When you hear the word "Caribbean", pictures of turquoise water with white sandy beaches are conjured. It's an island paradise where families can go enjoy the countless miles of natural beauty. There are many reasons why family travel matters for your family, and the Caribbean Islands is a destination
Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. It's great to unwind, take the family for an adventure, and relax. There are many islands in the Caribbean and places to visit that suits all travelers, including with kids! It has centuries of colonial past with the fascinating culture of Arawak, the spices of West India with its touch of gastronomic flair among Europeans, couples and families with highland walkers, and many of the world’s most exclusive hotels and resorts.
It has tropical weather and island sea breezes which makes it a popular vacation destination almost all year round. Thousands of islands dot the Caribbean Sea, of its 17 territories and 13 sovereign states serving as tourist hotspots, each with its distinct flavor and appeal. Check out some of our recommendations below, for the best places to visit and the activities you may enjoy with your family in the beautiful Caribbean islands.
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The Cayman Islands
Located approximately 500 miles west of Jamaica, composed of the 3 main largest island areas of nearly 100 square miles. Grand Cayman has an international airport, and tourist facilities are plentiful.
It's not surprising that such sun-kissed places are nestled between Cuba and Jamaica. There are beautiful beaches everywhere, from Grand Cayman- Seven Mile to the untouched, seaweed-covered sands of Cayman Brac.
In George Town, you can find impressive colonial architecture forts such as St. James Castle and museums detailing British seafaring history and Carib piracy. Underwater treasures abound at Stingray City (you can watch stingrays for sure when you do snorkeling and diving), and ultra-rare turtles await in the bodies of water of Boatswain's Beach.
At night, hedonism reigns supreme, with open-air parties at the iconic Sunset House and rum-infused mixed drinks abound at Billy Bones at the Cayman Islands!
Things To Do
The Cayman Islands are one of the best islands to visit by every kind of traveler. If you are visiting with your family, it's important to keep everyone happy on vacation. Consider activities such as watching the turtles at Cayman Turtle Center, checking the collections at the national gallery of the island, or seeking out the multi-hued Brac Parrot at the Cayman Islands' reserve.
If you're a traveler on a budget, you can rent a bicycle and explore the different tourist attractions of the cayman islands in your own island time. Head to the north is the Seven Mile Beach, or if you want a longer ride, you can visit Bodden Town and Breakers, until you get to the Rum Point. Aside from that, you may also explore the Skull Cave at Cayman Brac.
When you are with your partner, an after-dark kayak voyage at the Bioluminescent Bay at Grand Cayman is awesome! Thanks to the glowing sea of dinoflagellates. If you want to sip an aging rum, you may like visit the Cayman Spirits Co. Distillery or have an escape at the bars in Rum Point Beach.
Barbados is a country in the West Indies' Lesser Antilles, in the Americas' Caribbean region, and found on the most eastern side of the Caribbean Islands. Barbados' capital city is Bridgetown. However, some may say that it is not even in the Caribbean; Barbados is completely in the Atlantic Ocean.
The waves track as melodic samba beats against the soft, gentle dunes of Brandons Beach or Alleynes Bay in Barbados; palm trees moving in the Atlantic prevailing winds of the sandy beaches, the adventurous surf swells sprinkling the Bathsheba and Cattlewash boulders with whitecap and saltwater.
Yachts bob in the wharves of UNESCO-listed Bridgetown and powerful rum is sipped between Mount Gay's distilling tanks.
Flying fish becomes frying fish with scotch top in earthy holes-in-the-wall in Barbados, and lavish all-inclusive hotels loom on the rocky cliffs, infinity pools just inching over the white sand shore.
Things To Do
Everything in Barbados has a story to tell, every meal is a joyous occasion, and every day guarantees new experiences, discoveries, and memories that will last a lifetime. Many people have come to quickly realize that Barbados is the type of place they want to come back to again and again.
Millionaires and backpackers coexist in Barbados, with some sipping pina coladas while basking in the sun, others hiking the jungle routes, snorkeling and diving the reefs, and enjoying the native rum shacks on the streets.
Witness the peaceful Long Pond and enjoy the most popular attractions, such as the renowned Oistins Friday Night Fish Fry!
Swim with the locals in a natural beach "jacuzzi" - Hot Pot. Dine lavishly along the exclusive West Coast, as well as sing karaoke until dawn on the lively South Coast. Barbados is simply amazing and one of the best Caribbean islands to explore for the whole family.
St. Lucia is a relatively large island by Caribbean standards, and as such, has lots to offer. What distinguishes St. Lucia apart are the activities and experiences outside of relaxing by the beach.
St. Lucia is among the best Caribbean vacation destinations because it has something for everyone, whether you enjoy the awesome scenery, history, magnificent waterfalls like the 15m-high Toraille or of course the stunning beaches.
The gurgling volcanic springs and puddles pools are constantly chiseling and shifting the inside of the island surrounding Soufriere.
And, while we're on the subject of the little Soufriere just on the southern coast, it's here that visitors will find the Anse Chastanet cove, concealed between cliff edges and advances and grouped of coastal waterfalls.
The north of the island also has its charms, such as the golden particles of Reduit Beach and the Pidgeon Island National Park, which is home to fortresses built by the British during the Seven Years' War.
Things To Do
There are many activities you can do in St. Lucia. If you are an active adventurer, you can climb the Gros Piton, a 798-meter walk and it is the country's second-highest mountain. For starters, we do recommend to explore the paths that crisscross Frigate Island, where the peculiar Zandoli lizard wanders through the grasslands, or the twisty Barre de L'isle Tropical Rainforest Hiking Trails, which skirt the side of the island's densest woods. Or, you may have some fun at Treetop Adventure which consists of a series of fast zip lines that crisscross the forest canopy.
If you love to explore the nature and history, you can check-out the haunting history at the hill called Morne Fortune or have a glimpse of the canon used during the war at Pigeon Island. On our books, the mud bath near the Sulfur Spring is a must do. You get to enjoy the world's only drive-in volcano, and don't worry the Soufrier Volcano (Sulphur Springs) last errupted in the 1700's - over 200 years!
St. Lucia is also one of the best places for white sandy beaches. The family can have a great time at Vigie Beach or for the love birds, you can feel the romantic ambiance at Anse Chastanet. Have a glimpse of the water at Marigot Bay or have a splash of water at Splash Island Water Park.
The British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands are undeniably among the most splendid destinations in the Caribbean. With 60 islands comprising the archipelago, there is an abundance of places to explore, coral reefs to dive into, and white sandy beaches to bask in during your vacation.
Whether you are seeking luxurious accommodations, all-inclusive resorts, or picturesque getaways, these Caribbean Virgin islands offer it all.
Bathed by the ever-present trade winds, the British Virgin Islands have traditionally been a sanctuary for well-heeled sailors, donning their nautical attire, unfurling their sails, and navigating their yachts through the secluded bays and hidden coves that dot the wealthy tax haven nation of the Virgin Islands.
However, in recent years, the destination has increasingly entered the mainstream, with intrepid travelers focusing on the conservation of the endangered hawksbill turtles on Ginger Island, the kaleidoscope of colors of the coral reefs, and incredible SCUBA sites such as the sunken RMS Rhone.
If you love diving into saltwater, then you absolutely must visit The Bath at Virgin Gorda. This network of twisting tunnels, hidden grottoes, swim holes, and rocky boulders is an essential destination for anyone visiting the British Virgin Islands. The entire bay, now designated as a national park, offers opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, diving, wildlife viewing, nature photography, and rock climbing.
Other fantastic options for water-based activities include Smuggler's Cove, North Sound, Cane Garden Bay, and White Bay with its crystal-clear waters. For a unique experience, don't miss the Bubbly Pool, where you can witness a natural jacuzzi.
If you're interested in exploring the island's wildlife, head to Gorda Peak National Park or Sage Mountain National Park to discover the wonders of the local fauna.
The Dominican Republic is the Caribbean's second-largest country and among the most popular destinations for tourists and honeymooners. The Dominican Republic is easy to get to and is one of the top tourist beaches in the Caribbean islands. It takes 2 hours to fly from Miami and 8 hours from most European cities.
The Dominican Republic has more than enough tricks up its sleeve, from the dancing palms and sturdy rock formations of Los Haitises on the eastern side to the old mines and dusty mountain biking trails of the Sierra de Bahoruco in the west region.
It also has the surfing locations of Puerto Plata and Cabarete in the northern part of Santo Domingo's urban sprawl and its associated colonial treasures in the south.
For most, the pièce de résistance is Punta Cana, where sheets of white sand run like glimmering ribbons in the moonlight along the windward coast, with the presence of the luxury resort, the infinity pools barging up against Atlantic rollers.
Things To Do
Make sure to include the Dominican Republic on your list of must-visit Caribbean islands, as it boasts a plethora of attractions to enjoy. If you're a history and scenery buff, the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo will definitely pique your interest.
Additionally, Altos de Chavon provides an Italian atmosphere with its old-fashioned Roman amphitheater, stunning St. Stanislaus Church stonework, and a sequence of cobblestone plazas and alleyways - it's hard to believe that the entire area was built in the 1970s and 1980s.
Take in the breathtaking views of the Constanza highlands from above, or explore the Damajaqua Cascades, Lake Enriquillo, Los Haitises, and Hoyo Azul.
For saltwater and sandy beaches, Punta Cana reigns supreme as the king of tourism. You may also be able to catch a glimpse of some whales at the Samana Peninsula, sail across the blue waters of Isla Saona, or catch some waves in Cabarete.
Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos, abbreviated TCI for the "Turks and Caicos Islands," offers the vintage postcard beauty that many people seek when looking for the best Caribbean Islands.
Turks and Caicos, as the name suggests, consist of the bigger Caicos Islands and the relatively small Turks Islands. TCI is primarily known for tourism due to the abundance of beach resorts, sunlight, and the color of the water. Having said that, it is also renowned as an OFC (offshore financial center).
Grace Bay Beach, in particular, is the most well-known coast on the island and is open to the public, despite its proximity to many popular resorts. If it isn't the most beautiful Caribbean island, it certainly has one of the most beautiful sounding locations. Alongside Grace Bay, there's also Long Bay Beach, Parrot Cay, Turtle Tail Drive, Pine Cay, Turtle Cove, and much more.
The water alone guarantees its place among the most popular Caribbean destinations in the world.
Things To Do
Turks and Caicos consistently rank among the Caribbean's most stunning destinations, boasting a variety of features ranging from rugged cliffs to captivating Indian and European histories.
Take a dip in the mesmerizing turquoise waters of Grace Bay, or explore the underwater world through snorkeling or scuba diving at Smith's Reef and Columbus Landfall National Park. For a peaceful retreat, cruise ships and casuarina trees dot the serene Governor's Beach, featuring a narrow, sloping shore in beautiful shades of yellow and beige, leading down to a sea of perfect blue.
Witness the natural wonders of Chalk Sound and Mudjin Harbour, or experience the thrill of kiteboarding over the beaches and crystal-clear waters of Long Beach.
If you happen to be in Turks and Caicos between January and April, when temperatures are comfortably cool in the mid-20s, make sure to head to the southern island of Salt Cay for the chance to witness Humpback Whales in their natural habitat.
Jamaica is an island nation within the Caribbean Sea. It is the third-largest island in the Caribbean, covering 4,240 square miles after Cuba and Hispaniola.
You will experience the Jamaican culture almost everywhere you go, from their reggae music to home cooking on a streetside grill. Jamaica is a famous Caribbean destination due to the island's frequent flights and abundance of resorts, making it a convenient tour to plan.
While you will most likely spend some of your vacations at Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica is ideal for active travelers. Dunn's River Falls is one of many beautiful waterfalls in Jamaica where you can swim and walk up the falls. There are also guided tours to the Blue Mountains National Park where you can do snorkeling and see the natural beauty of the marine world.
Thing To Do
Jamaica, a true gem of the Caribbean islands, has its own distinct Carib, Creole, African, Colonial, and Latin heritage and culture.
There are beautiful villas with an English flair next to earthy cottages emitting smoky barbeque aromas. There are rapidly expanding all-inclusive resorts in the shadow of powerful 2,000-meter-high mountains.
There are iconic plantations as well as lively samba bars. There's Bob Marley's home, museums devoted solely to his art, and impromptu reggae music events on the beaches.
If you want to know more about the Jamaican cultural heritage, checkout these places: the pre-colonial style Devon House; the homage to the reggae master, Bob Marley at Nine Mile, or his exhibitions at Bob Marley Museum; and the spooky white witch at Rose Hall.
You may also take a bath at Dunn's River Falls, hike the Blue Mountains, explore the Green Grotto Caves, and do rafting at the Rio Grande. They are one of the great spots in the world.
If you love the white sand party, you can have it at Reggae Beach, and grab some taste of iconic drinks at Floyd's Pelican Bar or Appleton Estate. Don't forget to fill in your stomach with good food at Scotchies.
A trip to Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, is sure to result in a jam-packed itinerary. While it's tempting to come solely for the seaside, places like Holguin, don't miss the chance to explore Havana.
Havana is an urban center that hits the spot, boasting pastel residences and vintage cars that are just as cool as you'd imagine. But Havana is more than that, as demonstrated by the dreamy Malecón, an 8-kilometer esplanade that connects several culturally significant neighborhoods. Cadillacs rumble down the streets, while peeling mudbrick frontispieces from 1925 give way to off-beats of samba, rumba, and abundant songs, and cigar smoke fills the air.
Beyond the Che statues and Spanish streets, the larger island of Cuba offers a wealth of experiences, from the stunning beaches of Varadero to ecotourism amid the mountain ranges of Pinar del Rio, and awe-inspiring vistas in the Viales Valley, and much more.
Thing To Do
The historical Havana made it most of the activities you can do in Cuba during your vacation. You may roam around Havana Malecon, or at La Habana Vieja, which is considered one of the most earthy and authentic places to visit in America.
Another great and must-see institution is the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, which is packed full of masterworks that chronicle the island's and its people's various artistic periods. Another historical place to visit is the Museum of Revolution which captures the 20th century. You may also witness the bulwarks at Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca or the haunting graves at the Colon Cemetery.
Immerse with the locals at Fiesta de la Cubana in Bayamo or walk in the wilds of Sierra Maestra. Have a colorful night party at the cabaret in Tropicana Club.
Aruba, the "A" in the Caribbean's famous ABC Islands (the two other places are Bonaire and Curaçao), is located not far from Venezuela's coast.
Aruba is still under the Kingdom of the Netherlands and residents are considered Dutch nationals. Aruba is known for its beaches with glimmering white sands. Aruba is one of the best places in the world to spend a vacation.
This gem-shaped island in the region's far southern reaches is closer to the main island than many of the Caribbean's other salt-washed islands.
Things To Do
If you are seeking to bask in crystal clear waters during your Caribbean vacation, a trip to Eagle Beach in Aruba is a must. The beach boasts of powdery sand and tranquil shore waters that blend seamlessly with shades of aquamarine and deep blue.
Make your way to the mountainous region of Conchi, located on the western side of Aruba, and navigate the rugged cliffs and terrain to witness the mesmerizing natural pool. The site is renowned for its geyser-like eruptions of saltwater and sea mist that shoot out of the pools in fountains and whitecaps throughout the day.
For a year-round stay on one of the world's most stunning white sand beaches, check out Palm Beach in Aruba. This beach has all the features you would expect from a tropical paradise, including crystal-clear blue waters, reef gardens in the sea, and towering palm trees.
Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island that is also a US unincorporated territory. It's in the northeastern part of the Caribbean Sea, about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) southeastern part of Miami.
San Juan Puerto Rico, the UNESCO-listed capital, is a real treat, with its Baroque church buildings, the might of El Castillo fort, and the glistening beaches of Condado.
It also has a party side, with spring breaker bars and Senor Frogs bursting through the cobblestone streets after dark.
Go east to see the gorgeous Luquillo beaches and El Yunque's frog-spotted forests, or south to go see off-the-beaten-path Ponce, full of curious multi-colored old churches and some of the island's emptiest sands.
Thing To Do
Puerto Rico is a captivating Caribbean island to explore, with a plethora of activities and sights for families and solo travellers alike. It's also a popular port of call for Disney Cruise Line, which is one of our top picks!
For those who love to soak up the sun, Culebra and Vieques offer breathtaking views of the turquoise waters and stunning coastlines. You won't want to miss the awe-inspiring beaches of Mosquito Bay, Ponce, Condado, Carolina Beach, and Mona Island.
If you're interested in Puerto Rico's rich history, take a trip to Old San Juan and explore the ancient Fort San Cristobal, Fort El Morro, and Las Cuevas of Desecheo.
The Bottom Line
Deciding the best Caribbean island to visit is not easy as they all stunning in their own way, and offers great experiences for all travelers. For more experiences and best places in the world, checkout our 21 New Bucket List Experiences Around the World and our pick for the 22 most beautiful places in the world.