Puerto Rico Feature

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Kids and Family

Puerto Rico is a family-friendly isle, with no end of fun things for kids to see and do, including cave exploration, snorkeling with marine turtles, and going on nighttime excursions to bioluminescent lagoons. And many resort hotels arrange children's activities, freeing parents for romantic beach strolls and candlelit dinners.

Choosing a Place to Stay

Resort hotels make a point of catering to family needs. Most offer free rooms to children under 12 and can provide cribs. Here are a few questions to ask to gauge the level of family friendliness.

Are there discounted meals and activities? Do the restaurants have kids' menus? Are there children's programs, and is there an age range? A children's pool?

El Conquistador Resort, near Fajardo, has a long list of facilities for children, including the sensational Coqui Water Park. On the south coast the Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa has two children's pools plus kayaks, pedal boats, tennis, and heaps of other activities.

Condos and vacation rentals offer an inexpensive option, especially for larger families. They typically have multiple bedrooms and you can cook for yourselves. ESJ Towers, in Isla Verde, is right on the best beach in San Juan.

Things to Do

Vacationing in the Caribbean is all about the outdoors. Kids may even forget video games when they see the options: snorkeling, whale-watching, Boogie boarding, and cave exploring. And the list of great beaches is endless. The wave-action around Rincón can be too rough for youngsters, but Vieques and Culebra have the most fantastic, reef-protected sands good for snorkeling, and kids can go kayaking and fishing. Many beaches have riptides; always play safe and heed any posted warnings, such as red flags.

Parque Las Cavernas de Río Camuy. This huge cavern will leave kids wide-eyed. They'll have fun trying to discern imaginary figures in the surreal dripstone formations. Tiny coquí (frogs) hop around the cavern entrance, and children can spy for crabs and blind fish in the underground river. Bats flitting about overhead help keep kids enthralled. The tram ride to reach the caverns is icing on the cake.

Arecibo Lighthouse and Historical Park. Local families flock to this small theme park built around the Los Morrillos lighthouse. It has a museum on seafaring, including pirates. In winter, kids can spy for whales from the lighthouse observation platform. The playground has a pirate's cave and replica galleon, as well as a Taíno village.

Zoológico de Puerto Rico. This is a splendid zoo in Mayagüez, on the west coast. The highlight is an African wildlife park with elephants, giraffes, lions, and rhinos. There are also tigers, big apes, and camel rides.

Museo del Niño. While exploring San Juan, head to this small two-level museum in a colonial mansion opposite the cathedral. It's a great learning experience for younger children, with exhibits spanning from hurricanes to human biology, plus interactive displays including those in the NASA Space Place.

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