7 Cool Cultural Experiences for Kids in the Caribbean

Last updated 4th October 2018

When some people think “Caribbean,” overbaked touristy cruise ports may be what comes to mind—certainly not the makings of a memorable vacation. But there is a great deal of variation across the multitude of islands that make up this corner of the world, both in geography and peoples. Why not bring some culture into the mix on your next warm weather vacation? Here is a sampling of what you’ll find if you look beyond the mega resorts and big cruise ships.

Find Alexander Hamilton on Nevis

No one would have guessed a decade ago how popular Alexander Hamilton would be today. But thanks to the breakout rap musical Hamilton, my kids can actually tell you all about the Founding Father’s life. Hamilton was born in Charlestown, Nevis and lived there for the first nine years of his life. Today, the two-story Georgian style house where he was born is the Museum of Nevis History. And, just outside the city, you can visit the ruins of the Hamilton Estate, a former sugar plantation.


Visit a Little Bit of England in Barbados

Barbadians, also called Bajans, celebrate their joint African and British heritage. Visit during one of the many island festivals and witness the magic of a Tuk Band performing on bass drums, snare drums, and tin flutes. You’ll even see famous Bajan characters marching along … they’re sure to enthrall the kids—Donkey Man, Shaggy Bear, Stiltman and Mother Sally.

Discover more reasons to visit the island in Family Vacations to Barbados.


Swim with Whale Sharks

Instead of spending time in the craziness of Cancun’s hotel zone, head northward to the narrow little island of Isla Mujeres to take in one of the natural wonders of the world. Each June to September, graceful whale sharks—the world’s largest fish—congregate near this little spit of land. It’s one of only three places in the world where you can snorkel with these gentle spotted giants (don’t worry, they’re filter feeders, not meat eaters). The whale sharks often swim in groups of a dozen or more, so this is one experience the whole family won’t soon forget.

Think that sounds cool? Read 13 Bucket List Animal Encounters for more cool things to do!


Learn About Sea Turtles

Grand Cayman is known for the must-see Stringray City sandbar just offshore, but your family can learn a lot on land here, too. The Cayman Turtle Centre allows kids and kids at heart to learn about these aww-inducing reptiles, how they’re being conserved, and see them in different growing stages before they’re released into the wild.

Discover more reasons to visit the island in Family Vacations to the Cayman Islands.


Paint Chichi in Curaçao

This member of the Netherland Antilles, situated between Aruba and Bonaire, lies less than 40 miles off the northern coast of Venezuela, and thanks to a stroke of luck, naturally away from the tracks that hurricanes take. One island original is the Chichi doll (“big sister” in Papiamentu, the local dialect), a type of folk art. These large bosomed figures are seated with arms out as if to embrace someone and bring a smile to nearly every tourist’s face. Classes on the island allow families to paint their own Chichi dolls, and take home a bit of that joyous Caribbean sunshine.


Wander Old San Juan

El Morro and Old San Juan are a must for any visitor to Puerto Rico, and there’s plenty of fun for families here. This fort, dating back 400 years, evokes ages of pirates and hidden treasures. (The El Morro Esplanade is a popular family spot for flying kites or having a picnic after little adventurers need a break.) Wander through Parque de las Palomas (pigeon park) and Plaza Centennial to find many more kids feeding the birds or playing in the spraying water features. You can also choose between a trolley tour or a Segway tour to get more perspective on the area.

And yes, Puerto Rico is Open for Visits following hurricane damage in late 2017.


Explore more Caribbean destinations in our Caribbean Family Vacation Guide.