There's a reason why beach vacations are popular with families. Sand, sun and swimming appeal to all ages. But with kids in tow, it's important that beaches are safe as well as offer nearby conveniences and family-friendly accommodations. Therefore, we've identified 5 family beach vacations to consider in the Caribbean, Florida and Arizona. Yes, there are even beaches in landlocked Arizona.
Kids playing on Sanibel Island — Photo courtesy of Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau
1. Sanibel Island, FL
Sanibel Island is a barrier island located off the cost of Fort Myers and home to stretches of beautiful, unspoiled beaches known as some of the best in the world for shelling. The water is usually calm and because the shore gradually slopes into the sea, it's a shallow spot for small children to play in. After a long day at the beach, rest your head at the beachfront Sanibel Inn, one of the island's family-friendly resorts. Take a break from the beach to hike, bike or visit the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge which occupies over 1/3 of the island.
2. Grand Cayman, Bahamas
Step from your resort or condo on to Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach. Here's another area where the sand slopes gently into a clear blue ocean, making it an ideal beach for kids. Watersports kiosks rent snorkeling gear (it's a great place for kids to try it for the first time), kayaks and even offer parasailing. The water is so clear and calm that you can see what's swimming below you with ease. Restaurants and bars within the plethora of resorts lining the beach are open to all. The rest of the island has opportunities to see animal life and even swim with rays, not to mention the Cayman Island Turtle Farm where over 16,000 turtles live.
Enjoying the water at Rotary Beach — Photo courtesy of Lake Havasu City CVB
3. Lake Havasu, AZ
There's no ocean bordering Arizona, but don't worry. At Lake Havasu, a huge fresh water reservoir, families don't have to worry about riptides, dangerous fish and the unexpected big wave rolling in. Lounge on gorgeous white sand beaches that are accessible by car or boat. Swim, snorkel, fish and even scuba dive in clean, clear water. Pets are even welcome at some beaches. Lake Havasu City offers up shopping, restaurants, ahd hotels, but you can camp or pull up your RV, too.
4. Siesta Key, FL
Florida's Siesta Key is an 8-mile-long stretch of crescent-shaped barrier on the Gulf Coast. Though there are several beaches, Siesta Key Public Beach is famous for it's award-winning, 99% quartz, fine white sand. Another fun fact: even if it's burning hot outside, the sand feels cool to the touch. This beach also has a lifeguard, snack bar, restrooms and other family-friendly amenities. A variety of luxury resorts, hotels and vacation rentals give families of all budgets a place to stay, many who have been vacationing here for decades.
5. Puerto Rico
Most of the beaches in Puerto Rico are family-friendly and perfect for beginner snorkelers. Look for Blue Flag beaches which meet high quality standards. The resorts provide a wide variety of kids activities, though there are plenty of inns and hotels to choose from. Take a break from the beach by riding horseback through the rainforest or take a walk at the bottom of the sea by underwater helmet diving (for kids 8 and older). Plus, the island is just a 3-hour flight from Miami and no passport is needed, eliminating a potentially long customs line. And, because it's a hub for the Caribbean, there are more direct flights from the U.S.
You really can't go wrong with any of these beach destinations, unless you forget to apply sunscreen.