10 Caribbean Vacation Rental Destinations for Families

See recent posts by Diana Lambdin Meyer


Some of your family”s best conversations, laughter and memories take place around the kitchen table, be it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or somewhere in between. So when you are building additional memories with a great Caribbean vacation, why not choose lodging that allows you to add to those memories with a great kitchen and requisite table?

Renting a home, villa or condo is often the best choice for a family who wants to focus on time together rather than everyone going their own direction at a large hotel complex. And admit it — sometimes your kids just don”t do well in a restaurant surrounded by lots of distractions. Not only will a rental property offer you the one-on-one time your family needs, but it may also save you considerable money in the Caribbean.

Written by Diana Lambdin Meyer

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Aruba

Considered the top destination in the Caribbean as far as the sheer number of rental properties available, Aruba takes second place to no one as far as the quality of its beaches. Oranjestad is where the cruise ships dock, so if you want to avoid the onslaught of day trippers, you may be more satisfied with properties around Noord and Palm Beach.

On Palm Beach on the west coast, many of the condos and rental properties will be high rises, so you"ll have a great balcony and view of the ocean, but probably an elevator ride to get your toes in the sand. At 2 miles long, Eagle Beach is the longest on the island and offers plenty of outfitters for your family activities, as well as private homes and villas within a block or two of the beach.

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Anguilla

Anguilla is renowned for its 33 perfect white sand beaches, as well the number of villas and boutique accommodations available as private rentals. Numerous services on the island, such as grocery delivery or private chefs, are designed to meet the needs of those staying in a rental property.

In general, you"ll find more villas, thus more privacy, on the northeast side of the island. More hotels and related activities can be found on the west side of the island. For a preview of what"s available, ask about the seasonal tours of some of the more elaborate villas. Some of the world"s best known celebrities have stayed here.

Even if you have access to a beach and your own private pool, you"ll probably want to have a rental car to explore many of the other beaches on the island and enjoy some good Anguillan cooking at the locally-owned restaurants.

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Barbados

Technically, Barbados is in the Atlantic Ocean, but most people don"t split hairs when it comes to a great beach vacation in this part of the world. As the most eastern of islands we consider to be the Caribbean, a mere 3,000 miles of ocean separates Barbados"s eastern shore from the African continent.

When choosing your rental property, note that the east coast is quite rugged with a constant wind blowing in from the Atlantic and water with a serious under tow. The sand beaches are more of a grayish brown on this side of the island. But the east coast is recognized as a popular surfing destination, which is one reason to consider a rental here.

The western coast of B"dos, as the islanders abbreviate their homeland, is greatly influenced by the calm waters of the Caribbean and where you"ll find more white and pink sand. The area around St. James offers plenty of rental properties within walking distance of numerous activities and restaurants and a bus stop. Unless you"re really addicted to your own wheels, it"s not necessary to rent a private vehicle in Barbados. All beaches are public in Barbados, so even if you"re not right on the beach, you"ll have no problem accessing a great piece of sand.

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Cancun, Riviera Maya

The entire corridor between Cancun and Tulum on Mexico"s Yucatan Peninsula, now known as the Riviera Maya, provides access to the world"s second longest barrier reef, which in turn creates some wonderful white sand beaches.

You can"t go wrong with a family vacation in this part of Mexico – it"s inexpensive, there are great flights from everywhere in North America, and plenty of rental properties from which to choose. If you want to be directly on the beach, you"ll probably be in a high rise condo. If you want a private home or villa, you"ll be several blocks from the beach, but still within walking distance of restaurants and the Caribbean.

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Cayman Islands

If your family is into snorkeling and diving, it"s likely you"ve already considered the Cayman Islands, easily one of the top dive destinations in the Caribbean. The Cayman Islands are made up of three islands, each with its own relaxed personality, although the majority of rental properties will be found on Grand Cayman.

By far, the most popular area is Seven Mile Beach, truly one of the world"s great beaches. Many of the rental properties are condos in high rise complexes, so if you want to walk out your front door into the sand, it"s going to cost a pretty penny. Because of the location, prices will be higher here and the beach more crowded, but you won"t need to rent a car to enjoy numerous activities.

To experience life with the locals, check out the rentals near West Bay. For an active ex-pat population surrounded by other long-term rentals, head to Bodden Town.

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Nassau, Bahamas

You"ll not find more clear water anywhere in the Caribbean than in the Bahamas, where more than 20 islands offer you choices for a family vacation. However, the most abundant choices for vacation rentals lie in Nassau. That"s convenient, because you will probably fly into Nassau from your home base. The Bahamas" close proximity to the U.S. mainland guarantees a short flight and more vacation time on those alluring soft pink beaches.

With a stay on Nassau, you have easy access to experience the fun of Paradise Island (including Atlantis) and British culture that makes a Bahamas vacation so enjoyable. You"ll want to rent a car here, but remember, you"ll have to drive on the left-hand side of the road.

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Puerto Rico

Not only is Puerto Rico a great beach destination, but it also offers plenty of land-based adventure and a history lesson or two for your children. The forts in Old San Juan are not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but are also a part of the San Juan National Historic Site, a part of the U.S. National Park Service. Check another national park off of your list.

Choose your rental property based on your family"s vacation interests. You can stay in the mountains, closer to hiking, cave exploration and zip-lines. Or stay near the rain forest for up-close interaction with wildlife. The beaches are spectacular in Puerto Rico – some say they glisten with gold – but not all are open to the public so if access to a beach is your priority, then clarify the location in the fine print.

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St. Lucia

St. Lucia is a great destination for those who wish to combine a relaxing beach vacation with some eco-tourism and soft adventure. Like many Caribbean islands, St. Lucia was created by volcanic eruptions and as a result, the island remains quite mountainous. Go mountain biking or hiking through the rainforest, do a zip-line canopy tour, or go on a nighttime outing looking for wildlife.

Many of the rental properties can be found on the northern tip of the island near Gros Islet, once a sleepy fishing village, but now a beautiful harbor for private yachts and sail boats. Take care when you choose your property whether it is ocean view or on the beach. Ocean views can be spectacular, but also up in the mountains, requiring a tedious road trip to reach the beach.

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St. Maarten

St. Maarten is that lovely 34-square mile island split between France and the Netherlands, allowing your family to visit two countries in one vacation. The Dutch side is where the Princess Juliana International Airport is located and is the more populated, developed side of the island. Philipsburg is where the cruise ships arrive, thus offering plenty of shopping.

Debating which country has the best beaches is a fun pastime, but here"s a consideration for your family: French beaches are usually topless or more; Dutch beaches, on the southwest side of the island, are often considered more pleasant to the tootsies. The Pelican Key Beach is indeed the best for snorkeling.

Condominiums are the more common rental property available on the Dutch side of St. Maarten, thus offering your family amenities that will likely include a community pool, a tennis court and/or rec room.

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U.S. Virgin Islands

If this is your first trip to the Caribbean, you may be comfortable with the familiarity of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where un-encumbered English, the U.S. dollar and 110 electrical outlets contribute to your ability to relax. The USVI consists of three islands, each with a distinct personality and unique offerings in rental properties.

St. Thomas is where you"ll arrive by plane. It"s the busiest of three with lots of shops, great restaurants and a busy port in Charlotte-Amalie where numerous cruise ships arrive most days.

Take a short ferry ride from St. Thomas to St. John, a heavily forested island but not without beautiful white sand beaches. More than half of the island is protected as part of the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park. Nearly 500 private accommodations offer wooded or beachfront experiences on St. John.

If you really want to get away from it all, take another short plane ride to St. Croix, the largest of the USVI, but with fewer residents. Equally fine beaches just out the front door of your rental make St. Croix a great choice. Vice President Joe Biden regularly rents a villa on St. Croix, as does Martha Stewart.

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