Stretching from the east coast of Florida to the northern tip of South America, the Caribbean archipelago comprises more than 7,000 islands, divided into a number of groups that each offer something different for families, whether you want to thrill to tales of pirates and explorers, dive and snorkel at some the world’s best sites, or just lie back and admire the view from pristine beaches.
Bermuda is technically outside the Caribbean but is often classed as part of it because it appeals to the same kind of holiday-makers, with its family-friendly beaches, good golf courses and fantastic package deals.
Just off the east coast of Florida, this includes some of the Caribbean’s most family-friendly destinations: the Bahamas, offering pink sands, New England style charm and great all-inclusive deals. The upscale resorts of the Turks and Caicos Islands are largely the preserve of the rich and famous.
Heading south, these are some of the Caribbean’s most famous and diverse islands. The Cayman Islands are well equipped for children and have plenty of family-friendly attractions and events, including Boatswain’s Beach Adventure Park, Stingray City and Pirates Week.
Bold and beautiful Jamaica lives up to every expectation, while the palm-fringed beaches of the Dominican Republic are fast helping it establish a reputation as a destination for ecotourism. For families with an adventurous streak, Cuba ticks all the boxes – but be sure to go before it loses its classic appeal.
At the tip of the Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico offers Spanish influence and some great historic sites and museums: take a trip to El Yunque National Rainforest or go bat-spotting in one of the finest cave systems in the world at the Rio Camuy Cave Park.
These islands arcing along the eastern end of the Caribbean Sea are made up of the Leeward Islands in the north, the Windward Islands in the south and the Leeward Antilles in the west.
In the north, The British and US Virgin Islands offer child-friendly resorts, great beaches and plenty of watersports. For low-key tourism and a a blissfully peaceful family holiday, head to Antigua and Barbuda.
The upscale little islands of St Kitts & Nevis are home to some of the region’s most luxurious family-friendly resorts, while Anguilla is perfect for families looking to really get away and able to create their own fun.
In the Windward Islands you’ll find well-established islands including laid-back St Lucia – a great bet for reasonably priced package deals – and beautiful Grenada, home to some of the region’s best dive sites for families.
Martinique offers an interesting blend of French and Caribbean influences, a mild climate and plenty of outdoor activities suitable for kids, while for those new to the region, Barbados with its top-notch accommodation and plush kids’ clubs makes for an easy and very family-friendly introduction to the Caribbean way of life.
South of the hurricane zone, the islands of Trinidad and Tobago are the eco-tourism giants of the region, with nature tours and eco-packages the big draw for families.
Last but by no means least, the Leeward Antilles in the west are home to the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, with the first in particular a growing destination for families.
For safety advice for the region, check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website (fco.gov.uk).
There are some delicious local specialities to be sampled when visiting the Caribbean but you won't have any problem finding child-friendly international favourites, especially in the major resorts and hotels.
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