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Travel with kids • 8 minutes to read

The Best Budget-Friendly Family Destinations For A Tropical Vacation

Palm tree-lined seafronts, secluded white beaches, and laidback island vibes are something most of us dream of experiencing at least once in our lifetimes.

Unfortunately, tropical destinations and island paradises generally feel out of reach and are notoriously expensive.

However, with some thoughtful planning and timing, many of the world’s most idyllic vacation hotspots can be much more budget-friendly than you might expect. It’s becoming increasingly easier to enjoy sun-drenched tropical islands with the whole family in tow.

If you want to travel the world with your kids or find a way to experience the tropical vacation of a lifetime on a budget, we’ve got all the information you need right here.

Throughout this article, you’ll get the lowdown on the top family-friendly destinations nestled along the Caribbean, Pacific, and Atlantic coasts.

What Are The Best Budget and Family-Friendly Vacation Destinations In The Caribbean?

Some of the most revered and desirable locations for an exotic family trip lie along the Caribbean Sea.

If you time your vacation just right, you can skip the busy high season and snag some very wallet-friendly rates.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is as heavenly as it gets and has an abundance of spectacular beaches, majestic cenotes, and fun-filled waterparks to explore with your children. Additionally, it’s a surprisingly cheap country to travel with kids.

Dominican Rebublic, Young woman lying in hammock on tropical beach
Young woman lying in hammock on tropical beach, Dominican Rebublic

Much-loved spots like Punta Cana are a great choice, boasting tranquil beaches like Bavaro for swimming and snorkeling, and Scape Park, a natural theme park with powerful waterfalls, ziplines, and diverse wildlife. Another exciting city is Puerto Plata. For a mix of culture, fun, and relaxation, this will be your go-to, as you’ve got impressive beaches, huge waterparks, and colonial architecture to explore.

Stick to Taxi VIP for cab rides in Puerto Plata and Taxi Bavaro in Punta Cana.

The Bahamas

Much like the Dominican Republic, you’ve got a couple of equally gorgeous, family-friendly destinations to pick from in The Bahamas.

The Atlantis Paradise Island is a bucket list spot in The Bahamas. With its endless pools, beaches, restaurants, and entertainment, kids and grown-ups alike will fall in love with this fun-filled complex. If you’re not a fan of resorts, you’ll have a bunch of other amazing things to see and do. From Nassau, you’ll have the chance to hop on a boat tour and meet the adorable pigs that inhabit Pig Beach, admire the flamingos at Ardastra Gardens, and go horseback riding on the beach. With such a diverse range of activities, The Bahamas is among the most coveted destinations for families with kids of different ages.

Let’s Go Bahamas is a top-notch taxi service.

Puerto Rico

A long-time favorite amongst Caribbean vacationers, Puerto Rico welcomes families every year and is an excellent choice if you’re flying with children for the first time and don’t want to venture too far.

San Juan, Puerto Rico, beach, high-rise buildings
San Juan, Puerto Rico

The best part of Puerto Rico will depend on your travel style and the age of your youngsters. Older children can join in on adventurous hikes through El Yunque National Rainforest, and young kids will love the Children’s Museum in the capital, but there are plenty of attractions for all ages. Some of our recommendations include the waterparks and beaches of Aguadilla, wandering the colorful streets of San Juan, and swimming on Flamenco Beach.

Check out Wilbert Taxi Service when you need a ride in San Juan.

Jamaica

From the beaches of Montego Bay to the natural beauty of Ocho Rios, Jamaica is bursting with fantastic attractions and is also a wonderfully cheap place to travel with kids.

Jamaica has something awesome for every type of traveler and age group. Older kids will have a blast hiking up Dunn’s River Falls or exploring the Green Grotto Caves. Little ones will love the hands-on fun at the Children’s Museum in Kingston. For everyone in the family, don’t miss the stunning beaches in Negril, the lively streets of Montego Bay, and the clear waters at Doctor’s Cave Beach for snorkeling. Jamaica is packed with cool spots and fun activities that everyone will enjoy!

For the ultimate tropical retreat, it doesn’t get better than the west coast town of Negril.

Negril

No visit to Negril would be complete without at least a few days spent soaking up the sun along the iconic Seven-Mile Beach, though Half Moon Beach is well worth a stop, too. Naturally, your little ones are sure to want some action-packed adventure on your vacation. This means a day out at Kool Runnings Water Park and the wonderous YS Falls are essentials.

Rocky’s Taxi and Tour is a superb cab company to help you get around the area.

Barbados

Though it’s most commonly thought of as an upmarket destination for honeymooners and high-flyers, Barbados doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg!

Snorkeling in The Caribbean Sea, girls, sea, barbados, beach
Two Girls Snorkeling in The Caribbean Sea, Barbados

The southern half of the island tends to be more affordable, though there’s good value to be found in many of the stunning towns and coastal hotspots. For sand and surfing, hit the waters at Bathsheba in the east, and when you want to get up close to nature, discover the underground caves in Harrison’s Eco-Park. Another unmissable activity in Barbados is to hop on a boat tour to admire the island from the waters and enjoy a spot of snorkeling.

Get around Barbados hassle-free with Island Cabs Barbados.

Turks and Caicos

Swim in the most mesmerizing turquoise waters and frolic in the whitest of sands in the dreamy Turks and Caicos.

The Providenciales is probably the most visited island in Turks and Caicos and has some of the top kid-friendly attractions around. For laidback days by the sea, bounce between beaches like Grace Bay and Taylor Bay. If your kiddos are keen swimmers, spend an afternoon snorkeling with turtles and string rays at the Coral Gardens. That being said, wildlife spotting isn’t only reserved for the ocean, as you can encounter iguanas at Half Moon Bay or flamingos at Proggin’ Bay.

Getting from place to place is a breeze with D&D Reliable Community Cab.

Aruba

A little slice of heaven off the Venezuelan coast, Aruba is among the best destinations for a tropical sojourn.

Two pink flamingos standing in clear blue water,Renaissance Island,Aruba
Two pink flamingos standing in clear blue water, Renaissance Island, Aruba

Baby Beach is a toddler-friendly spot, and the shallow, warm waters in the area make it one of the best, safe, family-friendly destinations for younger kids. Beyond the breathtaking beaches, there is an endless array of things to see and experiences to enjoy in Aruba. Your kiddos will love admiring the animals at the ostrich, donkey, and butterfly farms, and a tour of the Arikok National Park will give the whole family a glimpse of the other side of the island. For thrill-seeking families, the waterparks and ziplines of De Palm Island will provide you with your adrenaline kick.

Taxi services like Aruba Taxi Driver will get you where you need to be.

Curaçao

To the east of Aruba is the tropical paradise of Curaçao. This island should be at the top of your list when you’re searching for vacation destinations that are family family-friendly, as there really is something for everyone, parents included!

Much like neighboring Caribbean tourist hubs, Curaçao is a prime snorkeling spot, and cute sea turtles and colorful fish are easy to spot from one of the many coves and beaches. The Hato Caves, a system of magical caverns, are a must, and you’ll usually be able to spot some of the resident bats while you’re here. However, Curaçao has a rich culture to explore, too, and you should definitely make some time in your itinerary to wander around the capital of Willemstad.

Curaçao has a bunch of reliable cab companies, including Curaçao Taxi Max and Curaçao Taxi Lady.

St. Lucia

With its Jurassic Park-like mountains and vibrant blue waters, St. Lucia is the Caribbean’s answer to Hawaii and is a popular family-friendly honeymoon destination.

Active families will be in their element here with an abundance of hiking routes and watersports to check out. Although you’ll, of course, need to schedule a few days by the beach to make the most of the remarkable stretches of sand. When you fancy getting out and about, you won’t be short of places to discover. Take the Tet Paul trail for unbeatable views of the Piton Mountains, take a mud bath in the Soufriere sulfur springs, and uncover the Diamond Falls at the Botanical Gardens.

Marc’s Taxi Service is a favorite cab company amongst tourists and locals.

Cayman Islands

It might come as a surprise to many of you that it’s possible to holiday in the Cayman Islands on a budget.

Most of the action takes place on Grand Cayman, the largest island. Here, you and your kids will be spoilt for choice when you’re trying to decide where to go and what to do. Some quintessential experiences include heading to Stingray City, Starfish Point, and the Cayman Turtle Centre to see the astounding marine life. It might be a little challenging for families with young kids, but a nighttime kayak tour to witness the bioluminescent plankton is an unforgettable way to spend an evening.

Cushion Sea star (Oreaster reticulatus)
Cushion Sea star (Oreaster reticulatus), Cayman Islands

Explore the best of Grand Cayman with Henry Ebanks Taxi Service.

U.S. Virgin Islands

There are three U.S. Virgin Islands to choose from, each bringing something different to the table, but all guarantee fabulous beaches and plenty of family fun.

St. Thomas has family-friendly beaches like Magens Bay, aquariums like Coral World Ocean Park, and the charming city of Charlotte Amalie to keep you busy, and it’s the most visited of the three islands. St. Croix is about twice the size but has just as much to offer. Must-see locations include Buck Island for snorkeling, the town of Christiansted for history, and Salt River Bay, where Colombus touched down over 500 years ago. The smallest and most untouched of the islands, St. John, is where you’ll find unspoiled beaches, incredible wildlife, and jaw-dropping boat tours.

When you need a taxi, stick to Vi TOP in St. Thomas, Jacob’s Taxi Service in St. Croix, and Star Fish Tours and Taxis in St. John.

Grenada

Despite being one of the best tropical vacation spots for travelers on a budget, Grenada boasts similar scenery to many of the costlier islands.

The main island is home to Grand Anse Beach, a picture-perfect beach that acts as a base for many visitors. A little further north is Annandale Waterfall, which is tucked away in a lush forest and reached by a number of hiking paths. A museum that will draw in tourists of all ages, the House of Chocolate is where you’ll learn the intricacies of the chocolate-making process before doing some taste tests of your own.

Ace Ventura Taxi is a top-rated Grenada cab company.

Antigua and Barbuda

Perfectly positioned along the meeting point of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Antigua and Barbuda is a unique and captivating country that’ll charm visitors, young and old.

Antigua is the livelier of the two islands and has iconic viewpoints like the Shirley Heights Lookout, fascinating museums including Nelson’s Dockyard, and family-centered beaches like Ffyres and Darkwood. Barbuda is the northern island and is noticeably quieter but just as striking. Princess Diana Beach and 17-Mile Beach are some of the most picturesque parts of the island and are ideal for chilled-out family getaways.

You can explore Antigua with Pete’s Taxis, but cabs are harder to come by in Barbuda, and private shuttles may be best.

What Are The Best Budget and Family-Friendly Travel Destinations In Mexico And Central America?

Mexico and Central America can most definitely give the Caribbean Islands a run for their money, and we’ve rounded up our favorites below for when you want to escape the winter blues.

Mexico

There’s a reason why families from every corner of the globe flock to Mexico, and the spots below are the best of the best.

Cancun

Diving into cenotes, brushing up on your history at Mayan ruins, and day trips to the likes of Isla Mujeres, Cancun is a much more diverse, family-friendly city than it gets credit for.

Sea turtle in Cancun, Mexico
Sea turtle in Cancun, Mexico

Tour the surrounding regions with Taxi Cancun.

Riviera Maya & Playa del Carmen

The Riviera Maya makes up much of the northeast of the province of Yucatan and is where you’ll find postcard-like towns such as Playa del Carmen. Along with its immaculate beaches, Playa del Carmen is famous for its incredible natural water park, Xcaret.

RideTransport is a fantastic taxi service.

Cozumel

Immerse yourself and your gang in island life at Cozumel, where you’ll likely spend most of your time swimming, snorkeling, and interacting with marine life at Chankanaab Adventure Park.

If you’re in need of a ride, check out CozuShuttle.

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas is a gem on Mexico’s Pacific coast for glass-bottom kayaking, turtle conservation centers, and world-class beaches.

Look out for cab companies like Eliker Transfer.

Puerto Vallarta

Another West Coast hotspot is Puerto Vallarta, where you can take your kiddos to the dazzling Marietas Islands, join dolphin-spotting tours, and indulge yourselves at the Choco Museum.

Guy smiling with hands on zip line over tree tops
Guy smiling with hands on zip line over tree tops, Puerto Vallarta

TPV is a reliable local taxi service.

Costa Rica

With the Caribbean on one side and the Pacific on the other, Costa Rica has its fair share of tropical beaches.

Costa Rica has been a popular holiday spot for families for some time now, with many parents opting to enjoy unique travel experiences with their kids, like the Monteverde Cloud Forest and the majestic waterfalls of La Fortuna. If you’re hoping to travel with toddlers or smaller children, the Sloth Sanctuary, Children’s Museum, and Butterfly Conservatory will be big hits with your little ones.

Discover the capital of San Jose with Taxi Unidos.

Nicaragua

An up-and-coming destination for travelers of all ages, Nicaragua is especially popular with surfers.

However, you don’t have to hit the waves here to appreciate this magnificent country. Cities like Granada and Leon are fascinating places to explore for a taste of history and culture, with the latter being a hub for Nicaragua’s famous volcano boarding excursion. As you probably guessed, this one’s for the older kids! In terms of beaches, the Corn Islands and San Juan Del Sur are both worth a visit.

Roneey Shuttle Nicaragua will take the stress out of getting around.

What Are Some Other Budget and Family-Friendly Tourist Destinations For A Tropical Holiday?

Maybe you’d prefer to stick a bit closer to home to get your fix of island life, or perhaps you’re hoping to immerse yourself in a whole other part of the world. Either way, we’ve got you covered with tropical destinations that are both family and budget-friendly.

Sanibel Island, U.S.

You don’t have to travel internationally for a sunny retreat. The U.S. is home to its very own exotic paradise, thanks to the tropical climate that characterizes much of the state of Florida.

Sanibel Island will give you all of the island vibes and has struck the perfect balance between action-packed adventures and easygoing outings. When you feel like doing some exploring, rent some bikes and take advantage of the cycling routes, or go kayaking through the Mangrove Swamp. An unbeatable experience for your youngsters has to be partaking in sea school, where they’ll learn all about marine life, conservation, and even how to surf!

SanibelDoubleD will be your go-to cab company.

Bali, Indonesia

Often considered a surprisingly affordable holiday hotspot, Bali has made its way onto just about everyone’s list.

Diamond Beach in Nusa Penida Bali, Indonesia
Diamond Beach in Nusa Penida Bali, Indonesia

One of the few tropical islands with a dry season that coincides with the Northern Hemisphere summer, Bali is at its best from May to October. Families hoping to learn the ropes of surfing have to stop by the beaches of Uluwatu and Canggu, while Ubud will be your base for visiting Hindu temples and the famous Monkey Sanctuary. Quieter regions in the north are ideal for families and offer black sand beaches and towering waterfalls.

Bluebird is Bali’s local taxi service.

Conclusion

If you’ve ever dreamt of escaping to a sun-soaked beach with a coconut in hand but always believed it wasn’t feasible, we hope we’ve managed to change your mind!

We typically categorize tropical havens as destinations that aren’t suited for children or are far too costly, but this doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, low-cost activities and moderately priced hotels aren’t that difficult to come by, and flying and traveling during the quieter months can be a remarkably cheap way to travel with kids.

Get your sunglasses and flip-flops at the ready, and let’s discover the best family-friendly destinations in the tropics!

Want more interesting tips on how to travel with your kids? Read more Travel with children articles!