Many people consider a trip to the islands of the Caribbean to be a dream vacation. Its beautiful beaches with clear blue waters, breathtaking scenery, and luxury resorts make the Caribbean a top destination for honeymoons and romantic getaways. But couples travelling with children should not overlook the Caribbean. The islands offer plenty for kids to see and experience, while a Caribbean vacation is truly something that both children and adults will remember for a lifetime. Here are the best Caribbean islands for a family vacation. Hours/availability may have changed.
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Aruba has been a top destination for family fun in the Caribbean for decades. Beaches such as Arashi and Baby Beach contain shallow water, perfect for wading and swimming with little ones, while Mango Halto and Boca Catalina offer snorkeling for the whole family. On land, visitors can enjoy many animal attractions such as the Butterfly Farm, Ostrich Farm, and Donkey Sanctuary. They can also learn about the history and industry of Aruba at museums such as the Aloe Factory and Museum and the Archeological Museum of Aruba. Many local hotels offer special deals on attractions for families staying with them.
2. The Bahamas
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The islands of the Bahamas offer family fun both on and off land. Beautiful white beaches with crystal-clear blue water provide guests with the chance to go swimming, paddleboarding, snorkeling, boating, fishing, and more. Many local outfits offer land, beach, and water tours, giving guests the opportunity to view sea life, iguanas, dolphins, birds, and more in the wild. Plant preserves, museums, shopping, and restaurants can be found all across the islands. In addition, caves abound in the Bahamas. Indian Hole Point, Bolling Hole, and Ten Bay are all popular local caves that can be toured by visitors.
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Located in the southern Caribbean, about 100 miles from the coast of Venezuela, Bonaire Island is a Netherlands municipality with a magnificent coast surrounded by healthy coral reefs and is part of Bonaire National Marine Park. The rich marine life supported by healthy reefs attracts numerous scuba divers to this underwater paradise. The island’s inland is as rich in plant and animal species, caverns, lagoons, and beaches, all protected within huge Washington Slagbaai National Park. Windsurfing and birdwatching are very popular on this coral island, while the flamingos in flight are a favorite with nature photographers. Great diving and snorkeling, magnificent white sandy beaches, and a perfect climate safe from hurricanes make Bonaire one of the best Caribbean tourist destinations. Check into the beautiful Harbour Village Beach Club, the only five-star resort in Bonaire.
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4. Dominican Republic
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The warm, friendly people of Dominican Republic have made it a top family-friendly tourist destination for decades. The island’s nine different ecosystems ensure that families can experience a wide variety of landscapes, plants, and animals. Beaches, freshwater lagoons, mangroves, and tropical scrub forests can all be found here. All-inclusive beach resorts such as Puta Cana Resort and Eden Roc Cap Cana provide luxurious accommodations and activities for kids such as swimming, kayaking, boogie-boarding, and snorkeling. An adventure park containing a zip line, buggies, animals, and hiking trails is also on the Eden Roc property.
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The Cayman Islands are alive with history, culture, and spirit. The Caymans are often called “the culinary capital of the Caribbean.” The island contains over 200 restaurants, encompassing everything from gourmet 5-star dining to simple meals of fresh, locally caught fish and local produce. Located on Grand Cayman, Seven Mile Beach is a public property that is home to many resorts. Clear, shallow water makes this stretch of beach perfect for little ones to swim, splash, and snorkel. Seven Mile Beach is also home to family-friendly attractions such as Stingray City and the Cayman Turtle Farm.
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Jamaica is known for its laidback way of life, which makes it a perfect place for a relaxing vacation, although families traveling to Jamaica will also find plenty of adventures and attractions on the island. Ahhh...Ras Natango Gallery & Garden is a beautiful nature preserve where guests can view the plants and birds of Jamaica. The gallery and gift shop display and sell art made by local artists. Kool Running Adventure Park contains waters rides, laser tag, go-karts, and more. Horseback riding on the beach, rafting on the Martha Brae River, and sailing tours of the waters around the island are also available in Jamaica.
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On Martinique, Jardin de Balata is one of the top attractions for families. This park contains lush gardens with over 3,000 different species of plants as well as birds, games, and a gift shop. Zoo de Martinique is another place families will want to visit. This small zoo is easy to tour and houses animals from three different continents. Martinique’s capital city, Fort de France, contains libraries, museums, cathedrals, shopping, dining, and a large open-air food market. Relaxing catamaran tours of the island are available at Kata Mambo. Tours last all day and include lunch.
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Nevis may not be as well-known as some of the other Caribbean locations, but this gem of an island should not be missed by tourists. On Nevis, tall mountain peaks rise sharply out of the cool blue Caribbean waters. The island is only 36 square miles, and can be toured in less than a day by bicycle, on foot, or by horse-drawn carriage. Sites and attractions such as Fort Charleston, Nevisian Heritage Village, Fort Ashby, and the Heritage Great House showcase the history of the island. Boat tours, shopping, dining, and spas can also be found on Nevis.
9. Puerto Rico
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Easily accessible from the United States, Puerto Rico is a warm and inviting tropical destination. Families travelling to Puerto Rico will want to check out the Museum del Nino, a three-story children’s museum with plenty of hands-on fun. El Yunque National Forest is part of the U.S. National Forest System, and this 28,000-acre preserve is a great place to see tropical plants and wildlife in the wild. On the island’s southwest corner is Guanica, a beautiful beach perfect for picnics, wading, snorkeling, and water sports. Visitors can even take a boat trip to the nearby “Gilligan’s Island.”
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10.Best Caribbean Islands: St. Lucia
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St. Lucia is an island paradise known for its many luxurious hotels and resorts. For families travelling to St. Lucia, all-inclusive resorts such as St. James Club Morgan Bay or The Landings offer a kids club, where kids can play while mom and dad relax. Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa is a budget-friendly all-inclusive resort with water slides, a lazy river, and children’s activities. Even if a hotel does not have a kids club, the concierge will often help families schedule activities elsewhere on the island and can arrange for shuttle service to and from the destination.
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St. Kitts is all about natural beauty and historic preservation. Over one-fourth of the island’s land is set aside as a national park, untouched by development. Visitors can view the natural beauty of St. Kitts by boat, horseback, bus, taxi, or from the Scenic National Railway Tour. Historic homes, churches, and plantations can be found across the island. And of course, St. Kitts offers the same calm, beautiful beaches that all Caribbean Islands are known for. St. Kitts is surrounded by large coral reefs, making it a great spot for snorkeling and diving.
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12. Caribbean family vacations: Turks and Caicos
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Turks and Caicos is a group of islands that has consistently been named one of the top travel destinations in the world for families. Visitors can easily travel from island to island by plane or by boat. Every Thursday night, the Island Fish Fry is held at Bight Children’s Park. Food from local vendors, music from island bands, dancing, and storytelling are all a part of this weekly event. Elsewhere on the islands, visitors can enjoy boating, sailing, paddleboarding, parasailing, diving, fishing, and other water sports. Exclusive to the islands is the Caicos Conch Farm, the only farm in the world that raises conch shells.
13.U.S. Virgin Islands
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The U.S. Virgin Islands are made up of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John as well as many smaller surrounding islands. On St. Thomas, families will find zip line courses, parasailing, and the Coral World Ocean Park, a large aquarium perfect for young children. On St. Croix, visitors can learn about the history of the islands by touring Fort Christiansvaern and the Estate Whim Plantation Museum. And the natural beauty of the Caribbean can be explored on St. John by visiting the Virgin Islands National Park and the Cinnamon Bay Nature Trail.
14.Best Caribbean Islands: Barbados
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Barbados is known for its exciting nightlife, but visitors with children can still find plenty of family fun on this island. Resorts such as Sugar Bay Barbados and Bougainvillea Beach Resort offer kids and teen club programs free of charge to guests. Chartered tour boats are available to give travelers an up-close view of sea life. On land, children and adults can view local plants, produce, and animals at the PEG Farm and Nature Reserve. And children will love being able to play like a pirate aboard the Jolly Roger, a real replica pirate ship. Keep reading for more top Caribbean islands for families.
14 Best Family Vacations in the Caribbean
- Aruba, Photo: Courtesy of Nataraj - Fotolia.com
- The Bahamas, Photo: Courtesy of A.Jedynak - Fotolia.com
- Bonaire, Photo: Courtesy of John Anderson - Fotolia.com
- Dominican Republic, Photo: Courtesy of Kit Korzun - Fotolia.com
- Cayman Islands, Photo: Courtesy of eric - Fotolia.com
- Jamaica, Photo: Courtesy of mikolajn - Fotolia.com
- Martinique, Photo: Courtesy of kovalenkovpetr - Fotolia.com
- Nevis, Photo: Courtesy of Art Boardman - Fotolia.com
- Puerto Rico, Photo: Courtesy of solraknauj - Fotolia.com
- Best Caribbean Islands: St. Lucia, Photo: Courtesy of Raul Rosa - Fotolia.com
- St. Kitts, Photo: Courtesy of ATG images - Fotolia.com
- Caribbean family vacations: Turks and Caicos, Photo: Courtesy of travnikov studio - Fotolia.com
- U.S. Virgin Islands, Photo: Courtesy of BlueOrange Studio - Fotolia.com
- Best Caribbean Islands: Barbados, Photo: Courtesy of A.Jedynak - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of worachatsodsri - Fotolia.com
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