If you think all Caribbean vacations are the same— cheap pina coladas, kids’ camps, pools swarming with little ones— you’re in for a treat. Sure, you can have that vacation. But if you want to sample the Caribbean from a different angle, here are some fresh spins.
Have you ever imagined living among sea creatures? Consider 9 Beaches, Sandys, Bermuda, (866)841-9009, www.9beaches.com.
Large posh resorts can be wonderfully luxurious. However, if you want to feel at one with nature, they generally don’t cut it. Instead, try a down-to-earth home base like Bermuda’s 9 Beaches. Here your family resides in a small canvas-sided cabana (on stilts!) just steps away from nine secluded, private beaches. There are zero crowds and zero rules to interfere with the goal of a leisurely exploration of the geography, which includes calm ocean waters packed with tropical fish, breathtaking rocks jutting out from white sand and picture-perfect sunsets. Meals are served whenever and wherever you want, especially from the resort’s traveling food cart. Amenities are minimal, and it may take a day or two to get used to roughing it. Of course it takes children one to two minutes to adapt to the surroundings. And likely once you wiggle your toes in the sand, you’ll know you’ve found your way.
Turks & Caicos
To have fun guaranteed, try Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, (888)BEACHES, www.beaches.com. Sometimes the best vacation is one you know will run smoothly. And if packing for an entire family feels like plenty of work for one vacation, a week at the seamless, kid-perfect Beaches is in order. At a family-centric resort like this, everything is expertly planned: Pools are designed with all ages in mind, cuisine caters to picky and adventurous eaters alike and the array of activities suits people with distinct interests. Your biggest worry becomes which activity to take advantage of first! If you have a tween or teen, you’ll thank your lucky stars for the resort’s new Pirates Island Waterpark and aqua-themed teen nightclub, Liquid. Stay in the brand-new Italian Village and you’ll be treated to a posh family suite with a separate children’s room and private check-in.
If you aim to immerse your kids in a vibrant culture, try Caribe Hilton San Juan, Puerto Rico, (800)HILTONS, www.hilton.com. Puerto Rico has much more than picturesque beaches. Select San Juan as your destination and your kids get a delicious taste of another culture. Lively language, zesty food and enthralling music make Puerto Rico a rich experience for the whole family. Spend a few hours in Viejo (Old) San Juan, where you’ll stroll cobblestone streets, frolic in open-air plazas and fly a kite on the lawn of an old fort. Take a day to explore El Yunque, the only rainforest in America. Then spend the rest of your time relaxing at one of the many family-filled resorts in Puerto Rico like the Caribe Hilton, a newly renovated resort that brims with hospitality, friendliness and style and features gorgeous pools and a private beach,
In order to unwind while your children frolic, try Malliouhana Hotel & Spa, Meads Bay, Anguilla, (800)835-0796, www.malliouhana.com. This hotel especially caters to people whose idea of a week in the Caribbean involves a book, a drink and the sound of waves breaking gently in the background. After all, Anguilla is one of the Caribbean’s most attractive and least crowded islands. The beaches there are exquisite, complete with powdery white sand and turquoise water. It’s what dreams— and top-ten lists on the Travel Channel— are made of. The lack of people on Anguilla shores make the beaches ideal for letting the stress of life melt away. Place your little ones with a pail and shovel a few feet away. The area is so quiet and secluded that the need to helicopter around your children diminishes. Anguilla isn’t known for its kid-appeal; it’s more of a wealthy adults’ retreat. Still, you’ll feel right at home with your children at the Malliouhana Hotel & Spa, which offers a supervised outdoor kids’ playground with a pirate ship, a 60-foot water slide, a diving pool and a toddler splash pool. Great for siblings, the hotel also boasts snorkeling, waterskiing and sailing.