When it comes to romantic getaways, Anguilla makes the shortlist for many sun worshippers looking for a special holiday a deux. This week alone we welcomed honeymooners, anniversary couples and milestone birthday celebrations to the resort. But beyond the couples escapes that many people typically associate with Anguilla, it’s also an incredible destination for families looking for an extra special beach break on an island renowned for its friendliness and safety. The most common question we get from families is what to do with children in tow. You’ll be happy to know that traveling to Anguilla with children offers more options than you may think.
16 miles long and 3 miles wide with 33 beaches, you can practically see water from any point on the island. For kids, this means lots of opportunities for splashing around in the Caribbean. Whether you have little guys in tow that prefer to build sand castles and float in the shallow water or older kids that prefer more active pursuits, there’s something for everyone.
Resorts like ours (Frangipani Beach Resort on Meads Bay) offer complimentary water sports which are a major perk for families with active children. We offer Hobie Cats, kayaking, standup paddleboards, tubing, wake boarding and water skiing, and even little ones (generally around 5+) can enjoy slow tubing experiences or kayaking in the Caribbean with a parent. For those staying at properties that don’t offer water sports, Anguilla Water Sports offers kite surfing lessons as part of their kiteboarding academy. They also offer standup paddleboards (rentals and tours) that can include lessons or not depending on your preference.
For tots in tow that aren’t quite yet ready for water activities, Travel Lite Anguilla offers beach and pool toy rentals so you don’t have to bring them from home.
To be honest, I’m typically a bit hesitant to recommend Dolphin Discovery purely because I question how responsible the entire practice is. My biases aside, Anguilla’s Dolphin Discovery is typically a draw for parents as it provides an up close and personal encounter swimming with dolphins under the supervision of professionals. There are a few packages available, with the entry-level package starting at around $99 per person for a 40 minute encounter. Be aware that photography is not allowed and they will charge a hefty fee to buy a picture of your child’s experience ($35+ per photo).
My family and I embarked on a horseback riding experience in Ireland last fall and it was one of the most memorable events of the entire trip. I’ve always mentioned horseback riding in Anguilla to parents visiting the island but was unsure of age limits and restrictions. I reached out to Tonia Downing, the owner of Anguilla’s Seaside Stables to ask about horseback riding with little ones and she clarified that not only is it doable, there are multiple options for kids visiting Anguilla. Children up to age 5 can ride in front of an adult on horseback for an hour beach ride, and kids age two and up can also enjoy a half hour pony ride if they want something a bit more independent. As with anything, parents will know their children’s ability and maturity level best so they can find the option that suits them best.
Boat Trips + Snorkeling
If tubing and sailing aren’t your kid’s cup of tea, a trip on the water may be the perfect way to enjoy a family outing to see Anguilla by water. Frangipani has its own boat for beach hopping boat trips, and I can attest to the fact that nearly everyone (families, couples and individuals) who comes back from a day on the boat says it’s the most memorable part of their trip. Boat trips can take many forms, and ours typically involves a day of visiting off-island cays and different beaches on the island to get a feel for the different facets of Anguilla.
For those staying at other properties, third-party outfitters offer day trips on a private or shared charter basis. Sea Pro Charter offers a range of group trips, Chocolat Anguilla offers a catamaran experience, and Tradition Sailing offers day time and sunset cruises on their traditional West Indian sloop for the ultimate in experiential luxury.
For snorkeling trips, Juniors Glass Bottom Boat is a kid-approved favorite for snorkeling adventures in Little Bay and Shoal Bay while watching the world go by. Shoal Bay Scuba also offers snorkeling charters for those interested in focusing on life under the sea.
The Anguilla Aqua Park is the newest addition to the child-friendly scene on the island and its position on Cove Bay in front of family-friendly Smokey’s Restaurant makes it the perfect destination for kids wanting action and parents wanting relaxation. There’s a minimum height of 48″ and anyone under 9 has to be accompanied by a guardian, but we’ve had parents come back mentioning that they were happy to join their kids for a play day at the park (on the bright side, you can count it towards your daily cardio). For kids that can play independently, parents can enjoy lounging with a rum punch in hand at Smokey’s on Cove Bay.
Hikes + Nature Explorers
Renowned for its world-class beaches and mostly flat terrain, hiking in Anguilla doesn’t always come to mind immediately when you’re planning your beachy getaway. Hikes do exist though, and they make for a great alternative to a lazy beach day when mom, dad, and little ones want to enjoy something on the active side. Most of the hikes are moderate which make them totally doable with children, but solid walking shoes are recommended. Check out the Iguana Cave at Katouche Bay (we didn’t see any iguanas so be forewarned!), Captain’s Bay, Windward Point Bay, and Limestone Bay. Check out Skyviews Anguilla map (sort by ‘Nature’) to see hiking sites around the island.
Those that want a guided brush with wildlife will be happy to know that birdwatching and other wildlife focused tours exist on Anguilla. Headed by Jackie Cestero, Nature Explorers Anguilla was the first ecotourism company on Anguilla and provides wildlife tours to the wetlands. For bird watchers and photographers, it’s a great opportunity to see a lesser celebrated side of Anguilla. If you’re visiting Anguilla with children, it’s a great way to mix an active day with some education during your island getaway.
We always joke that the mini golf course on Anguilla is one of the nicest facilities on the island, and it’s the perfect destination for kids (and adults) that aren’t quite yet primed for Anguilla’s real golf course. Located on the eastern end of Anguilla in the Anchor Complex, they cater to kids parties and have an ice cream parlour for the ultimate kid-friendly experience.
Cooking Class + Beach Dining
What would a trip to Anguilla be without indulging in the island’s incredible dining scene? You don’t have to sacrifice a nice dinner out when there are child-friendly menus readily available. Restaurants like Straw Hat, Veya, Smokey’s and others have kids menus (Dolce Vita offers half portions of some of their pasta dishes) so the little ones can stay happy while the parents indulge in a world-class dining experience.
To up the ante on a fun and interactive experience why not try a cooking class? We recently tested out Chef Ken Lin, owner of Cha Cha San, for a sushi making class in Anguilla at our new villa and were blown away. The sushi making was engaging and educational but not so time-consuming that short attention spans would be annoyed. Our dinner that followed our sushi appetizer course was phenomenal and Ken is a master at tailoring a menu that fits your needs and tastes. Unless you have particularly adventurous eaters for little ones this may mean different main course options (e.g. lobster tempura) that are more up their alley.
Have you visited Anguilla with children? What activities and experiences would you recommend for families visiting the island?