25 Top Budget Caribbean Family Vacations
By Nancy Schretter, Editor
Families can easily enjoy some of the燙aribbean's best beaches without breaking the bank. In fact, a number of family friendly resorts throughout the燙aribbean爎egularly offer affordable vacation values and family oriented amenities. The Family Travel Network staff has researched the market and surveyed travel agents, family travel experts, readers, and others to come up with our list of?5 of the燽est budget燙aribbean爎esorts and vacation options爁or families. We've also uncovered other options爁or finding cheap燙aribbean爁amily vacation deals.
Families can get the best deals and rates during the off-season months (generally from late April or early May through mid-December), but some resorts also offer family-oriented specials at other times. During the summer months, "kids stay and eat free" deals are quite common at resorts in the燙aribbean燼nd燤exico. In addition, some vacation package marketers such asBookIt.com?www.bookit.com),?a >CheapCaribbean.com?www.cheapcaribbean.com), Funjet (www.funjet.com), Fare Deals (www.faredeals.com), USA3000 Vacations (www.usa3000.com)燼nd others offer deals and specials during the fall and in prime winter months. When bargain shopping, always make sure to compare these deals with those that you can obtain on your own to make sure you're getting the best deal. Websites such as TravelZoo (www.travelzoo.com) and the Hot Deals area of the?a href="http://www.zhangyex.tw/newhotdeals.asp">Family Travel Network燾an also be good sources for燙aribbean爒acation bargains.
Vacation home and villa rentals can be another good source for reasonably priced燙aribbean爁amily getaways in the off-season, especially if you have a large family or are traveling with a multigenerational group. These properties provide families with room to spread out and generally come with kitchen facilities, which can save money on meals. Villa rental agents are particularly helpful in matching family needs and budgetary considerations with island properties. Companies such as Villas of Distinction (www.VillasofDistinction.com) Villas Caribe (www.villascaribe.com),燼nd WIMCO (www.wimco.com) have listings throughout the Caribbean, while agencies such as Jamaica Villas by Linda Smith (www.jamaicavillas.com) specialize in one island. Websites such as?a >www.homeaway.com,?a >www.vrbo.com, and?a >www.redweek.com燼lso provide good deals directly from the owner.
If you're dreaming of some fun in the燙aribbean爏un, here are?5 budget-oriented resorts and vacation options that are good choices for an affordable family getaway. You won't find five-star rooms, gourmet restaurants and amenities at these places, but you won't be spending a fortune, either. These燿estinations deliver a good value for families who want to stretch their vacation dollars.
1.牋牋Bayaleau Point Cottages,燝renada:?/b>These four colorful?a >cottages爋n Carriacou, a tiny island in the燝renadines, are perfect for escapist families who want to get away from it all and relax. Owner Dave Goldhill goes out of his way to make parents and children very welcome here.?b>What's Special:燭hese four cottages can be rented separately or for a large family vacation. "Mostly Harmless," a 28-foot launch, is available to take families on day excursions to the Tobago Cays for snorkeling and other excursions in the燝renadines. Three of the cottages are perfect for families and one - the Little Blue Cottage - has a separate Baby Blue Cottage that's perfect for families with teens. Hiking, kayaking, sailing, and donkey treks are available. There is no television or air conditioning in the units. To get the most out of your stay here, a rental car is advised.?a >www.carriacoucottages.com
2.牋牋Bay燝ardens燘each燫esort,燬t.燣ucia:?a >Bay Gardens Beach Resort爋ccupies an enviable location on beautiful two-mile long燫eduit燘each.?b>What's Special:燭his resort's winning combination of beachfront location, excellent service and value-oriented rates makes it popular with repeat guests. Families like the hotel's expansive rooms and suites, most of which can be combined into two-bedroom accommodations, as well as the large lagoon pool.燝uests爓ill enjoy the resort's onsite爎estaurants, watersports and dive center, and the La Mer full service spa. Babysitting, laundry services, and free Wi-Fi燼re available.?a >www.baygardensbeachresort.com牋
3.牋牋Bohio Dive Resort, Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos:?/b>Divers and non-divers alike will enjoy their stay at?a >Bohio Dive Resort, a boutique hotel nestled on 4-acres of pristine white sand beachfront.?b>What's Special:燘ohio's on-site PADI dive shop燼llows guests to explore the area's world-class diving opportunities and learn to dive courses and instruction are available. Children ages 16 and under sharing a room with parents stay free and babysitting is available. Families will enjoy the resort's pool, snorkeling off Bohio's beach and爁ree kayaks, bikes and high-speed Internet access. Horseback riding, yoga classes and excursions to other cays are also available. The nearby Grand Turk Cruise Centre opens its doors on selected days when cruise ships are in port, providing access to duty-free shopping and boutiques. The hotel's Guanahani Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.?a >www.bohioresort.com
4.牋牋Breezes燙uracao燫esort Spa & Casino, Curacao:?a >Breezes Curacao爋ffers families the value and ease of an all-inclusive vacation with Dutch island flair.?b>What's Special:燜amilies will enjoy the watersports and the 1500-foot white sand beach. The resort has constructed a breakwater right offshore, creating a large protected area where children can easily swim amidst tropical fish. The resort is also adjacent to the lovely燯ndersea燦ational Park燼s well as the Sea Aquarium. Fully-staffed kids programs at燙amp燘reezes燼re included and are available for babies, school-age children and teens. SuperNannies and babysitters are available for an additional charge.營f you go, make reservations for dinner at Pastafari and Munasan, the resort's Japanese tapanyaki restaurant, and try out the trapeze and trampoline clinics. Families with children ages 14 and older should check out Breezes Bahamas and the recently renovated燘reezes燫unaway燘ay, two additional value-oriented Breezes properties that work particularly well for families with teens.?a >www.breezes.com?b>?/b>
5.牋牋Carimar燘each燙lub,燗nguilla:燗nguilla爃as some of the most spectacular beaches in the燙aribbean, but many of the island's resorts are posh five-star luxury properties. Located right on the water on stunning Mead's Bay,?a >Carimar Beach Club爌rovides the perfect alternative for value-oriented families who want to experience燗nguilla's unspoiled charms without breaking the bank.?b>What's Special:燙arimar's beachfront and beachview one- and two-bedroom villas give families room to spread out on their vacation. Each villa comes with a full kitchen, allowing families to save money on food expenses. High speed Internet service is available in all rooms and laundry facilities and a television are located in the resort's recreation room. Although there are televisions in the villas, the beach is the main draw here. For families with children ages 2-12, Carimar guests can use the facilities of the Children's Place at the upscale Malliouhana Hotel & Spa next door for $25 per day. This supervised outdoor playground on the beach includes a 26-foot pirate ship, a variety of pools, and a 60-foot water slide.?a >www.carimar.com.
6.牋牋Chenay燘ay燘each燫esort,燬t. Croix,燯S燰irgin Islands:營f you're seeking a reasonably priced beach cottage with resort amenities in the U.S. Virgin Islands,?a >Chenay Bay爉ay be just the place for you and your family.?b>What's Special:The resort's cottages have private front porches and kitchenettes so families can enjoy snacks or meals whenever they wish. Family cottages can sleep up to 8 adults. The resort has a lovely sand beach which is protected by Green Cay National Wildlife Preserve, a small island located just off the coast. Since the resort is located in the U.S. Virgin Islands, no passports are required.?a >www.chenaybay.com.
7.牋牋Cinnamon燘ay燙ampground,燬t. John,燯S燰irgin Islands:燭his lovely campground and cottage compound is an excellent choice for budget-oriented families looking for affordable accommodations on the idyllic island paradise of燬t. John. Over 30 "bring your own tent" bare sites, 55 durable pre-erected tents and 40 screen-lined rustic cottages - some beachfront and beachview - are available here.?b>What's Special:?a >Cinnamon Bay's cottages and other accommodations are located just steps away from the National Park's longest stretch of sand,燙innamon燘ay燘each. This property is a haven for campers and families who love the beach and are looking for a good bargain on燬t. John. Cottages have electricity and all accommodations have easy access to the campground's central bathhouses with lavatories and cool water showers. The on-site Tree Lizards Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and the General Store carries a variety of grocery items and toiletries. The property's U.S. Virgin Islands location means no passports are necessary. If you go, bring some mosquito repellent and consider renting a jeep to buy groceries and explore the island.www.cinnamonbay.com.
8.牋牋Coconut燘each燫esort,燬t. Lucia:燬et on 85 lush acres near the tip of燬t. Lucia, all-inclusive?a >Coconut Bay Resort爄s close to all of燬t. Lucia's top attractions and just minutes away from燞ewanorra營nternational燗irport. This resort won aWhat's Special:燙ocoLand water park, complete with pools, water slides and a燣azy燫iver, is a true kid-pleaser. The resort's well-supervised kids programs for children ages 3-14 include燭he Clubhouse爁or preteens and Coco Kidz for toddlers and school-age children. The resort's location is close to many of燬t. Lucia's prime attractions, and the resort's tour desk offers rainforest canopy tours, trips to the world's only drive-in active volcano, boat trips along the燬t. Lucia燾oast, and a wide variety of other excursions.?a >www.coconutbayresortandspa.com
9.牋牋Comfort Suites Paradise Island,燘ahamas:燭his?a >Comfort Suites燿elivers more than meets the eye for families. The resort's added benefits make it a true family favorite, so make sure to take advantage of them for as long as they last.What's Special:燣ocated across from燗tlantis燩aradise營sland, families staying at燙omfort燬uites燩aradise營sland燾an enjoy the full use of the Atlantis facilities, including the pools, water slides,燣azy燫iver爎ide, private beach, spa and Kids Camp, at a small fraction of the Atlantis price. Guests at燙omfort燬uites燩aradise營sland燼lso have full signing privileges at燗tlantis燩aradise營sland爎estaurants and lounges. In addition, Comfort Suites guests also receive a free deluxe continental breakfast and refrigerators are available in the hotel's rooms. Deluxe rooms can accommodate larger families with two double beds and a living room area complete with a double sofa bed.?a >www.ComfortSuites.ChoiceHotels.com
10.?b>Grand燩ineapple燘each燦egril,燡amaica:?/b>The爈aid-back all-inclusive?a >Grand Pineapple Beach Negril爄s now owned by Sandals/Beaches Resorts, a favorite with family travelers. Beaches operates another value-oriented family oriented all-inclusive nearby,?a >Beaches Sandy Bay, which is also a爂ood (but more expensive) choice for budget oriented families.?b>What's Special:燭his small resort is located on one of the widest sections of spectacular燦egril燘each, providing 7-miles of white sand bliss for beach lovers. Beach side rooms are爈ocated right on燦egril燘each, while less expensive garden side rooms are located across the boulevard. Watersports here are excellent and most public areas of the hotel (as well as some of the rooms) have Wi-Fi coverage. Great deals are often offered on the resort's website, so make sure to check there before booking. ?a >www.GrandPineapple.com
11.?b>Guavaberry Spring Bay Vacation Homes, Virgin Gorda,燘ritish Virgin Islands:?The unique?a >Guavaberry Spring Bayresort is a collection of individual tree house-style villas.?Each one, two or three bedroom home燾omes with燼 fully equipped kitchen, a living/dining area, covered decks and beautiful views.?b>What's Special:燣ocation, location, location. These villas are situated just a short walk from燽eautiful Spring Bay Beach, Devil's Bay, fantastic snorkeling at The Baths, and?The Crawl," a National Park featuring a natural swimming pool enclosed by爂iant boulders. The spacious villas爂ive families room to spread out and the full kitchens in each cottage allow families to save on meals.?In addition, the resort's commissary is conveniently well stocked with groceries and other supplies.燭he爃elpful staff at燝uavaberrySpring燘ay燼re also available to help with restaurant reservations, setting up excursions and arranging car rentals.?Villas do not have air conditioning or televisions, but the tradewinds and surrounding activities can easily compensate for both.www.guavaberryspringbay.com
12.?b>Holiday Inn燬unSpree Resort,燡amaica:燭he?a >Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort爄n燡amaica爓on?a s Travelers' Choice Award in the "Best for Families -燙aribbean" category in previous years.?b>What's Special:燭his all-inclusive resort's multi-million dollar renovation added significant improvements to the rooms as well as to the beach, swimming and sunning areas. Special family-oriented KidSuites are available. The resort is located only 7 miles from燬angsterInternational燗irport, making it a great choice for long weekend family getaways. The resort also offers a free children's program for kids ages 6 months to 12 years, watersports, and one bedroom suites for larger families.燙heck for "Kids Stay, Play and Eat Free" deals for children 12 and under.?a >www.sunspreeresorts.com
13.?b>Hotel Akumal Caribe, Akumal, Mexico:?/b>燭his爈aid-back snorkelers' and divers' paradise in the Riviera Maya region is a family favorite, with its爈ovely white sand beach, spacious bungalows and villas, and charming rustic feel.?b>What's Special:?For years, the燞otel Akumal Caribe爃as delivered燼n excellent vacation value for budget-conscious families.燗ccommodations are available in the low-rise hotel (families with little ones should爎equest first floor units), or in the resort's bungalows, condos and villas.燗 wide variety of watersports are available at the property and爐he beach爄s lined with爌alapas and palm trees for shade.燗ll rates include an American breakfast and free Internet. The resort's Lol-Ha restaurant is a good choice for dinner and a number of Mayan ruins are located within easy driving range. Babysitters can be arranged with adequate notice. If you go, make sure to take a cab or get in your rental car and go to nearby Yal Ku Lagoon for snorkeling.牋www.hotelakumalcaribe.com
14.?b>Iberostar Costa Dorada,燩uerto Plata,燚ominican Republic:燭he all-inclusive Iberostar Costa Dorada wonIberostar爏ister properties throughout the燚ominican Republic燼nd the Riviera Maya area of燤exico, are consistent favorites with vacationing families.?b>What's Special:燜amilies rave about this resort's large pool, lovely grounds and attentive Star Friends staff. Lucy's Club entertains children ages 4-12 and an extensive variety of tours are offered. Spa treatments are excellent and extremely reasonably priced. Rooms in blocks 1,2,5,6 and 7 are further away from the disco and tend to be quieter. For more "if you go" tips, see this related article on?a href="http://www.zhangyex.tw/articles/hotspot_iberostar_costa_dorada.asp">The Family Travel Network. This property's sister resorts in Punta Cana, the Iberostar Bavaro and the Iberostar Dominicana,爓ere named byTripAdvisor.com燼nd Budget Travel magazine as燽est爒alue Caribbean爎esorts.?a >www.iberostar.com
15.?b>Maho燘ay燙amps and燙oncordia Eco-Resort,燬t. John,燯S燰irgin Islands:燣ocated on one of the most beautiful and exclusive islands in the燙aribbean, these?a >Maho Bay爌roperties are both eco-friendly and reasonably priced.?b>What's Special:燤aho燘ay燙amps have their own secluded white sand beach within the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park and are just a short drive away from some of燬t. John's爉ost breathtaking beaches and attractions. Concordia Eco-Resort is located in one of the least populated areas of the island, so you won't be fighting the crowds here. The new studio units are lovely and this property's eco-tents offer private ensuite toilets, solar showers, and breathtaking vistas. On a clear night, views of the stars and Milky Way are outstanding. Don't miss dining at Cafe Concordia on property - the food is excellent. Environmentally sensitive families will particularly enjoy the combination of beautiful surroundings, comfort, convenience and intimacy with nature that these "green" resorts offer. Since爐hese properties燼re located in the U.S. Virgin Islands, so no passports are required.?a >www.maho.org
16.?b>Neptune's Treasure, Anegada,燘ritish Virgin Islands:?/b>Anegada is a perfect choice for escapist families looking to get away from it all on an unspoiled island in the燘ritish Virgin Islands.?b>What's Special:燤ention Anegada to most travelers and you're likely to get a blank stare in return. Historically, the island hasn't been easy to reach so most vacationers don't know about it. Experienced燙aribbean爐ravelers, however, know Anegada is home to some of the region's most beautiful beaches, fabulous snorkeling and excellent fishing. You're even likely to see flamingos there.?a s Treasure爋ffers comfortable, basic accommodations on the island at an extremely affordable price. You won't find pools and waterslides here and the beach is not right in front of the property - but爂reat ones are燾lose by and the management will get you there. The rooms and cottages are air-conditioned and sea kayaks are available for your use.www.neptunestreasure.com.
17.?b>Pelican燘ay燼t Lucaya,燝rand Bahama Island,燘ahamas:燝rand Bahama營sland爄s often a good choice for budget oriented families. Airfares to this island are often on sale through AirTran and other carriers and?a >Pelican Bay at Lucayaprovides an excellent value for the vacation dollar.?b>What's Special:燭his family friendly boutique hotel provides its guests with personalized attention, three outdoor swimming pools and complimentary continental breakfast. One-bedroom suites as well as individual guest rooms are available. The Beach access is across the road at the Our Lucaya resort area, approximately 300 yards away. Guests may use the beaches and restaurants at the燨ur Lucaya爌roperties there, but not the pools. In addition,燭aino燘each燼nd its facilities are free for all燩elican燘ay爂uests. If you go, consider taking an excursion to beautiful燝old燫ock燘each燼nd enjoying a meal at Sabor Restaurant.?a >www.pelicanbayhotel.com
18.?b>Sandos燩layacar燘each燫esort & Spa, Playa燿el Carmen,燤exico:燭his beach?a >resort爄s very child friendly and a real family pleaser, winning?a s Travelers' Choice Award in the "Best for Families -燙aribbean" category.What's Special:燜amilies come to the Sandos Playacar for the wide beach, the great kids club, the beautiful grounds, and the helpful staff. This all-inclusive hotel is an excellent choice for beach lovers, with one of the nicest beaches in the area. The resort is located about 5 minutes away from the town of燩laya燿el燙armen for those who would like to shop or enjoy the nightlife. The resort offers a Baby Club for kids 2-3 years of age, a Kid's Club for?-12 year olds, and a Teen's Club for 13-17 year olds. Seven swimming pools, two tennis courts,爓atersports facilities燼nd a full service spa are available for guests' enjoyment. ?a >www.sandoshotels.com
19.?b>Seaside燙abanas,燙aye Caulker,燘elize:燭he sandy streets and swaying palm trees on Caye Caulker give it an "oldCaribbean" feel and the prices on this island match its laid-back retro charm. With its beachfront location and lovely little pool,?a >Seaside Cabanas爄s the best place for families to stay on the island.?b>What's Special:燭he little爄sland爋f燙aye Caulker爄s the place to go when your family wants to relax and unwind in peace. There are no motorized vehicles on this island, only golf carts and bicycles, but it's quite easy to walk from one end of the island to the other. Seaside Cabanas has the only pool on the island, and its waterfront location and helpful hotel staff win big points with families. Use the money you save on lodging for excursions such as snorkeling and diving, cave tubing, and trips to the Mayan ruins. Regular water taxi service is available to燘elize City燼nd to nearby Ambergris Caye.?a >www.seasidecabanas.com
20.?b>Short Cruises,燘ahamas燼nd the燙aribbean:牋Short cruises爐o the燘ahamas燼nd the燙aribbean燾an also be an excellent choice for stretching family vacation dollars. These 3- to 5-night cruises depart from a wide variety of燯.S.爌orts and are often very attractively priced. Rates for a 3- to 5-night cruise can be as low as $149 to $239 per adult. Kids sharing a cabin sail at a lower price, or sometimes even for free. In addition, cruises departing from nearby drive-to-port cities can eliminate the additional airfare costs. All meals are included, but soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, shore excursions and tips must be added to the base price. Check out sites such as?a >www.vacationstogo.com燼nd?a >www.cruises.com,爋r talk with your favorite travel agent.
21.?b>Sunset Jamaica Grande All Inclusive Resort, Ocho Rios, Jamaica:燭he?a >Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort燼nd its sister property in Montego Bay, the Sunset Beach Resort, keep families coming back for燽udget-stretching values, exciting waterscapes, and family-friendly amenities.?b>What's Special:燭he waterpark and Lighthouse燱aterslide at this燼ll-inclusive 730-room燽eachfront resort are real family pleasers. The lighthouse gives guests a panoramic view of the entire resort complex and the燙aribbean Sea燽efore燼llowing them to爐wist and turn down their choice of two separate waterslides. The lower level of the lighthouse contains an air-conditioned games arcade. The resort's popular Club Mongoose Kids Club for kids ages 2-12 and the燡amstone 'tweens and teens center keep kids of all ages entertained.www.sunsetjamaicagrande.com
22.?b>Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive,燗ruba:燜amilies flock to燗ruba爁or its relatively hurricane-free location, beautiful beaches and warm sun. The beachfront?a >Tamarijn Aruba爓on?i>Caribbean燭ravel & Life's?Best of the燙aribbean" Readers' Choice Award.?b>What's Special:燜amilies rave about the lovely beach at the Tamarijn Aruba as well as the value the resort delivers for their vacation dollars. All guests at the Tamarijn Aruba have full use the features and facilities of the adjacent Divi Aruba All Inclusive Resort, giving them the choice of 8 dining options, 3 freshwater pools and the燚ivi燱indsSports燙enter爓ith a 30-foot rock climbing wall, fitness center and non-motorized watersports. A children's camp is available Monday through Friday for kids ages 5-12. If you go, make as many specialty restaurant reservations as you can upon arrival.?a >www.tamarijnaruba.com
23.?b>Timothy Beach Resort, St. Kitts:?Inexpensive accommodations on this燙aribbean爄sland can be hard to find, butTimothy Beach Resort燿elivers lots of value for the family vacation dollar.燭he property's staff is friendly and accommodating, and Internet access is available in the resort's restaurant as well as in the office area. While the beach area available at the resort is primarily the large public beach next door, the resort does have its own private pool and restaurant.?b>What's Special:燭he spacious one-bedroom condo units are well-priced and give families a full kitchen in addition to a private bedroom for parents. If you go, make sure to keep an eye out for green vervet monkeys that often come down from the hills to the resort early in the morning and between?-5:30 p.m.爄n the afternoons. Families should be aware that there is loud music at the nearby beach shacks and bars on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and that the wall air-conditioning units are quite loud.?a >www.timothybeach.com. ?/p>
24.?b>Tortuga燣odge,燭ortuguero,燙osta Rica:燙osta Rica's?a >Tortuga Lodge爄s the place to go for wildlife. Sea turtles nest on the燙aribbean燽eaches during the summer months, and the surrounding jungle is filled with three species of monkeys, sloths, toucans, parrots, and a wide variety of other creatures.?i>Travel & Leisure Family爊amed Tortuga Lodge as one of their "Family Favorite Resorts."?b>What's Special:燭he comfortable accommodations and food at Tortuga Lodge are excellent, but nature is the real draw at this family friendly eco-resort. Situated on 50 acres of private land next to Tortuguero's slow-moving rivers, Tortuga Lodge wows families with its guided riverboat excursions through燭ortugueroNational Park, turtle hikes, and kayaking opportunities. Three meals are served daily, and a lovely saltwater pool is available for relaxing and sunbathing. If you go, make sure to visit the Caribbean Conservation Corporation's field station in Tortuguero to see the exhibitions and adopt a sea turtle.?a >www.costaricaexpeditions.com/lodging/tortugalodge
25.?b>Turtle Nest Inn,燝rand Cayman:燭he?a >Turtle Nest Inn爋ffers an affordable place to stay on the generally pricey爄sland爋fGrand Cayman.?b>What's Special:?/b>The inn's one- and two-bedroom apartments give families free Wi-Fi and lots of room to spread out. The snorkeling here is great. Washer/dryers and a dishwasher are available in the two-bedroom units. Although the beach here is narrow, the Turtle Nest Inn has a pool and gives guests free use of kayaks, rafts and snorkeling equipment. A rental car in needed for transportation here, but 7-night packages that include a rental car are available.?a >www.turtlenestinn.net
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