Caneel Bay: Paradise in the Caribbean for Couples and Kids

My husband and I were lucky enough to celebrate his birthday with a long-weekend getaway to the low-key Caneel Bay resort in St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was the first time we’d gone anywhere alone together on a plane since our 7-year-old daughter was born, and happily, she was excited to spend the weekend at her grandparents’ house.



Summer might not seem like the ideal time to visit an island in the Caribbean. Yet while it was swelteringly hot and humid at home, the ocean breezes blew on St. John, and the calm turquoise water was just steps from our room. There were plenty of chairs under shady trees on the beach, and even hammocks. After you arrive at Caneel Bay (via ferry from nearby St. Thomas, which has an airport) and are welcomed with a cold washcloth, you can get your own set of snorkeling gear to keep for the duration of your stay. The resort, once home to the Rockefeller family, is built on a private peninsula that has seven separate beach coves. We easily snorkeled on five of them—seeing colorful fish and coral, millions of tiny minnows (which reminded me of the children’s book Swimmy, by Leo Leoni) and even a stingray. I watched a 2-year-old boy sitting by the edge of the water with his grandmother try a snorkeling mask on for the first time. He was too young to swim, but he held his breath, stuck his face in the water, and was amazed to see fish swimming right next to him.


No doubt, this is a idyllic location for honeymooners, babymooners, or couples like us who deserve some time alone. But there were also lots of families there with young children, who were happy to unplug (no TVs or even phones in the rooms), chill out, and dig in the sand. There are 11 tennis courts, and complimentary use of sea kayaks and Sunfish sailboats. The outdoor breakfast buffet is an easy way for families to start the day, and Rose Bud, the free kids club (for toilet-trained children) is staffed by a team of warm women who organize art projects indoors and take the kids for walks to collect shells or see the donkeys who roam all over the property. Private babysitting is also available during the day or evening. Even though the resort was 80% full, it never seemed crowded because it is so spread out. 


We were only gone for two nights, but came back totally relaxed and recharged—and our daughter couldn’t wait to show us the snail that she’d found in the backyard and adopted.


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