best family beach vacations – Families planning their next beach vacation have a wide variety of destinations to choose from, whether they’re looking for a cheap family vacation spot or the ultimate tropical vacation. Spain has many great options, from classic Benidorm on the east coast to the Rías Baixas in Galicia. But we are looking for a vacation in a big way, traveling abroad.
Those looking for a truly exotic beach holiday can venture to the far-flung islands of Thailand or Fiji or have an unforgettable time on the Greek island of Corfu.
The best beach destinations for families are those with plenty to do beyond the shoreline, from amusements for the little ones to activities for the teens. For the best places to visit, keep reading our list of the best family beach vacations:
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If you’re considering a family beach vacation, the list of options is so long that it can feel overwhelming to decide where to go. Whether you’re looking for something close to home, the West Coast, East Coast, South Coast, or a more exotic destination, there’s something perfect, but it can be hard to know until you go. However, these options can inspire the motivation you need to book before the best accommodations sell out.
The Outer Banks, North Carolina
The Outer Banks is an ideal family vacation, with opportunities to book vacation rentals that have room for everyone, right on the beach. This long, narrow strip of land separates Pamlico Sound from the open waters of the Atlantic, meaning visitors can enjoy various activities such as surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, and wading. In addition, plenty of local shops in the area offer equipment rentals and lessons, and you can even discover trails with wild horses, which have roamed the area’s beaches for centuries.
Located on the northern coast of Oregon, Seaside offers plenty of family-friendly attractions just over an hour’s drive from Portland. A two-mile-long paved promenade is ideal for walks and bike rides. It also borders the three-mile-long stretch of beach for endless activities on the sand. You can also visit the aquarium next to the “Prom,” home to sea lions who perform their own tricks in hopes of convincing visitors to throw a fish at them. Plus, it has a touch tank for feeling spiny sea urchins, starfish, anemones, and more. The center houses an arcade and a wide range of souvenir shops and restaurants.
Poipu Beach, Kauai
Kauai is ideal for family beach vacations with a long list of exciting attractions, and Poipu Beach is the best place to base yourself. Adults and children will love Poipu Beach Park, which offers shallow wading areas for kids, and areas to swim, snorkel, or surf. Enjoy picnics under the shade of palm trees and hikes or bike rides along the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail. This is a great place to enjoy a colorful sunset or catamaran cruise.
Clearwater Beach, Florida
Clearwater Beach offers soft white sand, located just west of Tampa along the beautiful western shoreline. It stands out as a unique and exceptional place in a state known for its fantastic family beaches.
Where to stay…
As one of the best family beach vacations in Florida, Clearwater Beach has plenty of places to enjoy. Families seeking luxury should check out the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach, which has more than 340 non-smoking rooms, three restaurants, a full-service spa, and free cribs and infant beds for guests. It’s also just three minutes from Clearwater Beach.
Families looking to travel on a budget might want to consider the Barefoot Bay Resort & Marina. It’s a bit plain for the area, but it’s comfortably laid-back with 16 rooms, has an outdoor pool, and is more affordable than many competitors. The Sandpearl Resort is notably more expensive, but it has a private beach area to help you beat the crowds.
Where to eat…
For fine dining, stop at Sea-Guini, which offers a mix of Italian and American fare, focusing on seafood. Poke Havana offers different flavors with its combination of Cuban and Hawaiian foods, while Clear Sky Cafe is a kid-friendly area that’s great for breakfast.
Clearwater Beach is a great place to enjoy water sports like parasailing, paddleboarding, and jet-skiing. Biking and rollerblading are great options. Don’t expend all your energy during the day because the Pier 60 area hosts artists and vendors every night. Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a must-visit attraction if you are traveling with young children.
The closest airport to Clearwater Beach
While there is a local air park near Clearwater Beach, that’s not an easy travel option for most people. A better option is the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, which is about 20 minutes away from regular traffic. Tampa International Airport is a bit further but has direct access to Clearwater.
Are you looking for accommodation near the airport? Our guide to the best hotels near St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport for families should help you plan your trip.
Siesta Key Beach
Located almost directly south of Tampa, Siesta Key Beach offers wide beaches and great accommodations.
Where to stay…
Tropical Beach Resorts offers 70 comfortably large apartments with two outdoor pools and a full kitchen. The community also features numerous luxury upgrade areas. The Capri at Siesta is an excellent alternative with ten rooms, a private beach area, and beach towels.
Where to eat…
Florida is justly famous for its heat, which is why Made in Rome Organic Gelato offers delicious cold retreats. The Summer House Steak & Seafood restaurant sells what you’d expect, with great food and prices to match. The Sun Garden Cafe offers American-style food, while the Isan Thai Restaurant offers spicier Asian fare.
Siesta Key Beach has white quartz sand and is kid-friendly, thanks to the available playground. Year-round lifeguards help keep swimming safe during regular hours, while tennis courts offer more shore-side fun. For more space, Turtle Beach is just to the south, though you may want to drive instead of walk.
The closest airport to Siesta Key Beach
The closest airport to this destination is the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, which is about 30 minutes away on a decent day. Tampa International Airport to the north and Punta Gorda Airport to the southeast also serve the area, although they are better as backup options.
Marco Island is located on the southwestern side of Florida, just before the southern tip of the state.
Where to stay…
The Boat House is a great option for smaller families, with affordable rates in a safe and quiet area. Families seeking luxury may prefer Marriott’s Crystal Shores, which has more than 200 condo-style residences with plenty of sleeping accommodations, supervised child care, three outdoor pools, and quick beach access.
Where to eat…
DaVinci’s is a great mix of American and Italian food, with a surprising focus on seafood. This lovely restaurant has meal options for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets. There’s also the Boulevard which offers upscale contemporary American food, while Doreen’s Cup of Joe serves excellent breakfasts.
In addition to enjoying water sports along the beach, the Marco Island Historical Museum offers entertainment and attractions for children. Otter Mound Preserve is a more relaxed waterfront area, with a trail running through an area of tropical hardwood. The Marco Island Center for the Arts also offers an ever-changing selection of art, so you can come back each time you visit.
The nearest airport to Marco Island
Marco Island has several flight options, including Marco Island Executive Airport and Naples Airport. These will cover most needs, but if you can’t catch a flight there, Southwest Florida International Airport to the north is a good alternative (albeit a bit distant).
Our first choice on the East Coast, Cocoa Beach, is located east and south of Orlando on Florida’s Space Coast.
Where to stay…
The beachside cottages at Coco Sands are a surprisingly great option for apartments if you stay for a few days. The combination of quality and affordability makes it an excellent choice for many families. If you’re looking for luxury, Courtyard Cocoa Beach – Cape Canaveral offers a bar, restaurant, free cribs, infant beds, and reasonably quick access to entertainment.
Where to eat…
Florida’s Fresh Grill is an excellent combination of steak and seafood at reasonable prices. For something a little fancier, check out Fat Kahuna’s Beach Side Grille, which offers similar fare. Finally, if you’re looking for something cheap, the similarly named Beachside Grill & Deli offers solid eats at affordable prices.
Great activities in Cocoa Beach include exploring the long boardwalk, hitting the skate park, or renting sports equipment. If you like space, you can travel a relatively short distance north to Cape Canaveral, which has plenty of themed entertainment to enjoy.
The closest airport to Cocoa Beach
The best airport to reach Cocoa Beach is the Melbourne Orlando International Airport, located just south of the beach area. Space Coast Regional Airport also services the area, but it can be difficult to get flights there. As a backup, you can go to Orlando International Airport, not to be confused with the nearest Melbourne airport.
Easily one of the most famous spots on this list, Daytona Beach offers a stunning 23 miles of soft-sand beaches on Florida’s east coast.
Where to stay…
If you’re in the mood to watch the races, the Residence Inn by Marriott Daytona Beach Speedway/Airport is a family-friendly area with free airport shuttles, more than 120 guest rooms, and free cribs and infant beds just a mile away from the beach. Highway For a smaller location, The Riverview Hotel offers a luxurious indoor pool and a full-service spa.
Where to eat…
Don Vito’s Italian Restaurant is a great option for pizza and general Italian food, available in family-friendly sizes. Chucherias restaurant offers a Spanish flair, while Crabby’s Oceanside offers American and seafood dishes. Finally, if you’re feeling especially fancy, be sure to visit The Cellar for European dishes.
Daytona Beach has many activities, from miles of shoreline to hiking, biking, golfing, and dining. Consider taking a scenic boat tour, visiting the Halifax Historical Museum, or watching the action at Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona Lagoon theme park is great for families.
The closest airport to Daytona Beach
The best option for flying is the aptly named Daytona Beach International Airport. While not particularly large, it offers immediate access and completes the job. Backup options include Spruce Creek Airport or if you need to go further afield, Orlando Sanford International Airport.
San Diego, California
Many things make San Diego one of the best places to visit with children, and its 70 miles of beautiful beaches have a lot to do with it. Pacific Beach is the most popular family beach, also known as The Strand. Visitors can find everything they need on this two-mile stretch of beach, from equipment rental shops to restaurants, restrooms, lifeguards, and showers.
Belmont Park is an excellent option for those looking for an amusement park by the sea, with rides ranging from kid-friendly to thrilling.
La Jolla Shores is another popular beach with tourists and local families and is primarily known for being a great place to learn to surf and scuba dive. Families can learn more about life beyond the beaches at La Jolla’s Birch Aquarium, which houses a wide variety of species native to the Pacific Ocean, including a large coral reef aquarium.
Sea World San Diego features a wide variety of ocean life, including dolphins, sea lions, and killer whales, as well as several water-themed rides and other amusements.
Even beachgoers will want to spend a day meeting the animals at the San Diego Zoo, one of the city’s top family attractions, home to more than 3,700 animals. Animal lovers can also visit the nearby Safari Park in Escondido, which features giraffes, lions, and other African mammals in an original habitat.
Families looking for something to do on a rainy day can head to Lego Land amusement park nearby Carlsbad.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Jamaica is one of the most affordable Caribbean destinations and is packed with family-friendly resorts, including all-inclusive options, not to mention non-stop flights are available from many US cities. Not only can everyone enjoy playing on the sand and glass. -Clear turquoise waters, but if you stay in or near Ocho Rios, it’s easy to visit Dunn’s River Falls, which features a series of waterfalls and tranquil lagoons. In addition, there’s an easy hike that families can take that’s even suitable for young children: Dolphin Cove Nature Trail is a nature trail to explore wildlife such as resident iguanas, birds, and snakes, as well as tropical plants.
Los Cabos, Mexico
Los Cabos, located on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, has long been a popular honeymoon and party spot. Still, it’s also a fantastic family beach vacation. On one side are the turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez, ideal for swimming and snorkeling, and on the other, the wild waves of the Pacific. There is a wide range of resorts both in San José del Cabo, the quieter side, and in Cabo San Lucas, the heart of the action with its iconic arch at Land’s End and the beautiful swimmable El Médano Beach.
Stay in Grand Cayman at Seven-Mile Beach, particularly at its northern end or in the more secluded area of Rum Point, and you’ll be able to take advantage of clear, warm, shallow water that kids can wade up to 25 feet. The largest of the three Cayman Islands is a water lover’s paradise with many activities and attractions for the whole family. For example, at Sting Ray City, the entire family can walk in the water, be surrounded by hundreds of tame rays, and even hand-feed them for an incredibly unforgettable experience. There is also a turtle farm nearby where kids can swim with the animals in the turtle pond.
Phuket Island, Thailand
For the ultimate tropical family vacation, head to the island of Phuket, located off the western coast of southern Thailand. Here are some of the best beaches in Thailand, from tourist areas to smaller coves that can only be reached by boat.
The largest beach on the island is Patong Beach, a vibrant place with many hotels to choose from and many restaurants and shops. Another point of interest is Nai Harn beach, which is very popular with families due to the wide variety of services within walking distance of the beach.
If you want a quieter place to spend the day snorkeling, take a short boat ride from Patong to Freedom Beach, one of the rarest pristine beaches on the island.
Waikiki, one of the most famous resorts in the world and one of the highest-rated beaches in Hawaii, is a perfect beach destination for family vacations, located in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Waikiki consists of several beaches that stretch along the south shore of the island of O’ahu, in the heart of Honolulu, home to major tourist attractions such as Pearl Harbor and the USS Missouri battleship, as well as natural attractions such as the Diamond Head State Monument.
Nearly all of Waikiki’s beaches are great for families, and many are considered a great place to learn to surf, thanks to their gentle waves. In addition, there are many rental shops where you can find boards and other water sports equipment.
For an unforgettable experience, plan a visit to Hanauma Bay, where the family can learn about the fragile reef ecosystem, then snorkel in the shallow, protected waters of the unique volcanic bay.
Nassau is one of the best-known islands in the Bahamas, both a popular cruise port and tourist destination. Nassau’s Paradise Island is home to the most prominent resorts and an extensive shopping and dining complex, Marina Village. However, regardless of where you stay, tourists can visit many attractions at the larger hotels, like the Gardens of Versailles and the French Cloister.
The Royal at Atlantis is the ideal place to stay in Nassau with children, as it is a full-service resort and a theme park. Designed to capture the magic and grandeur of the lost city of Atlantis, this massive complex features on-site family entertainment; a water park; and unique marine habitat, including dolphins and other favorites.
The beautiful Mediterranean island of Corfu is one of the most popular Greek islands, known for its soft sandy beaches and historic sites. Many are in Corfu Town, a UNESCO-listed seaside town home to two 16th-century fortresses, the broad esplanade, and several historic churches.
Glyfada Beach is a favorite among tourists as it is home to several resorts and many activities, from shopping and dining to water sports and boat trips. Paleokastritsa’s six beaches are some of the most beautiful in all of Greece and also the best for families, each situated in a sheltered cove. La Grotta beach is one of them, and although it is not a place to sunbathe, it is one of the best options for swimmers.
Mamanuca Islands, Fiji
The islands of Fiji in the South Pacific offer such a wide variety of beach destinations for families that it is difficult to choose just one. But the Mamanuca Islands are places for those who want near-perfect weather and seemingly endless white-sand beaches. Instead, these islands are primarily known for their coral reefs and idyllic tropical beauty and have many resorts to choose from.
Families who want closer to more options could stay on Viti Levu, the largest of Fiji’s islands. The capital, Suva, is located in the eastern part of the island, while the city of Nadi, on the western coast, is smaller but full of shops and authentic restaurants.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Bávaro Beach is a favorite of families in Punta Cana, a beautiful resort town located on the eastern edge of the Dominican Republic. Families love the warm Caribbean waters that are calm enough for even little ones to swim in, and there are a good variety of all-inclusive family resorts right on the beach. Most offer children’s programs that allow parents to relax or take the older ones parasailing or sailing.
You can rent water sports equipment along the beach, a lively place often packed with vacationers.