Coconut Bay Resort, St. Lucia

No matter what kind of vacation you are looking for- family trip, a romantic couples retreat, girlfriends getaway- you can find what you are looking for on the diverse island of St. Lucia. Coconut Bay is located near the airport (in fact, just five minutes away), so you won’t have a long trek to your room once you arrive. That’s never a welcome surprise, is it? Once there, you are greeted by friendly staff with cool towels and cold drinks of your choice- water, rum punch, or champagne.

Coconut Bay

As you refresh and cool off, you and your entourage check into your room.  You can take your bags or have them taken to your room for your, and your vacation really begins. A recently renovated resort on 85 acres, the all inclusive Coconut Bay offers plenty to see, do, (eat!) and explore.  There are nine restaurants, seven bars, five pools, a fully functional and not all all lacking fitness center (lets face it, often “gyms” while vacationing are weak sauce) the largest waterpark on the island, and more. Did I mention it was all inclusive? Because that makes things so. much. easier. Also, the beach is just past the pools- no long hike to and fro.

best family vacation

We took my daughter for a long weekend, and there was definitely not enough time to see all that we wanted to on the resort, let along the island. So it’s a great spot for a quick getaway, but for sure even better for those who like a more immersive experience. If you are traveling as an adults only getaway, you will likely prefer to stay o the “Harmony” wing of the resort, which does not allow children. When you get a moment to get away from it all- your routine, the kids, the noise-  the last thing you want to hear is someone else’s kids screaming, and that’s totally fair and understandable- and other adults get that. It can be hard to find time to reconnect as a couple, and Coconut Bay makes sure you can have those quiet moments you are looking for, complete with hammocks and lounge chairs everywhere you look.

St Lucia Resort

Brining the kids? Totally cool. I usually do as well. The “Splash” wing is for families, and where you will find the waterpark, the only resort petting zoo on the island (and the only one I can remember seeing ever in my own experience), the Kidz Club, and even a paintball course.  It is for sure the louder side of the resort, and there are plenty of family friendly activities to keep everyone busy. Also, a note for those looking to keep active while traveling- they have really good fitness classes offered. Actual quality, that are both fun and challenging. You will be working up a sweat but enjoying yourself at the same time. Again, not something I see all the time. Places might have gyms and classes, but they are not usually anywhere near this intensity, and we were super impressed.
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Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island

Nassau Paradise Island, Bahamas is home to sand, surf, and family-friendly accommodations (like the mega-resort Atlantis), but families on spring break will find that the destination also offers immersive and educational experiences fit for kids and adults alike.  Have you ever considered taking the kids to Atlantis in the Bahamas? There are so many things offered that will make this a vacation to remember, from Dolphin Cay (an experience on 14 acres and almost 7 million gallons of crystal clear water) to Aquaventure (the island’s water park on 141 acres) and more pools and slides then you will have time to visit in a long weekend. Then there is the Atlantis Blue Project Foundation, where you can learn how they are working to conserve the reefs. Should you care to venture off the resort, Paradise Island has many activities that your children can enjoy at any age.

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Atlantis has a great habitat that supports marine life and animal rescue and rehabilitation facilities. You can see tanks and aquariums all over the resort, which is enormous.  You have to take buses all over in order to get from place to place- it’s as big as a town, for sure.  Walking would be nearly impossible.  You pick up the buses in the lobby of your hotel, and each of them has the names of the stops they make on the side and top of it.

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Aquaventure is of course the water park and has non-stop action. There are Atlantean-themed towers, water slides and a mile long river that has rolling rapids. This thrill of a place has over twenty million gallons of water, 20 swimming areas, a kids water play fort, and 11 swimming pools. Everything is connected together by a tropical environment and is sure to please everyone visiting from young to old. There is also a “Cartoon Lagoon” which looked very cool, but we were not able to try out.  Turns out you need to make an appointment to use it, and it often fills up months in advance for a time slot, so if you want to use it, book it when you book your stay, and don’t be late or forget to show up or you miss your chance.

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There is a fun cartoon character parade through Atlantis, check with the desk for times and locations.  You can also see Caribbean dancing, music, and more depending on the date and time. My son loved seeing his favorite TV toons in person!

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As I mentioned,  you can learn how scientists are conserving the coral reefs through the Atlantis Blue Project Foundation. You can ask about any of the Blue Adventures at the center that is operated by Stuart Cove. As you learn, you will also be donating to the foundation as a portion of the the proceeds of each adventure goes to help the foundation.
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Jewel Runaway Bay Resort in Jamaica

Jewel Runaway Bay is an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica that will give you everything that you need for a personal getaway. It doesn’t matter if you just want to lounge about or play some golf, there is something for you.  It’s also a great place for couples to say “I Do” on the beaches in Jamaica- quite lovely.

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There is always something for you to do at Jewel Runaway Bay, because this Jamaican resort has it all. They are a beachfront resort that has three different pool areas and an-on site spa. There are also Jewel exclusives that you will not be able to experience anywhere else.

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If food ranks highly on your list when you are visiting somewhere new, there are five restaurants where you can discover delicious food. There is a style of restaurant for everyone from a laid back atmosphere serving jerk chicken beachside to more gourmet dining experiences- try them all, and eat often at your favorites.

Check out their activitites schedule – there is sure to be something that you will enjoy on your stay.  It’s a great place to bring the whole family, there is quite a lot to do.

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The full-service spa has four treatment rooms; one for wet treatments, and services that range from facials to full body massages. Relaxation is top priority- you are on vacation after all.  If you love golf, Jewel Resorts has everything that a golfer will need for the Jamaican Golf Vacation of their dreams. Runaway Bay Golf Club is next door and has 18-holes on a PGA-quality course. Even if you aren’t Tiger Woods, you will still feel at home on this golf course. Guests who stay at Jewel Resorts will enjoy complimentary green fees.
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Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Day 4

Today we woke up to a beautiful, sunny day and gorgeous view. The sparkling blue waters of Nassau were right outside our door, and we could not wait to greet them in person.

family travel

After a quick breakfast, we headed into town. We walked through the shopping district a bit, but mostly were interested in some beach time. The closest one was Junkanoo Beach (also known as “The Long Warf”), about 15 minutes away. As soon as we arrived, it was time to hit the beach. We of course had to build sandcastles, then my son and I were in the water for most of the day. Daddy preferred his beach time. (Hmmmmm….ha)

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After spending most of the day, we decided to head back. We stopped in a few local stores (we were looking for something special for a friend of ours who made a request) and headed back to the ship. After grabbing a quick bite to eat, we showered and headed down to the “Breakaway Pier Party”, which was so much fun. The crew was out en masse, dancing and partying the whole time.

Even SpongeBob and Patrick got in on the action, and posed for some photos with the kids as well.

SponeBob was a dancing machine, let me tell you . He really knows how to bust a spongy move.

We stayed out for nearly the whole party, and were having a great time- it really was super fun. One thing that stuck me as well was that Julie, the Cruise Director, who is Canadian but whose last name I don’t know- was out on stilts. She is the one in the pink pants. Really! That’s something. One of the kids club crew was the clown on stilts- very multi- talented. Julie also danced in the last song in “Burn the Floor”, and will soon make several more appearances today. The woman does not mess around.
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Take the Kids to the Dominican Republic? Of Course!

When you think of the Dominican Republic, you likely think of soft, sandy beaches, palm trees swaying in gentle breezes, and crystal clear ocean waters- as well you should.  What might not come to mind directly is the perfect family holiday, but it ought to.  Long thought of as a couples retreat from the world, or a delightful girlfreinds’ getaway, this island paradise is a great place to bring the whole troupe.

Beyond the beach and pool at your resort, what to do with the kids?  There are plenty of options, and mom and dad will enjoy them, too.  First up, head to Bavaro Adventure Park.

Dominican RepublicClose to both the Punta Cana and the Bavaro hotel areas (one of which is where tourists are likely to stay), this newly opened, open air park is not only fun for the whole family, but is also super safe (keeping in line with both North American and European safety standards) so you won’t need to worry about a thing.  With options ranging from zip lining, balloon rides,  paint ball, crazy ball zorbing (in which you are strapped into a ball, either solo or with another person, and rolled down a hill), Bungee Trampoline and more, you and your family can easily spend the whole day at Bavaro Adventure Park.

Did I mention there is a flight simulator?  Patented and certified in Germany, in the “SkyDiver” you can fly like an eagle.  Strapped into a safety harness and given safety and usage instructions, up to three people at a time are able to fly together to a height of up to 65 feet.

WP_20140719_11_43_11_ProSmaller kids will enjoy Dinosaur World Jurassic Adventure, where they can take a walk through a land of the dinosaurs, watch them move, and hear them roar!  These dinos are animatronic, and move when people are near them.  Learn all about these creatures, what they ate, how they lived- and even see some of their young.  There are more then forty dinosaurs on the walk, set to scale, and made to look, sound, and move how paleontologists believe they did.
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Turks and Caicos – Get Away From It All

Feeling the chill of winter?  Warm up with a trip to Turks and Caicos. Warm weather and good food await-and it’s not a long flight, either.

A great way to start our trip, The Conch Farm is both beautiful and educational. With conch being such a huge part of the island (a major food, source of many festivals, it was even on the flag) making sure that it is sustainable is vital. Located on the island’s eastern end, and first created (and still used as) a research facility, this is the only spot in the world that conch is commercially produced and grown.

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According to the farm, it “exports much of the conch you eat in the Florida Keys and Miami, (and) it’s breeding techniques could help save the conch from extinction”. With many predators (man being number one) and only a small percentage of eggs surviving to adulthood, this farm and it’s research are important to the island and to the conch in general. More then 25% of conch eggs grown to maturity at the farm, and the money made from the tours help fund research that goes into better farming, sustainability, and new techniques. Soon, completely round geodesic fish pens that will further help these and other fish from being depleted from over-fishing. This “revolutionary and state-of-the-art form of environmentally conscious commercial fish farming referred to as off-shore deep water submerged cage farming” spells good news for conch and conch lovers alike. While on the tour, you can the life cycle of the conch, shells in various parts of it’s life, breeding basins where they grow, a hatchery and laboratory, and even some fish hatcheries. You can hold tiny, growing conch, as well as meet the mascots- one male, and one female (Jerry and Sally). Yes, you can tell the difference- the male has a piston, which apparently is a delicacy.
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