While the Caribbean may seem like it's light years away, many of the islands that make up this part of the world are just a few hours’ flying time away from much of the U.S.
Depending on where you live, you could catch an early flight and be relaxing on a tropical beach in the Caribbean by noon, and often with less travel stress (and money spent) than you think.
The broad range of lodging options, including all-inclusive and beachfront resorts, also make the Caribbean a hot destination for families with kids in tow. Still, some islands offer more amenities and safer surroundings for families than others. Here are the ten best.
Thanks to the plethora of all-inclusive options flanking the entire island of Jamaica, families flock to destinations like Ochos Rios, Negril, and Montego Bay in droves. Each of these beach towns offers stretches of white sand beach, turquoise waters perfect for swimming, and gracious Jamaican hosts.
Jamaica also offers some of the most affordable lodging options among the Caribbean islands. You can frequently book all-inclusive resorts such as the Holiday Inn Jamaica Resort or the Sunscape Splash Resort and Spa, both in Montego Bay, for less than $200 per night for a family of four.
Since Puerto Rico is a United States territory, families who visit don’t have to bother with the expense or hassle of getting passports. There are also myriad cultural activities to explore along with the natural wonders the island offers. For example, you could visit the famous El Yunque rainforest or check out Old San Juan to see its Spanish Colonial architecture and historic fortresses.
Puerto Rico is also surrounded by gorgeous tropical beaches, the most beautiful of which are near the eastern village of Fajardo.
While travel to Anguilla usually requires a flight into St. Maarten and an extra ferry ride, the additional steps you’ll take to get there are worth it. This island paradise is home to the most beautiful beaches in the entire Caribbean, including world famous Rendezvous Bay and Shoal Bay East.
The island is insanely safe but also small, meaning you can rent a small car and drive the kids all over without worrying about crime or getting lost. While hotels in Anguilla are on the higher side (starting at around $300 per night during off-peak summer months), the scenery and relaxation this island offers is well worth it.
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos is yet another island perfect for families due to its crowning glory — Grace Bay Beach. This three-mile stretch of sand is some of the whitest and softest in the Caribbean while the waters that grace its shores are some of the clearest.
Due to the lack of waves and the clarity of the water here, there are few beaches in the world better for family swims and beach fun. Resorts aren’t cheap, but there are plenty of rental condos to consider on Grace Bay as well.
While Aruba is known for its high-rise hotels, nightlife, and casinos, this Dutch island has so much to offer families. The pristine shores along Eagle Beach and Palm Beach are dotted with a wide range of family-friendly hotels and resorts with many all-inclusive options available.
The water is so clear it’s easy to snorkel from the shore, and you can book nature tours as well as scuba diving or sunset cruises galore. Aruba offers plenty of fun for the kids, but the island is so spectacular the adults will love it, too.
The entire island of Grand Cayman is stunning, but the stretch of waterfront known as Seven Mile Beach takes the cake. This white sand paradise features barely-lapping waters perfect for swimming, floating, or snorkeling with local sea turtles or tropical fish. Plenty of hotels and resorts line the coast, and the dining options are superb, albeit pricey.
Grand Cayman is another island that’s so safe you can go anywhere without a care in the world. Pack up the kids to see the collection of rocks lovingly known as Hell or embark on a snorkeling journey to Stingray City — a sandbar where giant stingrays become your friends.
While Antigua has become a hotspot for wealthy and well-connected travelers, this tropical paradise offers a surprising number of all-inclusive resorts and affordable family hotels. Jolly Beach Resort & Spa, which sits along gorgeous Lignum Vitae Bay, offers all-inclusive family fun for as little as $384 per night, yet there are plenty of other non-all-inclusive resorts and condos you can book for significantly less.
The clear waters of Antigua and the general safety of the island make this destination one you won’t want to miss.
Curacao is another Dutch island that is especially ideal for families with kids. Not only will you find gorgeous beaches similar to those in Aruba, but you’ll find amazing coral reefs and a bustling scuba and snorkeling trade.
Curacao’s capital city of Willemstad is also brimming with Dutch culture and a European vibe. You can see pastel-colored colonial architecture and try Dutch snack classics such as Bitterballen (Dutch meatballs) and Oliebollen (Dutch doughnuts) with your children and feel like you’re showing them more than one part of the world.
While Barbados is one of the farthest islands from the U.S. and well known as a popular spot for British travelers, this Garden of Eden for beach-lovers is perfect for families, too. The island’s Platinum Coast features some of the most beautiful beaches and turquoise waters in all the Caribbean, and the snorkeling is superb thanks to the plethora of sea life that call the local waters home.
Barbados isn’t overly expensive, but it’s certainly not the most affordable Caribbean island for families. Still, the beaches and quiet vibe make the extra flight time and costs worth it.
The Dominican Republic
Finally, don’t forget about the Dominican Republic — a non-island that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. This popular beach destination offers too many all-inclusive resorts to count in destinations like Punta Cana and La Romana, each more affordable than the last.
You can easily book an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic for less than $200 per night for a family of four outside the holidays. Fortunately, this lush green paradise offers the same beautiful beaches and welcoming hospitality as the rest on this list.