As we’re fully in the throes of winter, planning for a seaside vacation somewhere beautiful and bright is an instant mood booster. And just because you’re a new parent, with a little one in tow, doesn’t mean that you can’t go on an adventure and indulge in some vitamin sea. Keep reading to learn about the best beaches for traveling families.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
For a family-friendly adventure on the sunny shores of the Pacific coast, look no further than Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco state. This resort town has loads of things to do, including shopping and dining along the cobblestone streets of Zona Romantica; strolling down El Malecón, a lovely beachside promenade with beautiful sculptures (including the famous seahorse); basking in the sun at Los Muertos Beach, where you’ll find a long pier, boats for hire, and plenty of food and beverage options; and cultural sites like the elaborate Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe church and square.
Where to Stay: For an all-inclusive resort, perfect for the littlest members of your family, consider Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa in Puerto Vallarta. This garden-and-tropical-jungle property, nestled on the southern shores of Banderas Bay, has a lovely and quiet petite beach. Cool off in one of the infinity pools, enjoy delicious fare, and take part in an adventurous activity like hiking, yoga, or kayaking. Be sure to visit TierraLuna Gardens where your family can ride the whimsical carousel, shop for locally-made crafts, and listen to live music at Karuma Grill.
A bucket list adventure for many families, a vacation with Disney Cruise Line is fantastic because the logistics are taken care of once you’re on the ship. The fleet includes five different ships: Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, and the newest vessel, Disney Wish. Set sail for the Bahamas with the Disney Wish, where you’ll spend time on Disney’s own private island, Castaway Cay. Your family will love the sandy beach, souvenir shopping, dining, and snorkeling while docked at this island.
Where to Stay: The Disney Wish has some of the best entertainment and eating experiences around, including theatrical and cinematic amusement with Frozen-themed, Worlds of Marvel, and old Hollywood dining excitement. And, of course, there are age-appropriate kids’ clubs, activities, and swimming fun aboard as well. You’ll find that the staterooms are relatively large and full of useful amenities.
For intrepid families who have seemingly been everywhere, consider a vacation in The Maldives, especially while you can still enjoy reduced or free airplane rates for your baby. The sandy beaches are not only stunning, but also, private and peaceful. Enjoy an island-hopping cruise; fishing; snorkeling; dolphin, tropical fish, and turtle watching; and more.
Where to Stay: For a relaxing, private, and peaceful escape, with your baby in tow, book villa accommodations on Baa Atoll with Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, part of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts lineup. Picture thatched roofs, outdoor showers, warm water, sun kissed sand, and evening entertainment like outdoor movies and karaoke.
Also called the “Spice Isle”, Grenada (Gree-Nay-Dah) is a tropical wonderland full of pristine seashores and outdoor fun. Top coastlines include Grand Anse Beach, the island’s most loved beach; Levera Beach, where you can spot leatherback sea turtles; La Sagesse Beach, which is uncrowded; and Magazine Beach, which has a lively BBQ and music scene.
Where to Stay: Mount Cinnamon Resort & Beach Club, is delightfully intimate in size with 37 hillside suites and villas. Nestled on the shores of the popular Grande Anse Beach, your family will have access to the best Grenada has to offer. Swim in the pool, dine at one of the two restaurants, and take advantage of the Beach Club, which offers non-motorized water sports.
With over 30 miles of beaches, Maui, “The Valley Isle”, has plenty of shoreline to explore. Top beaches with lifeguards include: Big Beach at Makena Beach State Park, Ka’anapali Beach, Baldwin Beach Park, Ho’okipa Beach Park, Kamaole Beaches, Charley Young Beach, and Kanaha Beach Park.
Where to Stay: For family-friendly accommodations situated right on the beach, look no further than Wailea Beach Resort—Marriott, Maui. You’ll have access to top notch dining, a fitness center, pool-side cabanas, five swimming pools (including the longest hotel water slide in all of Hawaii), a spa, and an informative and entertaining luau show.
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts has plenty to do for families, including seeing the views from Timothy Hill Overlook, enjoying sunset catamaran sailing, exploring the Black Rocks formation, wandering around Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, and relaxing at one of the many beaches—Banana Bay, Cockleshell Bay, Dieppe Bay Beach, Half Moon Bay, Frigate Bay, Sandy Bank Bay, South Friars Bay, Turtle Beach, and White House Bay.
Where to Stay: Royal St. Kitts Hotel is a perfect home base for your island vacation. With conveniences like swimming pools, a grocery store, restaurants, a large gym, and free Wi-Fi, you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips. Plus, the Studio, One- and Two-Bedroom Suites include a premium amenities package.
For a state-side adventure that is perfect for families, spend a long weekend in South Walton’s Seaside, Florida, home to the most pristine sugar-white beaches you’ve ever seen. Picture candy-colored beach houses, each with a unique white picket fence; art galleries; boutiques; coastal dune lakes; and miles of hiking and biking trails. If your kids like fishing, they will be in heaven here.
Where to Stay: The good news is that you can choose from a wide variety of lodging options, from hotels to condos to campgrounds to bed and breakfast inns. Highly recommended, however, are the beach homes and cottages, which are super charming and located within walking distance to beaches and all that Seaside has to offer. Take a peek at Cottage Rental Agency to see what’s available.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Magical and full of family-friendly wonder, Ambergris Caye has it all. Rent a golf cart, the only way to travel all over the island, and visit Secret Beach (not all that secret), where you can spend the day swimming in the warm water, snorkeling, boating, or enjoying good food. In San Pedro Town, be sure to stop at Caye Coffee Roasting Company; Belize Chocolate Company; and the food truck haven, The Truck Stop.
Where to Stay: For rest and relaxation, as well as beach access, stay at Alaia Belize, an Autograph Collection property. This Four-Diamond resort has an on-site dive center, a spa and wellness center, multiple swimming pools, pool-side cabanas, a shopping boutique, and an adventure concierge that can plan excursions to Belize Barrier Reef, Mayan Ruins, zip lining, and secret beach. Choose from a variety of accommodations, including two or three-bedroom suites or villas.
Cavallo Point, California
With the Bay Area Discovery Museum, beachcombing fun, hiking amongst old growth coastal redwoods, and a massive front lawn, perfect for flying kites, picnicking, and flying a frisbee, Cavallo Point is a lovely destination for families looking to connect and enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. Situated within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area at Fort Baker, Cavallo Point offers visitors access to Marin Headlands (Rodeo Beach is popular), Horseshoe Cove, Battery Yates, Battery Cavallo, Battery Duncan, Yellow Bluff, and the Fort Baker Bay Trail.
Where to Stay: For a truly unique stay, unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before, book a stay at Beyond Green’s Cavallo Point, The Lodge at the Golden Gate, frontrunners in sustainable travel. With the Golden Gate Bridge looming overhead, the San Francisco Bay Area accommodations here offer inimitable views from either historic or contemporary lodging options. Water sports include surfing at nearby Marin beaches, stand-up paddleboarding, and kayaking. And, with happenings like hiking, yoga, outdoor watercolor classes, and innovative cooking instruction, there’s something for everyone.