One of the best ways we can educate our children is by traveling with them. Travel isn’t just about going on a vacation—it’s about learning to accept other cultures, developing a love for languages, and getting a hands-on education about the world that we just can’t get in a classroom. And while we don’t have to travel far to teach our kids something new, there are certain parts of the globe, like South America, that will certainly leave an indelible impact.
While traveling with children comes with its hardships, thanks to travel companies like Surtrek, going on family vacations to South America is actually easier than you think. So, next time you want to teach your kids about other cultures, head to some of our favorite travel destinations, listed below. In our opinion, they’re the best vacation destinations for families.
With a name that translates to “Island of Women,” Isla Mujeres is known amongst travelers for its natural allure, local culture and serene vibes. Add that to the fact that a visit there revolves around life on the water, and it’s the perfect place for any family to visit. Once a relatively unknown fishing village, today’s Isla Mujeres is popular for snorkeling, swimming, sport fishing, boating and wading through ancient Mayan saltwater marshes. For a taste of the local life, spend your days perusing the island’s market shops, which offer everything from hair braiding and handicrafts to massages by the sea, or let the friendly residents regale your kids with wild stories of the island’s history. On low-key Isla Mujeres, your family vacation is one steeped in history, tradition, and like anywhere on the Caribbean Sea, fun in the sun.
Take your kids to the Galápagos Islands, and they’ll have a vacation that doubles as a hands-on science class. The famed archipelago that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is marked by 19 islands with volcanic rock formations, sparkling white-sand beaches, exotic animal encounters (like sea lions and huge tortoises), turquoise waters, and thanks to its remote destination, a lack of natural predators—meaning almost any creature can thrive there.
Fajardo is home to one of the world’s most curious landscapes, a natural reserve called Bioluminescent Bay. Exactly as its name implies, this bay practically glows at night due to special plankton that light up in the water when they move. Located just an hour outside of San Juan, the best way to see the effects of Bioluminescent Bay is after dark. That said, hop in a kayak, paddle your way through its iguana-filled mangrove forests, and watch the rare phenomenon come to life. As you dip your paddle into the bay, the deep blue waters will come alive with a bright sparkle, almost like pixie dust glittering beneath one of the Earth’s most precious gems. It’s a sight that adults and kids alike can’t get enough of.
Grand Cayman is one of the best vacation destinations for families because it has a little something for everyone. If you love to be on the water, you and your family can swim with the stingrays at Stingray City, snorkel through a lagoon with tropical fish, go on a submarine or go fishing. Want to stay on land? Go horseback riding on Seven Mile Beach, play with almost 400 turtles at Cayman Turtle Farm or take a nature walk through Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park. To experience the heart of the island, its people, head to the capital, George Town, and see the National Museum, take a history walking tour, or peruse the city’s endless storefronts. Whatever you do, there are beautiful views everywhere you turn; one of the main reasons travelers of all ages fall in love with Grand Cayman as soon as they go.
From the rainforest to the beach, Costa Rica is packed with activities for travelers of all ages and interests. If you want some fun in the sun, take the kids and go ziplining through the rainforest, wander across a suspension bridge overlooking the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, go horseback riding around Arenal volcano, raft down Pacuare River or hike through the protected Tortuguero National Park. If that’s not your style, immerse your family in Costa Rican culture. Visit the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, in San Jose, or Museo de los Niños—the Children’s Museum!—for interactive exhibits about science, local history, technology, art and more.
Nicaragua is safe, beautiful and gets your family off the beaten path. For those reasons alone, we couldn’t help but add it to our list of the best vacation destinations for families! And when you’re in Nicaragua, there’s nowhere better to go than Granada. A true hidden gem, Granada is the oldest colonial city in South America. Go here to hike through a cloud forest on Mombacho Volcano, zipline, go golfing, take surf lessons, camp on the beach, learn how to make real Nicaraguan chocolate, and explore the many churches dotted throughout Granada’s city limits.