Family Adventure Mom

Adventures On The Road
The resort's private 1500-foot beach

Cobblers Cove
Former sugar baron's estate, Barbados

Coral defines Barbados' north coast beaches

St. Nicholas Abbey, Barbados

Local fishermen determine what's on Cobblers Cove's menu

Barbados Cobblers
Luxury suite, Cobblers Cove

Starfish Trelawny, Jamaica

Willemstad, Curacao


Family Adventrure Mom's Favorite Caribbean Retreats
Under $100 per person nightly $
$100 to $200 $$
$200 to $300 $$$
$300+ $$$$

Breezes Curaçao
In Curaçao – one of the “ABC islands” in the Dutch Caribbean that also includes Aruba and Bonaire _ there were lots of firsts. I donned a wetsuit and fed sharks at the Curaçao Sea Aquarium, learned a few words of Papiamentu (the native language blends Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, English and Arawak Indian), and even soared on a trapeze.

My daughter Cady and I visited the island, about 40 miles north of Venezuela, on a national holiday, Queen’s Day, and got a feel for its Dutch roots by touring Willemstad. The capital’s tidy waterfront shops and restaurants, historic gems (see the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the western hemisphere), and colonial architecture reminded me of a sherbet-colored Amsterdam.

During our trip, we stayed at Breezes Curaçao, an all-inclusive resort alongside Undersea National Park. Here, I attended circus school and jumped off a 30-foot high trapeze. Our package also included windsurfing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, golfing, swimming in three freshwater pools, unlimited access to Camp Breezes (the onsite children’s program with a junior circus camp), and food and drink.

The big draw for Cady and me, however, was the resort’s private beach – 1,500 feet of soft, warm white sand caressed by pleasant tradewinds. In the evenings, after dinner at one of several onsite restaurants (we especially enjoyed Murasan, a Japanese steakhouse with knife-tossing chefs), we’d stroll along the beach to visit the resident parrots in their spacious seaside cage, then retreat to our deck overlooking the Caribbean Sea and watch the sunset.
More: 888-GO-SUPER
Cost: $$
Kids, 2 to 12: $

Cobblers Cove, Barbados
I daydream about Cobblers Cove. During my stay at this English-style country retreat on the northwest coast of Barbados, I swam with hawksbill sea turtles in the Caribbean Sea. At the seaside Terrace Restaurant, I savored just-caught seafood by candlelight. I wandered through gardens lush with Pride of India trees, frangipani, and hibiscus plants. While I relaxed in my luscious garden-view suite, birds flew through my louvered shutters.

Like other resorts in the discriminating Relais & Chateâux family, Cobblers Cove is high-end, not high-minded. General manager Ross Stevenson welcomes guests with a Cobblers Cooler (a potent mix of exotic fruit juices and Barbadian rums), and exudes charm, calm and courtesy. “Rum immersion” tours (Barbados is home to the Mount Gay Rum Factory), historic outings (see St. Nicholas Abbey, one of three genuine Jacobean mansions in the western hemisphere), and deep-sea fishing expeditions are just a few recreational options.

The draw for many guests is the rose-hued resort itself, a former sugar baron’s estate surrounded by a coral wall, fragrant foliage, and an air of low-key luxury. One morning, I wandered down to the beach to greet a fisherman whose catch ended up on my exquisitely-styled plate that night. Afternoons, I sipped tea in my bathing suit as monkeys scampered across the lawn. When I want to recall those Bajun glory days, I wear a tangerine-toned necklace crafted from a native nut that I purchased at a gallery in Speightstown.

Note: If you can schedule a parents-only getaway, you may want to visit from January to March, when the resort hosts guests ages 12 and up. Bringing the kids? Come during Christmas break or in summer when Cobblers Cove hosts family events, arts and crafts, and parties. Cobblers Cove also features an arts-and-crafts room and in-room toy baskets.
More: 800-890-6060; 246-422-2291
Cost: $$$$
Children, 2 to 12: $-$$

Maho Bay Camps, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
When people ask me to recommend a Caribbean destination that’s private, lush and affordable, I recommend Maho Bay Camps. Founded in the 1976, Maho Bay is one of the original environmentally-friendly retreats. To avoid soil erosion and preserve the white sand beach, guests sleep in tent cabins _ fabric-lined huts on wood platforms connected by elevated walkways above the trees. Each cabin has a sleeping area with twin beds, a propane stove (there’s a small onsite grocery store), electrical outlets, and an open-air terrace to soak up the spectacular view. To conserve water, guests share bathhouses with low-flush toilets and pull-chain showers.

These innovations highlight St. John’s wild natural beauty. Virgin Islands National Park, featuring 800 species of tropical plants and 50 species of tropical birds, comprises half the island. When Bryan and I stayed at Maho Bay Camps, we swam, snorkeled, hiked through forests and scrublands where wild donkeys roam, and explored the remains of sugar mills. (The park offers ranger-led programs; 340-776-6201 ext. 238; Maho Bay also offers glass-blowing demonstrations (artists use recycled glass bottles), hands-on crafts workshops (including tie-dyeing and papermaking) that incorporate recycled materials, and a casual outdoor restaurant with prime sunset views.
More: 800-392-9004
Cost: $-$$

Starfish Trelawny, Jamaica
Starfish Trelawny is a hot spot for value-minded families who otherwise may not be able to afford the Caribbean dream. One price includes lodging, food, drink (including alcohol), tips, and most resort activities.

But reasonable rates aren’t the only thing that makes Starfish Trelawny attractive. Located between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s north shore, this SuperClubs resort features a private three-mile white sand beach along the Caribbean Sea. At low tide, Cady and I walked to Starfish’s private island, and spent the afternoon building castles, loafing in hammocks, and swimming in the warm sea. Additionally, the resort has four freshwater pools (including a kid’s pool with a 124-foot waterslide), four tennis courts, a flying trapeze/circus school, a rock climbing wall, a 24-hour gym, an onsite spa, and a children’s activity program. Depending on when you visit, entertainment may include toga parties, reggae dance classes, karaoke nights, fashion shows, or a kid’s mixology class featuring nonalcoholic drinks. Bubbles Disco doesn’t close until the last person leaves.

Guest rooms have a no-frills appearance, but since we mostly used ours for sleeping and changing, we didn’t mind. Our maid twisted our towels into flowers, kept our frig stocked with complimentary drinks, and greeted us warmly. Those touches – and the Caribbean Sea right outside the door – made the experience memorable. So did two off-resort excursions, to Dunn’s River Falls (a cascading waterfall you can climb) and Dolphin Cove (with interactive dolphin programs).
More: 800-659-5436
Cost: $-$$
Kids, 2 to 12 $


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