The Best Caribbean Islands For Families
Sun bathing, wave jumping, sand castle building, tasty tropical drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic!). All of these come to mind when thinking about the crystal clear, turquoise waters of the Caribbean. And what better way to spend your next family vacation than at one of these best thirteen Caribbean Islands for families?
From the Bahamas sitting not far off of the tip of Florida in North America to Aruba and Curacao siting just above South America, there are plenty of options for those looking for the best Caribbean islands for families. From all-inclusive resorts to water sports, to authentic Caribbean food, to culture, history, white sand, turquoise waters, palm trees, crashing waves, sunbathing, and ocean life, a family trip to one these destinations will give you countless laughs, new experiences, fun, and memories! Looking for something to make your experience even more special? Why not look into the opportunity to rent a private jet with Jettly and eliminate the hassle of dragging the kids through the airport?
13 Best Caribbean Islands for Families
Recommended by Shelley of Travel To Merida
There are a few Mexico cruise ports in the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula — one in Puerto Progreso near Merida, Mexico, one in Costa Maya near Mahahual, and the most popular of the three, located in Cozumel Island.
Cozumel, Mexico, is not only a beautiful Caribbean island destination, but it’s a fun place for families with kids of all ages. There are land, beach and underwater activities for every kind of traveler, and even unique sites like Mayan Ruins.
Cozumel Island is well known as one of the best places to go snorkeling in Mexico. Located just off the coast of Cozumel, you have the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is the second largest reef after the Great Barrier Reef.
Younger kids (and non-swimmers of all ages) will enjoy the Submarine Tour, which is an actual tour of the reef in a submarine. For those who do want to get out into the water, there are tour boats leaving regularly right from the same dock you arrive at, which will take you to the best reefs in Cozumel — Palancar, El Cielo and Colombia.
There are also numerous Cozumel beach clubs with everything from banana boat rides and slides to cultural shows with traditional dancing. Some of the best beach clubs in Cozumel include Nachi Cocom Water Park, The Money Bar and Playa Palancar Beach Club. At all of them, you can enjoy yummy Mexican tacos, nachos and guacamole beach-side.
To see a unique site of the island, some kids will appreciate the Zona Arqueológica San Gervasio (San Gervasio Mayan Ruins). These ruins are located deep in the jungle, and may appeal to older kids. To visit, you can catch a taxi right when you get off the cruise ship.
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The Dominican Republic is one of the best Caribbean islands for families as there is something for every kind of family: plenty of outdoor activities for adventurers, beautiful all-inclusive resorts for those wanting to relax and a lot of secret places to explore for those preferring an exciting road-trip.
The Dominican Republic is particularly famous for its all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana. If you just want to relax and enjoy the beach, those large hotel properties are perfect for your kids, especially if you choose one of those family-friendly all-inclusive resorts with water parks in Punta Cana such as Royalton Punta Cana or Grand Sirenis.
However, there is so much more you can explore in the Dominican Republic, which makes it perfect for a road trip. Especially as the distances between different regions are not that far, the country is ideal for families who want to explore their holiday destination properly. Plenty of fruit plantations, multiple family activities, various wildlife watching opportunities and spectacular nature is awaiting adults and kids when heading on a road trip through the Dominican Republic.
Last but not least the Dominican Republic is also one of the best Caribbean countries when it comes to adventures, especially for teens and older kids. Unforgettable canyoning tours, unique waterfall hikes, perfect surfing conditions or natural rivers to play and explore are just some of the experiences the Dominican Republic has to offer. A vast network of flight connections from all over the world is another big advantage of the Dominican Republic. With direct flights from North, Central and South America as well as Europe, you are never more than 2 flights away from your Caribbean vacation. Long layovers or multi-stop flights are usually not necessary when flying to the Dominican Republic.
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While this small, flat island in the Eastern Caribbean is famous for its 33 beaches and offshore cays, it also happens to be a great island to visit for families with kids. Its calm, sheltered bays offer some of the gentlest waters in the Caribbean so it’s perfect for toddlers and those just learning to swim. The best beaches for families with children include Shoal Bay East, Rendezvous Bay and Meads Bay — so they’re great neighborhoods to use as a home base.
Top things to do in Anguilla include snorkeling among coral gardens teeming with tropical fish, exploring local museums and historic Amerindian petroglyphs on the island’s Heritage Trail and windsurfing at Maundays Bay Beach. Taking a day trip to play castaway on one of the offshore cays such as Sandy Island, Scilly Cay or Prickly Pear Cay is also a popular activity among all ages.
Anguilla also happens to have a reputation as being a culinary capital of the Caribbean and just because you’re travelling en famille doesn’t mean you need to miss out on the island’s gastronomic pleasures. Families with kids are welcome at many, such as Straw Hat, local eateries such as Tasty’s and Blanchard’s Beach Shack, the toes-in-the-sand counterpart to Blanchard’s Restaurant, the renowned fine-dining hot spot. Even beach bars such as the Dune Preserve, owned by reggae star Bankie Banx, are fun places to take kids in the afternoon.
Antigua and Barbuda
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You may be surprised to see Antigua and Barbuda among the best Caribbean islands for families. In fact, this pretty island of the lesser Antilles is mainly renowned as one of the most romantic islands, especially suitable for honeymooners and any romantic getaways.
However, I guarantee you that besides those top-class adult-only resorts, there are many amazing ones that are more suitable for families. If you are looking for relatively budget-friendly places, Jolly Beach and Verandah hotels are the best places for families with a lot of entertainment for the little ones and amazing beaches. If you are ready to splurge, instead, Jumby Bay and Curtain Bluff are among the most amazing Antigua all-inclusive resorts that cater to families, offering top-notch personalized service, world-class food, and spacious luxury accommodations.
There are also 356 other reasons why Antigua is a great place for a family vacation, as it’s considered the island of the 356 beaches. Ok, maybe not all of them are swimmable, but all the ones on the Caribbean side have soft white sand and easy access to the turquoise sea.
Among the many activities, you can enjoy in Antigua most of them are great for kids as well, including a jeep safari around the island and some of the boat trips, depending on the kids’ age. However, I believe one of the best ways to explore the island is by renting a car and drive around in search of the best beaches and awesome spots, visit the historical Nelson Dockyard in English Harbor and check out one of the local restaurants and beaches in the surroundings, take a walk around the capital city of St John’s, visit its cathedral, the small museum of history and shop in the colorful Heritage Quay shopping center by the harbor. You and your family will love Antigua and it will be hard to leave.
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Roatan, Honduras is a great option for one of the best Caribbean Islands for families. With direct flights from many North American cities to the international airport in Coxen Hole, Roatan’s beautiful coral reefs and lush tropical jungles are only a short flight away for many families. I always recommend that families stay in West End, Roatan, which is a quaint town developed around the serene Half Moon Bay. Here, children can play on the clean, quiet beach and swim in the protected natural bay without worrying about a current. There are a range of accommodation options on the streets around Half Moon Bay, including beachfront hotels, family-run inns and spacious apartment rentals with kitchens for self-catering.
When your family isn’t busy splashing, swimming and snorkeling in Half Moon Bay, West End offers the most convenient access to the rest of the island’s attractions. It’s just a quick “water taxi” boat ride down the shore to West End Beach, which offers world-class snorkeling, and to Gumbalina Park, which has shallow pools for kids, ziplines and a small family of exotic animals. In the other direction, Anthony’s Key Resort has dolphin encounter programs with the wild dolphins that live just off the resort’s beach (they are not captive and are free to come or go as they please!) and Little French Key delivers on the private island experience with kayaks, rope swings and guided snorkeling tours in their protected waters. Because English is the primary language on the island, and because Roatan is an up-and-coming cruise port, staff at all of these family-friendly attractions are great with kids and parents from around the world.
Providenciales (Turks and Caicos)
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One of the best Caribbean islands for families is Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. The island has fun activities and beautiful beaches. Turks and Caicos is a British Overseas Territory and is made up of over 100 islands and cays, nine of which are inhabited. The majority of the population of Turks and Caicos lives on the island of Providenciales.
Fun fact: TripAdvisor named Grace Bay Beach as the World’s Best Beach In 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards. Two other great beaches, especially for kids, are Taylor Bay Beach and Sapodilla Bay Beach because they are shallow and calmer than some other beaches on the island. Besides swimming, if your family enjoys water sports, Providenciales is perfect! You can go sailing, kiteboarding, diving, and even wakeboarding! Horseback riding along the beach is another popular activity.
As a home base, the area of Grace Bay offers great accommodation and some of the best restaurants in Providenciales. If the kiddos love pizza, take them over to Pizza Pizza. They use fresh ingredients and hand-made dough.
To get to Providenciales, you have to fly into the Providenciales International Airport (PLS). It is the only airport in the Turks and Caicos that has international flights. From the airport, it’s a quick drive to most towns on the island.
Ocho Rios (Jamaica)
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When looking for the best Caribbean Islands for families you may be undecided on exactly which one to visit, but with Jamaica on the list, you should not have any troubles deciding. When you are traveling with kids it can be overwhelming since there are so many activities scattered around the island. Many of the all-inclusive hotels such as ‘Beaches Ocho Rios’ have elaborate waterparks, kiddie pools, and even kids clubs.
But when looking for things to do in Ocho Rios when you want to get outside the hotel, where do you go? There is Dolphin Cove which is one of the popular things to do with kids as it caters to every age group. So if you are traveling with toddlers there is something for them too. With the help of an adult, younger children and even non-swimmers can pet or kiss the dolphins with the added supervision from the workers.
Dunn’s river falls is another magical place for the whole family to enjoy and is the perfect adventure for kids who are 6 years old and upwards. At Dunn’s river falls the whole family can hike up through the pools and rocks of the 180 ft waterfall as the water rushes down to meet the ocean. All in all, whilst in Jamaica you’ll find plenty to do with kids and Ocho Rios make a great option for kids of all ages.
San Blas Islands
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Clear, transparent waters, pristine beaches, hurricane-free weather, unique opportunities for exploration and proximity to Central America make the San Blas Islands a must-visit destination in the Caribbean.
The San Blas Islands is an archipelago of more than 300 islands of various sizes in the Caribbean coast of Panama, scattered in an area of around 100 miles. They are easily accessible from Panama City and are most often visited as a day trip from the city.
They are great for families for the opportunity they offer to explore many islands and feel like a real pirate, which can be fun for kids. Once you are there, you can hop from island to island and get to know each different island, paddle-board, eat recently-captured seafood and visit the amazing natural pools where starfish live. Getting to see starfish in their natural habitat, laying on the seafloor through the transparent water is an amazing experience. Some people charter a boat through an agency and do the exploring of the virgin beaches themselves.
There are several ways to get to the islands (by plane, a 4×4 vehicle and a water taxi, or in your own sailboat) but the preferred way by Panama City locals is by 4×4 vehicle and a water taxi, which you book through a tour agency in the city. The terrain to get to the dock where you take the water taxi to the islands only permits 4×4 vehicles, so Panama City locals who don’t own a 4×4 vehicles almost always just book a day trip through a tour agency in the city. The tour agencies in the city handle everything including the transportation to the islands, and the accommodation if you choose to sleep on the islands.
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Bermuda is a tiny island located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It has an airport so the most common way to reach it is by plane although there are also many cruise ship companies that bring tourists here. Bermuda is small but there are still plenty of things to see and do. Of course, the beaches are the star of the show here and there are tons to choose from. Horseshoe Bay might be the most famous with its crystal clear waters and pinkish sand.
Bermuda is also great for easy hiking trails and there are even some caves to explore. Once you’ve had enough of outdoor activities you should head to the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. This is an interactive museum which is especially popular amongst kids. They can learn all about Bermuda’s incredible underwater world and the many shipwrecks that lie in the area.
If your budget allows you can go on a guided snorkeling tour that will take you around Bermuda to visit snorkeling locations and submerged shipwrecks. You can also hire a private boat which gives you ultimate freedom to explore and relax. The ocean around Bermuda is usually quite calm but wearing life jackets is still recommended.
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There are simply so many things to do in Nassau in the Bahamas, from relaxing on a pristine beach to filling every second of the day with activities. As the main island in the Bahamas, it’s easily reached from nearby Miami (and therefore Europe) and airport transfers can take only a few minutes.
The Baha Mar hotel complex resembles a village in its own right. As well as restaurants, bars and casinos for the grown ups, its kids club is a stand out feature. Children can study marine life, play in the pools designed for children or grab a treat from a mobile ice cream cart. The art gallery offers talks and events and flamingoes walk around daily, another highlight for kids.
Away from the big resorts, Nassau encourages visitors to dine with locals in their homes or buy handmade prints and baskets made right on the island.
As with many Caribbean islands, Nassau has a strong pirate history and you’ll see plenty of pirates between the craft beer breweries, plantation homes and rum distilleries.
Don’t leave before you’ve tried the local delicacy: conch. Whether served with pineapple as a conch salad or as crispy fritters with a Marie Rose sauce, it’s one sure way to know that you have, in fact, arrived in the Bahamas.
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There are so many great Caribbean islands for families and Barbados is one of them. A family vacation to Barbados is perfect because it’s a laid-back and quiet island. Not only are the beaches gorgeous, but the water is also calmer than other parts of the Caribbean which makes it safe to swim and enjoy water sports. Moreover, Barbados is brimming with family-oriented accommodation options.
Two of the best family-friendly hotels on the island are The Crane and Hilton Barbados Resort. Both hotels offer luxurious apartment-style rooms that are big enough for the family. Both properties have beaches so guests don’t have to worry about driving or catching public transportation with kids.
The Crane has several swimming pools including an area just for kids. They also have a complimentary kids club. Further, The Crane also has one of the best beaches in Barbados on their property for guests to freely use — Crane Beach, which has powdery white sand and turquoise water.
Hilton Barbados Resort is situated on Charles Fort — a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They have direct access to two beaches and they offer free watersports and a beautiful outdoor pool area. They also have a kids club so parents can enjoy some alone time for a bit.
The best way to get to Barbados is via flight. The island is easily accessible from several parts of the world. Families can fly directly into Grantley Adams International Airport depending on where they’re coming from.
Some family-friendly things to do in Barbados include doing a submarine tour, hanging out at the beach, visiting Harrison’s Cave to admire the stalactites and stalagmites, swimming and snorkeling with sea turtles, and getting up close with the island’s wildlife at Barbados Wildlife Reserve.
The best family-friendly restaurants in Barbados are Animal Flower Cave, Champers, Cafe Luna, and Surfers Cafe.
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One of the best Caribbean Islands for families is Aruba. Just a short flight from the United States, Aruba is known as “One Happy Island” and is filled with everything you need for an awesome holiday. This makes planning a trip to Aruba a no-brainer!
You’ll find plenty of places to stay around Aruba, including villas to rent and of course hotels, but if you’re in search of a luxury family vacation, check out the numerous all-inclusive resorts along Eagle and Palm Beach. Many of these offer kids clubs, swimming pools specifically for kids, and non-motorized water sports to keep the whole family active and having fun. Not to mention you’ll have loads of food options available at your fingertips!
No matter where you stay, you’ll want to get out and explore the natural wonders around the island. After all, Aruba is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Eagle Beach. This stunning beach offers minimal currents and shallow water making it safe to swim just off shore, perfect for kids! You’ll also want to head inland to the Casibari and Ayo Rock Formations for a natural playground, Arikok National Park for some adventure and exploration, and Hooiberg Mountain to climb the 587 steps to the tallest lookout point in Aruba.
If you’re still not sold on Aruba, there are a few additional perks. For one, Aruba sits outside of the hurricane belt, making it great for year-round travel. It is also a slightly wealthier island than many in the Caribbean. You’ll sense this in that the locals live a higher quality of life and there are less criminal incidents and tourist scams to be found. All this combined helps ensure your family has a memorable vacation together!
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Cuba is by far the biggest Caribbean island with 111.000 square kilometers and almost 11 million inhabitants. Its specific political situation makes it endemic comparing to others, in a good way. The country is safe for tourists and locals are friendly especially to kids. It has all the advantages of other islands, like beautiful beaches with turquoise water, white sands, palm tree shadows (Maria La Gorda, Playa Ancon, Varadero Beach, …), tasty food for an affordable price – lobster for 5 $ (lots of seafood and tropical fruits). But it has many options that smaller islands lack.
Besides water activities, kids can have fun riding horses, exploring caves like Cueva del Indio, visiting two Zoo’s in Havana, admire Viñales Mural de la Prehistoria, zipline in Canopy Tour El Fortin, or a ride in an oldtimer car from the ’60s. The main spot not to be missed is the capital Havana. Here you can enjoy old colonial architecture like one found on Plaza de la Catedral or on Morro castle guarding the city’s port. Also in the capital, there are many museums that kids would enjoy wandering around. But the Museo del Chocolate is probably something all kids would enjoy visiting to indulge their chocolate craving. While wandering around you will also find many street performers, mostly during weekends. So visiting this island will leave your kids with memories that will last a lifetime.
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All of these locations look like dreams! I’ve only been to Roatan, Honduras and loved it! I enjoyed snorkeling so much as well. Based on this list, the Bahamas and Cozumel are next on my bucket list!
The Caribbean was a frequent family escape for us when the cold Toronto winters set in. You have covered some of our favourite island escapes. Our kids loved the water activities that the resorts offered. Love when there are things to do off the resort like Dolphin Cove in Jamaica or caves in Bermuda.
Wow how amazing info! Very nice to read. I love your blog!
Thank you for this article. You gave me so much inspiration. I would use it even as a solo traveller, and I will definitely come back to it once I have a family :). Thanks for such detailed information.
This is so helpful, we’ve been considering a big family trip with my neice and were considering Barbados or Aruba. Leaning towards Aruba now, knowing there is a bit more flexibility on when we book for and can avoid hurricaines.
This is a list that really makes me dreaming. I’ve been to some of those islands and can just agree that they are perfect for families. Also, I appreciate that you’ve included some not so famous isles like for instance Roatan. I’ve spent a couple of months there and it’s really a beautiful place.