With miles of white beaches, warm crystalline water, and endless sunshine, the Caribbean offers some of the world’s best island vacations for families.
Outside of the Caribbean, look to destinations such as the Mediterranean and Canary Islands for culture, golden beaches, and natural landmarks that cater well to families.
From high-thrill adventures in the Bahamas to building sandcastles on black-sand beaches in Greece, consider one of these dreamy island destinations for your next family vacation.
The largest of the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman is a gorgeous tropical island that is well-suited to families.
One of Grand Cayman’s best beaches is Seven Mile Beach, on the northwest coast. This white beach is lined with swaying palms, bars, and restaurants, a short distance from George Town, the island’s capital.
The water is among the best in the Caribbean for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving, with a coral reef packed with marine life just off the shore.
To inject some culture into your family vacation, visit the Cayman Islands National Museum to learn about Caymanian heritage and visit the colonial-era Fort George in George Town.
Another unmissable thing to do in Grand Cayman is to stroll through the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, where kids will enjoy seeing the Blue Iguana Habitat, a conservation program to protect this endangered reptile.
Take your family to Hell by traveling to West Bay in the northern tip of Grand Cayman. This family-friendly attraction is an area of black jagged limestone rock formations, flanked by tropical greenery.
Hell takes its name from the harsh appearance of the 24-million-year-old geological wonder.
There’s even a “welcome” sign painted in red that says ‘Welcome to Hell’ and a mailbox, which means you can send a postcard from Hell to friends and family back home.
The island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands is a knockout for families, with sun-baked beaches, whale watching, and a golden-dune nature reserve.
In Las Palmas, the capital, there’s an outstanding aquarium, the Poema del Mar Aquarium, near the city’s sweeping Las Canteras Beach. Consider splitting your day between the two, with watersports and sun loungers for hire on Las Canteras, and restaurants dotted along the promenade.
At the aquarium, gaze at the cinematic Deep Sea pool, with over 350 marine species on display through the largest glass-viewing window in the world. Poema del Mar Aquarium also has a turtle hospital where injured and sick turtles are nursed back to health.
In the south of Gran Canaria, Playa de Maspalomas is one of the best beaches in the Canary Islands for families thanks to its miles of golden sand and swimmer-friendly waters. The beach is flanked by the 900-acre Maspalomas Dunes Nature Reserve.
There’s a brackish lagoon popular with migratory birds and a palm tree oasis, too, making it a wonderful spot for families to explore.
Gran Canaria is also a fantastic spot to go on a memory-making whale-watching trip with boat tours operating from the southwest of the island. Typical ocean encounters include dolphins, sperm, pilots, and fin whales, which can be seen in the sapphire-blue Atlantic Ocean that surrounds the Spanish island.
What makes Cozumel, a Mexican island off the Yucatan Peninsula, among the best island vacations for families? It has dazzling beaches, Mayan ruins, and some of the best snorkeling in Mexico.
Take your family to Playa Mia Grand Beach Park. With its 200-foot water slide, a floating water park, kayaks, and a swim-up bar, it’s an idyllic beach in Cozumel hit for kids and adults.
One of the best things to do in Cozumel with kids is to visit Punta Sur, a serene 247-acre nature reserve of tropical forest, beaches, a lagoon system, and reefs. Nature-curious families will enjoy a slow-paced boat ride on the lagoon to look for crocodiles, turtles, and iguanas.
At Punta Celerain Lighthouse, learn about the region’s maritime history at the Navigational Museum, while between May and October, sea turtles arrive on the beach to nest.
The Mesoamerican Reef lies just Punta Sur. Sign up for a guided snorkel or scuba trip to spot queen conch, grouper, parrotfish, angelfish, and barracuda among the cornucopia of ocean life found here.
You could also explore El Cedral, a Mayan ruin that dates back to 800 A.D., making it the oldest on the island.
The largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Mallorca has dazzling coves, pretty towns, and coastal hiking trails, plus a capital city, Palma, replete with culture, shopping, and gastronomy.
The dramatic Drach Caves in Mallorca’s southeast make for an intriguing day out for families. This network of four caves extends almost two and a half miles, featuring thousands of stalactites, stalagmites, and underground lakes, the largest being Lake Martel.
To reach Lake Martel, you’ll need to descend 119 steps, deep inside the caves. Here, join an atmospheric boat ride or cross the lake by the footbridge. Adding to the magic, a quartet performs a live classical concert.
Another reason Mallorca is one of the best island vacations for families is the island’s gorgeous beaches and glass-clear waters. Laze and splash on Alcudia Beach in the north of Mallorca. One of Mallorca’s best beaches, this golden sweep of sand is perfect for paddling, watersports, and swimming.
Palmanova Beach, close to Palma, is a fabulous spot, too, with thatched umbrellas, pretty palm trees, and plenty of space for sunbathing, siestas, and sea swims.
Don’t leave Palma without catching a glimpse of the majestic Catedral de Mallorca. It’s one of the world’s most beautiful cathedrals, with its ornate Gothic architecture and large rose window.
Families adore the spicy Southern Caribbean island of Grenada, known for its nutmeg and cinnamon production, for its laid-back vibe.
Stretch out on the crescent-shaped Grand Anse Beach, one of the best beaches in Grenada. This two-mile shore, a short distance south of St. George’s, Grenada’s capital, is postcard-perfect, with white sand lined with palm trees, and watersports, beach bars, and restaurants.
Pick up souvenirs from Grand Anse’s Craft and Spice Market and sip on a rum punch, with fresh coconuts and juices for the kids.
More intrepid families will appreciate Grenada’s hinterland in Grand Etang National Park, home to some of the best hikes in the Caribbean. This emerald landscape covers over 2,000 acres, including three of Grenada’s tallest mountains—Southeast Mountain, Mt. Sinai, and Mt. Qua Qua—and Grand Etang Lake, one of three volcanic crater lakes in the reserve, sitting at 1,739 feet above the sea.
Hikes range from breezy 15-minute walks to full-day expeditions. There are picnic areas, food concessions, and a visitor center within the park. Look out for the reserve’s tropical wildlife, too, including frogs, lizards, and colorful birds.
Stop off at Annandale waterfall after visiting Grand Etang Forest Reserve. It’s one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Caribbean, surrounded by lush ferns and dangling vines with a tempting watering hole at the bottom.
If your troop prefers to take in some of the island’s history, head for Fort Frederick, a late 1700s bastion perched 800 feet above St. George’s harbor.
Santorini is a bucket-list destination, not just for couples looking for romance; it’s one of the best island vacations for families, too.
Lying east of Greece’s mainland, Santorini displays a rugged landscape, with a submerged caldera, and dramatic black and red-sand beaches.
In contrast to the island’s volcanic terrain, the towns of Oia and Fira are marked by pretty whitewashed buildings and blue-domed churches. They’re wonderful places to explore on foot, filled with gift shops, art galleries, designer boutiques, and many restaurants and bars.
Santorini’s colorful beaches are a big pull for families. Build fanciful sandcastles on Perivolos Beach, a sweeping strip of black sand on Santorini’s south coast. The dramatic shore features sparkling azure water, thatched parasols, and watersports, with tavernas and bars dotted along the seafront.
Another must-visit Santorini shore is the magnificent Red Beach, framed by ochre cliffs that plunge into the sea. Nearby is the Bronze Age Akrotiri archaeological site, dating back to 4,500 B.C.
Here you could delve into Santorini’s long backstory. This sophisticated settlement was wiped out by a volcanic eruption in the 17th century B.C., with paved streets, squares, frescoed buildings, and storehouses unearthed at the site.
You could also enjoy a family kayak trip in the caldera to witness Santorini’s beautiful beaches and dramatic coastline from the water. After cooling off in the sea, enjoy a lunch of fresh locally caught seafood, such as snapper, squid, and octopus at a local taverna.
Possibly the best island for family vacation fun in the sunshine is Aruba, boasting one of the best climates in the Caribbean.
Plan a visit to Aruba’s family-friendly De Palm Island. This action-packed coral island has colorful water slides, a swimming pool, watersports, and an open bar, making it a big hit with families.
Visiting here is one of the best things to do in Aruba with kids as you can swim, snorkel, fly down the slides, and admire the pink flamingos that wander the shore. Afterward, settle down for a tasty lunch at the island’s buffet, with a salad bar, Caribbean chicken curry, and grilled fish among the dishes.
If you prefer to stay on the mainland, Aruba’s marvelous Eagle Beach is a short distance north of Oranjestad. It’s the widest beach on Aruba, with powder-white sand, beach huts, and watersports.
This beautiful beach in Aruba is famous for its two fofoti trees that point towards the ocean, twisted by the trade winds. A highlight for nature lovers is leatherback turtle nesting season, between March and July.
Alternatively, the Casibari Rock Formation in the center of Aruba is a natural wonder that piques curious minds. These gigantic monolithic boulders are surrounded by cacti-lined trails, with steps leading to the top for fantastic views of Aruba.
St. Kitts & Nevis
From lazing on the sand to exploring island life, there’s plenty to do for families on St. Kitts & Nevis, including riding the historic St. Kitts Scenic Railway. This lovely, slow-paced outing takes travelers on a three-hour, 30-mile journey, including 18 miles on a narrow-gauge train, with the remainder on a bus.
Learn about the history of St. Kitts Scenic Railway as you take in the tropical views. Built-in the 1920s, the railway was established to transport sugar cane from the plantation to the factory in the island’s capital, Basseterre.
Cross Christ Church and Soldier Ghut bridges as you enjoy warm tradewinds and soak in views of unspoiled coastlines, rainforest-carpeted mountains, and abandoned sugar plantations.
Visit the UNESCO-listed Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, one of the best things to do in St. Kitts. This hilltop fort was built by African slaves, beginning in the 1690s, and finished around a century later. Brimstone Hill Fortress is among the Caribbean’s best-preserved examples of military architecture, featuring towering polygonal stonewalls.
If you’re seeking a more languorous family day out opt for Frigate Bay. Frigate is one of the most picturesque beaches in St. Kitts, with tall swaying palm trees, beach bars, and watersports.
There’s a relaxed feel at Cockleshell Bay on the south coast of St. Kitts, too, where searching for seashells, snorkeling, and sunbathing make for an unforgettable family day.
Afterward, gather around for delicious Caribbean cuisine of conch fritters and spicy fish tacos at one of the beachside restaurants.
What makes CocoCay in the Bahamas the best island for family vacations? Palm trees surround an array of daredevil water slides, free-form pools, and luxurious cabanas. There are five beautiful beaches with gently lapping clear water and silky sand.
Family members of all ages are entertained by splash zones, a zip line, and the 13 sky-reaching water slides, including Daredevil’s Peak, a 135-foot, white-knuckle drop at Thrill Waterpark, one of the best water parks in the Caribbean. Equally as thrilling is Up, Up and Away, an adrenaline-pumping helium balloon ride that soars 450 feet above the island.
Chill out at Oasis Lagoon, the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean, with its child-friendly sloping entry, swim-up bar, and private cabanas.
There are plenty of places to refuel on CocoCay, too, from Caribbean flavors at Chill Grill to quick bites at Snack Shack. For an elevated luxury experience, rent an overwater cabana, complete with a lounge area and a slide that plunges straight into the ocean.
From lazy rivers to lush waterfalls, white-sand beaches, and tropical rainforests, few family escapes are as rewarding as a vacation in Jamaica.
Take your crew to discover the enchanting Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, location of the island’s highest peak, the 7,401-foot Blue Mountain, with nine miles of hiking trails.
For a light, family-friendly hike, opt for one of the Holywell nature walks, with jungle jaunts ranging from 10 to 60 minutes. Eagle-eyed travelers might spot the endangered Jamaican swallowtail, the largest butterfly species in the Western Hemisphere, among the tropical vegetation, waterfalls, and bathing pools.
Just outside of Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s north coast, Dunn’s River Falls is another one of the best places to visit in Jamaica. Climb to the top of Dunn’s 960-foot cascade, over travertine rock formations, and bathe in scenic rockpools.
You could tube, kayak, or raft down White River’s exhilarating rapids. There’s also horseback riding, ziplining through the forest canopy, and guided hikes around the river. For more aquatic fun near Ocho Rios, try Blue Hole, with its series of waterfalls and cavernous limestone sinkholes filled with swimmable turquoise water.
To kick back in the warm Caribbean Sea, sunbathe on soft sand, and savor friend conch or Jerk chicken, relax on the crowd-pleasing Ocho Rios Bay Beach, one of Jamaica’s best beaches.
The best island vacations for families offer glorious sunshine, golden beaches, and plenty of adventure. From the Canary Islands to the Caribbean, explore Celebrity Cruises’ luxury getaways to find your next family vacation.