The pristine blue waters of the Caribbean Sea lure travelers from across the world in search of a destination with complete, undisturbed relaxation.
Hidden away at sea are 700 islands that are so different and unique that they appear as if they are from different worlds. The islands have one factor in common - the limitless beauty of the Caribbean Sea. With so much diversity between islands, deciding which island is best for your family's next exotic getaway can be difficult.
Depending on your interests, one island may be perfect while another may have you feeling lost at sea. Each island has its charms and challenges, but with the most popular islands, you certainly can do no wrong.
Here is a detailed list of the 15 best islands while visiting the Caribbean.
1. The Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands is the premier choice for a family vacation in the Caribbean Islands. Three different islands make up the Virgin Islands: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix.
One of the main draws to this tropical paradise is the ease and accessibility of the island. No matter which of the three islands you choose to travel to, the locals speak English and accept U.S. dollars. To make things easier, it does not require a passport to visit the islands.
The islands offer a variety of accommodations. From rustic camping to several all-inclusive resorts to choose from, the Virgin Isles have a place for everyone.
The Virgin Islands many activities and excursions draw tourists and families in by the thousands. Its pristine beaches speak for themselves, but the adventures do not stop there. A trip to the islands is not complete without an adventure on the water, or below the surface. The Virgin Islands are known for their world-class snorkeling and diving, as well as expeditions with fruitful deep-sea fishing.
The best time to visit is between December and April. Visiting during these times avoids hurricane season. But more importantly, these months offer the clearest skies and ideal beach temperatures to enjoy your family vacation as much as possible.
2. The Bahamas
The Bahamas regularly tops the list of the most popular destinations for families in the Caribbean – and for good reason! With perfect beaches and more experiences than you could explore in a year, the Bahamas will surely leave an impression on your family for a lifetime.
The Bahamas are the islands of ultimate luxury. Yes, like the US Virgin Islands, the Bahamas also have world-class snorkeling. But where the Bahamas have an advantage is that the boat ride to destinations passes coastal super-mansions owned by pop culture’s A-listers – including Michael Jordan and Oprah.
The Bahamas is not just rich in luxury, they are rich in pirate history. Many of the family-friendly snorkeling expeditions bring you to the sunken ships of the Caribbean’s past. While on land, the kids will enjoy discovering the remnants and artifacts of the pirate’s search for gold at the Pirates of Nassau Museum.
The most iconic landmark in the Bahamas is the historic Atlantis Paradise Resort. Among its many features, Atlantis offers dozens of high-end restaurants, a casino, and a water park. This recognizable architectural treasure is two mirrored resorts that are connected by an ultra-luxurious suite, called “The Royal Bridge Suite”. The suite is available to reserve, at the small everyday cost of $25,000 a night!
Related Read: 44 BEST Places To Visit in Puerto Rico
3. The Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands are arguably the most kid-friendly island in the Caribbean Sea. With an abundance of unique activities and expeditions, the Cayman Islands will certainly have the kids engaged and entertained.
The Cayman Islands are an incredibly beautiful landscape, with perfect coastlines for miles. What makes this island so family-friendly is the chance to see the wildlife that inhabits its sands. These islands are the home of a large population of our favorite reptiles – Iguanas and Turtles.
On the islands, take the family to the Cayman Turtle Center and experience the history of the wildlife while coming face-to-face with the ancient turtles. There are many interactive activities to get close to the turtles, including seeing them in an aquarium or snorkeling in a saltwater lagoon.
To see the iguanas, head to Little Cayman Island. The remote island is very small – only ten miles long and one mile wide. However, due to the island’s desolate nature, iguanas can reproduce wildly and run wild throughout the small, unexplored island.
After checking out the exotic wildlife, make your way to Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach. Living up to its namesake, the sandy beaches stretch for nine consecutive miles on a truly remarkable stretch of coastline. Grand Cayman is the island where you will find the best shopping and an excellent selection of lively tiki bars and restaurants.
4. The British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands are an excellent vacation choice for your family. Unlike some of the more “touristy” Caribbean Islands, these islands are a remote paradise. 60 islands make up the British Virgin Islands, but only 15 are occupied.
The best island to visit for families is Tortola. Tortola is the largest of the British Virgin Islands encompassing a whopping 35 square miles. This town is the perfect representation of the quaintness of the islands. Gone are the strip mall shops and restaurants and are replaced with charming and low-key beachy establishments.
The British Virgin Islands are also home to three national parks – a great alternative to regular beach adventure.
Sage Mountain National Park on Tortola is a lush rainforest with great overlooking views of infinite seas. The Spring Bay National Park on Virgin Gorda is a marine park with stunning snorkeling opportunities. Lastly, The Baths National Park is a collection of beaches rock tunnels, beaches, and boulders separated by crystal clear pools on Virgin Gorda.
For a fun family-friendly aquatic adventure, take the kids to Dolphin Discovery in Tortola. Here, you can swim adjacent to the majestic mammals in a unique environment.
Related Read: Do You Tip at All-Inclusive Resorts?
5. St. Maarten
A visit to St. Maarten is a one-of-a-kind international adventure. St. Maarten is unique in that it is owned by two countries – the French and the Dutch. These islands have two governments and accept both currencies. The marriage works because of the chill, laid-back vibes of the islands – and is a great playground for kids of all ages. Many of the features of St. Maarten are kid-centric. There are activities for families of all ages and sizes.
A cool activity is to visit Loterie Farm, a sugar plantation turned natural reserve. It is a tropical rainforest adventure in which families can discover the unique local wildlife. Along one of the walking paths, you may come across a few monkeys and plenty of lizards. The park also has an “extreme fly zone”, an adrenaline-boosting zipline tour, making kids feel like Tarzan in the jungle.
Probably the most exhilarating thing to experience in St. Maarten is reserving a Rhino Safari Excursion. Here, your family will race across the sea on a speed boat across miles of St. Maarten’s coastline. This adventure is recommended for older kids with a strong stomach - the waves can be fierce. (Sorry, no island rhinos!)
A special activity for the entire family is to walk up the endless stairs to the French stronghold, Fort Louis. The fort is an excellent panoramic view of the islands, with excellent shops and French cafes.
Curacao is a wonderful family vacation destination that celebrates the synergy of the island’s natural beauty and the exotic sea life. With stunning beaches in the Caribbean’s crystal-clear waters and unique animal encounters, Curacao catches the imagination of just about any traveler.
A popular attraction is to stop at Playa Grandi and check out the green turtles and leatherback turtles. From March until December, it is turtle hatching season. From Sheta Boka National Park, you can have the rare experience of seeing hundreds of tiny baby turtles making their way out to sea for the very first time.
Another great opportunity for your family to take part in witnessing Curacao’s tropical wildlife is making your way out to The Curacao Sea Museum. Here, kids can visit one of many unique animal encounter experiences.
Visit The Dolphin Academy to enjoy playful dolphin and sea lion shows, as well as participating in it. Families can not only learn interesting facts about these intelligent creatures, but they also offer adventures in which you could even swim with the dolphins.
Related Read: Do You Need A Passport To Go To Bermuda?
7. St. Kitts & Nevis Islands
The islands of St. Kitts & Nevis make up the smallest country of all the Americas – both in population and land mass. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, these islands would come to be the first islands to be inhabited by the English in the Caribbean.
The islands are small, but that does not mean they are short on adventure. St. Kitts & Nevis is a perfect family destination if your squad enjoys exploring. There are few feature attractions on the islands but are abundant in unique and diverse beaches.
These islands are quaint and peacefully remote. The shores are nice and shallow and back up to lush island mountains. Visiting the beaches of St. Kitts & Nevis carve out a perfect slice of paradise.
Pinney’s Beach is the best to visit if you would like plenty of space to play in the sand. With over 3 miles of smooth coastline, this beach is the ideal destination for building massive sandcastles.
For a memorable island experience, head out to South Friars Beach. The coastline is narrow and very remote. Here, you will feel as if you have a Caribbean Island all to yourselves.
8. St. Vincent & The Grenadines Islands
St. Vincent & The Grenadines Islands are the perfect combinations of unspoiled natural beauty and island adventures – all on the surface of a volcanic island. Depending on the ages of the family members, a trip to St. Vincent & the Grenadines Islands can be very different, but equally incredible.
The best adventure on St. Vincent & the Grenadines Islands is the trek to the top of La Soufrière volcano. The trail leading to the summit wanders through wild bamboo groves, tropical forests, and empty lava fields as the landscape changes around every corner. The hike is about 5 miles and may be difficult for children under 8.
If you have young kids, do not fret. On the islands, there are excellent choices for fun for the entire family. There are several unique theme parks that may be small in stature but have plenty of enjoyable rides and memorable attractions.
Not any different from the other Caribbean Islands, these islands have world-class snorkeling opportunities. Remember, this is a volcanic island. It is not every day you can sink your toes into a black sand beach.
Related Read: Best Time To Visit Punta Cana
The Anguilla Islands are a small set of islands and have the distinction of being the safest and friendliest of the Caribbean Islands. For families, there are several excellent options to keep the kids engaged and entertained on your tropical vacation.
These islands are great places to enjoy water sports. The coves tucked away around the islands are pleasantly calm, making for excellent opportunities to experience the Caribbean on the crystal-clear surface.
For adrenaline junkies, you can reserve a spot and go wakeboarding or water skiing. For a more leisurely water adventure, you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and tubes to chill under the sun.
For a fun and family-friendly dining experience, head out to Cha Cha San. Here, you can take part in a sushi-making course in an island villa. The experience is entertaining, but not too time-consuming, with child-friendly options for finicky appetites.
The Anguilla Islands are also a perfect place to scuba dive for the first time. The calm and clear waters are ideal when exploring the exotic ocean floor.
The island of Barbados is the ultimate luxury island experience with fantastic activities to keep the family entertained for the entirety of your vacation. With dozens of high-class resorts, the opportunities are limitless.
The west shores of Barbados are known as the “Platinum Coast” – a sophisticated stretch of luxurious all-inclusive resorts and lively beaches. This coastline makes Barbados one of the most popular islands in the world.
The beaches are spirited, but the waters are calm. Families can enjoy splashing in waves, catching some rays, or even joining in a friendly game of volleyball.
The resorts are the highlight of Barbados. These luxury accommodations have everything you could need on your family vacation. Many resorts are located right on the beach, with excellent swimming pools that are a seashell’s throw from the coast.
Each resort will have unique expeditions and activities for your family to enjoy. Whether it is windsurfing, tennis, or snorkeling, these resorts will surely keep the kids entertained and engaged.
When the sun goes down, the island transforms into an entertainment theme park – with Calypso dancing, concerts, or lively dining options to round out a day of adventure.
A family adventure in Martinique is perfect for groups who enjoy the relaxing sands, a unique history, and incredibly diverse scenery. With the peak of a volcano as a backdrop, this island is truly one-of-a-kind.
Most of the island is the pristine sandy beaches you come to expect when exploring the islands of the Caribbean; however, the sands of the north shore can only be seen in a few places in the entire world.
The northern shores of Martinique are formed from the remnants of a volcanic eruption, resulting in a beach composed of black pebbles. Bringing home a volcanic rock from an exotic island is a keepsake any kid could be proud of.
In the background is Mount Pelée, which is the highest point on the island and is an active volcano. For a memorable journey, bring the family and hike to the town of Saint-Pierre. In 1902, this town was demolished by the eruption of Mount Pelée.
Today, you can hike through the ruins of the former city center in an incredible representation of the power of the volcano that stands above you. It has been said, the experience of visiting Saint-Pierre is eerily similar to visiting the island of Pompeii.
With all the incredible Caribbean Islands to choose from, Grenada sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. However, that is to your family’s benefit. Grenada is stunning. With the perfect balance of island activities, luxury, and relaxation, Grenada is the ultimate hidden gem for a family vacation in the Caribbean Sea.
The island is very diverse. Your best bet is to rent a vehicle and hit the road. The island road is a loop and takes you along the beach, through the rainforest, and around volcanic peaks. Driver’s beware, you will drive on the left side of the road in Granada.
Grenada is also known for its culinary brilliance and is referred to as “Spice Island”. With unique flavors native to this island, Grenada is the gastro-capital of the Caribbean. A fun experience is to visit St. George’s Market, gather a few local spices, and take a family cooking course offered on the island.
While on your drive, head to Levera National Park. Here, you will find undisturbed beaches likely all to yourself. The only things that may share the sand with you are ghost crabs and maybe some wild cows.
13. Trinidad & Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago are some of the most spectacularly beautiful islands in the entire world. Explore the depths of the lush rainforest and be rewarded by private beaches in a setting pulled right out of a postcard. But the fun doesn’t end there. The islands offer incredible relaxation, history, and unique excursions for the entire family.
Go back in time and visit Fort George. Built in 1804, this fort was built to stop Napoleon’s fleet during a French invasion. Today, it stands tall above the city and is a great piece of history to explore. On the grounds are original cannons, artifacts, and dungeons from over 200 years ago.
Hidden among Trinidad and Tobago’s picturesque seashore is the entrance to something special beneath the surface. The Gasparee Caves rest 100 feet underground and open to miles of wave-crafted caves and caverns. Wander through a maze of otherworldly stalagmites and stalactites until reaching the floor of the Blue Grotto – a mysterious underground tidal pool.
For a unique family trip, check out the Emperor Valley Zoo. Here, kids can have the opportunity to see exotic animals from around the world, including monkeys, snakes, llamas, giraffes, and the island’s most popular attraction – the white Bengal tigers.
14. St. Lucia
St. Lucia is best recognized by its magnificent twin peaks, the Pitons. These lush tropical mountains emerge away from the coastline and are a truly picturesque landscape.
With natural beauty all around you, it is easy to have a fun family-friendly vacation without traveling too far. One of the best ways to take advantage of everything that Lucia has to offer is to book an all-inclusive resort.
A great place to stay is Coconut Bay Beach Resort. This luxury property is a beachfront resort with a variety of island activities, including a water park, 3 pools, a spa, and Caribbean-themed dinners.
For adrenaline junkies, St. Lucia has the highest rating ziplining opportunities in all of the Caribbean. Literally zipping through the rainforest canopy is an exciting adventure for kids and adults alike.
Antigua is a wonderful destination for families with young children. The island has miles of pristine beaches with calm, shallow waters - perfect for a family beach day.
Antigua consists primarily of humble, all-inclusive resorts. The no-stress atmosphere of the island’s accommodations makes for rare peaceful moments for parents of young ones.
A cool adventure for kids is to reserve a place on a boat tour of the island. While some kids may be too young to take advantage of snorkeling, the boat tours create a unique experience to witness the world under the sea.
Find a boat tour that offers a boat that has a glass bottom. From here, young ones who can’t swim can see this aquatic world for the very first time.