11 Caribbean vacations the whole family will enjoy
Caribbean vacations can be anything you want them to be. To some, that could mean together time spent lounging on a blissful tropical beach. To others, it could be a more active vacation with scuba diving lessons, rainforest excursions and visits to ancient ruins.
In a place as diverse as the Caribbean, there’s a perfect vacation for every taste and budget. Here are the tropical destinations that practically guarantee a great vacation for everyone in the family:
► Closer to home: The best East Coast vacations for any time of year
British Virgin Islands
For current entry requirements, visit: https://www.bvitourism.com/reopening
Sailors love the British Virgin Islands for the ease of “line-of-sight” sailing (read: you can navigate visually because everything is within eyesight). Whether you choose to go the bareboat route or charter a catamaran with a captain from a company like the Moorings for the ultimate island-hopping itinerary, the British Virgin Islands make for idyllic Caribbean vacations.
For beach lovers, spots like White Bay Beach on Jost Van Dyke and Tortola’s Cane Garden Bay are the stuff of screen saver fantasies. Your family will feel like Robinson Crusoe’s gang traipsing around the giant boulders lining the sand at the Baths on Virgin Gorda. And there are snorkeling reefs everywhere, lined with swaying sea fans and teeming with tropical fish.
► USA TODAY Travel newsletter: Get the latest headlines in your inbox daily
For current entry requirements: https://www.visitjamaica.com/travelauthorization/
With its fascinating culture, music and all-around laidback vibe, Jamaica makes for great Caribbean vacations. Accommodation options on the island run the gamut from all-encompassing Jamaican all-inclusive resorts that target families to boutique beachfront escapes that come with your own private nanny.
► Caribbean bucket list: 11 Caribbean family resorts everyone should visit
The third-largest island in the Caribbean, this lush land laden with tropical fruit and full of spices (hello, jerk chicken!) is packed with adventure too. Family vacation activities range from forays into the Blue Mountains and zip line adventures to riding a bamboo raft down the Martha Brae River and visiting famous waterfalls like Dunn’s River Falls (or lesser-known spots like YS Falls).
For the best beach on the island, make your way west from Montego Bay to Negril’s Seven Mile Beach, lapped by turquoise water and lined with restaurants, bars and hotels.
► Visiting the Caribbean or Europe soon? CDC warns travelers to avoid destinations with ‘very high’ COVID-19 levels
The mix of Latin culture, mind-blowing natural attractions and Old San Juan’s historic streets – not to mention no passport required for U.S. citizens – makes Puerto Rico an exceptional spot for Caribbean vacations with the family.
► No passport required: The Best Puerto Rico all-inclusive resorts for families
When you’re not lounging on the beaches of Isla Verde or Culebra or taking surf lessons in Rincon, you can go kayaking in a bioluminescent bay on Vieques, snorkel among sea turtles on colorful coral reefs, or soak up the sound of salsa music while trying Puerto Rican specialties like mofongo on the streets of the lively capital city, San Juan.
For current entry requirements, visit: https://www.puregrenada.com/travel-advisory/
You’re thinking outside of the Caribbean beach resort box when you plan a vacation in Grenada and you’ll be rewarded with a friendly island where mass tourism is still in its infancy and the beaches are as golden and welcoming as they come.
Dubbed the Spice Isle for the nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and other goodies that grow here, Grenada is a chilled-out Caribbean vacation spot where nature rules and you can spend your days tubing along the Balthazar River, hiking along the crater of an extinct volcano at Grand Etang National Park, or dipping in the Seven Sisters Falls.
► Room to spare: The best all-inclusive resorts for families of 5+
For a swim in the sea, there’s no beating a day at Grand Anse Beach, lined with coconut palms and tropical flowers and located to the south of the island’s pretty capital, St. George’s.
Antigua and Barbuda
For current entry requirements, visit: https://visitantiguabarbuda.com/travel-advisory/
A beach for every day of the year. That’s right, the islands of Antigua and Barbuda bring 365 beaches to the table for your Caribbean vacations. And if a fun time together sounds like trying a new beach every day, then this east Caribbean paradise might be the place for you. Don’t miss Half Moon Bay, arguably the prettiest of the many beaches, then take a road trip around and see what you can discover on your own. In this Caribbean destination, all roads lead to a beautiful beach.
► Beach time: The best all-inclusive beach resorts in the world
You can add a good dose of history to a Caribbean beach vacation in Antigua, too, with a visit to English Harbour, the only Georgian harbor in the world still in operation.
For current entry requirements, visit: https://www.godominicanrepublic.com/newsroom/coronavirus/
From the beautiful beaches of Punta Cana and the elegant golf courses of La Romana to vibrant Santo Domingo and quiet kite surfing towns like Cabarete, the Dominican Republic offers many of the best Caribbean vacations for parents and kids.
Families in search of adventure will find it here, too, in the form of mountain biking trails in the highlands and canyoning or white water rafting on roaring rivers like the Rio Yaque in Jarabacoa.
For current entry requirements, visit: https://www.bonairecrisis.com/en/travel-to-bonaire/
If your family likes to scuba dive and snorkel – and wants to spend a whole Caribbean vacation doing it – Bonaire is by far the favorite island destination for blowing bubbles underwater. Known as the shore-diving capital of the world, this island in the Dutch Antilles even has drive-through stations where you can refill air tanks, not to mention unlimited shore diving from many of its resorts.
► No kids allowed: The best adults-only all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean
Just don’t come to Bonaire seeking palm trees. Below the hurricane belt, this Caribbean vacation spot is an arid island full of cacti, not rainforests.
Turks and Caicos
For current entry requirements, visit: https://www.visittci.com/travel-info/turks-and-caicos-coronavirus-covid-19
The beaches of your dreams await in spots like Grace Bay on the island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos. You know the scene: blindingly white sand that parfaits into a sea of turquoise, then sapphire so bright you’ll think you’re looking at it through polarized sunglasses even if your eyes are bare.
► Beach bliss: The most beautiful Caribbean beaches (and where to stay)
If all you really want to do on a Caribbean beach vacation is lounge on a picture-perfect strip of sand, dip into the water from time to time and retire to your resort for a sunset meal of spectacular local seafood, you won’t go wrong in the dreamy isles of the Turks and Caicos.
Along Mexico’s Caribbean coast, Cancun is the undisputed queen when it comes to offering the most options for beautiful family beach resorts. There’s truly a resort for every type of family traveler here, whether all you care about is having a cabana on the sand or you want to feel like you’re actually in Mexico (and not Miami) during your stay.
► Mexico vacations: The best all-inclusive Mexico resorts for families
Even if you don’t rent a car for your whole vacation in Cancun (most resorts make it easy to never leave the property), it’s worth doing so for at least a day to check out the cenotes (freshwater swimming holes) south toward Tulum. For another fun day trip, hop the Ultramar ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, just offshore, where you can rent a golf cart to explore the island’s palm-lined beaches and sandy backroads.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Another favorite in Mexico’s Quintana Roo state along the country’s Caribbean coast, Playa del Carmen has a more mellow vibe than Cancun, yet beaches that are just as beautiful. You’re closer to the Yucatan’s famous cenotes here, too, when you’re ready to switch things up from the salty Caribbean Sea for a splash in some freshwater.
While the beaches in town can be crowded, it’s a short drive south to spots like Xpu-ha on the way to Akumal, which have more of a virgin appeal. And as things cool off later in the day, Mexican and tourist families alike love to stroll Playa del Carmen’s main pedestrian drag, Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), lined with cafes, bars and shops.
More from FamilyVacationist: