By Caroline Davis
Fun in the sun and long days in the water draw us to warm-weather spots for vacation each winter. But not every aquatic destination is right for a family getaway. These eight locations offer kid-friendly activities and a variety of opportunities to be on the water from sun up to sun down.
South Padre Island, Texas
The South Padre Island National Seashore is considered one of Texas’ seven wonders, located at the tip of Padre Island. It’s considered the longest undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world. Families can participate in surfing expeditions, sand castle building with instructors, or dolphin watching. For those times you may want to stay on land, bird watching is plentiful here as well. Bring a bird book and identify different species with your little ones.
Coronado Beach, California
Coronado Beach, located in San Diego, California is a 1.5-mile stretch of flat beach with pristine sand. The world famous Hotel del Coronado is the centerpiece of the beach, providing a beautiful backdrop to any beach activities.
Everything about Coronado is very family-oriented, with many families spending the day searching for seashells and swimming, surfing and boogie boarding. Don’t forget to sign up for whale watching, too, a popular activity for the young and old alike.
Destin, Florida sits in the northwestern panhandle and prides itself on its beautiful beaches, which are part of the Gulf of Mexico. Golf courses and nature trails are abundant and Big Kahuna’s water park is a popular family destination.
For those wanting to get out into the water, book a tour with Charter Fishing Destin. A family-friendly crew will take you out onto the water for an unforgettable day of deep-sea fishing.
Galveston Island, Texas
Galveston Island is a 21-mile long, 3-mile wide island on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Amusement parks, piers, and restaurants are plentiful. For the water lovers in your family, head to Galveston Island State Park where you can access kayak launches and fishing areas.
While you’re in Galveston, don’t miss a visit to the 1833 Tall Ship ELISSA, fully restored to its historic glory, as well as a stroll through the charming historic downtown.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island boasts having some of the warmest waters on the Eastern Seaboard, ideal for kayaking, surfing, waterskiing, and fishing. Sunset cruises around the island are a favorite pastime among locals and visitors and dolphin cruises are another popular family activity.
Key West, Florida
The southernmost tip of Florida, situated about 90 miles north of Cuba is one of the most popular destinations on the east coast—Key West. Key West is a scuba divers paradise, with an abundance of coral reefs to explore. There are diving options available for everyone from the most experienced divers to brand new snorkelers. Checkout Sebago Key West to sign up for sunset sails, all-day water adventures, snorkeling and much more.
In most cases, full- and half-day packages are available for families to spend the day on a catamaran, taking part in a variety of watersports. Some tours even include lunch.
Grand Isle, Louisiana
Grand Isle, Louisiana is at the southern tip of the only inhabited barrier island in Louisiana. Known for its Annual Grand Isle Tarpan Rodeo, an annual saltwater fishing event and the oldest fishing tournament in the world, Grand Isle boasts 280 species of fish and year-round fishing.
You and your family can choose from more than 25 charter-fishing companies to test your own angling skills. But, don’t forget to make time for dolphin watching cruises, relaxing on the beach, and bird watching galore.
Bald Head Island, North Carolina
Bald Head Island can be accessed by a 20-minute ferry ride from Southport, North Carolina. It’s on the southernmost tip of the Cape Islands. Known historically as Smith Island, it’s now a popular tourist attraction and vacation spot.
Bald Head Island is home to an abundant variety of wildlife, including birds, dolphins, alligators, deer, foxes, and fish. When visiting in October, you can also join in the Bluefish Bonanza, a full weekend of activities for the family all centered on an annual fishing tournament.
Bio: Caroline Davis has been writing for three years and loves learning and writing about a number of lifestyle topics including health, travel and careers. She’s been lucky enough to visit many amazing places in the U.S. and is always looking for a new spot to explore. Check out some of her latest work at CarpeDaily.com.