A Caribbean vacation conjures up images of coconut trees, sun-worshippers tanning at the beach, spring breakers having the time of their young lives while posting Instagrammable worthy beach photos, and divers exploring the coral reefs. But the Caribbean is not only for divers or the young and the single. It's also a fantastic place for a family vacation. And although the beach with its crystal clear and warm waters is a given to any Caribbean destination, the 26 countries that make up the Caribbean islands present a wide range of choices for families. From untouched, lush green tropical forests, pirates, Mayan temples, and rich histories to shopping and amusement parks, there is a country in the Caribbean that is perfect for the entire family.
Aruba is easily a family favorite in the Caribbean. Families can enjoy its white sandy beaches with a boat trip to De Palm Island and delight in the Chilean flamingos as they walk on the shoreline. For the explorers in the family, board a submarine and get to know the Arashi coral reef up close. Finally, take in nature at Queen Wilhelmina Park and visit the sunbathing green and brown iguanas.
World-famous singer Rihanna made her home country Barbados even more famous than it already is. First, bring the entire family to Carlisle beach, and see the sea turtles up close. Then, for the more adventurous family members, take them to explore Harrison's Cave with its impressive stalagmites and stalactites.
Belize was once the center of the Mayan civilization. Take everybody to visit any of the Mayan ruins scattered all over Belize — Xunantunich, Altun Ha, Caracol, to name a few. Hike through Don Elijo National Park or bring the younger members to the Belize Zoo. For those who love diving, the Great Blue Hole is a dive to experience.
Dubbed as the world's best shore diving destination, Bonaire's pristine beauty, shopping district, and laid-back vibe have plenty to offer for families. Visit the Donkey Sanctuary or get a glimpse of the pink flamingos at the Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary. For a shopping experience, take a stroll along historic downtown Kralendijk.
The BVI’s capital, Tortola, is the sailing capital of the Caribbean, and there is no better way for the entire family to experience the BVI than through island hopping on board a chartered catamaran. Explore and enjoy the scenic coastlines of Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, and Norman Island.
When in Cuba, take everybody on a walk through time, exploring the colorful and charming facade of Old Havana. While you're there, take a ride in a Coco taxi or a vintage car. For nature lovers, take them to the Jardines de la Reina, a natural park teeming with local wildlife. If you're lucky, you can spot the Toconoco, Cuba's national bird.
Curacao is a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands famous for its sun-soaked beaches and orange liquor. First, treat the family to the Curacao Sea Aquarium to visit the dolphins. Then, wind down with a stroll along the Handelskade — the iconic multicolor buildings dotting the pier — and dine alfresco while watching the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge open to allow boats to pass through.
The largest among the three Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman is a favorite destination for families. Indulge the entire family on a rum cake tour and taste the world-famous Tortuga rum cakes. Or go up close and personal with the majestic yet gentle stingrays of Stingray Island. Finally, end the day with a relaxing stroll in Georgetown and shop for local and global products.
Grenada is the Caribbean's Spice Island, and foodies in the family will appreciate a stroll in a local market in St. George to taste its world-famous nutmeg and other spices. A visit to the House of Chocolate in St. George is a must. The Grand Etang National Park, Fort George, and the underwater sculptures are also places to go.
Jamaica, with its laid-back Caribbean vibe, is an excellent choice for a family vacation. Take everybody to the Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios for a close encounter with the friendly dolphins. For the more adventurous, climb Dunn's River Falls or go crocodile hunting in the Black River. Coffee lovers should try the country's Blue Mountain Coffee.
Its rich history, almost perfect sunny weather, lively attractions, and warm people make Puerto Rico an easy choice for a Caribbean family getaway. A stroll through the 500-year-old Old San Juan is an excellent place to start your family's Puerto Rican holiday. Next, explore the El Yunque Rainforest and enjoy the 240 types of trees, the many waterfalls, and a potential glimpse of the coquì frog. At night, visit the Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay at South Vasques and watch the water light up.
With its lush forests teeming with wildlife, Saint Lucia is a simple choice for families looking to connect with nature. Start your vacation with a trip to Pigeon Island National Park, where you can kayak, swim or explore the 300-year-old fort ruins. You can also take an easy, relaxing hike in Saint Lucia's vibrant rainforest with an experienced guide. The famous and majestic Jade Mountain is a must-see either on a day trip or by staying in one of the luxurious hotels nearby.
In the northeastern Caribbean sea lies St. Maarten-St. Martin, an island with a unique mix of three distinct cultures: French, Dutch, and Caribbean. First, take the family to the Flying Dutchman for an adrenaline-pumping adventure on the world's steepest zipline. Then, relax and enjoy a shopping experience on Old Street or at the Boardwalk. Or, have fun with the entire family at the sun-warmed, tropical Maho beach and watch the airplanes fly low.
A real stronghold in the 1600 and frequented by Blackbeard, Captain Kid, and Sam Bellamy, St. Thomas is a must for pirate enthusiasts. First, visit the Pirate Treasure Museum for a rare glimpse of the pirates' lives and follow it with a visit to Fort Christian. Next, pump up the adrenaline by going on a zipline adventure at the Tree Limin' Extreme Zipline. Finally, soak up the breathtaking view of Charlotte Amalie Harbor via an aerial tramway ride to Paradise Point.
Known as the Sugar City, St. Kitts is the smallest of the Caribbean Islands, but there is still much for a family to see and do here. First, take a scenic railway tour of the old sugarcane farms while passing through idyllic villages. Then, visit the UNESCO heritage site, Brimstone Hill Fortress, and National Park. Next, golf lovers can enjoy a few rounds at the world-famous Kitts & Nevis Golf Course while the children can head on the Dolphin Discovery for a friendly encounter with its inhabitants.