The 20 Best Beach Resorts for Families
After an in-depth review of more than 200 resorts in the U.S. and Caribbean, Parents uncovered these 20 family-friendly beach getaways. Some pump up the energy, others have a laid-back vibe, and all are great fun for both you and the kids!
Montage Kapalua Bay in Maui, Hawaii
Treat your family to the “aloha” spirit at Montage Kapalua Bay in Maui, Hawaii. The resort features luxurious one- to four-bedroom amenities, multiple swimming pools, and access to the pristine Kapalua Bay Beach.
While parents are lounging poolside or at Spa Montage, kids can spend the day at Paintbox children’s program, specifically designed for those ages 5 to 12. Half-day and full-day sessions are available, where your little one might explore tide pools, make instruments, observe tea turtles, and more. Kids can also compete for “Montage Merit” badges by completing Hawaii-focused activities.
The entire family will enjoy Hawaiian cultural offerings—such as lei-making, “Talk Story sessions, and ukulele lessons—led by the Montage Kapalua Bay's onsite Cultural Ambassador. When it's time to eat, families can dine at a variety of onsite restaurants, including the signature Cane & Canoe. They may also choose to cook in their full-sized kitchen or travel merely ten miles to the historic town of Lahaina.
South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island, Florida
Practically all beach resorts in the Sunshine State offer summertime specials, and this charming one located at the edge of the Gulf Coast is no exception. Not too long ago, South Seas Island Resort completed a $140 million renovation of the entire property, overhauling all accommodations and the popular pool area. Speaking of the water, the waves at the beach are mild, the white sand is teeming with shells, and chances are good that you'll see dolphins and manatees offshore at least once during your trip. In fact, this 330-acre resort, more than half of which is preserved, is a nature lover's paradise.
The Tiva Kids Club for children 4 and older takes every advantage of the setting, with trips to the on-property nature center and visits from the resort's own naturalist. Guided evening beach walks and daytime tide-pool excursions are also available.
Club Med Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Club Med's imaginative circus school teaches kids 4 and up how to juggle, ride a unicycle, walk a tightrope, swing on a trapeze, and learn magic tricks. This and the property's numerous other supervised children's programs, meals, and sports activities are included in the price.
While the kids are having the time of their lives, you can enjoy the coconut tree-lined beach, sailing, snorkeling, windsurfing, and fitness classes. Club rooms (the least expensive type) are comfortable, and families with infants automatically receive a changing table, baby bathtub, and bottle warmer in their room as part of the resort's "Baby Welcome" program.
Club Med Sandpiper, Port St. Lucie, Florida
Club Med's only U.S. location, situated between Miami and Orlando, offers the same fabulous Circus School and Baby Welcome program as Punta Cana—and you don't need a passport to get there.
Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas
When you rent one of the 2,000-plus rooms at this tropical resort, you gain access to the mind-blowing water park and aquarium—attractions that would add up to at least a couple hundred dollars daily in the States. In the resort's underwater tunnels and nine open-air lagoons, there are more than 50,000 sea creatures from more than 250 species, a number that rivals the grandest U.S. aquariums. Many of the 100 acres of water attractions are thrilling—like the 50-foot water slide in total darkness—but require kids to be at least 48 inches tall. Smaller children will have a blast at several shallow pools and at Splashers, a Mayan-themed water-play area with a pirate ship and water canyons that is just for tots.
If you and the kids need to take a break from the sun, you could retreat to the Atlantis Theatre for a free G- or PG-rated flick, or to the new pottery studio. But this resort is really best for families who never seem to tire of the water and who have at least one child who is 6 or older so you're not paying for attractions that your children are too small to use.
Disney's Vero Beach Resort, Florida
Two hours from the hustle and bustle of the Orlando theme parks, Disney offers a family experience that's easier on your feet and your wallet. Although Vero Beach is part of the Disney Vacation Club line, you don't need to buy into a time-share to stay there; a one-bedroom with a full kitchen and washer-dryer starts at runs a couple hundred per night for nonmembers.
Free activities—including sing-alongs, a campfire with s'mores, family beach walks with a nature expert, a craft hour especially for toddlers, and an "unbirthday" party with cupcakes, games, and a pinata—center on old-fashioned family fun rather than on meeting Disney characters. In fact, only Goofy makes a regular appearance at the resort and that's at special breakfasts on Wednesdays and Saturdays. A Mickey Mouse-shaped swimming pool plus a splash area for preschoolers round out the fun—and, yes, life jackets and pool toys are free.
Beaches Negril Resort & Spa, Jamaica
Set on what's arguably the best beach on the island, Beaches Negril is all about giving parents and kids an amazing vacation. While you take advantage of tennis, kayaking, windsurfing, the "Lazy River"—or simply collapse on the white sand—your kids can join a supervised program. Babies hang out with trained counselors in a comfortable nursery setting while toddlers and preschoolers absolutely love Sesame Street-themed activities, as well as shell collecting, face-painting, and magic shows.
Since all your meals, most activities, and the kids' club are included in the price, you really need to take advantage of everything to get your money's worth. So this resort (and others like it) are best for parents who are looking to spend a couple of hours alone every day.
Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, Hawaii
This family favorite spreads across 22 acres on Oahu, the easiest (and usually cheapest) Hawaiian island to get to from the States. The hotel's four pools, including a specially designated one for children, are the hub of the action here: There is free snorkeling instruction for kids who know how to swim, plus lei-making classes and hula lessons for the whole family on the deck. Other no-cost activities include Friday-night fireworks, lawn bowling, and ukulele lessons. The resort is home to about 60 wildlife species such as flamingos, turtles, and koi fish.
Camp Penguin for kids offers field trips to the nearby Honolulu Zoo, Bishop's Museum, or Waikiki Aquarium as well as fun activities around the resort. Just be sure to bring along your child's birth certificate or passport; Hawaiian law requires proof of age for admittance into the club.
Ocean Edge Resort & Spa, Brewster, Massachusetts
At this affordable resort on Cape Cod, you'll find scavenger hunts, beach fires with s'mores, baseball and soccer on the front lawn. On weekdays, kids can do cool craft projects, like making kites and tie-dyeing shirts, for a small additional price.
Two of this resort's lifeguard-staffed outdoor pools are ideal for young children—as is the beach, with water that tends to be a little warmer and milder than on the other side of the Cape. And if the weather doesn't cooperate, the resort is the only property on our ten-best list that has an indoor pool; in fact it's got two of them.
Loews Coronado Bay Beach Resort & Spa, San Diego, California
A short walk or shuttle ride from quiet Silver Strand Beach, this resort offers so many family activities daily—from cooking your own pizza to animal presentations to family movies shown poolside—that it has a separate kids' activity desk to help keep you informed.
The conveniences are as abundant as the activities. Every family who requests a crib also gets a baby swing and a lullaby CD. Rooms can be childproofed in advance; request it when making your reservation. If you have a toddler or preschooler, you're welcome to borrow a step stool, potty seat, stroller, and toys.
Other thoughtful features include children's menus that offer old favorites and adventurous options like squash ravioli; free use of pool toys and sand buckets; and hourly-rate options for the children's program (unlike most resorts, which require a half- or full-day session).
Rio Mar Beach Golf Resort Casino & Spa, Puerto Rico
Aloe-soaked towels and fresh fruit are the kind of greeting you'd expect at one of those resorts where one night costs more than your monthly mortgage payment. But in summer, rooms here start around about $200 daily, including the resort fee. Another cost-saver: You don't need a passport to get to Puerto Rico.
But it's the range of activities that makes this place special. Your family can go horseback riding, tour the nearby rain forest, learn how to do the salsa and other island dances, feed an iguana, and play tug-of-war at the beach-all in one day. Or you could hang out at the lifeguard-staffed pool, which has a water slide and fabulous kiddie area. The entire hotel is nonsmoking, and rooms come with a mini fridge and a marble bath.
La Costa Resort & Spa, Carlsbad, California
This resort comes with a children's program (Kidtopia) and water-play area. It's a great choice for families who want to split their time between the beach and Legoland—both a short drive away.
Amelia Island Plantation, Florida
About 40 minutes from the Jacksonville airport, the sprawling resort has two large swimming pools, a kiddie pool, and its own Nature Center —something that Camp Amelia, a supervised program for kids ages 4 to 10, taps into for activities.
Hyatt Regency Maui, Hawaii
An activity-packed children's pool with a sand island in the middle, plus a kid's program, make this resort a relative bargain on one of the most expensive Hawaiian islands.
Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, South Carolina
It's not on the beach, but Disney's 3.5 miles of private oceanfront—featuring a beach house you can duck into for a break from the sun—are just a five-minute shuttle ride away. Kids as young as 3 can learn about marshes and butterflies, and can take part in nature scavenger hunts at this resort.
Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
A mini golf course designed by Arnold Palmer, three kid-friendly swimming pools, shark-tooth hunts, and a small private beach are among the many amenities that will keep your family happy at this resort near St. Augustine.
Holiday Inn SunSpree, Jamaica
There are loads of freebies for kids at this resort, like mini golf, pool games, and meals. And it's very close to the airport too.
The Resort at Singer Island, Florida
Spacious, modern rooms, including a kitchen with a stainless-steel fridge, are what make this resort near Palm Beach so cool. A pool with a waterfall and a supervised program for kids ages 5 to 12 doesn't hurt either.
Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club, Jamaica
Kids love the golf clinics and the large Pirates Island water park with a shallow pool, squirting sea horse, and misting crab.
Sebasco Harbor Resort, Sebasco Estates, Maine
The closest beach is just a mile away. But with a saltwater pool, ice cream stand, and supervised children's program, you and the kids may not want to leave the resort.