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Caribbean Vacation Planning

Top 5 recommendations for traveling south with the family

A winter vacation to escape the cold, snowy depths of winter is heavy on your mind ... but while you're thinking about a vacation in the sun with sand between your toes, a tall cool island cocktail and a good book, your teens are thinking thrills, adventure and splashing in the ocean. Forget "never the twain shall meet" because your life isn't a Rudyard Kipling poem and meeting in the middle is possible.

GoGirlfriend excursion testersThe GoGirlfriend team has picked our top 5 recommendations for families. Have no fear, these have all be tested and approved by teens and parents alike.

Rhino riders and snorkeling (St. Maarten)

Rhino Riding adventureTwo riders take turns piloting their own craft (a 10' Seadoo center with inflatable sides for stability) powered by twin 25 HP engines with full steering, acceleration and controls. Trek through the marina, yacht club and protected lagoon to get a feel for the craft. Then it's onto the open sea for a ride through and past Simpson's Bay lagoon and exiting to the St. Martin French side, past Lovers Beach, Friars Beach, Happy Bay to Creole Rock where you stop for 45 minutes of snorkeling or walking the beach. Adrenaline, wave-jumping island fun with a beach and snorkel excursion to wrap-up the fun.

It's a popular tour booked through your resort or cruise line with a full safety briefing on-site and after-adventure shopping for personalized photos or Rhino rider gear. Bathing suit, sunglasses, waterproof camera (if you want) and sunscreen for the water reflection is a must. Note that in a family pair, the Rhino Rider driver must be 18 but as kids or siblings as young as 5 can be a passenger.

family friendly activitiesIf you want more Rhino Rider and Snorkel adventure specifics, go direct to the Rhino Safari site, or check out the reviews on Tripadvisor. To book one of these adventures, check with your resort/cruise line or reserve directly with St. Maarten Excursion reservations.

Alex "Best enjoyed having the fun and freedom driving the Rhino Rider cornering, over the waves and simply riding fast. This water was the clearest of our cruise, so turquoise-y and clear."

Tiami Sail and Sea Turtles (Barbados)

Tiami Sailing and Sea Turtle swimBoard a sleek, white, 60' long catamaran and grab a spot on the mesh spreader between the front bows (perfect for the kids) while you enjoy a 20 min. cruise along the Barbados coast. If the conditions are right during the sail, watch for the flying fish alongside the boat and the sea turtles as you approach anchorage. Once anchored, it's time to don snorkel and fins and swim around with large sea turtles gracefully maneuvering amongst the swimmers. Watch the delight (and fear for their digits) of the youngsters as their excitement builds with the natural beauty of these great creatures.

Spend some time walking on the beach if you want or sunning on the catamaran before the cruise home and the generous portions of delicious rum punch (or un-rummed punch for the kids). Our crew was very friendly and engages the crowd while cruising, swimming with / feeding the turtles, and singing about the rum punch ... a great half day adventure for the family.

Sea Turtles in BarbadosCheck out Tiami Catamaran Cruises online or see what other adventurers have said on TripAdvisor. To book one of these adventures, check with your resort/cruise line or book your cruise option directly with Tiami Catamaran Cruises.

Chat with them on their social media channels on Twitter or friend TiamiCatamarans on Facebook.

"I (Julia) have to admit that I was a little weirded-out by swimming amongst such large creatures. The fact that they were being lured to swim with us with fish, didn't help. But having done this twice, I can tell you that it's one of the most incredible, peaceful experiences of the Caribbean - like a communion of sorts. Of course the rum punch afterward sanctifies the whole experience...

Adrena Zip Lining (St. Lucia)

Think adrenaline-popping, high-pitch screaming, high-thrill rainforest zipline adventure. Mix double-redundant safety harnesses, rainforest conservation practices and an information-packed tour-guide network to calm your fears ... Mrs. GoGirlfriend and I have experienced both the Aerial Tram Tranopy Tour and Adrena Zipline tour offered by Rainforest Adventures in St. Lucia and loved them both enough to bring our 4 teenagers. Their adrenaline-threaded fear at 18 zipline strings/platforms up to 100 feet above the ground, a Tarzan swing in the rainforest canopy, ending with a 70' Boa rappel from the platform to the ground delivered fear, excitement and rainforest-awe in a thrilling adventure for the entire family.

From the cruise docks in Castries or your beachside resort, take a winding mountainous trek (an adventure in and of itself) to the Rainforest Reservation. After a safety briefing and tour-guide introduction, enjoy the exciting adventure ahead of you. Check out your photos after the tour as you enjoy a tasty St. Lucian rum punch to calm the adrenaline pitch and wander their souvenir shop before the ride home.

St. Lucia ZipliningSt. Lucia ZipliningSt. Lucia's Rainforest Adventures offers two different tours to choose from ~ the Tranopy Adventure and the Adrena Zipline Adventure. Check out what others have said about these adventures on TripAdvisor. To book one of these adventures, check with your resort/cruise line or book directly with Rainforest Adventures.

Chat with them on their social media channels on Twitter or friend them on Facebook.

Simon says ... "High-octane, adrenaline pumping thrills making you forget how hot you are as you focus on the heights, swings and the wild drop - Rock-n-roll!!!"

Kayak, Snorkel and Hike (St. Thomas)

Sea Kayaking in St. ThomasFor a family fun, eco-based adventure begin with kayaking (2-person) in St. Thomas' protected Mangrove Lagoon Marine Sanctuary followed by a hike and crab race on the island of Cas Cay. Wrap up the adventure snorkeling the reef of tide-protected corral pools for the schools of colorful fish and part of a sunken shipwreck.

This designated mangrove sanctuary maintains the coral reefs and fish populations while protecting the shoreline. This protected natural environment offers sightings of a wide range of large and small birds and colorful exotic marine life. Hiking Cas Cay offers hermit crab populations and races, with a hike to the tidal pools and exploration of the effects of their own blow hole.

Teens love the kayaks, being easy to paddle and equally easy to engage in water fights with each other (right Simon and Alex??). Snorkeling among the protected coral reefs offers teens a chance to come close up to a shipwreck and see the eco benefits of the mangrove root system designed to protect the islands eco-system, especially during hurricanes.

lovely St. Thomas VISnorkel gear, life jacket and a small snack is provided, but wear waterproof sunscreen and bring a hat against the sun and reflection.

From my 20-something in an adventure tourism course ... "The guides were very knowledgeable and friendly. This was by far the best guided adventure in the Caribbean!"

Check out Virgin Island Eco Tours for the full eco-descriptions and see what other adventurers have said on TripAdvisor. To book one of these adventures, check with your resort/cruise line or book your kayak adventure directly with Virgin Island Eco Tours. Chat with them on their social media channels on Twitter or friend them on Facebook.

Your day at the beach ... (in the Caribbean)

spectacular caribbean beaches (St. Maarten)Every caribbean island has a fantastic (or 360 ~ Aruba) beach to explore. From soft, golden, fine beach sand to volcanic black pebbles and every texture option between, you can dig your toes into every manner of sand and surf. Over our last few Caribbean adventures we've found some awesome beaches we'd like to recommend you check out ...

Frigates Bay Beach, St. KittsGrace loved the beach saying … “Laying on the beach, enjoying the sun, drinking pina coladas, laughing, and swimming… it was so unbelievable. The sky was clearer than freshly cleaned crystal, the water as warm as a bath. We wrestled on the dock trying to throw each other off, yet still looking cute for the on-looking boys. Walking through the sand was like walking on a cloud, it didn’t burn, yet it was warm by touch. If you sat down in the sand and pushed your toes beneath it, it seemed to melt your insides, the deeper you went, the cooler it got, yet still being incredibly soft.”

We know you'll enjoy each of these GoGirlfriend approved Caribbean excursions. There are many other excursions you can enjoy as you explore an island. We'd love to know your favorites, add you comment below or chat with us on Twitter or Facebook.


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