Snorkel, swim, sail, kayak, surf, water-ski, para-sail, horse-ride on the sand, and go fishing, then lounge about as the kids take part in some of the activities offered by the resorts. Land-sailing has become more common here; Bonaire has a purposebuilt track for it. Lac Bay, also on Bonaire, is the place for wind-surfing tuition (ages 5+).
On Aruba, take the kids to the Bubali Bird Sanctuary or better still Arikok National Park, home to a list of birds longer than your arm, including yellow orioles and hummingbirds. There’s also the Donkey Sanctuary, where kids can cuddle and sometimes help bottle-feed orphans, and the Aruba Ostrich Farm, with fun, interactive tours, a restaurant with kids’ menus and ice-cream, and a huge playground. Then head to the Butterfly Farm, dressing kids brightly so the butterflies will think they’re enormous flowers and land on them.
Also on Aruba, kids love Blue Parrotfish waterpark with its slides for all ages. It's on De Palm Island, where you can also enjoy snorkelling, ziplining, banana-boat rides, air-jumping, activities including beach volleyball and football, and salsa lessons. And grown-ups and kids alike get excited by the Atlantis Submarine, taking you 40m beneath the waves to see marine life and a couple of wrecks.
Otherwise, just relax with the kids on any number of Aruba’s beautiful beaches. The aptly named Baby Beach near the island’s easternmost tip is a prime spot for family holidays with young children, with the sea resembling a big tub of warm shallow bathwater, protected by rock breakwaters. Snorkelling, paddling, and sandcastle building are favourite pastimes.
On Curaçao, head for Playa Lagun, a super-family-friendly beach with tranquil shallow water and lots of marine life for snorkellers to admire. At Westpunt, kids enjoy watching locals jump from the cliffs into the sea, while at Willemstadt, the capital, they’ll enjoy strolling to Fort Amsterdam, site of the Governor’s Palace, with a church that still has a British cannonball embedded in it. Willemstadt’s floating market is a lovely sight, with schooners tied up by the canal, laden with fruit and veg from Venezuela and Colombia to sell. The Museum Kura Hulanda, one of the largest and most unusual in the Caribbean, has a life-size reconstruction of a slave ship that once sailed from the Ivory Coast, plus fossils, fertility dolls and musical instruments.
Discover Bonaire, a well-kept secret that was really only known to divers for a long time, and which remains low-key. As well as engaging in the usual sporting activities (snorkelling, swimming, kayaking…), you can wander around Fort Oranje and admire some of the Dutch Caribbean architecture.