Ready for a Non-Caribbean Beach Vacation? 6 Family-Friendly Getaways Outside the Caribbean

December 12, 2023

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Look beyond the Caribbean for your next beach vacation. These non-Caribbean beach destinations will help you shake up your next family vacation.

Many of our Mango Tree families head to the Caribbean islands for their first international beach vacation with kids. 

And for good reason: The Caribbean islands are full of images of beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, luxury resorts, and happy people with cocktails in hand. Plus, a beach vacation is just about the easiest thing we can do with kids.  

More and more, however, we hear from families looking for relaxing beach time and something else with their kids, especially as kids grow older and can tolerate a bit more adventure. A non-Caribbean beach vacation might give you just the mix of culture and relaxation you’ve been looking for, with great value for money too. 

(And I say this as an ultimate Caribbean lover who can’t get enough of the islands!) 

In this post, we highlight 6 of the best non-Caribbean beach vacations you might consider for your next family vacation. 

View of Rosario Islands in Cartagena

Reasons to Consider a Non-Caribbean Vacation in these Family-Friendly Beach Destinations 

If you’ve been to the islands a lot or even a handful of times, you might be ready for something a little bit different – especially as your kids are getting older.  Vacation time is limited, and you want to show your kids more of the world. But, at the same time, you still want to relax. 

Perhaps you’re wondering whether there’s a way to mix that relaxing beach time you’ve been looking forward to all year in with some culture or learning experiences for your kids. 

Or maybe you’ve tried to plan a Caribbean trip and you’ve gotten stuck by terrible flight prices, flight times, or high resort prices on the islands that you’ve had on your bucket list.  You find yourself saying, “For that price, shouldn’t we go somewhere different?” 

Whatever your reason for looking beyond the islands, there are a lot of family-friendly beach destinations out there that ought to be on your radar.  We’ve planned amazing trips for our family and Mango Tree clients beyond the islands, 

One of our favorite non-Caribbean beach destinations may be calling your name too.

Colombia Beach Vacation

6 Top Family Beach Vacations Beyond the Caribbean​

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1. Cartagena, Colombia: An increadible pick for a family beach vacation 

We had one of the best, easiest, most relaxing, and culturally interesting experiences on a family vacation in Cartagena, Columbia – and we had plenty of beach and pool time too. 

This destination has gained more and more popularity over the years. But when we first proposed Colombia as a family destination with our young daughter in tow, it won’t won’t surprise you to hear that our parents were a bit put off. 

 Questions like the following flew through the phone: 

  • Is Columbia safe?
  • What are you going to do there with the kids?
  • How do you even start planning that trip?? 

But we’d done our research, and we knew Colombia could offer us a great family-friendly getaway beyond the Caribbean. 

The number one thing that makes Cartagena so awesome is the mix of a colonial town to explore and the proximity to stunning blue waters. 

But there are a few more standout reasons we love Cartagena, too. 

  • There are direct flights available for many US cities including JFK in New York. 
  • You can spend a few days at a mansion turned boutique hotel in the colorful colonial city of Cartagena where you can lounge by the pool while your kids take a nap in the room.
  • You can all go out together in the evenings for horse-drawn carriage rides coupled with leisurely walks through the beautiful city.

Learn more about why we love Cartagena with kids.

Many of the boutique hotels that we love to book for our clients in Cartagena have relationships with beach clubs, which makes it super easy to spend a day or two at the beach. 

Or, if you want more beach time, split your trip between Cartagena and a classic beach resort on the Rosario islands or Playa Baru. Each of these is only about a 45-minute boat trip from the Old City.

Check out our guide to the Ultimate Cartagena Beach Vacation.

Family Trip to Belize

2. Belize: A top family destination where jungle flows into a walkable Caribbean beach town 

When I first think of Belize, I think of Overwater Bungalows – designed for romance, not your average family vacation. 

But there are some incredible family-friendly properties on the Caribbean coast of Belize!  What’s so cool about this destination choice is that you can combine your beach time with slightly more adventurous vacation activities in the jungle, like animals with ziplining, or hiking. 

A lot of clients come to us at Mango Tree Travel in search of a walkable Caribbean beach town. The dream: Stay at a comfortable resort, but then be able to walk to bars and restaurants, etc. 

Unfortunately, we’ve learned from experience that the idyllic beach town doesn’t exist in as many Caribbean islands as I would like. But it does exist in Belize – in particular in the Caribbean town of Placencia. 

The ideal Belize itinerary with kids? Start in Placencia, a one hour flight from the Belize International Airport. There, you’ll be greeted by several boutique luxury resorts that will be fantastic with kids, all a short distance from the walkable town, and a stone’s throw from incredible snorkeling and fantastic water adventures in Belize.  

Or head instead to one of our favorite family hotels in Ambergis Caye, another short hopper flight from Belize International Airport. There, you’ll be able to explore the island by golf cart and access some of Belize’s best snorkeling. 

Not to fear, though, your whole trip won’t be beach-focused. Spend the second half of your trip at a family friendly jungle lodge in Belize, for just the right mix of a family-friendly beach getaway and a more adventurous family trip. 

There’s a ton of variety and options awaiting you in this often overlooked spot in the Caribbean!  And with our excellent local partners, we can’t wait to plan your custom Belize itinerary when you’re ready. 

Bonus: Prices in Belize can still be much more affordable than many of the luxury resorts in the Caribbean that we know and love.

Learn more about our favorite Belize hotels for families.

Costa Rica Caribbean Beach

3. Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast: A Bucket List Option for Adventurous Family Travelers

Everyone wants to go to Costa Rica. There’s a reason that it’s on most family bucket lists, with waterfalls, jungles, ziplining and more.  Not surprisingly, Costa Rica was Travel & Leisure’s 2024 Destination of the Year

But what if you want calm, Caribbean beach time on your Costa Rica adventure? You’ll want to steer clear of the most popular Pacific coast of Costa Rica, as the waters can be rough. 

The waves are better suited for surfing with kids.  Yet, that’s still where most travelers head first, even with little kids too young too start hitting the waves. 

Consider a unique alternative, and get ahead of the travel curve: Let us take you to Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. It takes a bit more of a journey to get there. But on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, you can mix the calm beach experience you might have been hoping for in the Caribbean islands, plus chill beach towns to relax in for a cocktail. 

Plus, the jungle is literally right behind you as you lounge on the sandy shores of the Costa Rica, offering you that mix of adventure and a family-friendly beach vacation.

Learn all about the best family hotels on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

Best beaches in Cartagena; Playa Blanca

4. Portugal: A European Beach Vacation with Kids 

Yep, that’s right, Portugal

Europe often seems like a much bigger, more challenging adventure than a dash to the Caribbean islands for Spring Break. But if your home airport has a direct flight to Lisbon, your overall travel time to Europe might actually be shorter than a connecting flight to the Caribbean, and the total price about the same. 

So it’s at this point that a lot of Mango Tree clients may say: 

…but that’s a much different trip..” 

You might also be thinking: “…if I go all the way to Europe, I’m going to want to explore all of the cities and go to the wineries and do much more than just relax at the beach. And I dont have the time, energy, or money for that trip right now.” 

But we always encourage our clients to think about what you want to do rather than what you should do

If you want a beach vacation, you can have one in Portugal. Sure, maybe you add a couple of days in Lisbon at the end of it (at our favorite hotel with a kids’ club, of course, to keep up the relaxing vibes of this family vacation). 

In short, Portugal – or several Mediterranean beach towns for that matter – can offer a great non-Caribbean beach destination for families, and can be the source of an easy and relaxing adventure with your kids if you plan it right. 

5. The Florida Keys: Family-Friendly Caribbean Resorts at home in the United States

When you want some beach time on your vacation, but with a little added experiential travel, the family-friendly resorts in the Florida Keys deliver.

Don’t overlook the Caribbean that we have right here at home. 

The water in the Florida Keys is just as blue and translucent as some of the best beaches in the Caribbean islands. During travel years when you need to scale back a bit on your budget, or where flights just aren’t lining up in your favor, your flights to Miami can be a fraction of the cost of your international flight. 

Consider a drive through the Florida Keys as your Caribbean alternative, especially during the shoulder seasons to avoid the crowd. There are family-friendly hotels with multiple bedrooms and kids activities – like glass bottom boats – all along the route in the Florida Keys. 

Your best options for exploring the Florida Keys with kids are to fly to Miami and do the drive, or sometimes you can find cheap flights to Key West directly.  Whichever flight path makes the most sense for you, we’re here to help you plan the perfect luxury family vacation in the Florida Keys. 

Get a Florida Keys Overview to start planning your next family trip.

Family Resort in Punta De Mita

6. Punta de Mita: Family-Friendly Beaches in Mexico Beyond Cancun

If you pivot from the Caribbean to Mexico, the first place that probably crosses your mind is Cancun, where large resorts line the whole shoreline stretching from Cancun, Tulum, with the Riviera Maya and Playa Del Carmen in between. 

But there’s another coast of Mexico that is often forgotten – perhaps assumed to not have the calm beaches necessary to travel with young kids.

Punta Mita, Mexico outside of Puerto Vallarta is a resort hotspot with incredible places to take families and some calm beaches tucked into hidden coasts. If you plan your trip, right, you can get that tranquil Caribbean beach you might have been envisioning, warm weather, and a luxury resort but in a slightly different flavor.

Plan your Punta Mita luxury family vacation with Mango Tree

Baru Island Beach in Cartagena

Final thought about beaches beyond the Caribbean

When we started Mango Tree Travel, the goal was to make it easier for families to travel together to get the much needed rest and relaxation they deserve, but in a unique and authentic way. We started in the Caribbean, our first true love for family vacations. 

But what we now know for sure? Families can get the right mix of easy, family-friendly, relaxing, and authentic beyond the Caribbean too – if the planning is done right and the trip is thought through in a very intentional way. 

Here at Mango Tree Travel, we take your travel seriously so you don’t have to. Your beach vacation can start the minute you contact us to help you make your plan of action. But while we’re chatting, don’t forget to ask about some of these other amazing destinations when you have a beach trip on the brain!

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