Turks and Caicos
An archipelago of 40-odd coral islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands is a British Overseas Territory near the Bahamas. Features like plenty of nature activities, lower crime rates than other Caribbean countries, and a variety of family-focused resorts collaborate to make it a tourist hubspot. This little island nation offers pristine beaches and modern roads so you can explore on your own.
One can take a quick boat ride to Little Water Cay to see mangroves and the big draw– endangered rock iguanas that will waddle right up to you. For children of age 7 and up, you can book a horseback ride along the beach through Provo Ponies. On Thursday evenings, one can head over to Bight Children’s Park for a Fish Fry where tourists mingle with locals. Pick up an inexpensive dinner from restaurant vendors, and enjoy it while listening to a local band.
Oh yes, Jamaica! One of the largest Caribbean islands, Jamaica made our list because of its affordable, kid-friendly resorts and family-centred culture. Jamaica has lots of personalities, and the resorts on this island in particular offer lots of activities for toddlers and preschoolers.
The best place for a family stay has to be on the small, calm cove of beachfront near Ocho Rios. Then there is Montego Bay, featuring a water park including a splash area for the toddler crowd, nature walks, child care for babies and toddlers, and adult classes like spinning and rum mixology.
If you’re staying near Ocho Rios, visit Dunn’s River Falls, a collection of cascading waterfalls and small lagoons that most kids ages 8 and over should be able to climb with you. It’s okay to bring kids over age 5 because there’s a staircase that runs parallel to the falls.
With the Dominican Republic, you get a lot of value for your money. Stick with the La Romana or Punta Cana areas, which have family-friendly beaches.
Activities at resorts include children’s programs for babies to teens, a circus school, tennis instruction, music lessons with Dominican-inspired instruments, cooking classes, and an art studio. While the kids are busy, you can fly on the trapeze, learn to windsurf, or hang out on the wide white-sand beach, play beach volleyball, go sailing, or even try water aerobics.
Do not forget to visit the historic capital of Santo Domingo — it’ll take about two-and-a-half hours each way, so it’s best for older kids. Punta Cana Tours offers a trip that stops at The Three Eyes National Park with underground caves and lagoons and a lighthouse.
If you don’t have passports, Puerto Rico is a great option. Check into Condado Beach and stay there, or look for places in the north-eastern part of the island. One might even be tempted to split their stay between both areas.
You’ll also be able to take a short ferry ride to Palomino Island, a private oasis for resort guests. All rooms are villas with a kitchen, so you can easily store snacks and cook some of your meals. Plus, you’ll be able to hang out in the bedroom while the kids go to sleep on the pullout in the living area.
A couple of must-sees are the historic forts in Old San Juan and the El Yunque rain forest. Take public transportation or a shuttle to Castillo San Cristóbal, a huge stone fortress built in 1783; kids ages 5 and up will be able to earn a badge if they take the ranger-led tour At El Yunque, in Eastern Puerto Rico, your family will be able to walk on any of the 13 trails, including several stroller-friendly paved ones to spot parrots, tree frogs, and lots of unusual flowers.
The island with strong British roots is one of the most versatile in the Caribbean. There are resorts for all budgets and while the beaches are tremendous for families, the nature preserves in the middle of the island are intriguing.
See peacocks, parrots, and green monkeys at the Barbados Wildlife across the road from Farley Hill National Park. Another must-do: Harrison’s Cave. Board a tram that takes you underground past streams and waterfalls, or kids 5 to 12 can go on a Junior Explorers tour with nature packs.