Vacations are meant to be relaxing. Beaches, spas, pools…there are endless options for tranquility while exploring the Caribbean. Serenity, however, is hard to come by when you are traveling with the whole family. Children become restless, and parents become tired. Here are ten family-tested activities that are sure to put a smile on the face of both kids and parents while visiting the Caribbean.
1. Stingray City in Grand Cayman For the adventure-seeking family
Stingray City is a must-do for any adventure-seeking family that is visiting the Cayman Islands. Stingray City is a sandbar whose stingrays have become desensitized to human activity and boat motors throughout decades. Now, visitors of all ages can safely swim and interact with dozens of stingrays. Children love playing with and holding such interesting creatures, and because the contained area is only a few feet deep, parents can rest easy knowing that their children are perfectly safe. (Plus, who doesn’t want a chance to hold a live stingray?).
2. Snorkeling For the water-loving family
Snorkeling is a fantastic family activity, especially if your children are slightly older. The Caribbean’s transparent crystal-blue water boasts many magical spots to snorkel. Whether you are traveling to Mexico, the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, or Turks & Caicos, there are beautiful underwater sights to explore. A trusted travel consultant can easily arrange this activity, and we recommend enlisting a guide to ensure that you don’t miss a thing. As far as equipment goes, as long as you pack your snorkel goggles and breathing tube, you are good to go. Your kids will love swimming among so many unique sea creatures, and because snorkeling only requires you to stay at the water’s surface, they don’t need to fear going too deep.
3. Horseback Riding For the animal-loving family
Many Caribbean spots are great locations for horseback riding, including Jamaica, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic, to name a few. These awesome beaches are perfect for horseback riding, a unique experience for animal-loving families who want to bring a bit of the country to the beach. Many resorts and hotels offer horseback riding beach tours, and we can arrange this activity with you upon booking. We highly recommend this activity for families with children who are old enough to ride a horse without being afraid. But never fear–these horses are very calm around the water and used to families with children.
4. Zip Lining For the thrill-seeking family
While many Caribbean destinations offer zip lining (the Dominican Republic, the Riviera Maya), Costa Rica is famous for its zip lining adventures. Hidden among the clouds of the Monteverde cloud forest, this zip lining destination is perfect for any thrill-seeking family. Monteverde’s zip line has nine stopping points on the way down to the bottom, and some of them allow buddy zipping, which kids love. There is a height limit, so some younger children may not be eligible to zip, but for those who can, this unique adventure is sure to be a vacation highlight.
5. Historical Ruins For the intellectually-driven family
While sometimes children can’t comprehend the depth of a destination’s history, they do still enjoy exploring new sights and places. Many Caribbean destinations abound with unique history and background. The Dominican Republic, for example, is home to the first cathedral, hospital and university of the Americas. There are many sights that pay tribute to the beginning of the New World and Columbus’s discovery. Mexico, of course, has many historical ruins that are some of the most beautiful and picturesque places in the world. Some Mayan ruins include the Chichén Itzá, Uxmal Ruins, Calkmul city, and more. Kids will enjoy exploring the ruins, while parents can appreciate and understand the history behind each of them. It’s a win-win!
6. Exploring New Cultures For the curious family
Exposing children to different cultures and ways of life is important at any age. Many Caribbean destinations have cultures that are completely different than that of the continental United States. Some locations, such as Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, are home to different languages that will enrich your children with unique experiences. Because of the high tourism rates in each of these locations, many people do speak English, so there are few problems with language barriers. Instead, new cultures provide an opportunity for intellectual growth.
7. Cenotes For the exploring family
Cenotes are swimming holes that are naturally formed by limestone bedrock and offer a fantastic day-trip for any family traveling in Mexico. These holes are filled with transparent fresh water that has been filtered by the earth. The word cenote means “sacred well.” A few favorite cenotes in Mexico include Cenote Yokdzonot (near Chichén Itzá), Cenote Dos Ojos (near Tulum), Cenote Azul (near Playa del Carmen), Cenote Samulá (near Valladolid), Cenote Ponderosa (near Playa del Carmen), and Grutas de Loltún (near Chichén Itzá). Each of these cenotes provides a changing area, life vests, and snorkeling equipment for rent. Children will love the wonder and magic of the underground sights.
8. Hiking For the athletic family
If your family loves to stay active while on vacation, hiking is the perfect activity for you. Costa Rica, specifically, has great options for hiking that will entertain any family. Many hiking trails are flat enough that families of all athletic levels can enjoy them. Hiking gives children a chance to see the area’s wildlife and nature. We can arrange a guide, who will take your family to the best hiking trails.
9. Diving For families with older children
The next step up from snorkeling! Scuba diving is an awesome chance for you to get up close and personal with different marine life. Some locations that offer great scuba diving spots include Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; the British Virgin Islands; Bermuda; and the Bahamas. In order to scuba dive, however, you must become certified. Many tourist destinations make it very easy for vacationers to become certified on site.
10. Pirate Ships For adventure-loving families
In both the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands, pirate ships are open for exploration. In the Cayman Islands, there is the Jolly Roger pirate ship, which is a replica of Christopher Columbus’ Nina. The Jolly Roger is a day cruise that offers entertainment as it travels along the seven-mile beach. In Nassau, Bahamas, a replica of the pirate ship Revenge from 1716 is a fun, unique stop. The replica is an interactive museum that teaches visitors about the lives of the pirates. It’s a fun experience for both pirate-loving kids, as well as curious parents.