Taking the kids on their first-ever boat ride, building sandcastles, wandering rainforest trails or meeting local children – it’s simple adventures like these that make the Caribbean such a great region for families, with islands offering attractions and facilities to cater from tinies to teenagers.

Best Regions for Kids

  • Aruba

Plenty of family-friendly resorts with great beaches and soft waves, with lots of organised activities and water sports.

  • Barbados

Head to the south and west for the best beaches and resorts; the east-coast surf is too powerful for novice swimmers of any age.

  • Cayman Islands

Seven Mile Beach is ideal for families, as it's lined with resorts offering child-friendly activities, and the water is calm.

  • Puerto Rico

An island hosting brilliant resorts, while its old colonial forts and historic parks bring out the inner pirate.

  • US Virgin Islands

The islands offer a mix of kid-friendly beaches, shallow water, minimal waves and water-sports centres, plus a host of old cannon-clad forts.

Caribbean Islands for Kids

The Caribbean isn’t just a huge playground for adults, it’s one for kids too. Like any playground some parts are more fun than others. Islands dedicated to adult pursuits, such as diving or hiking, might leave little ones out of the action, but plenty more islands have myriad activities for children. Islands with large beach resorts may seem positively designed for kids – at least to the younger mind.

Best Islands for Kids

The following islands all offer something for children. Kids will never want to leave islands rated 1, while those rated 2 have some interesting diversions.

Antigua & Barbuda2Good beaches for playing plus several fun activities: Antigua Rainforest Zip Line Tours, Antigua Donkey Sanctuary
Aruba1Large resorts with kids activities, excellent beaches, mostly calm seas & lots of adventure activities, including water sports
The Bahamas1Grand Bahama is clean & easy to get around, but the Abacos is laid-back, with endless beaches, reefs & activities by the bucketload
Barbados2Lots of family-friendly beaches in the south & west, & popular surfing lessons for kids, but few large resorts with kids programs
Bonaire2Good for older kids who want to learn how to dive & windsurf, but limited beaches
British Virgin Islands2Many islands have no special kiddie allure but at the Bitter End Yacht Club & Resort, on Virgin Gorda, youngsters learn to sail, windsurf, kayak & more
Cayman Islands1Seven Mile Beach is great for families; large resorts have kids programs; Stingray City is always a hit, as is spotting sea stars at Starfish Point, snorkeling with sea turtles at Spotts Beach & exploring Crystal Caves
Dominican Republic2The resorts of Punta Cana & Bávaro cater to kids, who can make friends with other young holidaymakers from around the world
Jamaica2Montego Bay & Ocho Rios have resorts good for families, but some resorts are aimed at adults-only partying. Dunn's River Falls is the stand-out family-friendly attraction
Puerto Rico1Old San Juan has resorts nearby that are good for kids; top attractions include the Museo del Niño de Carolina, amazing forts with pirate history & the Observatorio de Arecibo; Playa Flamenco in Culebra is one of the world’s best beaches & has lifeguards
St Lucia2Many resorts cater to families, plus there are lots of kid-friendly activities, such as zip-lining, hiking & horseback riding
St-Barthélemy2Water sports galore & gourmet children's menus
US Virgin Islands1One of the best destinations for kids; Highlights are abundant & include resort fun, tourist towns with child-friendly allure on all three islands, lifeguard-patrolled Magens Bay beach, & Maho Bay’s sea turtles

Children’s Highlights

Exciting Critters

Amazing Adventures

Pirates!

Planning

Where to Stay

Resorts offer scores of kid-friendly amenities, but some families prefer staying in simpler places closer to island life. Before booking any lodging, ask for details to assess its appropriateness. For example:

  • Does it welcome kids or accept them grudgingly?
  • If it’s a resort, what sort of kids activities does it offer?
  • Does the room have a DVD player and wi-fi?
  • Is there a kitchen or at least a refrigerator, so you can avoid the expense of always eating out?
  • Are there safe places where kids can play?
  • Even if the beach is nearby, is it across a heavily trafficked street?
  • Does it provide cribs, change tables and other baby supplies?
  • Does it offer on-site babysitting?

Keeping Safe

To help kids acclimatize to the Caribbean heat, take it easy at first and make sure they drink plenty of water. Children should wear a high-protection sunscreen and cover up whenever they’re outside to avoid sunburn and heatstroke.

Bring insect repellent formulated for children and whatever medication you normally use to treat insect bites.

What to Pack

Be prepared for lots of time in the sun and sea. Most lodgings provide beach towels, chairs and umbrellas. You can buy sand pails, snorkel masks and anything else you forget at beach shops in resort areas. Elsewhere you’ll need to bring what you want in the diversions department. Bring the following:

  • snorkel gear (especially masks) that you’ve tested for leaks and proper fit
  • water wings and other flotation devices
  • pails and shovels
  • sturdy reef shoes
  • underwater camera
  • car seat if driving a lot.

Need to Know

  • Changing facilities, cots, high chairs, kids' menus and all the other niceties of family travel are best found at large international resorts. Look for ones with kids' clubs and the like.
  • The larger islands will have complete health facilities. They will also have large supermarkets with diapers, familiar treats from home etc.