The rule requiring passports for travel outside the United States has caused many American families to look to U.S. territories for a Caribbean vacation, namely
U.S. Virgin Islands
, says Kyle McCarthy, editor of Family Travel Forum, an online company that has four family-travel publications.
"More and more, parents want a historic or cultural element in addition to beach, and Old San Juan has fortresses and historic monuments," she says. "Kids will be exposed to a foreign language, yet English is common, so that's the best of both worlds."
provides a perfect ecological snapshot. An area on the north shore called Dorado has undergone a lot of development recently, and competition has meant good prices, McCarthy says.
, which is much less developed than
, is McCarthy's second choice for families in the
U.S. Virgin Islands
because of its combination of good beaches, water sports and historical plantations and gardens.
If passports aren't an issue, McCarthy recommends
. "It's very lush, has a small rain forest, a small volcano. The
are good for hiking, and they have great water sports." It is lightly developed and draws European families, so the children will be exposed to a variety of languages and cultures. The downsides: You'll likely have to take a small plane to get there, and the roads aren't very good.
Kids who are
Pirates of the Caribbean
fans might get a kick out of visiting the
Bahamas' Grand Bahama Island
, where the last two movies in the series were filmed, and
New Providence Island
to check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum. If you want a taste of Disney gone educational, the Atlantis resort on
will fill the bill. It's big and a bit pricey but filled with activities for kids and teens, including a recently expanded water park.
also get high marks for families, because of such well-preserved natural attractions as a lush rain forest, dormant volcanoes, and a friendly, safe atmosphere.
has many activities that children will enjoy, and some resorts will provide a nanny and/or a kids' club. If you plan to spend most of your time inside a resort, safety is not an issue, but it's not the best of islands for cruising around on your own with children.