Image: Comfort Suites Paradise Island
Comfort Suites Paradise Island
In addition to the amenities at Comfort Suites Paradise Island, visitors will receive unlimited, free access to next-door-neighbor Atlantis and its 141-acre Aquaventure water park, 10 pools, beaches, lazy river rides, health spa, tennis, golf and kids' camp.
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updated 9/25/2009 2:43:00 PM ET 2009-09-25T18:43:00

It happens every year. No sooner do kids get back to school than Caribbean islands and resorts start rolling out their early-bird deals. The difference this year is a longer window of opportunity; some current deals are good for travel through the end of 2010. For parents able to plan months ahead, it’s a fantastic time to snag a vacation deal for fall, winter or spring break. Here are three of the best Caribbean deals on the table right now:

Atlantis through the back door
Dream of heading to the Bahamas? Bringing your kids to Atlantis doesn’t have to empty the family coffers. Book a room at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island and you get a key perk: unlimited, free access to next-door-neighbor Atlantis and its 141-acre Aquaventure water park, 10 pools, beaches, lazy river rides, health spa, tennis, golf and kids' camp.  Plus, you get signing privileges in all of Atlantis's restaurants and lounges. Comfort Suites features a nice pool, restaurant, free Continental breakfast and rooms spacious enough for spreading out during family downtime.

Comfort Inn's Paradise Vacation Value promotion is good for stays through Dec. 23, with rates starting at $78 per adult, per night. Kids 15 and younger stay free.  We test-booked a four-night stay in November for a family of four and found a nightly rate of $187 for a junior suite with sofa bed. In comparison, rates at Atlantis for the same dates begin at $299 a night.  Consider, too, that some cruise lines charge north of $100 per adult and $75 per child for the privilege of coming ashore to spend a single day at Atlantis. That little perk adds up to a blockbuster benefit. 

Stay a week, pay for a weekend
If a Club Med vacation is high on your wish list, you’re in luck. The family-friendly chain has brought back its ever-popular 7-day Weekend deal and it's a doozy: You get seven — count-'em — seven all-inclusive nights for the price of three. Weeklong all-inclusive packages start at $799 per adult with a 50% discount for kids ages 2 to 15.

You can choose between Club Med's six family villages, including Club Med Sandpiper, in Port St. Lucie, Fla.; Club Med Cancún Yucatán, in Cancún, Mexico; and Club Med Ixtapa Pacific, on Mexico's Pacific coast. Known for their stunning beach locations, award-winning kids’ programs and huge roster of active land and water diversions, Club Med resorts are a popular choice for families. Parents love the brand's all-inclusive pricing, which bundles virtually all costs — lodging, meals, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, plus most activities — into a tidy rate with no surprises.

To take advantage of this deal, you need to book by Oct. 31 but can travel anytime before April 30, 2010.

No passports? No problem!
Never got around to getting passports? Consider Puerto Rico, where one of the island's most lavish resorts just made a major splash with families. The recently-renovated, 750-room El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo, Puerto Rico — a member of the upscale Waldorf Astoria Collection of hotels — just opened its brand-new Coquî Water Park, which boasts four water slides (including an adrenaline-spiking speed slide as well as a gentle one just for little splashers), an 8,000-foot lazy river, three pools and interactive elements such as a rope bridge.

Affordable family vacationsThe resort, close to the El Yunque Rainforest (brimming with coquî tree frogs), also has a private island and offers water sports galore, a spa, golf course and kids' club. The Coquí Water Park Package starts at $249 per room, per night, and includes:

  • lodging starts at $249 a night for a garden-view room (compared to non-package “best available rate” of $199)
  • daily breakfast buffet (normally $25 x 2 adults + $12 x 2 kids ages 3-12 x 3 days = $222)
  • admission for four to Coquí Water Park (normally $20 x 2 adults + $15 x 2 kids ages 3-12 = $70 for a family of four)
  • airport transfers to and from airport for four (normally $37/person x 4 people x 2 trips = $296)

Athree-night stay with the package comes to $747, or $150 more than the "best rate" for the room alone. Yet the package adds a whopping $588 in extra value for meals and services you know you'll use. (The resort is far enough from the airport that you will need to arrange transportation.) The deal is available year-round with a minimum three-night stay. Book online or call 888-543-1230. Note: Prices not include El Conquistador's flat 14% resort charge.

WeJustGotBack.com is an authoritative online guide to family trip-planning. The site features reviews of kid-friendly hotels and resorts, expert planning advice, readers' travel tips, destination insider guides, vacation deals, and more. Subscribe to our newsletter to hear about resort specials and exclusive, money-saving offers. Follow us on Twitter at @WeJustGotBack.

Photos: Caribbean way of life

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  1. Barbados

    This undated photo courtesy of the Barbados Tourism Authority shows Harrismith Beach, Barbados. Sun, surf and sand are the main draws on this tropical Caribbean island. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Barbados

    This undated photo courtesy of Barbados Tourism Authority shows The Watering Hole rum shop in Barbados. The rum shops on the island are good places to sample local food and drink, watch a game of dominos, or just get to know the friendly and hospitable Bajans. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. St. Lucia

    Developed, beautiful and situated in the Eastern Caribbean, St. Lucia is accessible from Europe and Canada, and reachable -- albeit not as easily -- from the United States. St. Lucia is known as a romantic destination. The island gets plenty of visitors, including wedding parties. (Holger Leue  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. St. Lucia

    Cocoa pods lie on the ground ready to be processed at Fondoux Plantation in Soufriere, St. Lucia. Cocoa is one St. Lucia's main produce alongside the more obvious banana crop. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. St. George's

    The capital of Grenada, St. George's is considered one of the prettiest harbor towns in the Caribbean. Grenada's unique layout includes many finger-like coves, making the island a popular sailing destination. (Richard Cummins  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. The Cayman Islands

    The Cayman Islands very popular attractions, Stingray City and the nearby shallows known as the Sandbar, provide the only natural oportunity to swim with Atlantic Southern Stingrays. (David Rogers / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Stingray City

    The Cayman Islands very popular attractions, Stingray City and the nearby shallows known as the Sandbar, provide the only natural oportunity to swim with Atlantic Southern Stingrays. (David Rogers / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. St John's

    In high season, up to five cruise ships visit St John's, Antigua, each day. The boats unload mostly American and European passengers who fan out across the island visiting the casinos and beaches. Antigua is easily accessible, and can offer good values for tourists. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Antigua

    Antigua, located in the Northeastern Caribbean, is a popular tourist spot. While there are high-end, stylish hotels, the island also features a large number of mid-priced options. Visitors will find beach bars, restaurants, casinos and shopping. (Richard I'Anson  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Antigua

    People walk along an area known as Devils Bridge in Indian Town Point, Antigua. Antigua is a wintertime destination for many visitors from the north. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Dominica

    Not as well known as other Caribbean islands, Dominica is green, fertile and mountainous. Visitors will find some opportunites to scuba dive, but watersports are not its main draw. The island does, however, offer a slew of rainforest trails -- great for hiking and sightseeing. (Greg Johnston  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Dominican Republic

    An old church building is seen in La Romana, the third-largest city in the Dominican Republic. (Wayne Walton / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Belize

    Belize gets more than 850,000 visitors each year. The hot spot allows watersports such as kayaking and snorkeling, as well as inland activities like hiking and birding. The Mayan ruins of Altan Ha, pictured, are easily accessible from Caye Caulker. (Andrew Marshall / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. La Tortuga

    A fisherman repairs his nets on Cayo Herradura, off the island of La Tortuga in Venezuela. The country offers visitors a variety of activities to choose from, but remains undervisited -- especially compared to its South American neighbors. (Lynne Sladky / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Cuba

    Cuba blends the fantastic attractions associated with other Caribbean destinations with an amazing history. Tourists can stroll white sand beaches, take in the incredible architecture and party into the early-morning hours. (Javier Galeano / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. St. Barthelemy

    St. Barthelemy is a vacation spot of stars and millionaires. Trendy, chic and sexy, St. Baarths is safe for tourists, but expensive to visit. About 8,700 people reside on the island. (Mark Mainz / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Puerto Rico

    A man climbs to a 40-foot waterfall at the south side of the Caribbean National Rain Forest, commonly called El Yunque, near Naguabo, Puerto Rico. Most visitors hike the well-marked paths in the northern half of the park's rain forest but the trails in the south allow hikers and nature lovers to explore the only tropical forest in the U.S. national forest system. (Herminio Rodriguez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Puerto Rico

    The cupola of San Juan Cemetary as well as colorful homes sit next to the ocean in Old San Juan, the original capital city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The old city is a historic district of seven square blocks made up of ancient buildings and colonial homes, massive stone walls and vast fortifications, sunny parks and cobblestoned streets. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Puerto Rico

    Men play dominos in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Old San Juan is a well-preserved colonial city that allows tourists a peek into the past. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Guadeloupe

    Guadeloupe isn't as developed as some other Caribbean islands, but it offers a variety of beaches -- some active with watersports, some secluded. The island also offers beach bars, restaurants, mid-range hotels and other tourist amenities. (Marcel Mochet / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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