Editor’s Note: Some of the information below may be out-of-date. The British Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys were heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Please visit caribbeantravelupdate.com, fla-keys.com or the specific hotel’s website for updates.
It’s easy to pick the island with the biggest water slide and just take the kids there. Harder — but worth it — is finding the place where the entire family can bond while spying giant sea turtles, searching for hidden beaches and sharing more island experiences. With easy accessibility, fun amenities and big accommodations, these 10 resorts are perfect for family travel.
Capri was where the ancient Romans chose to spend their vacations, and on a clear day you can see Vesuvius, the volcano that buried Pompeii in A.D. 79, from the Hotel Caesar Augustus. A statue of Augustus himself recalls the first emperor who admired Capri’s beauty so much that he took the island as his private preserve. In ancient times, these giddy heights, which could only be reached by a 1,000-step stone stairway called the Scala Fenicia, were dotted with luxury villas. Sit down to an alfresco banquet at the Lucullo Terrace restaurant, and the kids might even declare that history is pretty cool after all. caesar-augustus.com
Imagine a Norman Rockwell version of the Florida Keys where families can enjoy the island chain’s isolated, timeless beauty minus a big leap offshore. Within a sprawling 60 acres of landscaped waterways, Hawks Cay has more than 400 suites and villas, five pools and four restaurants genteelly placed on tree-lined lanes. An oceanside enclosure has marine biologists on hand for small-group encounters with bottlenose dolphins, and the Island Adventure Camp program sets up teenagers for three days of snorkeling, diving, sailing and fishing. At dusk, families gravitate toward the open fires and the most delicious mojitos north of Havana. hawkscay.com
Marvel at the green monkeys of the Barbados Wildlife Reserve and the green pools of Harrison’s Cave. But marvel too at the Barbados school system, which has led to one of the world’s highest literacy rates at 99.7 percent. Let that be an example to the kids as you explore Barbados. Then relax at the luxurious, 112-room Sandy Lane resort, where celebrity parents have stayed. There through the complimentary Treehouse Club for children ages 3 to 16, you can all try a game of cricket, practice how to dive, and get a chance to swim and snorkel with turtles alongside a “turtle tutor.” You can’t help but learn something new. sandylane.com
The family compound is a great idea. If you can’t collect all the generations under one roof, use multiple roofs. In Antigua, a 300-acre private island is the setting for Jumby Bay, a luxurious hideaway with 40 suites, 16 villas with private pools and six estate homes. To get around the island, every family member gets a bike on arrival — except for babies, who get Silver Cross prams. Children can enroll in Camp Jumby — part of the Rose Buds for Children special offerings — to see the natural side of this island, and camp staffers can arrange activities for the whole family. The available all-inclusive rates make meals very easy. jumbybayresort.com
If the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, only offered its lomi-lomi massage and access to D.T. Fleming’s Beach, it would be a dream vacation. But the Ambassadors of the Environment Program, in partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau, makes this family trip a meaningful one too. Interactive adventures let kids explore a coral reef like a marine biologist, discover the “fires of Pele” in a lava-flow hike and follow the stars as if they were early Polynesian navigators. Families can gather around the Calabash table to share the day’s stories — and memories. ritzcarlton.com
Big reunions don’t have to be lots of work. In a quiet nook of Virgin Gorda are Aquamare’s three 8,000-square-foot villas. Then let the staff cater to your group of 36. If you’d like to join your private chef at the local dock to pick the freshest lobsters for dinner, you can. If you’d like to take the 62-foot yacht out, climb aboard. But if you just want to lie in the suspended “Dream Bed” floating over the sand at the private beach while your extended family frolics in the Sir Francis Drake Channel, by all means do. After all, your work is done. villaaquamare. com
Focus entirely on nature at Australia’s Heron Island. This mango-shaped droplet of fauna-filled national parkland, 44 acres in size, is planted off the Great Barrier Reef’s southern tip. The 109-room eco-friendly resort, sheltered by pandanus trees and ringed by white-sand beaches, encourages every family to explore. Kids can enroll in the Junior Rangers Program, earning badges as they wander the forest paths filled with thousands of seabirds, discover coral at low tide with naturalists, or venture out at night to spy the giant sea turtles nesting on the beach. Children at least 8 years old can snorkel and certified divers at least 10 years old can go deeper with a parent. Just 500 yards offshore lies “the Bommie,” an underwater pillar of coral-encrusted rock that Jacques Cousteau declared one of his favorite dive sites. heronisland.com
The spirit of Old Hawaii remains vibrant on the north shore of Kauai. Here you’ll find the makings of a hiking and snorkeling adventure, from the cliffs of the Na Pali Coast to the beach-rimmed waters of Hanalei Bay. The laid-back Hanalei Colony Resort is as much known for its proximity to those wonders as it is for its “no phones, no TVs, no stereos” room policy. Family reunions can take up as many as needed of the 48 two-bedroom condos. Not that you’ll be in them much. Instead, have breakfast together on the beachfront lanai, then enjoy a morning of ecological voluntourism, tending to plants in the nursery at nearby Limahuli Garden. At the resort’s intimate restaurant, a luau fires up kalua pork, fresh fish and more, capped with a family of fire-knife dancers. Learning how to dance like that can be your next adventure. hcr.com
“How big is the pool?” Kids often zero in on that one amenity to pick a vacation destination. So consider the magnificent lagoon surrounding Bora Bora the world’s biggest, best, bluest swimming pool. For even more aquatic delight, the Four Seasons Bora Bora has an infinity pool (with attendants bearing chilled towels). Next door is the Tamari’i Club for 5- to 12-year-olds, with a splash pad, turtle visits, snorkel sessions and French-food tastings. Teenagers get their own isle, Chill Island, with a private beach, hands-on reef research and stand-up paddle boarding. Everyone can go into the inner lagoon with the Four Seasons’ marine biologist. The only downside to this vacation: No other pool may ever compare. Available all-inclusive packages include meals plus a massage for two (perfect for parents). fourseasons.com
There’s a long list of reasons why any island traveler will love Fiji. Thankfully, there’s also a long list for why any parent will love Castaway Island, including fashion shows with make-your-own Fijian costumes, legends of Fiji told around the bonfire, and crab hunting by torch light. In fact, the staff can keep kids and teens entertained for most of the waking hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. And of the 66 bures on the western tip of this otherwise naturally green private island, many sleep up to five people. Bigger families will want to reserve the one 10-person bure on the beach. After the activities and amenities, the sunset over the South Pacific is at the top of any list about why to come to Fiji. castawayisland.com