Family Fun in the Sun

Beach resorts boasting enjoyment for the whole family

by Kyle Whitecotton
So you think a beach getaway is just for the grown-ups? If you envision tropical vacations with those colorful umbrella drinks, tiny bathing suits reserved for the sand, and too many hours of sunbathing before heading off to the bar, think again. This month, we’re packing bags for the whole family and setting a course toward some sunny, sandy destinations fit perfectly for adults and children of all ages. And while they may still serve umbrella drinks and offer plenty of seaside lounging, these getaways are all about quality time in the kind of resorts built around family fun and adventure.

Atlantis Paradise Island,
The Bahamas
Any resort situated on Paradise Island inherently functions under a wealth of expectation and predetermined notions of what a luxury resort ought to be. But with 141 acres of lagoons, aquariums and salt-water habitats presenting more than 50,000 marine animals, including sharks, dolphins, sea lions and 250 other species, the ocean-themed Atlantis Paradise Island exceeds all expectations and lives up to its legendary name.

There is no shortage of fun at Atlantis Paradise Island. Spend a day exploring the enormous Aquaventure Park, which features 11 swimming pools, high-speed water slides and a mile-long river in a lush, tropical setting.

Spend the day exploring the island’s enormous Aquaventure Water Park with 11 different swimming pools, high-speed water slides and a mile-long river ride surrounded by a lush, tropical setting. Visit the world-class Dolphin Cay, where you can swim with dolphins in shallow or deep water, splash around with some local sea lions, or feed the stingrays as they soar past you in waters fit for any age. The bravest of visitors can snorkel the Ruins of Atlantis while those looking for something more tranquil can soak up the sun on Dolphin Cay’s secluded beaches.  

Parents will have plenty of time to explore the island’s night life while teens and tweens pass the evening hours at Crush, a 14,000-square-foot nightclub for kids, offering a fully-stocked gaming room, VIP sections and a live DJ. Atlantis Kid’s Adventures, for ages 3 - 12, is a place where kids encounter their own kind of resort experience making crafts, playing games and even a chance to be a chef for a day.

Accommodations at Atlantis Paradise Island range from a room in the reasonably priced Beach Tower to the centrally located Royal Towers.

Winnetu Oceanside Resort,
Martha’s Vineyard

On the south side of the island of Martha’s Vineyard, near the town of Edgartown, lies the quintessential New England beachside resort—Winnetu Oceanside Resort. This family-owned resort prides itself on being a quality year-round getaway for all guests, especially families. Aside from exploring long stretches of sandy seashore and traveling throughout and beyond the island, a reservation at Winnetu offers a wide range of family activities.

Set out on the easy three-mile bike path from the resort to Edgartown’s Main Street. There you’ll find a host of unique restaurants, shops and local sights. The town’s active harbor is always bustling with colorful boats of every shape and size while giant, historic mansions adorn the town beyond the city center.

Stay close and partake in a long list of activities at the resort. Greet the day with an outdoor ping-pong game or shoot some hoops before heading off to the day’s yoga and fitness classes. After lunch, the spacious lawns around the resort transform into sports fields perfect for any athletic activity. Of course, there is also the notable South Beach just a short walk from your front door.

South Beach is one of the island’s most popular beaches, offering plenty of sand for strolling and surf for swimming, but if the ocean’s salty water is not your style, relax in one of the resort’s two heated swimming pools.

Children’s day and evening programs (for ages 3 - 12 years old) present a series of organized, counselor-led activities like swimming, games, nature walks and crafts, giving kids a chance to meet new friends while parents discover the island or enjoy a romantic dinner.

Accommodation options include spacious hotel suites, private houses with as many as five bedrooms, and a selection of attractive garden cottages.

Winnetu Oceanside Resort offers a variety of yoga classes to help visitors relax and unwind.

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort,

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, two hours south of Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, is a beachside getaway steeped in ambiance the name alone could impart. But this family getaway is far more than just kid stuff and cartoon characters; this is a classic Florida-styled resort complete with old-world architecture and all the amenities you’ve come to expect from a top-notch retreat.

The heated Mickey-Mouse-shaped swimming pool comes equipped with plenty of lounge chairs for the adults and a towering water slide and pirate ship play area for the kids. But with 26 miles of warm, untouched beach and an endless blue ocean beckoning at your doorstep, don’t linger poolside for too long.

Shipwrecks rich with treasure were once found off the coast of this resort’s stunning location and offer the coastline, known as the Atlantic Treasure Coast, not only its name but also a layer of mystery that tugs at your imagination. As the cool breeze off the ocean hints of sunken Spanish galleons, the coastline serves a unique and important environmental purpose. The coastline is one of the world’s best loggerhead sea turtle nesting areas. Families will also appreciate the resort’s close proximity to many great nature sites, including The Indian River Lagoon—a diverse estuary full of Florida wildlife like manatees and other endangered species—as well as a number of beautiful state parks.

Save plenty of time to partake in the resort’s extensive menu of activities, custom made for family entertainment. In the morning, head out on an outdoor treasure hunt or kayak along the Florida coastline. The afternoons are for scuba lessons, archery class and miniature golf.

Accommodations at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort range from cozy studios to large villas and roomy beach cottages overlooking the rolling surf. The resort also operates four unique restaurants. Join Goofy and a host of other Disney characters as you eat breakfast at Shutters, order lunch at Bleachers when you’re poolside, and for dinner, order a steak at Sonya’s.

Evenings at Hotel del Coronado are reserved for family-friendly activities on the beach.

Hotel del Coronado,
San Diego, Calif

A reservation at the majestic Hotel del Coronado is a no-brainer for families looking to bask in one of the West Coast’s finest resorts. The brilliant red-shingled roofs spread across 28 acres of beachfront property, making The Del a true southern California landmark.

But great family vacations consist of more than just architecture and ambiance; Hotel del Coronado is a full-fledged resort with all the amenities to boot. Start the day with a yoga class in the sand, then rent a host of beach equipment like boogie boards and volleyballs for an afternoon of fun. Later, head out on the water with a surf or paddleboard lesson, or rent a jet ski for a tour of the bay. Then relax in your own poolside cabana or make s’mores at one of the beach fire pits.

Across the bay, downtown San Diego merely enhances the potential for this family getaway, offering days of excitement at the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Birch Aquarium and Legoland.

The Hotel del Coronado offers its own ambiance. It marked its 125th birthday this year, celebrating a long and elegant tradition. The guest list itself tells the history of this place with names like Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Babe Ruth, Charles Lindberg and a host of Hollywood celebrities from past and present. Of course there is always the “beautiful stranger” Kate Morgan who many guests and staff claim still wanders the halls—she is the hotel’s resident ghost.

Accommodations range in size from any of the 679 newly renovated rooms to the 78 spacious cottages and villas that line Beach Village.