The end of winter is in sight, spring break looms, and the warm waters, hypnotic rhythms, and spicy flavors of the tropics are calling. Whether you choose to explore the beaches of the Caribbean, the antiquities of Central America, or even the extraordinary wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, the perfect family adventure awaits. Here are 18 family spring break ideas to help you plan your next getaway.
Delve Into Mayan Mysteries at Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, dates back to 800 AD, and exploring it is one of the most memorable family spring break ideas. The many temples and ancient columns reveal the scientific genius of the Mayan people, whose understanding of astronomy was so advanced that they could predict solar eclipses.
The highlight is El Castillo, the famous stepped pyramid built in the eighth century. Dedicated to Kukulcan, the snake god, the temple has a total of 365 steps, one for each day of the solar year. Kids will be intrigued by the vast ball court, complete with scoring hoops, and no doubt by the fact that human sacrifices took place here.
Experience a Bahamian Water Park
The magnificent Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in Nassau is one giant playground. Here, you’ll find the largest open-air marine habitat in the world, where 14 lagoons are home to some 50,000 creatures, including sharks and rays.
Test your nerve at Aquaventure, a water park themed around the lost city of Atlantis, featuring adrenaline-pumping, high-speed waterslides. Ride The Serpent, and you’ll corkscrew through darkness, emerging in an acrylic underwater tunnel over which sharks glide.
Swim with dolphins and sea lions at Dolphin Cay, one of the Caribbean’s most important marine mammal rehabilitation centers. Or learn to paddleboard, take out a kayak, or simply kick back on five miles of powdery, golden Bahamian sand.
Commune With Wildlife in the Galapagos
The Galapagos archipelago, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, is more than a family vacation; this is an awe-inspiring and life-changing experience. The Galapagos is one of the more unusual family spring break ideas, but it’s special in every way.
Swimming among famed Galapagos animal species like sea turtles and black-tipped sharks, or walking on glittering black sand beaches strewn with basking sea lions and prehistoric-looking iguanas are experiences no family will forget.
Exploring the Galapagos with kids is always fun as they will love snorkeling with penguins, or watching the curious blue-footed boobies perform their courtship dance. This is a destination for adventurous, inquisitive families; kiss social media, shopping, and nightlife goodbye for a week and simply soak up this astonishing and unique place.
Embark on an Eco Adventure in Mexico
An intriguing, eco-archaeological experience, Xcaret Adventure Park off the eastern coast of Mexico checks all the boxes for families: educational, adventurous, and fun. The vast, 200-acre space has been carefully developed around the natural rainforest and the topography of the region.
Swim through underground rivers and into hidden lagoons. Learn about the indigenous wildlife, from jaguars to spider monkeys, flamingos, and manatees. Discover colorful Mexican culture or hike through the rainforest—or even underneath it, through a series of caves to a hidden Mayan village. You’ll find an aquarium, an aviary, stables, and even a day spa at one of the top beaches in Cozumel. The only challenge is to fit it all into a day.
Explore a 16th-Century Fort in San Juan, Puerto Rico
What child doesn’t love scrambling around an old fort? Take in the views from the top of the 16th-century Castillo de San Cristobal in San Juan. Look out to the blue Caribbean and imagine how it must have felt in centuries past to spot pirate ships approaching over the horizon. A tour of the fort is a chance to learn about military battles, booby-trapped bridges, and what life was like in the barracks—an eye-opener for today’s teens.
You can easily combine a visit to the fort with a wander around the colorful streets of Old San Juan, a maze of Insta-worthy colonial buildings, creative street art, quirky stores, and cool bars.
Play Castaway for a Day in St. Thomas
Gorgeous St. Thomas is encircled by pristine beaches, and beach-hopping here is the perfect family spring break idea if you’re craving time in the sun. If you pick just one spot, though, make it Magens Bay.
One of St. Thomas’s best beaches, and consistently voted one of the most beautiful in the world, this mile-long sweep of sugary sand is surrounded by forested hills, coconut groves, and mangroves, the emerald forest a breathtaking contrast with the bright aquamarine of the shallows.
There’s plenty to do here, from renting kayaks and dinghies to snorkeling or exploring the one-and-a-half-mile Discovery Nature Trail. The real aim of a day in this slice of paradise, though, is complete relaxation.
Read: Shopping in St. Thomas
Craft Your Own Chocolate in St. Kitts
For a change from the beach, why not indulge in a session at the St. Kitts Chocolate Factory, part of Basseterre’s lively entertainment complex, Fort Zante? The experience includes an educational element about how the humble cocoa bean actually becomes a candy bar, and then the fun part: the tasting of different types of chocolate.
Things get even better as there’s a chance to craft your own chocolate confection to remember your trip to St. Kitts, whether it’s a gourmet truffle or a gooey-centered invention of your own design.
Swim With Stingrays in Grand Cayman
Stingray City is one of the best-known attractions of Grand Cayman, and justifiably so. You’ll stand in warm, crystal clear water on a white sandbar and enjoy the curious sensation of graceful southern rays brushing past you as they come in search of tidbits. The whole experience is safe and serene.
Combine a visit to Stingray City with the Coral Gardens, one of the best places to snorkel in Grand Cayman. Even novice snorkelers will love the experience of drifting over dazzling coral beds, watching rainbow-hued fish going about their daily business below. It’s one of the best family spring break ideas for those who love marine life.
Try a Taste of France in St. Maarten
St. Maarten is an island divided by a barely noticeable border, Dutch on one side and French on the other. There’s a lot to do here, making St Maarten, or St Martin, on the French side, one of the best spring break destinations for families.
Grand Case Beach, on the French side, is a sweep of white sand close to the chic little town of Grand Case, all patisseries and chichi designer stores that offer some of the best St. Maarten shopping experiences. One of the hottest spots in town is Le Rainbow Café, a toes-in-the-sand beach bar and restaurant offering cool cocktails, tasty tapas, and anything from flaky croissants to tagliatelle with lobster and truffles. It’s the perfect spot for a family lunch and some people-watching.
Clamber Into a Cool Cave
An hour or so from San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Window Cave, or Cueva Ventana, is a fascinating geological site. The cave has been inhabited for millennia, as is evidenced by the petroglyphs of deities, human figures, and animals etched by pre-Colombian peoples.
You’ll be guided through the cave system, sometimes in complete darkness, as the guides illuminate dramatic stalactites and stalagmites—as well as bats—with flashlights. The rock window itself frames the lush, green mountains, and Rio Grande de Arecibo is (not surprisingly) one of the top Instagram images of Puerto Rico.
Fly Over the Rainforest in Roatan
Soar like a tropical bird over the forest canopy on the thrilling zipline at Monkey Trail Canopy in Roatan, which whizzes you down the mountainside via 13 stretches of cable, the longest of which is 500 feet. Once you’ve come back to earth, explore the rainforest of the eco-reserve Gumbalimba Park at close range via a series of walkways and rope bridges.
The slower pace is worth it; the park is a sanctuary to black iguanas, while you should also spot white-faced capuchin monkeys and tropical birds in brilliant colors, from scarlet macaws to bright green parrots. Look closely at the treetops; that mysterious blob could well be a cute-faced and very slow-moving sloth.
Mingle With the Jet Set in St. Barths
St. Barths, a short hop by ferry from St. Maarten, simply oozes glamor. Gleaming yachts line the marina at Gustavia, the pretty little capital, with even bigger superyachts anchored outside the port. You could easily spend a day wandering around town, browsing the shops and checking out the bars and restaurants.
Yachties and locals alike head to Le Select, a sailing-themed bar with a BBQ in the garden, a laid-back vibe, and an unexpected heritage; it’s here that Jimmy Buffet wrote Cheeseburger in Paradise. It’s also within walking distance of exquisite Shell Beach, one of the closest to the town.
Race in a RIB
The natural beauty and myriad attractions of the British Virgin Islands really do make this archipelago one of the best spring break destinations for families. Speed fans of all ages will love the thrill of a RIB ride, bouncing across the turquoise waters off Jost Van Dyke, stopping for some serious beach time before heading back to base at Tortola, the main island. The pace slows down on the way back for a chance to admire the shady green tunnels of the island’s mangroves.
Find Beaches and Butterflies in Aruba
Chilled Aruba is all about the beaches. You’d be challenged to find anywhere in the Caribbean with such dazzlingly white sand and brilliant aquamarine sea. At Palm Beach, on the island’s northern coast, the water is positively iridescent, lapping two miles of powdery sand and lined with palm trees. You’ll find watersports galore in the warm, shallow waters, and beach bars and cafes all along the waterfront.
At the southern end of the beach, should you need a break from the intensity of the sun, the Butterfly Farm is a lush, tropical garden that’s teeming with colorful butterflies and offers the perfect chance to admire these exquisite creatures up close. Guides take you through the life cycle of the butterfly, providing an educational element to the visit, and an insight into the island’s ecology.
Read: Best Beaches in Aruba
Take a Bath in the Virgin Islands
Kids and teens absolutely love The Baths, a tumble of giant granite boulders off sleepy Virgin Gorda, complete with caves, tunnels, hidden bays, and ladders as you follow a trail through the rock formations. If you approach by boat, you’ll reach the beach via short swim or snorkel, offering a preview of the extraordinary marine life in these crystal-clear waters.
Once you’re at The Baths, simply while away the day snorkeling over the coral, basking on the sand, or clambering around and under the rocks. For adults, there’s most likely to be a rum punch involved, too.
Go Dutch in Curaçao
Curaçao offers a flavor of The Netherlands in the Southern Caribbean, where candy-colored colonial buildings line what has to be one of the most exquisite waterfronts in the region.
Kids and teens may, however, have a limited tolerance for architecture, so build some beach time into your visit. Blue Bay Beach is just gorgeous, a curve of white sand backed by palm trees and framed at one end by tumbled rocks. You’ll find all manner of watersports on hand, including one of the best places to go snorkeling in Curaçao, not to mention waterfront dining and umbrellas for shade.
Embark on a Swashbuckling Snorkel Adventure
One of the best things to do in Roatan is to board a catamaran for a fun-filled sail to the National Marine Reserve. Here, whether you’re a snorkel pro or a first-timer, you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel over dazzling coral gardens amid shoals of iridescent tropical fish.
The underwater life really is extraordinary here, which makes for an unforgettable family adventure vacation. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef that surrounds tiny Roatan, the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands, is second in size only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and exploring it is a bucket-list-worthy family spring break idea. If you’re lucky, you could spot a sea turtle gliding gracefully by. After the underwater adventure, the crew will prepare a barbecue on deck, and for adults, the rum punch flows.
Can you already feel the tropical sun warming your face? Start browsing our incredible range of tropical cruise itineraries now and plan your next fabulous family spring break.