Traveling to a Beaches Resort with a toddler or small child in tow brings both joys and challenges. It's exciting to play in the sand, splash in the pool, make new friends and meet favorite Sesame Street characters. The challenges come with managing early bedtimes, keeping up with the sun protection and balancing the differing interests of all of the family members. But that’s OK! We can help you navigate those challenges and give you our secrets to make this the hoppiest family vacation for everyone in your party! We’ve been to Beaches with our toddler, Lily, and have discovered our highlights and how to navigate the tough stuff so we could have a vacation that met all of our needs (including balancing a toddler’s demands with the interests of our tween son, Tad).
Top Tips for Taking Toddlers to Beaches Resorts
Hopfully, the following tips for taking toddlers to Beaches Resorts will grant you some peace of mind about a Beaches vacation with small children. My husband, Leap, and I love all the family time that a Beaches vacation offers. But let's face it — toddlers are fun but toadally exhausting. Some families, like ours, have toddlers but older kids too. That's why we are sharing these tools and tips so you can relax and have some adult and big kid fun too! We want every member of your family (from the smallest to tallest) feeling like it was the best vacation ever!
Get Passports for All Family Members
Back when I was a young froglet, we just needed a birth certificate to travel to the Caribbean. But now, people of all ages need to have a valid passport for travel. If you are visiting Negril or Ocho Rios, your passport should be valid through the end of your trip. If you are visiting Turks and Caicos, passports must be valid for six months from your arrival to the island. Check those expiration dates well before your trip, as children’s passports expire every five years.
Prepare Your Toddler for Travel
If air travel is a new adventure for your toddler, prepare them for it. Read stories about plane travel and talk about why it’s important to stay in your seats, use an inside voice and not kick the seat in front of them. I know Lily got so excited to hop aboard the bus between the airport and the resort. For toddlers, the entire journey is exciting, not just the destination. If face coverings are still a requirement for plane travel when you plan to visit, you'll need to practice, practice, practice with those masks for toddlers 2 and up.
Consider Ordering a Car Seat for Airport Transportation
One of the toadlly nice things about a Beaches vacation is that airport transfers are included. You do not need to bring or use a car seat for this transportation, but you may request one in advance if it makes you feel more comfortable. Email special services at email@example.com to request a car seat.
Introduce Your Toddler to Pools and Swimming Before the Trip
If you are taking a trip in winter or spring, it may have been a long time since your toddler has been in a pool last summer. Find an indoor pool or toddler water class to refamiliarize them with water so they will be ready to jump right in, with your supervision. Our old swim coach said to use bath time as an opportunity to dump water on our babies’ and toddlers’ heads without protecting their eyes to make them more comfortable with water in their eyes. We also brought a pair of kid-size UV goggles to Beaches and that make Lily extra brave to put her face in the water and jump right in with us.
Bring Water Protection and Toys
Even though Beaches sells floaties, you can save money by bringing your own. You might want to bring a life vest for the pools and water parks for that added layer of protection. The resort does have some life jackets, but supply can be limited at peak times. Also, remember to bring those swim diapers. You can purchase sand toys at the resort. We lucked out and used toys that were left behind from other guests. Hop over to our post on packing for a beach vacation with kids for some more suggestions items that may be hopful when taking toddlers to Beaches.
Bring Sun Protection
The Caribbean sun is very strong. Bring plenty of sunscreen, hats and glasses for each family member. Products with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are water-resistant and offer and a reef-safe layer of protection. You have to reapply about every 80 minutes. Our favorite swim clothes to bring on beach and pool vacations are UV suits. Long-sleeved UV swimwear with a hat and glasses protects more of your child’s skin. It also makes your job easier, as those covered areas do not need to be reapplied. Nonslip water shoes protect sensitive feet from hot sand and pool deck surfaces. Check out more frogtastic tips for a great beach vacation with kids. Opt for indoor dining, games or activities during the brightest hours of the day to cut down on the sun exposure.
Get an Early Spot at the Beach or Water Park
With toddlers, you want to be close to the water play. That could mean getting the ideal chairs at the water park or beach early that day. If your room has butler service, ask your butler to help with this.
Locate the Splash Pads and Kiddie Pools
We know you aren't taking your eyes off your toddler around water. Each Beaches resort offers toddler pools for some shallow water play. They also offer splash pads and spray areas at the water parks that a toddler never seems to grow tired of. It's just easier to relax in the shallows with little ones for a while!
Locate the Restaurants That Serve Your Toddler’s Faves
Do you have a picky eater? No problem. You can find all kinds of food at Beaches. Just check out the restaurants and buffets to scout out your kid-friendly favorites. Lily definitely enjoyed her free access to chicken tenders, french fries, pizza and ice cream at Beaches!
Use the Kids Camp!
Leap and I are avid SCUBA divers. When we stay at other resorts, we cannot leave our tadpoles behind to dive. But at Beaches, we take advantage of the free babysitting at Kids Camp. Lily made friends and did crafts and fun activities just for her while we had some fun of our own. That Kids Camp is one of our favorite parts of Beaches. Tad liked it because we could keep Lily occupied in programming while taking him snorkeling and on a Hobie Cat ride. He enjoyed getting to do the “big kid” stuff and get to try new experiences with us. He also had a hopping good time playing games and doing tween activities with new friends in his age group through Kids Camp.
If your toddler has more trouble separating from you, visit the Kids Camp on day one to check it out and take some time to acclimate and get familiar with the idea. Hop back another day for a quick visit to ease into it. Before you know it, your toddler might be pushing you out the door!
Consider Hiring Private Childcare
If you have a toddler who is used to an early bedtime, you can hire a private babysitter to stay with them so you can enjoy the resort’s nightlife, bars and restaurants either alone as a couple or while having fun with older children. A well-rested toddler makes for a hoppy toddler, so try to stick to your toddler’s sleep and nap schedule on vacation as best you can.
Private childcare is available from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (for $20 per hour). The nannies (specializing in infant care for ages 0 to 24 months) and childcare specialists (ages 2 to 17) are certified by the International Nanny Association and qualified with an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education.
Make Time for Adult Time
A Beaches vacation offers opportunities to reconnect with your partner. Either through play, water sports or romantic dining, definitely take some time for yourselves. Take advantage of the free Kids Camp or babysitters (for a fee) to steal away with your special loved one. Even taking an hour to relax by the pool or beach without having to watch your tadpoles like a hawk can be enough to refresh you. Then, you can hoppily turn your attention back to making the vacation all about them. Because with toddlers, it really is all about them!
Know the Terrain of Your Resort and Plan Accordingly
Ocho Rios is a cliffside resort with a lot of steps or elevators from the main resort down to the beach. You might consider where you want to spend most of your time at Ocho Rios. Try to get a room closest to that area so you aren’t toting your toddler and accompanying toys and essentials back and forth, up and down.
Turks and Caicos and Negril are flatter resorts and more spread out. Turks and Caicos is the largest resort, so you might want to bring or rent a stroller to get around. You can also hop aboard the mini train at Turks and Caicos. What toddler doesn’t love a train ride?
Choose accommodations that suit your family. Some families love a ground floor room at, say, the centrally located French Village at Turks and Caicos because they can walk right out into the action. Other families might want the security of their toddler being more contained in a different type of accommodation.
Take Advantage of Family Entertainment
When you arrive, check the entertainment calendar for character parades, beach parties and shows that will interest your toddler. The Kids Camps offer kid-friendly entertainment, as well. We enjoyed a family magic show and Lily enjoyed some kid parties while Tad hit the arcade and Leap and I were able to enjoy a romantic adult meal.
Consider Sesame Street Add-Ons
You’ll find plenty of included Sesame street experiences at Beaches, but for extra hoppy memories, you can book other Sesame Street add-ons (such as photo sessions or having characters tuck your tadpoles into bed) in advance! Elmo says it’s time to go to bed! At Turks and Caicos, Sesame Street character breakfasts (an additional charge) are sure to make your vacation extra special.
Have any other tips for taking toddlers to Beaches? We'd love to hear them! Please share them in the comments section below.