At beach resorts, families enjoy such simple pleasures as sandcastle building, searching for seashells and strolling hand-in-hand along the shore. The best family resorts up the excitement by adding boating, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and other watersports, as well as children's programs that engage kids while teaching them about the local culture, ecology, wildlife and history. Top properties also tend to offer tennis, golf or spas for teenagers and parents. Here are 10 properties to consider.

Written by Candyce H. Stapen
Sprawled on 1,350 acres on a barrier island laced with 3.5 miles of beach, the resort, 45 minutes from downtown Jacksonville, feels worlds away. Live oaks draped with Spanish moss and cedar trees line pathways and populate woodlands. Sign-on for crabbing, shark tooth hunts and kayaking through the salt marshes with the resort's naturalists. You can bike through the property or go on Segway tours. At the Kids Camp, ages 3 to 12 create crafts, feed the turtles at the property's nature center and swim in the pools. Choose from hotel rooms or one- to three-bedroom "villas" (condominiums).

Read our review of the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort.

The beach here comes with the all the wonder of Walt Disney World, plus the perks and convenience of staying at a Disney property. These include extra hours in the parks to free shuttles throughout the "Kingdom." The faux New England-style hotel borders a 25-acre lake stocked with bass for fishing. After a day of Disney attractions, kids can cool off at Stormalong Bay, the hotel's waterpark, a three-acre expanse of pools, a waterslide and a lazy river. For parents craving adult time, the Sandcastle Club provides supervised play for ages 3 to 12 from 4:30 p.m. to midnight. Reserve in advance.

Read our review of the Disney's Beach Club Resort.

This 330-acre island off Florida's Gulf Coast, 32 miles from Fort Myers, gains fame for the ribbons of shells that wash up along the 2.5 miles of beaches. Boat, fish, sail and kayak the coastal waters as well as splashdown with your kids on the slides at H2Whoa!, the resort's pool complex. The complex also features a zero-entry pool for little kids as well as hammocks for lazily swaying to the breeze. At Captiva Kids Club, for infants to kids age 12, participants go tide pooling, hunt for buried treasure and create crafts. At the Captiva Teen Club, those hard-to-please vacationers meet friends for guided kayaking, parasailing and Frisbee golf games. In 2009 South Seas Island Resort completed a $140-million renovation of 465 guest rooms.

Read a review of the South Seas Island Resort.

In the Hawaiian Islands, known for luxurious resorts, the beachfront Grand Wailea gains special recognition for its 50,000 square foot spa; its Wailea Canyon activity pool, an interconnected water complex with slides, caves, waterfalls, lazy river and currents; and Camp Grande, a creative children's program with a 20,000-square-foot facility featuring separate areas for movies, crafts and video games. At morning and afternoon sessions, ages 5 to 12 make Hawaiian leis, do leaf printing and listen to island stories. At Night Camp, kids go on scavenger hunts and play walkie-talkie tag and enjoy movies. Ages 13 to 17 meet and mingle in the spa's soaking pools at special, teen spa nights.

Read our review of the Grand Wailea.

From this 27-acre, up-market resort fronting Pleasant Bay, you and your family can take a complimentary boat ride to reach Cape Cod National Seashore's undeveloped beaches. That is if you can get your kids to leave the resort. In July and August ages 4 to 12 may be too busy kayaking, sailing and swimming as part of the Wequassett's Children's Club, which year-old children's center has a pirate ship for climbing, Nintendo Wii games and an amphitheatre for performances. Water enthusiasts can sign-up for sailing, kayaking and windsurfing lessons while landlubbers can swing through tennis and golf. In summer, the resort hosts the Cape Cod Jazz Festival. The property offers 120 rooms and suites decorated in a New England country style.

Read our review of the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club.

In summer, this year-round resort, situated on Lake Michigan's East Grand Traverse Bay, blooms with water activities. Swimming is provided by the resort's private beach club, and check out fishing, sailing and even scuba diving Lake Michigan with the area's independent vendors. You and your kids can swirl down twisting waterslides and hop through sprays at the resorts 15,000-square-foot indoor water playground. Take advantage of the 900-acre property's 54 holes of golf and family-friendly policies to get your kids into the swing. Along with reduced fees for junior golfers 17 and under, this season the resort offers a Kids Golf Free program on the Spruce Run course, Sundays and Mondays after 2 p.m. Choose from hotel rooms or one- to three-bedroom condominiums.

Read our review of the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.

On Hilton Head, an island off South Carolina's southern coast, the broad, dune-bordered beach stretches for miles. The island rates high marks for its golf and tennis. Families can also go on dolphin watch cruises, try horseback riding and bike the island's trails. The beachfront Westin Hilton Head is one of the few properties to host a children's program in summer. At the Westin Kids Club, ages 4 to 12 go on scavenger hunts, play games and build sandcastles. During evening sessions, kids do crafts and watch movies. At times, the resort also hosts complimentary movies under the stars.

Read a review of the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa.

While college students flock to South Padre Island for spring break, summer brings families. This barrier island off Texas's southern tip rewards vacationers with miles of sand, warm waters and enough water toys to keep even teens interested. Families can relax at the Sheraton's 6,000-square-foot pool, among the island's largest resort pools while ages 4 to 12 create crafts, build sandcastles and search for shells at the hotel's complimentary children's program, available from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Vendors offer kiteboarding, windsurfing, parasailing and banana boat rides. Along with hotel rooms, the Sheraton has two floors of two-bedroom, two-bath condominiums with kitchens.

Read a review of the Pearl South Padre.

Just across the bay from San Diego, Coronado Island gained fame for its 18 miles of white sands and for the landmark Hotel del Coronado, built in 1888. Your southern California beach break comes with surf lessons (ages 6+), boogie boarding, kayaking and wakeboarding. In summer, add poolside bingo plus Flick 'N Float movies. During Kidtopia sessions, ages 4 to 12 fly kites, go on scavenger hunts and build sandcastles. At Vibz, the teen hangout, ages 13 to 17 play foosball, computer games and Karaoke. Teen spa-goers can try facials and, wearing bathing suits, get salt scrubs and massages. The mega-property offers 757 rooms plus 78, one- to three-bedroom seaside cottages and villas.

Read our review of the Hotel del Coronado.

Situated on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, this property, 45 minutes from San Francisco, delivers a classic northern California coast vacation complete with wildlife and waves (don a wet suit as the water's cool). In summer look for dolphins and in fall and winter watch for whales. Try family surfing lessons (ages 5+), go ocean kayaking or horseback riding along the beach with nearby vendors. At Ritz-Kids, the supervised program for ages 5 to 12, children take nature walks, create crafts and play games. You can bike the hotel's paths as well as pedal through a nearby grove of giant California Redwoods. San Francisco's museums and parks are an easy day trip away. Back at the hotel, relax with your kids at a campfire complete with hot chocolate and s'mores.

Read our review of the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay.

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10 Best Family Beach Resorts
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort Reviews
Papasote - May 12th, 2012

We were caught unaware they were under construction when we scheduled our trip. The first morning construction outside our room began at 5am and I mean large equipment construction with backing devices that make you crazy. Must have been enough ... read more
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort reviews
Disney's Beach Club Resort Reviews
lmotten45 - Jun 29th, 2011

We went to Disney World in Orlando FL and stayed at the Beach Resort, it was the best experience we have ever had for our family. We were very pleased with the whole stay, we were treated like royalty. I will definitely stay again. The Animal ... read more
enscott14 - May 28th, 2010

Our family went on a vacation and stayed at this resort last year and the experience was simply AMAZING! Everything was breathtaking, the service was fantastic, and our family can't wait to go again soon! A+++ in my book! :-)... read more
Disney's Beach Club Resort reviews
South Seas Island Resort Reviews
vcrissien - Jun 17th, 2013

We stayed at this resort last year for four days and we truly were so sad to leave! My girls do not stop telling us they want to go back again this summer. This resort exemplifies the perfect location for families. It is not only peaceful, there is ... read more
Otto324 - Oct 6th, 2011

This resort is incredibly family friendly. There's something for all ages. Kids could never get bored here. The pool area with the water slides is beautiful but make sure you go early to get a chair. There are other pools around the resort but this ... read more
South Seas Island Resort reviews
Grand Wailea Reviews
jaymike310 - Jun 28th, 2012

This hotel was amazing!!! There were so many water slides and pools, and the beach was so clean and perfect that we debated that it was artificially created! The grounds of the resort were immaculate, and the chapel area where our room was located ... read more
HEFFNER - Nov 30th, 2011

I have been going to this hotel for 10 years in a row now, from the time I was 12. There has never been a dull moment. They provide plenty of supervised activities for kids 5 and up, and adults can go off on their own to do what they please. ... read more
Grand Wailea reviews
Wequassett Resort and Golf Club Reviews
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Grand Traverse Resort & Spa Reviews
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The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa Reviews
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Pearl South Padre Reviews
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Hotel del Coronado Reviews
So Cal Mom - Nov 26th, 2012

To get in a festive holiday mood, we take an annual trip down to Coronado Island. It's a magical time of year next to the Pacific Ocean. Our kid's smile while walking into the historic Hotel del Coronado's lobby admiring the tallest Christmas tree ... read more
dab0709 - Sep 18th, 2011

For the price we paid for our suite, we were grossly disappointed. Due to a mechanical issue with the elevator, we changed rooms after the first night. The second room wasn't much better. The rooms are in need of being updated. Everything about the ... read more
Hotel del Coronado reviews
The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay Reviews
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