If you are searching for the ultimate in family Caribbean vacations, then take a trip with me through some of the spectacular and best Caribbean destinations for families. As you will probably know, the Caribbean is a vast area that includes many pretty island nations. There are Caribbean coastlines of Mexico and Costa Rica to consider too. Once you start exploring your options, it can all feel a little overwhelming.
In answer to your unspoken prayer, I am setting out below a definitive guide that I like to call the Caribbean with Kids. I will break down for you the various merits of each suggested destination, focusing on the ages of your precious ones – but not forgetting you too!
So, let’s get started …
Best Caribbean Vacation with Kids – Infants
21st Century travel has its fair share of tedium attached to it. Even if you hop onto a private jet and land at a small airport, there is still the upheaval involved in getting you and your party packed and moved from one location to another.
Throw a little baby (or two), under the age of 12 months into the mix and it can be a game changer. What defined the perfect vacation for you as a couple prior to the arrival of the stork is no longer entirely relevant.
Luxury? Yes. Privacy? Yes. Safety? Yes. All the key criteria still apply but with added requirements. A vacation is exactly what you need to counteract the many sleepless nights, navigating baby’s first months. But you also need some quality downtime to re-connect with your partner and top up those very depleted sleep banks.
Where to go?
With or Without Mary Poppins
If you are traveling with or without your nanny or au pair, then a luxurious villa with private pool, ideally with access to a magnificent beach, can be the best of all worlds. Barbados rings so many bells in this regard. You can establish a ‘home from home’ scenario that allows feeding and sleeping times to mirror your timetable from back home.
I’m a particular fan of the villas in Barbados that are attached to large resorts. You can dip in and out of the services that the resorts like Port St Charles Sapphire on the Beach provide. Over-looking one of the quietest beaches in Barbados, you can truly relax or enjoy a stroll to the nearby Speightstown.
With a designated Beach Butler to assist you, a morning or afternoon of sunbathing bliss awaits as you listen to the gentle waves break along the sandy shore of Heywood’s Beach.
Your accommodation offers space to unwind, with heavenly terrace views over the gardens. The entire development is set up in such a way that you will feel very exclusive and private enjoying the facilities of the Resort as well as easy access to the beach. Barbados is considered one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean.
The added advantage of having beach access means that you can easily return to your Villa to put baby down to sleep or tend to any changing needs without having to search out public facilities. By choosing a resort like Port St Charles or Barbados’s Royal Westmoreland Club, you will avoid some of the noisier and brasher destinations on the island that might not be as suitable now that you are a young family.
My second suggestion for young families, would be the Ritz Carlton on Grand Cayman. Specifically, this two bed-roomed suite with kitchen facilities, will allow you to enjoy all the amenities of home, necessary for caring for a small baby’s needs while offering you access to gorgeous lunches and glamorous dinners.
The Ritz Carlton is one of the many fantastic resorts in Grand Cayman.
Your dedicated concierge services will book your baby-sitting services so you can step away from parenthood for a special romantic evening.
Regardless, of where you position yourself for one of the best Caribbean islands for kids, Exceptional Villas’ unparalleled concierge service can arrange air-conditioned airport transfers, nanny and chef services.
In other words, adding all of those services that will iron out any and all of those little wrinkles that might get in the way of you having the very best of vacations.
Caribbean Vacation with kids aged 1 to 5 years
If you have one or more chicks in your brood, but they are still rather young, you will be looking for a vacation destination that offers support to you, as parents, while giving a safe space for your children to explore.
I call it the ‘shriek factor’ where you want your kids to be allowed to shout and shriek to their heart’s content without having pointed looks from other vacationers.
It’s that miraculous time in life, when little ones are at their least self-conscious so it is doubly important they have the space and privacy to express themselves freely.
Punta Cana Resort – Dominican Republic
With all this in mind, my favourite for you would be Punta Cana Resort in the Dominican Republic where a selection of spacious self-contained villas are dotted throughout a private, gated, 26 square-mile resort.
The spacious villa, Chez Moi, gives you a very good example of some of the beautiful properties within this development designed to ideally suit a family.
Large gardens, no sheer cliffs, an ability to close the doors that access the pool area. All of these features help create the best family vacation spots in the Caribbean for families with very small kids.
Gazing and Grazing
As well, the configuration of most of the villas will ensure your children’s bedrooms are very close to your own should you need to check in on them throughout the night. Self-catering, on a luxury scale, can be very helpful when you have children whose food choices and preferred times of eating are varied.
A kitchen pre-stocked by our brilliant concierge teams, stuffed with all your favorite snacks, will help the settling in process immeasurably.
With the ability to lock down the pool area and limit the movement of the kids around the estate, you can step into a more relaxing vacation. Again, Exceptional Villas’ concierge can talk you through all of the villa options around the Caribbean that work best for families with very young children.
Best Family Island Vacations: 6 to 12 Year Olds
I like to think of this as the sociability years. It’s when children love to make holiday friends. Easily chatting in the hotel pool, joining in without any shyness in the Kids’ Clubs, keen to get out and explore. This is when a gorgeous villa attached to a Resort works really well.
Making Friends at Port Ferdinand – Barbados
The kids clubs in Port Ferdinand, Barbados offers daily activities for your kids when they’re not enjoying hanging by the communal pool.
The added interest of the beautiful marina that surrounds the resort, creates an ever-changing backdrop to the modern yet luxurious interior of these stunning properties.
The Palms Resort – Turks and Caicos
Elsewhere, the qualified and charming staff at Turks and Caicos, The Palms Resort will encourage even the most reticent youngsters to participate in the games and adventures that they operate. You get a few hours to play some tennis, have a swim or spa treatment.
You may just luxuriate by one of the gorgeous pools or on your private terrace, reveling in the knowledge that while you are recharging your batteries, your tots are having their batteries run down!
Best Caribbean Vacation with Kids aged 13 – 16 Years
There isn’t a parent who doesn’t feel a sense of dismay when faced with this age catchment. Self-awareness and awkwardness can abound. Moods can be extreme. It’s really just that tricky age when your offspring feel far too mature for the kids’ clubs and are still too young to participate in more adult pursuits.
The key to surviving this phase, is having enough space in the property you rent that allows your moody beloved to wallow in privacy. Every now and then, you can lure the crab out of its shell with some incredible activities that will definitely crack that bored exterior.
The Bahamas – Banishing the ‘Boreds’
My favorite activity to shake a teenager out of his/her terminal ennui is a trip to the Bahamas and take a dip with those cute little pigs. A two-family vacation to the aptly named Runaway Villa on Staniel Cay has a sort of Robinson Crusoe vibe to it.
The freedom of having your own private beach and seemingly limitless space for outdoor activities, could be a game changer for those truculent teens. If you hire a boat and enjoy everything from island hopping, scuba diving, fishing, swimming with sharks, there’s a whole blue yonder just waiting to embrace you.
The Bahamas archipelago has long been considered one of the best Caribbean islands for families of all ages.
Best Family Vacation Spots with kids aged: 17 – 21 years
This is the tipping point for parents. You’ve spent the previous years protecting your babies from scraped knees and misadventures. For a brief minute, when they’re about 16, you can go ‘phew, job done’.
Except of course now you enter the new phase. The ‘floor pacing’ worrier as your teenager goes out into the world and experiences their first steps as a young adult and party goer.
The best Caribbean island for family vacations for teens would have to be Jamaica.
There are very specific safe and fun party scenes for older teenagers. They can get dressed up to go out and flirt without it all descending into some edgy mess. Who doesn’t recall those memorable holiday romances?
This is what your older teen wants to experience but within safe parameters. With you waiting at a nearby villa, you can allow your teens to have a mini-taster of what Spring Break might feel like but without the crazy excesses.
A Resort like Tryall Club in Montego Bay, Jamaica allows parents and teens to vacation together. Here you will find a well established and exclusive resort with so many activities to enjoy.
Cool cocktails and mocktails can be enjoyed along with fun lunches and dinners, creating that sophisticated grown-up vibe that teens are so eager to participate in.
With breath-taking views, your teens will have that jaw-dropping backdrop to their fabulous selfies that tells their audience back home that they are living large!
If your teens are keen to get out and enjoy some nightlife, then the Hip Strip of Montego Bay is the place to go. Margarita Ville is the big attraction for both daytime and night-time music. It’s a big enough venue that parents can find a table away from the bustling bar areas while their young adults hang with similar party people.
The rules around serving alcohol to teenagers isn’t as well regulated in the Caribbean as it is back home. In a crowded bar, no one is really asking for ID or enforcing the regulations. If you are anxious about any dangers for your teens out late at night, our Concierge team can arrange a curfew car and driver to collect and return your party goers to you. It’s also worth reading our article on Is Jamaica Safe in order to better understand this destination.
Your spacious villa at Tryall can allow large multi-generation families to spread out and get the best out of their individual vacations. The fabulous amenities of this Club will allow teens a generous amount of leeway and freedom. They can ‘see and be seen’ around the pool areas.
The themed nights that involve reggae evenings on the beach mean your teens can mingle with other families in a very safe environment. It’s all part of the rites of passage that sum up that time in their lives before work and responsibility takes hold.
Back to Turks and Caicos
Regardless of how much or little partying is actually going on, this age group is usually very keen on taking on some thrilling activities. Kite surfing, diving, big game fishing, hiking, horseback riding, sailing. Turks and Caicos again, offer a lot of fun sports accessed along Grace Bay.
The casual Fish Fry in Providenciales can give them a cool environment to kick back too.
And let’s not forget, shopping. With some fabulous duty-free shopping centers in Barbados and Grand Cayman, your teens can pick up designer bargains and cool vacation wear. They will revel in coming home from a vacation with more than a tan.
Family Caribbean Vacations
Okay, just to recap on all that’s gone before. The Caribbean, as a whole, is a destination that provides a limitless playground for children of all ages. It’s a very rare child that isn’t mesmerized by the allure of the divine aqua sea.
Whether a little baby has its toes gently dipped in and out of the warm surf or an action-packed teenager tackles some paddle boarding or snorkeling, the seas that lap around the myriad islands provide not just the best Caribbean family vacations but a truly memorable adventure for everyone. What makes us happiest? Seeing those we love, being happy.
Why not reach out to us at Exceptional Villas and allow us to curate a Caribbean family vacation that guarantees joy and laughter … for everyone!
About Mairead Moriarty
Born and raised in Co Kerry, lived in London, New York, San Francisco, Dublin. Owner of one very battered suitcase, a well-worn passport and a million memories.
It seems very fitting for a travel writer that my surname translates as ‘Skilled Navigator’. Apart from an occasion when, aged 3, I got lost in a Supermarket in Tralee, I have managed to live up to my name!
Curiosity is probably the driver that has sent me on magical mystery tours around the world. I want to ‘feel’ a place. I want all my senses to be engaged: from the history and geography that has influenced a country or city, the arts and achievements of its natives, anything and everything really.
Regardless of whether I am on a local train travelling through Morocco, or poking around in Marconi’s study in Bologna or on a canal boat weaving through the heart of the English countryside, the same rules apply - ask questions, talk to locals, eat what they eat, sit quietly with nature and simply be.
Assimilate as much as is possible so as to understand the soul of a place. That is my passion. That is the compass by which I navigate.