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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updated 11/24/2009 11:24:32 AM ET 2009-11-24T16:24:32

Great surf, great sun, great people ... the Bahamas is made for families.

For the sporty family
If your clan's idea of a good time involves swimming, spelunking, or anything that works up a sweat, pack your gear and head to Andros's Small Hope Bay Lodge, a rustic resort hidden in acres of mangrove and Andros pine. This unpretentious charmer feels like tropical summer camp but is actually a world-class diving destination—and the best place for kids to get their first taste of scuba diving.

The string of simple coral-rock cottages is anchored by a lodge with batik-covered daybeds and a bar fashioned from the hull of an old sailboat—but has no phones or TV. You don't miss them, though, with all the kayaking, snorkeling, nature trails, shelling, and diving.

At night, kids eat in the ramshackle rec room, stocked with board games and coloring supplies, while adults mingle with staff members over conch fritters in the lounge. Communal tables and ample portions of home-style food—think cracked conch, freshly baked orange cake—give things an easygoing dinner party feel; hey, even sports fans need some downtime (242-368-2014; smallhope.com; doubles, $470, all-inclusive).

For the laid-back family
Admit it: You hate planning. (We understand.) Non-type A families will love Hope Town on Elbow Cay, an islet that's a short ferry ride from Great Abaco. With a low-key vibe and an easily navigable layout, it brings to mind a tropical Nantucket.

Book at the cheery Hope Town Harbour Lodge; the ferry will drop you right at the hotel's pier, and the staff will carry your gear—bodyboards, strollers, and all—up to your room. Oceanfront cottages have decks so you can keep an eye on the sand-castle construction from above (242-366-0095; hopetownlodge.com; doubles, $175-$225). The tiny town is best explored on foot or bike, and because it's closed to motor vehicles, kids can run free.

Sun Dried-T's, a harborside kiosk, rents bikes with big baskets for beach gear (242-366-0616; bike rentals, $10 a day). The more ambitious should call Froggie's, which can arrange daylong snorkel trips to nearby Abaco National Park (242-366-0431; froggiesabaco.com; day-trips, $70). At night, hit the beloved Harbour's Edge—kids will scarf down conch fritters before scampering off to raid the board game collection, leaving adults to watch the sunset (242-366-0087; entrées, $20-$32).

For the multi-generational family
There's Grandma. And the teenagers. And your sister and her toddler. Luckily, Grand Bahama has something to satisfy every constituency. There's no need to rent a car; simply base the crew in Lucaya, a self-­contained resort area just beyond Freeport with both ocean and intracoastal marina access.

The beach side is dominated by the sprawling Our Lucaya complex, which has two resorts, four pools, and 13 restaurants linked by paths. Book the older generations at Reef Village, where the tranquil lanai suites have their own private beach (242-373-1333; lanai suites from $700). Closer to the action (and the water slides), the ten-story Radisson has two-bedroom suites with kitchens (242-373-1333; ourlucaya.com; suites, $589). If Our Lucaya is a bit too Disney, try the marinaside Pelican Bay Hotel, where the friendly staff will track down beach reads and DVDs for movie night (242-373-9550; pelicanbayhotel.com; suites, $189-$209).

By day, the more active family members can trot over to UNEXSO, a spit-and-polish dive operation with its own pool for beginning scuba lessons (242-373-1244; intro lessons, $109), or explore the rest of the island on a day-trip with Grand Bahama Nature Tours (242-373-2485; grandbahamanaturetours.com; day tours, $79). For something less rigorous, sign up with Paradise Cove, a modest family-owned beach club on the island's western end. They'll transport you to their sandy stretch, where you can snorkel out to Deadman's Reef or lounge on the beach (242-349-2677; deadmansreef.com; snorkel day-trip, $35 for adults, $20 for children).

At night, everyone can regroup at Iries, a stylized Caribbean joint inside Our Lucaya; there are dishes like roasted grouper with papaya chutney, as well as a kids' menu (242-373-1333; entrées, $21-$35). On the marina side, the Port Lucaya Marketplace is kitschy but convenient, with plenty of eating options. Grab a table at Pisces, a quirky Italian spot with delicious conch pizza (242-373-5192; pizzas, $12-$30).

And watch the horizon for ...
Another reason to go to Andros. We're predicting that the island's improved Tiamo Resort will become an instant fave among families when it reopens this October. Major renovations will add more solar panels and a bio-diesel generator. But what really makes it family friendly is the variety of outdoor activities, from sailing to up-close encounters with rock iguanas. Thanksgiving break in the Bahamas, anyone?

© 2013 Condé Nast Traveler

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