Updated February 2020
For a lot of families, the ideal winter getaway includes a long stretch of beach and a short flight from the continental US. For me, that means a Virgin Islands vacation.
I recently headed to the islands on a kid-free getaway. But it’s such an ideal family destination that I found myself scouting out hotels to so I can return next winter with my twins.
I looked at both the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and found something for every budget, from exotic private islands to charming budget-friendly small hotels. Here’s my scouting report, in case your family needs to take the chill off this winter.
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4 Virigin Island Family Resorts:
From Budget To Luxury
2 British Virgin Islands Resorts
Best low-key resort: Peter Island
Our first stop was Peter Island Resort. If you’re looking to get away from it all with your kids, this 1800-acre private island resort might just have a hammock with your name on it.
Book it! Find the best available rates for this resort on TripAdvisor.
It’s low-key environment where nature and the beach are the main highlights.
Indeed, the island has five private beaches to choose from, secluded by hillsides and tropical gardens.
The resort has tennis and water sports as well as opportunities to hike, bike and snorkel. The gift shop has toys, children’s books and beach gear. There is babysitting for a fee, but no kids’ program.
This is probably the best option for families with kids under 3 or with teens who don’t need organized activities to keep busy.
Rooms near the beach are bigger and offer more space to families that need it. Rooms near the harbor are a 5-minute walk to the beach but are closer to the pool and the restaurant where breakfast and tea are served.
All 32 rooms have a balcony or terrace. handy for hanging out and talking after your little one goes to sleep.
Best resort with en suite kitchens: Long Bay Beach Club
Update! As of February 2018, Long Bay had been sold and was closing temporarily for upgrades to the pool and facilities. The plan is to reopen with its suite-style rooms but with an more upscale feel. We’ll let you know when it’s reopened.
This is what we found when we last stayed there:
Our next stop was Tortola, where we checked out Long Bay Beach Club. Set on a mile of white-sand powder beach, it’s easily one of the Caribbean’s most stunning hotels.
Our room, a lovely ocean-view studio, had a sitting area and a beachside balcony (perfect for morning coffee or a glass of wine after the kids have gone to bed).
It also had kitchen, making it a little more budget-friendly than other similarly appointed resorts.
The resort also has two and three-bedroom villas that offer large decks with gas grills, as well as a kitchen. These could be a great choice for larger families or multi-generational families traveling together.
This is probably the best fit for families with multiple kids who can entertain each other, and extended families or groups.
2 U.S. Virgin Islands Resorts
Best luxury resort: Ritz Carlton St. Thomas
We took the ferry across to St. Thomas to check out the Ritz Carlton, tucked away on 30 acres of its own on the island’s east end.
Book it! Find the best available rates for this hotel on TripAdvisor.)
The beachfront hotel is the only one of the four to offer a kids’ club, its well-known Ritz-Kids program for 5-to-12-year-olds, which will operate for even one child (handy for off-season travelers).
There is also the resort’s Ambassadors of the Environment program that families with kids ages 5 to 12 or 9 and up can do together.
While your kids romp in the you can enjoy some tasty food, splurge on a spa treatment or venture 20 minutes away to Charlotte Amalie for some power shopping.
Kids receive a VIK (Very-Important-Kid) welcome while parents are greeted with cool washcloths, cold bottles of water and rum drinks.
Prices can include breakfast or lunch if you like. If it’s in your budget, it’s worth it.
Best value resort: Emerald Beach Resort
Our last stop was the Emerald Beach Resort on the sandy shores of St. Thomas’ Lindbergh Bay.
Book it! See the best rates available for this resort on TripAdvisor.
This affordable resort is on a beautiful beach with gentle waves, making it perfect for families with younger children.
It has a fun pool with a waterfall, plenty of water sports and a West Indian brunch buffet on Sunday, a kid-friendly way to get some local flavors.
The resort also happens to be directly across from the St. Thomas Airport, making it perhaps the most convenient property on the islands. (And making the car-seat or no car-seat question almost irrelevant if you are traveling with very little ones.)
I’m pretty sure my kids will love watching the planes come and go. (Find the lowest online rates on HotelsCombined.)
The best way to get to any of the U.S. or British Virgin Islands is to fly into St. Thomas. It has the biggest airport with the most non-stop flights from major US cities.
The main airport for the British Virgin Islands is on Beef Island, but count on having to connect through Miami or Puerto Rico.
There are frequent ferries between the U.S. and British Islands and travel time is about an hour. Schedules are unpredictable and change, though, so call ahead.
Don’t forget, while you don’t need a passport for the U.S. islands, you do for the British ones (though it’s always the best form of I.D. when flying).
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Monika Bialokur lives NYC and loves spontaneous trips with her 10-year-old twins. She specializes in PR and Social Media Strategy for lifestyle, travel and children’s brands. Follow her @MarketingMonika or @CoolMomBUZZ