Turks and Caicos
Providenciales, affectionately called “Provo,” is the main tourist island of the Turks and Caicos chain. Grace Bay Beach with its 12 miles of white sands is the big draw. Despite development in recent years, Provo still offers a slow-paced beach getaway. The Princess Alexandra Marine National Park beckons off-shore from Grace Bay Beach and the best reefs for divers and snorkelers are a short boat ride away. Oceanfront Anacaona, at Grace Bay Club serves island-influenced Mediterranean fare that’s tasty and also expensive. For inexpensive local food, go to Da Conch Shack. At this seaside eatery, kids can splash in the water while watching cooks cut the conch from their shells for truly fresh meals. Grace Bay Club offers condos (villas) for rent and also hotel rooms. All-inclusive Beaches Turks & Caicos, a sprawling resort, features children’s and teens programs, a waterpark, and multiple restaurants.
Anguilla (which rhymes with “vanilla”) may not be pretty in the classic sense, yet it is anything but plain. Anguilla, a tiny island of just 35 square miles, delivers 33 beaches, many of which rate among the Caribbean’s most beautiful. Rendezvous Bay and Maunday’s Bay on the Caribbean as well as Meads and Shoal Bay East on the Atlantic are exceptionally lovely with sugar soft sands and calm turquoise waters. At Shoal Bay East kids can snorkel the close-in reef or walk along the sands looking at the tiny silvery fish caught in the tide pools. Anguilla is also known for its restaurants. Must-dine-at restaurants include Blanchard’s, known for its contemporary Caribbean cuisine, and Hibernia, in the northeastern hills, which specializes in Caribbean fare with Asian influences. Now an Auberge Resort, Malliouhana, on Meads Bay, offers casually upscale accommodations as does award-winning Cap Juluca.
Club Med Punta Cana sprawls on 75 beachfront acres along the Dominican Republic’s eastern tip. The resort has a wide and long stretch of sandy beach. In December, the resort debuted Zen Oasis, 78 deluxe guest rooms for adults only anchored by their own pool. The resort also offers CREACTIVE, a place where children as well as adults can learn juggling, trapeze flying, tightrope walking, clowning and other acrobatic and circus skills. Known for its comprehensive children’s programs, Club Med Punta Cana offers program for ages 4 through 10 and 11 through 17 that are included in the lodging rate. For an extra fee, nannies care for tots four months to 23 months at the Baby Club and counselors engage kids 2 to 3-years-old at the Petit Club.
With near-constant trade winds of 10-20 knots plus less than 20 inches of rain per year, Aruba virtually guarantees sunny weather. See-and-be-seen Palm Beach is a long stretch of sand fronting the island’s high rise hotels. Teens like the beach’s bustling vibe plus the parasailing and other vendor offered Caribbean adventures. The shops and cafes that face Palm Beach’s hotels on the inland side make it easy to find souvenirs as well as dining options, including inexpensive meals and snacks. Good hotels include the Hilton Aruba and the Aruba Marriott Resort. The beware: some hotels lack enough chaise lounges. That motivates many guests to rise early to claim their spaces.