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The Tropical 10: Best Caribbean Resorts | T+L Family

Cedric Angeles

Photo: Cedric Angeles

1. Las Casitas Village & Golden Door Spa 84.52
Las Croabas, Puerto Rico

Direct Flights Per Week From North America: 44
Number of Rooms/Units with Kitchens: 453/1
Kids’ Club Rate: Free
Number of Pools: 6

Forgive the regulars at this enclave of 167 villas for feeling a tad smug. Though their Spanish-style cobblestoned "village" is part of the blufftop El Conquistador Resort, a fixture on the island’s northeastern coast since 1962, it’s wonderfully removed from the bustle around the centerpiece hotel and casino. Casitas guests have full run of the Conquistador’s 500 acres—including the spa and an 18-hole golf course that runs family clinics. But they also get an exclusive crescent-shaped edgeless pool that seems to slosh directly into the ocean 300 feet below, not to mention personal butlers who will draw baths (sprinkled with rose petals, if you wish) and keep the fridge stocked with mangoes and Coco Lopez. Soft sand is a hop away by ­water taxi, on palmy Palomino Island, a private retreat where there are horses to ride, jet skis to rev, and beach-roaming waiters to flag down. The resort’s Camp Coqui, for kids 4 to 12, uses the island for hikes and snorkeling. Back on the mainland, mud-­loving families can slip-slide on trails and get sprayed by a waterfall in 28,000-acre El Yunque, the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System. Save a moonless night to join a group kayak excursion into the beautiful bioluminescent bay in Las Croabas, where you’ll get to see—and swim in—an underwater light show, courtesy of clouds of tiny, glowing sea creatures. Doubles from $269.

2. Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort & Spa 83.82
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos islands

Direct Flights Per Week From North America: 44
Number of Rooms/Units with Kitchens: 453/1
Kids’ Club Rate: Free
Number of Pools: 6

This all-inclusive on beach-blessed Providenciales (the most populated of the 40 Turks and Caicos islands, located just a 100-minute flight from Miami) is full of gleeful parents who can’t quite believe that they’re on vacation with their kids and things are going great. That’s because Beaches, the well-oiled, family-oriented link in the Sandals chain, manages to be all things to all age groups: newborns are cared for by certified nannies; younger children get treated to conniption-inducing appearances by costumed Sesame Street characters at a supervised activities center; and older kids have a pool with slides and a swim-up juice bar, plus unlimited use of Xbox stations (no quarters required, and, no, you are not alone in finding this both appalling and hugely appealing). Besides kayaking, waterskiing, windsurfing, and sailing, the resort, by the translucent blue waters of 12-mile-long Grace Bay Beach, has a superb scuba operation: certified divers get two free outings daily on a reef where visibility is often close to 200 feet. (Introductory diving lessons are also available.) There’s water excitement closer to home, too—home being 453 rooms distributed among 78 pink, green, and blue villas. The one- to three-bedroom units in the French Village have private concierge service. Opening by year’s end: 168 new family suites (with bunk beds and game consoles), and a massive water park with a surf simulator, lazy river, and tweens-only pool featuring—OMG!—spray guns and water cannons. Daily rates from $410 per adult, children 2-16 $95, all-inclusive.

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