Which Caribbean Island for our family vacation?
April 28, 2011 8:49 AM   Subscribe

I am planning a summer vacation with my wife and 8-year old daughter. We would like the majority of our vacation to include beach combing and hammocks, kayaking, snorkeling and hiking. Which Caribbean island would be best for this?

I am planning a summer vacation with my wife and 8-year old daughter. We have about 2 weeks in mid-June and our main focus is exploring nature and relaxing. We’ve zeroed in on somewhere in the Caribbean. We don’t want cruises, party-culture or super-crowded areas and we aren’t scuba divers.

We would like the majority of our vacation to include beach combing and hammocks, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and will need access to fresh vegetarian food.

Some touristy stuff would be ok, for the sake of our child-- something like the Cayman’s Turtle Farm would be worth spending a few days with crowds of tourists.

Which island would be best for this?
posted by jlowen to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Look at Maho Bay Camps on St. John, USVI. It's far away from the cruise ships and crowded beaches on St. Thomas.
posted by DizzyLeaf at 8:59 AM on April 28, 2011

I've been to St. John - if you are looking for gorgeous beaches, snorkeling, kayaking and hiking, it's good for that. Beach combing for shells? Not so much.

Something to think about is Sanibel Island for amazing shelling, and it's right here in the good old USA. It's got all of the above with amazing shell-filled beaches that will keep your 8 year old entertained endlessly.
posted by HeyAllie at 10:00 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I was also going to recommend Maho Bay in St. Johns. Went in the fall, and it was lovely. There were also lots of families with children.
posted by statsgirl at 10:07 AM on April 28, 2011

St. John yes. But I would caution against staying far from Cruz Bay, like Maho. While Cruz Bay is the main city and the focus of activity, it's not spawlingly crowded. And frankly, anything you need beyond what is proved by you hotel/resort is going to be there. If you can afford to stay at the Westin you'll be in a very pleasant spot, with quick access to Cruz Bay shops as needed, plus all the watersport gear provided. I can't imagine a child not having a great time there.

I would also second Sanibel Island which gives you everything you are looking for and is monumentally easier to get to.
posted by dzot at 10:11 AM on April 28, 2011

Nthing St. John.
posted by cyndigo at 10:13 AM on April 28, 2011

Consider also Cinnamon Bay on St. John. Did some fantastic snorkeling as a kid there right off the beach. It's a bit on the rustic side, but we had a wonderful time.

You can't beat Sanibel/Captiva for shelling, though. They're known 'round the world for it.
posted by jquinby at 11:03 AM on April 28, 2011

Have you considered Aruba? I very heartily recommend Paradise Beach Villas there although I liked them better before they were painted pink. The beaches are warm, fairly empty, and good for being lazy.

Isla de Mujeres, off Cancun, is also very family-friendly (Nautibeach is delightful, if you have a ground floor apartment you will probably be adopted by one of the cats that live there) but I am a bit less sanguine about the availability of vegetarian fare.
posted by jet_silver at 12:34 PM on April 28, 2011

If hiking is truly a key criteria, then St. John is not the place for you. It's great for everything else you're interested in, but there are maybe 2-3 walks that are worth doing. Of course, that might be all you're looking for, in which case, have fun!

Oh, of note: it's a bit of a trek to get to St. John - fly to St. Thomas, $20/per to get to the Ferry, Ferry across to St. John, pick up your rental car (which you definitely need). Not hard exactly, but takes some time.
posted by that's candlepin at 1:14 PM on April 28, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you all! Tickets have been purchased to USVI with St. John as a primary destination.
posted by jlowen at 8:14 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

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