The Riviera Maya, a stretch of beaches along the eastern edge of Mexico, is packed with resorts for families with kids of all ages and interests. Cancun is world famous as a party destination, and Playa del Carmen is a slower-paced, more family-friendly resort town. Nearby Cozumel island is a great home base for snorkeling and diving among the reefs.
The pre-eminent resort host for families is Beaches, which has four resorts in all: three in Jamaica, and one in Turks and Caicos. Beaches resorts feature kid-friendly activities, including water parks and even video games. And a licensing agreement with the Children's Television Workshop means that kids can have fun in the sun with their favorite Sesame Street characters. Best of all, Beaches resorts are all-inclusive, which means they won't bust your budget.
Who knows more about pleasing families than Disney? Their cruise ships, Magic and Wonder, are packed with activities for kids, and ferry families from Florida to Disney's own private island, called Castaway Key. After all the family fun of the cruise, parents will be happy to know that Castaway Key has a private beach just for them.
Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas
Atlantis Paradise Island has options for every family, and every budget. It's half beach resort and half waterpark, with several thrilling slides, along with a mile-long ride called the Current and an underwater aquarium. Atlantis also offers tons of activities specifically for kids, including pottery classes, shows, and dolphin encounters. The Club Rush nightclub is open exclusively to preteens and teens.
The benefits of Puerto Rico are endless for American travelers. You won't need a passport, nor will you have to exchange money. And the entire island is kid-friendly. El Morro is a centuries-old fort with hidden passageways and authentic cannons. Puerto Rico is also home to some remarkable natural features, including breathtaking caverns and lakes that glow at night with bioluminescence.
The pink sand of Bermuda is easy to reach from the eastern United States. The tiny island is located further north than most other Caribbean islands, but its position in the gulf jetstream ensures temperate climes year-round. Pirate culture is in Bermuda's bones; kids will love museums and exhibits about shipwrecks and plunder, and parents will love the island's signature drink, the Dark and Stormy.
The tiny Grand Cayman Island, only 76 square miles, is home to one of the world's biggest financial centers, and therefore is less rustic than comparable Caribbean resorts. The calm waters surrounding Grand Cayman make it an ideal location for activities like snorkeling and scuba diving. Every year, the island hosts a weeklong pirate festival, which includes re-enactments with actors in buccaneer garb.