St. James’s Club, Antigua
Antigua is a great island for a first-time trip to the Caribbean with young kids. Flights are direct, the island is English speaking, and there are good beaches and plenty of things to see and do.
St James’s Club is a four-star, all-inclusive hotel that has an innovative tie-up with Puffin Books. Some of the UK’s top children’s illustrators and storytellers from Puffin host a series of week-long events for young holidaymakers at the hotel’s kids club.
Original designer of Bob the Builder, Curtis Jobling, will be the hotel’s artist in residence from 29 July for two weeks. He’ll be hosting events for younger children, 10-year olds and teens. Adam Stower (author of Silly Doggy), Ed Vere (Bedtime for Monsters), and Rachel Bright (My Sister is an Alien) are also kids club regulars.
Tropical adventures: Take a jeep safari across the island’s rugged countryside, traverse the rainforest on a zipline, and visit the only working Georgian dockyard in the world at Nelson’s Dockyard National Park with its museum, nature trails and sight-and-sound show. On a Sunday afternoon and evening, head to Shirley Heights overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard for live steel band music and BBQ.
Turtle watch: Nesting season for Hawksbill turtle coincides with the summer school holidays from June to October, and turtle tours run every Friday from July. And if you’re feeling adventurous, take a boat trip to Barbuda, Antigua’s little sister isle with her pink sand beaches and Frigate Bird Sanctuary, the largest in the western hemisphere with over 170 species of birds.
Travel time: 8 hours and 30 minutes.
Top tip: If you’re flying with Virgin, pay the extra £20 per adult and £12 per child and treat yourselves to a pre-flight chill out in the Virgin Holidays’ V-room at Gatwick Airport. The dedicated play area for children means parents can take the time to relax before the flight.