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Old 01-08-2009, 08:37   #1
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Best Caribbean Cruising with Kids - Advice Please

We are planning on cruising the from US East Coast to the Caribbean with our 8 and 11 year old kids and are looking for best spots for culture, history, nature and adventure. In other words, we are not looking for a pure beach vacation by sail but rather a more educational/cultural perspective. We get that sailing in and of itself will be a great experience and really enjoy "adventure travel".

We appreciate hearing your favorite spots and why.
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Old 01-08-2009, 09:33   #2
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Greetings, and welcome aboard the CF calmitty.

Methinks you’ll find culture, history, nature, and adventure virtually everywhere you seek it. Your kids are going to have the times of their lives!
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Old 01-08-2009, 10:01   #3
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Thanks. Can you recommend your favorite places. BTW, we were also considering the western Caribbean as well so recommendations there are also welcomed.
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Old 01-08-2009, 10:37   #4
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Caribbean

If you haven't been to Puerto Rico, then it may be a good spot. Old San Juan has a lot of European influence as most of it was built by the Spaniards. A tour of the Fort will be great (canyons, guard posts and great view). There are some great restaurants in little courtyards in Old San. In PR you can also see that largest observatory and the tropical rain forest with waterfalls and great hiking where you can see different ecostyems - the top of the mountain is usually under clouds and the vegetation is very small in contrast with lush canopies at lower altitudes, visit a rum factory (that is adult fun and mayyybe not sooo educational but it will be educational as the tour will show how the rum is made and the kids may even be able to try some sugar cane . There are also cave tours, some of which involve some swimming. In the south town of Ponce there is a very nice museum and the Don Q rum castle (tour). You may find a Flamenco Dancers show. St. John has many beautiful beaches and of course there are great diving spots through the islands. The Baths and Bitter End in Virgin Gorda are nice spots also (don't know about educational though). In St. Thomas there is a shopping area, Charlotte Amalie that's a little pictoresque with narrow streets and a farmer's market. Well, I hope this is a start... Enjoy!
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Old 01-08-2009, 11:03   #5
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We met a cruising family a few years ago who had enrolled their 2 young children in a local elementary school for a month in St. Kitts, and 2 months in Georgetown, Bahamas.
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Old 01-08-2009, 11:11   #6
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Some of the destinations I think of for your purposes:

Leeward islands - great variety of cultures... French, Dutch, etc. The Windwards also, but a bit less variety.

Venezuela - particularly if you explore inland, such as upriver in the Orinocco Delta.

Western Carib... I understand the San Blas Islands off Panama is a very special place to visit.

My inclination would be to focus on a single country to maximize the cultural impact... Venezuela, Panama, Belize, Mexico, Guatemala etc. I think your kids (and you) might benefit greatly from visiting with the indigenous people in these areas.

Also Puerto Rico and the DR if you want to stay closer to the US..

Lowest on my list of cultural places to visit would be the Virgin Islands. Too commercialized and touristy IMO.

I would spend some time searching in wiki and travel guides like Lonely Planet, rather than in the cruising guides.
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Old 02-08-2009, 03:22   #7
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hi there,

When are you planning on going? We are going to be in the caribbean over dec, jan, feb and are also in the planning stages so will keep an eye out for your posts on the forum. our little ones are a bit younger than yours at under three.

All the best
Claire
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Old 03-08-2009, 20:30   #8
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We just returned from 5 months betwen the VI and Carriacou with 2 kids, ages 4 and 7. All islands offered lessons of culture and place. Just go slow. We needed another 5 months, just for the E Carib. I say leave as early as possible and go slow to Grenada. Then blast to Panama for hurricane season. Then slow route through W Carib in 2nd season and back to FL and then back down again if desired.

BTW: The VI has some of the best sailing of the E carib... and a good place to provision before heading down...
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Old 03-08-2009, 21:14   #9
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We appreciate hearing your favorite spots and why.
I'll go with Gord anytime.

You need to look for opportunity. The looking is the hard part because kids see what they can. Insignificant things can be everything. Kids and adults learn where they can. There is a desire to know more in any situation. Minnows in a shallow pool or ants crawling up a twig. Whales off the bow or people you can't understand.

It's less about where you go and more about how you do it. If you think everything can be fun - it's sure as anything is going to be nothing less.
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Old 03-08-2009, 21:50   #10
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yup, agreed. We'd be gawking at some amazing place and the kids would be deep in some form of exploration of some piece of something on the beach or boat and look up, notice and go back to their exploration.

Some of our best esperiences were in public markets... for the parents and kids. The fresh food is wonderful, the people warm and friendly and the experiences are much more alive than in your local supermarket. We watched a cow being cut up into cuts of meat... and we are vegetarians... a good process.

One key note is balancing all the activity... school, touring, sailing... need to give the kids time to be kids. One of my 7 year old's best memories is making a stick fort on a beach with another cruising 7 year old, making dinner on an open fire and having a sleep over.

All that said, the E. Carib. is like a road with a bunch of exits. you just stop where it seems good or move on. Mostly, it is a 1/2 day passage and then a side/motor down a leeward coast.
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Old 08-08-2009, 18:50   #11
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We're currently in Grenada with our 9 and 7 year old kids. We've only been as far north as St. Lucia so far. Their favorite spots so far - Bequia (beaches, town and the Turtle Sanctuary), Tobago Cays (swimming with turtles, snorkeling, climbing the uninhabited islands) and the Belmont Estate in Grenada (where they process cocoa beans, have a variety of farm animals and the monkeys will pick through your hair looking for fleas). Enjoy! Todd S/V Duende. Email us at toddkettner@gmail.com if you're interested in our family blog. We'll forward the password.
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Old 08-08-2009, 19:01   #12
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Todd,

Sorry we missed you! We found scarcity of cruising familes... it would have been nice to meet another family enjoying similar. If you make north to the VI, look us up in xmas cove. Cheers!

Gil
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Old 09-08-2009, 05:01   #13
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Would love to get the kids together if you're still in VI Nov/Dec! Todd
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Old 09-08-2009, 18:44   #14
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We will be here...unless our boat sells.

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