini waterpark, or just building sandcastles.
Have teenagers? They have their own dedicated clubhouse, where they can meet other teens on vacation, play foosball, and relax. And Azul is owned by Karisma, the company helming a slate of Nickelodeon-themed hotels in the Caribbean, which means the occasional breakfast with Nickelodeon characters.
The U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix)
If you want your family to get the Caribbean experience without worrying about passports, head to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
You can find rugged adventure or something a little more fantastic here. Go ziplining and hiking through the jungle on St. Thomas, or if you want to experience everything the marine life has to offer, head to Coral World Ocean Park, an “indoor-outdoor aquarium” also located on St. Thomas. Watch the park’s sea lions sing for their supper, and snuba (scuba without the heavy tank on your back) through an enormous coral reef brimming with life.
If you have a fantasy fan on your hands, head to St. John to swim with mermaids at Mermaid Swim VI—a dream come true.
Puerto Rico is another no-passport-required option, and the small island packs a punch. Whether you stay in San Juan and walk around the historical center or post up at a resort outside of town, kids of all ages will be happy as clams exploring the Island of Enchantment.
As much as it’s celebrated for its culture, Puerto Rico also offers outdoor adventures for the whole family. Head to Vieques, a small island to the east of Puerto Rico, to check out its population of wild horses. Visit the unique and beautiful bioluminescent bays, or hike in El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the national forest system.
The Cayman Islands
Located to the south of Cuba, the Caymans are three islands with some of the best beaches and snorkeling in the region.
The real draw, however? The whole family can take a boat trip out to Stingray City, a group of sandbars that is home to an enormous (and docile) stingray population. Guides pick up rays and perch them on your head, let you pet them, and show you how they eat, breath, and move.
If these shark relatives freak your family out, you could instead head to the Cayman Turtle Centre, a wildlife experience with a bird sanctuary, turtle encounters, crocodiles, and even the largest swimming pool on the island.
Planning a Caribbean vacation for your family can be stressful and time-consuming—so leave it to the experts. InteleTravel Advisors will build the perfect kid-friendly adventure for you at no additional cost. Tell us more about your preferences, and we'll take it from there.