The Dominican Republic has great beaches, and splendid resorts such as ClubHotel Riu
For an affordable Caribbean family holiday choose the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana, a lively 10-mile strip, sees you lapping your feet in reef-protected waters or head for the quieter north east to spot humpback whales in the waters of Samana Bay. With a backdrop of palm-crested mountains and a smattering of small fi shing villages, this peninsula is one of the island’s best beauty spots.
Visit the Los Haitises National Park and introduce children to a wonderland of mangroves, herons and ibises. A 4×4 safari around the peninsula includes stop-offs to meet local farmers. While here, sample exotic fruits, coffee and cacao and visit a typical family house in the countryside.
ClubHotel Riu Bambu in Punta Cana has daytime activities spanning a kids’ playground, kayaks, snorkelling and pedalos and fun evening entertainment.
Thomson Holidays (020 3451 2688/thomson.co.uk) offers seven nights at ClubHotel Riu Bambu from £752pp, all-inclusive. Price includes return flights and transfers.
With endless sandy coves nibbling into its coastline, Antigua epitomises postcard-perfection. Among the best family beaches are shallow Soldier’s Bay, sheltered Trafalgar Beach and the splendid Half Moon Bay which is particularly calm at its northernmost point. Spend lazy days on the sands, try a glass-bottom boat trip from Dickenson Bay then indulge your Pirates of the Caribbean fantasies with a ride on the traditionally-styled Jolly Roger.
On Friday evening, get a taste of Caribbean culture at Shirley Heights, where the Lookout restaurant/bar in an historic military complex has reggae, steel bands and barbecues with sunset views over English Harbor and Nelson’s Dockyard. The all-inclusive Jolly Beach has two swimming pools, kids’ clubs, babysitting facilities, five restaurants and an adults-only pool and spa.
Virgin Holidays (0344 557 9266/ virginholidays.co.uk) offers seven nights at Jolly Beach from £899pp, all-inclusive. Price includes return flights and transfers.
St Lucia’s Windjammer Landing offers more than just a beach holiday
For active families seeking more than just a typical beach holiday, St Lucia’s Windjammer Landing resort offers zip-lining adventures, snorkelling and fabulous rainforest hikes. This gorgeous volcanic island has a lush interior of banana plantations and forest-clad hills and its main town, Castries, has pockets of old Creole architecture coupled with a fascinating market.
Amaze the children with a trip to the town of Soufrière, where the Diamond Waterfalls and Botanical Gardens give way to sulphuric volcanic craters. Divide active days with down time at Windjammer Landing, whose accommodation comprises villas and suites with kitchens, spread over 60 landscaped acres. The complex has children’s and teen clubs alongside watersports facilities.
Caribtours (020 7751 0660/caribtours.co.uk) offers seven nights at Windjammer Landing from £1,289pp, room only. Price includes return flights and transfers.
Celebrities such as Simon Cowell, Sir Cliff Richard and Kate Moss favour Barbados’s ritzy west coast but the island has other delightful beach stretches with more affordable options. The south coast is gilded with great beaches: try Silver Sands or homely-sounding Worthing Beach. Both offer calm seas and plenty of watersports.
Don’t miss an island tour. Barbados is undoubtedly pretty, with a wave-lashed east coast, soft highlands and a scattering of old plantation houses and Georgian-style parish churches. Visit Bridgetown and admire the Bajan version of Trafalgar Square alongside a statue of Lord Nelson.
For shopaholics, Pelican Village sells fabulous arts and crafts. Savannah Beach, near St Lawrence Gap, centres around an old plantation house. Birds of a Feather actress Pauline Quirke’s free drama academy for children here will help your little ones unleash their comedy, drama and music skills. Also available is a pirates club for youngsters, swimming pools and evening entertainment.
Virgin Holidays (0344 557 9266/ virginholidays.co.uk) offers seven nights at Savannah Beach from £929pp, all-inclusive. Price includes return fl ights and transfers.
For nature-loving families, sleepy Tobago ticks all the boxes. Take the children up into the rainforest, then snorkel coral reefs looking for turtles. Youngsters will love learning to make chocolate at the Tobago Cocoa Estate, and at Tobago Main Ridge Forest they can look for hummingbirds and kingfishers flitting through the trees.
The main resorts centre on Crown Point, Store Bay and Pigeon Point – laid-back settlements with groovy beach shacks. For a quieter option, take a picnic out to Englishman’s Bay, a classic curve of white sand with royal blue water backed by palms. The 125-room Turtle Bay resort near Scarborough has a children’s club, evening entertainment and its own beach where leatherback turtles lay their eggs.
Travel Republic (020 8974 7200/ travelrepublic.co.uk) offers seven nights at Turtle Bay from £1,263pp, all-inclusive. Price includes return fl ights and transfers. Prices based on a family of four sharing a room or villa