There are a lot of possible outcomes when grandparents take the grandkids on an extended holiday, sans parents. Nanna and grandpa get what they want most: quality time with the kids, along with the freedom to spoil them with late night sweets and global adventures. On the flip side, the parents remain home, enjoying the kid-less serenity, or embark on their own vacation, free to relax as they wish.
The only tricky part is filling your memory-making vacation with activities that leave both parties fulfilled. As much as you want to share your passions with your grandchildren, little Noah may get a bit squirmy during that basket-weaving demonstration, and Sophia really doesn’t want to spend hours at the stamp museum’s “Inverted Jenny” exhibition. The solution is easy and closer than you think: visit the Caribbean , where the islands hold the perfect balance of culture, history and adventure. In the following pages, you’ll find some of our travel agent’s top choices for activities that appeal to both the young and young-at-heart.
When traveling with your grandkids, it’s best to keep things as simple as possible. And nothing could be simpler than island hopping across the Caribbean on a cruise vacation, where you can visit multiple cultures, countries and ecosystems all while unpacking only once, and where every meal is taken care of with gourmet aplomb. Our partners – such as Crystal Cruises, Seabourn and Silversea – feature a wide range of itineraries that include every island you’ve ever dreamed about visiting, and their shore excursions make it easy to embark on a tropical adventure that is both exciting and educational.
One such shore excursion in Barbados takes you deep into the depths of the Caribbean Sea in the Atlantis, an air-conditioned submarine. Gazing out the sub’s large windows, vivid jolts of colors race by as iridescent fish both great and small dart through coral reef cities, taking your breath away. In St. Lucia, a different kind of wildlife show is on display out the window as your gondola climbs 2,000 feet about sea level to the top of La Sorciére mountain. From there, you can enjoy an easy nature hike through a mature rainforest while the kids glide through the tree canopy on a zip line.
Boating is another popular activity that gives both grandkids and grandparents the grandest of smiles. In Turks & Caicos, you can paddle through mangroves in a glass-bottomed kayak, watching the river come alive through the amazing view below. If you prefer your boats to be longer, sleeker and faster, then hop aboard a 12-meter America’s Cup yacht in the calm waters off Saint Martin and compete in an actual race. This is not a hands-offs excursion—you and the kids will be asked to turn a winch, trim a sail or take the helm, all under the watchful eye of the captain, of course.
While island hopping aboard a cruise ship does seem glamorous, sometimes it’s better to stay for a while on just one island. This gives you plenty of time to immerse yourself in its historic culture and natural wonders, as well as enjoy the tropical luxury provided by our partners across the Caribbean.
A short plane ride from the continental U.S., the Dominican Republic attracts families and beach lovers all year round. But it’s away from the beaches where you and your grandkids will take group pics that light up your Facebook and Instagram pages. Like at Dolphin Island Park, where you can cavort with dolphins in a serene lagoon, and at Lago Enriquillo, the island’s largest lake, where the banks are teeming with flamingos and wildly-colored birds. Introduce to culture to your grandchildren at the ChocoMuseo, where the island’s historic cocoa production is brought to life step by tasty step.
The 700 islands and cays of the Bahamas, picturesquely set apart by the clearest turquoise waters, are another nearby destination ripe for multi-generational memory making. From walking along the pink sand beach and beach of Harbour Island and swimming with the pigs on Exuma, to gawking at sharks and rays at the massive Atlantis Marine Habitat and hearing the wooden wheels of your horse-drawn clatter against the cobblestones of historic Parliament Square, the smiles on your faces just might become permanent.
Plan a multi-generational family trip. Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with a knowledgeable travel agent, who can customize the dream trip itinerary that you and your grandkids deserve.