Although it maintains a reputation as a romantic couple’s destination, the French and West Indian island of St. Barts is welcoming to families with children. Among the wealthy inhabitants and luxury resorts, parents can find plenty of activities to keep the kids busy and content during a trip to this rugged island. Families can rent a villa and cook meals themselves or venture out to one of many child-friendly restaurants to sample local cuisine while experiencing a vacation of a lifetime.
All the 14 white sandy beaches on St. Barts (st-barths.com) are public and free -- and crowds are minimal year-round. Families can view a traditional fishing village behind Corossol Beach, watch the surfers on Anse des Cayes Beach or collect shells of all shapes and sizes at Shell Beach. Sit back and relax while the kids busy themselves building sandcastles, chasing hermit crabs and watching pelicans dive for their dinner. Walk together along the water to finish off your perfect day under the Caribbean sun.
A trip to St. Barts would be incomplete without spending a day out on the water. Be your own captain or simply go along for the ride. Local companies like Jicky Marine Service (st-barths.com/jicky-marine-service/en/) and MasterSki Pilou (masterski-pilou.com/en) offer sailboat and catamaran rentals along with half- and full-day excursions around the island. Watch the birds and dolphins, try snorkeling and have a picnic lunch or gourmet dinner on the boat.
If you want to see what lies beneath all that crystal-blue water, but don’t want to get wet, take a trip on St. Barts Yellow Submarine (st-barths.com/en/saint-barthelemy-guide/activities-st-barts/submarine-trips/yellow-submarine). The comfortable, air-conditioned vessel is only partially submerged, allowing passengers to see 6 feet under water to look in awe at the tropical fish and plant life that live in the waters of St. Bart. For fidgety little ones who like to be on the move, parents can move up to the deck at any time to see the top of the water and sunshine -- and then head back below to see the sea turtles once the kids settle down.
Children of all ages will likely enjoying being active while on St. Barts. Families can hike at La Pointe Toiny, ride horses at the Ranch des Flamands (no website; Ranch de Flamands), or play volleyball on the beach. Children can also fill their days with various water activities from swimming in the pool or ocean to canoeing across the bay with Dad. Older kids will likely enjoy learning to windsurf, boogie board or even kite surf, while the entire family can enjoy snorkeling with sea turtles in the turquoise water.