The Caribbean with the kids
By Katie DeTar
The beautiful Tobago Cays are one of the Caribbean’s must visit spot for film buffs. (Flickr: Jason Pratt)
Movies are magical. They bring families together and transport all ages into a world of adventure, drama and comedy. As part of your next family vacation, you can explore some of this magic in person!
The Caribbean is full of family-friendly and fun destinations where you can visit the settings of popular movies. From Pirates to Vampires, these ideas will have your whole family experiencing the thrill of Hollywood like never before.
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St. Vincent and the Grenadines & Dominica: Pirates of the Caribbean
St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Flickr: Tony Guyton)
Captain Jack Sparrow and his mates created a huge box office success with the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Young movie buffs will have a thrill following in his footsteps with a family vacation to tropical beaches and swimmable gorges featured in the film series.
Wallilabou Bay in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the film series’ setting for Port Royal – a shipping center and meeting place for pirates from around the world in the 16th and 17th centuries. While the real Port Royal was located in Jamaica and destroyed by an earthquake in 1692, many of the Port Royal film sets remain and can be explored by foot. Young movie buffs will recognize the natural stone arch at the entrance to the bay, and a few of the films’ featured buildings remain standing in the small village.
Tour operators will happily create a kid-friendly day excursion to other sites in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including Tobago Cays. This idyllic cluster of uninhabited islands set the scene for Captain Jack Sparrow’s rum being set ablaze to create a signal fire in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. The white sand beaches are accessible for day trips via private charter and water taxi.
A visit to the island of Dominica offers a great day of outdoor exploration for older fans of Pirates of the Caribbean. Teens and tweens will love Titou Gorge, part of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. This expanse of natural swimming holes and waterfalls set the backdrop for a thrilling scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. It was here that Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and his shipmates are suspended from a round cage made of bones. Join a reputable tour group and prepare for chilly water and Hollywood worthy sights!
Jamaica and The Bahamas: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Appealing to movie buffs of all ages, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is one of the many classic Disney films that stand the test of time. Parents, children, and grandparents can enjoy this film, starring Kirk Douglas as Ned Land and James Mason as Captain Nemo, together. As part of a family vacation, all ages will enjoy exploring the sites around the Caribbean featured in the 1954 movie.
Xtabi (Courtesy Xtabi)
In Negril, Jamaica, lies a labyrinth of caves and passageways, carved into the rock cliffs above. This area on the far west end of Jamaica, known as Xtabi, was the setting for the films’ cave scenes. Take the kids for a day of swimming and exploration, with easy stair access down to the caves from the resort area above. After a morning of swimming, grab lunch at the family-friendly restaurant that sits atop the cliffs.
The underwater scenes in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea were filmed off of New Providence Island, home to the Bahamas’ capital city of Nassau and many family-friendly resorts. Grab the kids and some snorkeling gear and experience the underwater world! Coral reefs off the coast offer a colorful and beautiful display of sea life to explore.
Trinidad and Tobago: Swiss Family Robinson
Another classic Disney film, Swiss Family Robinson, tells the tale of a family living a magical life in a tropical treehouse. While a hurricane destroyed the original treehouse film set, other settings from the movie can be explored in Trinidad and Tobago. A fun destination with older kids is the Craig Hall Waterfall, located just outside of the small Tobago town of Mason Hall. A two-tiered waterfall cascades into a small swimmable pool below – great for an afternoon of outdoor fun! You can also spend a day at Richmond Bay or Mount Irvine Bay – both featured beaches in the film.
St. Thomas: The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1
Beach at Magens Bay (Photo: Coolcaesar )
Tweens and teens enchanted by the vampire genre will love traveling to St. Thomas to see a famous beach featured in the 2011 blockbuster The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. It was here on Magens Bay Beach that the main characters Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) celebrated their honeymoon. While the beach is featured in moonlight in the film, the daytime sun and sand make it a perfect spot for a family vacation. There is a five dollar entry fee, with children under 12 free. Walk the nearby nature trails, rent a kayak for the day, or grab a lounge chair and relax while the kids play in the calm surf.
The Caribbean: The Little Mermaid
Christiansted Harbor in St. Croix (Photo: Marinas.com)
Disney’s The Little Mermaid may have been animated, but real life beaches could have inspired the classic tale that became the film. The former Danish colonies of St. Thomas and St. Croix are believed to be the basis for Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson’s original story, published in 1837. In his story, Andersen speaks of crystal blue waters and tropical fish found “Under the Sea” only in the Caribbean. Today, the islands offer myriad options for tropical family beach vacations.