These kid-friendly islands offer more for families looking to please both young and old
Most children are happy to be taken anywhere that’s not school or daycare, and a trip to the Caribbean certainly fits the bill. Most destinations in the region have at least one resort with an enjoyable children’s program, but some islands have more to offer the younger generation in the way of activities and are flush with resorts that go the extra mile to cater to kids.
The island is relatively small, so there are no long rides to and from resorts and attractions. The resorts themselves are well-run and all areas of the island are safe to wander. Most days, the ocean at Seven Mile Beach is like bathwater, perfect for little swimmers and snorkeling is close to shore. Farther afield, the trip to Stingray City to pet the rays is an instant lifetime memory for most people, and the boat ride out crosses calm water. The island’s one drawback is that it’s pricey compared to some other destinations. But there are workarounds, as some resorts including a few on Seven Mile Beach have begun offering all-inclusive packages. There are also hundreds of vacation villas for rent; these have full kitchens, and supermarkets are nearby so families can cook to keep costs down.
Jamaica didn’t invent the all-inclusive, but you could argue it was perfected here. Meals, activities and entertainment are right there and well-suited to schedules that may need to adapt based on the whims and needs of the little ones. In addition to providing favorable package prices for family vacations, Jamaica has a nearly limitless supply of attractions and activities: Dunn’s River Falls, rafting on the Rio Grande or Martha Brae rivers, Fern Gully, zip lining, bicycling, fishing, snorkeling, sailing, diving, golf, tennis, spas … it’s all here. For families, the north coast—Montego Bay and Ocho Rios—has the most options, including several all- inclusive properties that take youth programs to the next level, with everything from costumed characters to entertain the little ones to teen-centric lounges and dance clubs. Parents aren’t forgotten either and have the ability to create that ideal mix of family and couples time.
Aruba isn’t what many envision as a tropical paradise. There are no waterfalls or lush green mountains, and instead the landscape is dry, hilly and peppered with cacti. But it, too, holds plenty of attractions for families, chief among them are the warm welcomes guests receive and the accommodating nature of the local people. The fabulous beaches rank high as the island’s main attraction. Aruba also has its share of all-inclusives with very active and complete kids’ programs, so no one is going to get bored here. If you can tear yourselves away from the beaches go north and west into the outback to ride an ATV or a horse, rent some mountain bikes, swim in the natural pool, explore the old gold mine and climb the dunes and boulders near the California lighthouse.