Top Ten Family Vacations in the Caribbean and Central America - Page 2
|NICE CATCH: Kids will love the treasures they find in Jamaica (courtesy, Jamaica Tourism Board)|
A trip to the Bahamas is like a trip to Florida, with roughly the same temperature. You can choose the Disney-esque version of a megaresort like Atlantis on Paradise Island or go with a more laid-back Sanibel Island-type affair in the form of Harbour Island. I’ve enjoyed both destinations with the family. It just depends on what type of vacation you want. Atlantis is a 3,400-room resort that’s practically immersed in a maze of water. Children will love the water park, Aquaventure, swimming with dolphins at Dolphin Cay, and strolling through the walk-through Aquarium. Parents will savor Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill at the all-suite addition to the resort, The Cove. Only three miles long and a half-mile wide, tiny Harbour Island has the feel of a historic New England village. Eighteenth-century clapboard houses, with requisite picket fences, line the small streets. And golf carts are the mode of travel, replacing cars. Kids can ride horseback along the pink-sand beach or snorkel. A family favorite is the recently renovated Coral Sands Hotel, located right on the beach.
Bahamas Vacation Guide
4. St. John
Only a few miles east of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. John has virtually nothing in common with its overdeveloped neighbor. More than 60 percent of the island and its surrounding waters are comprised of Virgin Islands National Park, an oasis in the Caribbean for the active family. Twenty hiking trails weave through the arid terrain past some 800 species of plants. On the shore, white-sand beaches lead to coral-covered bays (Trunk and Leinster are two of the best) where snorkelers spend hours mesmerized by the neon-colored fish. Spend your evenings at Maho Bay Camps. Owner Stan Selengut has reaped accolades for his eco-sensitive resort where 114 tent-cottages are woven into the tapestry of the landscape.
St. John Vacation Guide
3. The Cayo District, Belize
Best known for the longest barrier reef this side of Australia, Belize has a magical interior that should not be overlooked. Head to the Cayo District to explore the Mountain Pine Ridge on horseback, canoe along the wild Macal River, where you swim under waterfalls and can very likely spot toucans, and explore the Barton Cove caves. This section of the country is also known for its abundance of Mayan ruins, including Caracol, site of the 140-foot high Caana (Sky Palace) and the legendary Tikal in Guatemala. Stay at Ka'ana, a 15-cottage, upscale boutique resort that will help set up all your adventures in Belize.
Cayo District Vacation Guide
Jamaica has become such a hot destination (and I’m not talking about the climate) that I’m often asked by friends which part of the island to venture to. I send honeymooners and couples to the small boutique resorts of Negril, folks on a budget to Montego Bay (especially after April 15th), and families to Ocho Rios. But of all the locales, Ocho Rios reigns supreme, with a recent slate of high-end all-inclusive resorts opening just outside of town and great family-friendly activities close by. Hang at the beach to swim and sail, or head outside the resort to climb Dunn’s River Falls. Guides escort families up through the cascading water as you climb the 600-foot-high waterfall. Other nearby excursions include taking a tube down a clear stream in the lush mountains above the city, horseback riding along a quiet stretch of the coast, and taking a drive to the birthplace of reggae legend, Bob Marley.
Jamaica Vacation Guide
1. Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
With its mix of monkeys and white sand beaches, Manuel Antonio National Park ranks as one of our family favorites in Costa Rica. Yet, it’s Arenal, the most active volcano in the western hemisphere, and the jagged peaks of the Monteverde Cloud Forest that my kids remember most fondly. Spend the first night at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, set at the base of the cone-shaped volcano. Let the kids indulge in a little sugar high from dessert so that they can stay up late to see the nightly light show of lava running down from the crater. In the daytime, head out to the hot springs in nearby Tabacón. In Monteverde, book a villa at El Sapo Dorado and reserve trips to go on an exhilarating zipline above the cloud forest canopy with the outfitter Selvatura. Also sign up for a morning walk with one of the hotel’s naturalists. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot toucans, hummingbirds, and the rare iridescent green quetzal, with its red belly and billowing two-foot-long tail feathers.
Costa Rica Vacation Guide
Best Hotels in Aruba