Family-Friendly vacation at the beach
Family-Friendly vacation at the beach © Weiqi Xiong   / Unsplash

10 Underrated, Family-Friendly Luxury Vacation Destinations Worldwide

Popular exotic destinations like St. Barts, Tahiti, and the Maldives may be a hit for couples and singles, but many under-the-radar luxury destinations offer families just as much excitement and adventure without the crowds. Whether you’re looking for a beach getaway or outdoor adventures for your next family trip, these 10 destinations are perfect for families who want to experience a unique luxury vacation in 2023.

Table of Contents

    Zanzibar’s Unique Blend of Cultures

    Zanzibar is as colorful as the aquamarine Indian Ocean waters that surround it just off the coast of Tanzania. Zanzibar can be either restful or zestful, depending on whether you and your family would rather relax or jump into activities. The island has long been known as a romantic honeymoon destination, but it also offers exciting experiences and adventures for families as one of Africa’s leading luxury destinations. With its serene beaches, superb diving spots, and rich cultural history, Zanzibar is an ideal destination for a wide range of family activities.

    Traditional bungalow in Zanzibar, Tanzania © Humphrey Muleba / Unsplash

    In addition to Zanzibar’s many outdoor offerings, you and your family can explore the historic heart of Zanzibar City, Stone Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Boasting a fascinating blend of African, Arab, Indian, and European influences, this Old Town lets you and your family admire the unique architecture, bustling markets, and museums that showcase the island’s rich history.

    Zanzibar is also known for its inviting cuisine with its intoxicating blend of African and Arabic flavors that incorporate a variety of spices, tropical fruits, and fresh seafood. Your family can take part in cooking classes to learn how to make traditional Zanzibari dishes and visit spice plantations to learn about the island’s spice trade.

    A Rare and Endangered Species of Monkey Found in Tanzania © Yoel Winkler / Unsplash

    The island also offers opportunities for wildlife safaris so that you and the kids can try to spot indigenous animals like the endangered red colobus monkey in addition to many other animals native to Africa. Although safaris and most other activities designed for visitors are on the main island of Zanzibar (also called Unguja), where the international airport  is located, adventurous families can consider exploring nearby islands that are also part of the Zanzibar archipelago informally known as the ‘Spice Islands.’

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    For visitors looking for the best luxury family resorts in Zanzibar, Emerald Zanzibar Resort & Spa, Zanzi Resort, and the Tulia Zanzibar Unique Beach Resort are excellent options to consider. All three offer a perfect fusion of relaxation, adventure, and cultural discovery, with each providing a unique and unforgettable family vacation experience in Zanzibar. Whether you prefer spacious villas, stylish bungalows, or exclusive beachfront suites, these luxury resorts cater to families of all sizes and ages, promising a memorable and delightful stay on one of the world’s most stunning tropical islands.

    Dive Into Dazzling Doha

    Doha sparkles as a gem of the Arabian Peninsula, offering an array of colorful experiences for your luxury family vacation. The capital city of Qatar may not be as flashy as Dubai, which Doha is often compared to, but it has its own unique charm and is more family-friendly. Part of the reason is the abundance of exhilarating outdoor activities such as the enormous theme park at Salwa Beach Resort and the world’s tallest indoor roller coaster and drop tower at Quest. Thrilling go-kart rides, water activities for all ages, and desert safaris can also be enjoyed by kids of all ages.

    Qatar is also rich in cultural experiences. You and your family can visit world-class museums like the National Museum of Qatar, where you can learn about the country’s history and cultural heritage, and the Museum of Islamic Art, which showcases a stunning collection of 1,400 years of Islamic art from around the world. For a truly immersive experience, you can venture out to Souq Waqif, the vibrant marketplace that offers a glimpse into Qatar’s traditional culture and lifestyle amid its maze of alleyways, and shops. You definitely shouldn’t miss Souq Waqif’s restaurants that will embark you on a culinary journey through the world’s flavours. Additionally, Qatar has several UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Al Zubarah Archaeological Site and the Al-Ahwar UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which will provide a unique and educational experience for your family.

    National Museum of Qatar
    The beautiful architecture of the National Museum of Qatar

    Qatar boasts a variety of luxurious family accommodations. The Four Seasons Hotel Doha ensures an opulent stay with access to pristine beaches, a dedicated kids’ club, and a rejuvenating spa for parents seeking relaxation.

    Four Seasons Hotel
    Four Seasons Hotel

    For an exclusive beach getaway, Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara is the ideal choice, and it’s only a 25-minute boat ride from Doha. You can reside in a luxurious overwater villa, indulge in the spa, and keep your little ones entertained with a boutique cinema, water park, and kids’ clubs. Alternatively, The Al Messila, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, features a women-only wellness retreat and a child-friendly gym, play zone, cinema, pool, and playground at the Little Explorers Club.

    Family Fun in Bali

    Bali offers a unique family vacation experience that combines natural splendor, cultural immersion, and age-appropriate activities. The hospitable locals and laid-back ambiance will make it the ideal stress-free destination for your family vacation, even if you have young kids.

    People surfing in Bali © David Gor / Unsplash

    On the Indonseian island of Bali, you and your family can enjoy the island’s world-famous beaches and water sports like surfing, or seize on opportunities for outdoor adventures such as hiking and cycling. For a cultural experience, you can visit the temples of Tanah Lot, Uluwatu, and Besakih, or take a Balinese cooking class to see how the island’s distinctive dishes are made.

    Tanah Lot temple in Bali during sunset © Harry Kessell / Unsplash

    Bali’s bustling towns near the gateway city of Denpasar, including Ubud (the island’s center of culture) and Seminyak, offer unique shopping experiences, trendy cafes, and gourmet restaurants.

    The best time to visit Bali is during the dry season from May to September when it tends to be sunny and dry—perfect for outdoor activities.

    Lotus ponds in Ubud, Gianyar Regency, Bali © Mitch Hodiono / Unsplash

    A variety of luxury accommodations intended to suit any family’s needs range from gleaming resorts to tented villas. Properties such as Bali Mandira Beach Resort & Spa, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, Jumeirah Bali, Mandapa: A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, and St. Regis Bali offer family-focused amenities such as kids’ clubs, cultural activities, and room types tailored to visitors’ preferences. Private villas with mesmerizing Indian Ocean views, children’s learning centers, and water-based activities are another option if you want a truly over-the-top luxury getaway.

    The Azores Can Be Yours

    The Azores, an archipelago of nine stunning volcanic islands situated 900 miles west of Portugal in the Atlantic, is a superb destination for your next luxury family vacation. There are outdoor adventure opportunities and top-notch accommodations galore. The islands’ unspoiled environment and serenity make them an idyllic destination if you’re seeking to reconnect with nature while indulging in life’s luxuries.

    Stunning landscapes of Azores, Portugal © Martin Munk / Unsplash

    A world away from the fast-paced atmosphere of mainstream tourist hotspots due to its remote location, the Azores will present your family with a dizzying array of outdoor activities from invigorating hikes and whale-watching excursions to bathing in soothing hot springs pools. And you needn’t deal with currency issues because as an autonomous territory of Portugal, the Euro reigns.

    São Miguel, Açores, Portugal © João Reguengos / Unsplash

    Often referred to as the ‘European Hawaii,’ the Azores are tailor-made for your family if you cherish adventure combined with ecological mindfulness. São Miguel, the largest and most accessible island, serves as an ideal starting point for appreciating the Azores’ distinctive landscapes, sculpted by volcanic forces, including black-sand beaches, caverns, and craters. With a plethora of activities on offer, ranging from sailing and diving to paragliding and delving into the islands’ rich cultural legacy, the Azores delivers, regardless of your interests and the ages of your family members. An abundance of upscale hotels and resorts provide awe-inspiring ocean vistas and exceptional amenities for families. If you and your family are seeking a beachfront oasis, the White Exclusive Suites & Villas in Lagoa boasts a stunning clifftop location and luxurious villas with private pools. If you’re seeking exquisite amenities and service in a breathtaking natural setting, the Pedras do Mar Resort & Spa in Fenais da Luz is another excellent option.

    Cartagena is Calling

    Cartagena is a captivating colonial gem that lures families in search of the best vacation options on Colombia’s Caribbean coastline. As a UNESCO World Heritage site and the first Spanish outpost on Colombia’s eastern shores, Cartagena’s legacy unravels through architectural marvels dating back to the 16th century.

    Strolling through fortified Old Cartagena, you will be immersed in a vivid mosaic of cobblestone alleys, brightly-hued houses, and secret passages. And when you need a break, you and the family can savor the city’s renowned coffee and Afro-Caribbean-Spanish cuisine.

    A Colorful Journey through Colombia’s Colonial Past © Leandro Loureiro / Unsplash

    Beyond its historical charm, Cartagena enthralls the imagination with an array of natural wonders for you and your family to admire, snap, and post. The pristine sands of Playa Blanca beckon beachgoers to bask in crystalline waters and indulge in the laid-back Caribbean atmosphere. Nearby Isla del Rosario offers a glimpse of the world’s second-largest coral reef. Farther along the coast, Tayrona National Natural Park unveils a sanctuary of unspoiled beaches, hidden inlets, and verdant palm-fringed lagoons.

    Some of the best places to stay include deluxe hotels like the five-star Sofitel Legend Santa Clara and the Casa San Agustin.

    The Sofitel Legend Santa Clara offers a unique experience, combining colonial architecture with modern amenities. It’s housed in a 17th-century building carefully restored to preserve its historical charm. You can indulge in a range of treatments at the hotel’s spa or take a dip in the stunning outdoor pool.

    Casa San Agustin’s rooftop terrace affords panoramic views of the city’s historic center. The hotel also has a spa and a plunge pool—the perfect spot for relaxation after a day of exploring the city.

    Kauai: The Ultimate Tropical Paradise

    Kauai’s stunning landscapes and luxurious resorts make it one of the world’s finest destinations for family holidays—arguably the best in the U.S. The northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain boasts plentiful natural wonders, including serene beaches, lush rainforests, and mesmerizing waterfalls, providing endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation.

    Kauai, Hawaii, USA © Karsten Winegeart / Unsplash

    Boasting numerous outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking, Kauai makes for an unforgettable family holiday. In addition to its natural beauty, Kauai is home to many family-friendly attractions. You can bring your kids to the Kauai Children’s Discovery Center, where they can engage in interactive exhibits and educational programs, or head out for any number of family-oriented outdoor adventures, including snorkeling, surfing lessons, zip-lining, or exploring the island’s hidden waterfalls. Many waterfalls are found in Waimea Canyon, which earns its nickname as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and is one of the rainiest spots on earth

    Waimea Canyon, Hawaii, USA © Kaitlin Kelly / Unsplash

    You can take a direct flight from any of several major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle, or make international connections from cities such as Vancouver or Tokyo. Kauai’s easy accessibility from the U.S. West Coast (as well as Japan) makes it a convenient and sought-after destination if you’re planning a luxury vacation.

    You can rest and recharge between activities at the island’s resorts, each offering an assortment of amenities tailored to satisfy every family member’s interests. The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa  boasts 11 superb on-site restaurants, a massive pool and water park, and captivating cultural activities. And Marriott’s Kaua’i Beach Club Resort offers Hawaii’s most extensive open-air pool, convenient beach access, and a kids’ club for children under 12. The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, in contrast, provides a homier experience with fully-equipped kitchenettes, laundry facilities, and a substantial kids’ club.

    Muy Bien: San Miguel de Allende

    San Miguel de Allende is a cultural gem and one of the best family vacation spots in Mexico. This charming inland city, located about a three-hour drive from Mexico City, is a fusion of colonial architecture, lively art galleries, and fine dining, making it a prime destination for American retirees and families alike, whether to visit or to live as expats.

    San Miguel De Allende, Mexico at night © Daniels Joffe / Unsplash

    With its mild climate, accessible art and culture, and baroque/neoclassical colonial architecture, San Miguel de Allende has become an increasingly desirable destination. The city’s history and culture run deep, with a portion of the old colonial city recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. You and your family can explore the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, the city’s landmarks, and the vibrant cultural scene, which are infused with a communal spirit.

    View from a hidden lane in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico © Stephen Reid / Pixabay

    Outdoorsy families can enjoy hot air balloon rides, hiking, and horseback riding, or simply relax in luxury. Reasonable pricing makes San Miguel de Allende a must-visit destination for families seeking adventure and cultural immersion without the hefty price tag of luxury hotels in more expensive countries.

    San Miguel de Allende has a range of luxury lodging options that cater to discerning travelers. The contemporary, hacienda-inspired Rosewood San Miguel de Allende boasts good-sized rooms and suites (perfect for families), secluded gardens, and terraces that provide a tranquil haven. Casa de Sierra Nevada by Belmond, the city’s pioneering establishment, effortlessly harmonizes with the town’s unique charm, offering a magical getaway. Your family can also delight in refined retreats such as the Live Aqua San Miguel De Allende Urban Resort, featuring chic spaces and family-oriented activities, or the customized experience offered by Numu Boutique Hotel, part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, complete with a garden, rooftop pool, and sundeck.

    Dubrovnik: Allure of the Adriatic

    The Croatian city of Dubrovnik is one of the best luxury family destinations in Europe. It’s an unspoiled treasure trove for families seeking a luxurious, off-the-beaten-path escape. Rich in history, head-turning architecture, and idyllic beaches, this captivating coastal city offers a plethora of activities for everyone in your family. You can meander along the ancient city walls, lose yourself in the quaint alleys of the Old Town, or embark on an island-hopping adventure to uncover the nearby gems of Korčula and Mljet.

    Adriatic sea and coast of Dubrovnik, Croatia © Mj / Unsplash

    For a dose of nature’s splendor, a visit to the magnificent Plitvice Lakes and Krka National Park nearby is sure to leave an indelible impression on all of your family members. In addition to its historic charm and natural beauty, Dubrovnik offers a range of family-friendly activities. You can take a cable car ride up to Mount Srđ for breathtaking panoramic views of the city and surrounding islands or visit the Dubrovnik Aquarium so you and your kids can discover the marine life of the Adriatic Sea. The city’s cultural scene is equally enthralling, with world-class museums like the Dubrovnik Museum and the Museum of Modern Art showcasing the region’s art and history.

    Plitvice Lakes National Park
    Plitvice Lakes National Park © Pascal Habermann / Unsplash

    As for accommodations, Dubrovnik proudly offers an array of luxury hotels that will satisfy everyone in your family. Villa Dubrovnik, perched on a cliff with sweeping views of the Adriatic Sea, provides the ultimate in sophisticated yet family-friendly comfort. With its private beach, pool, and invigorating spa, families can indulge in well-deserved pampering. If you’re seeking a blend of charm and convenience, the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik boasts a distinctive old-world elegance coupled with modern amenities—and it’s a stone’s throw away from the historic Old Town.

    Say ‘Hi’ to Hainan

    Hainan, a tropical paradise off the southern coast of China, has been a longtime favorite among travelers seeking luxury family vacations. Nicknamed ‘China’s Hawaii,’ this tropical island (and China’s smallest and southernmost province) boasts a diverse array of attractions, from outstanding beaches and a volcano park to friendly monkeys and an ancient Hainanese village, all waiting to be discovered by you and your family.

    Phoenix Island in Sanya Bay, Hainan, China © llee_wu / Flickr

    For adventure-seeking families, Hainan has no shortage of activities, including snorkeling and scuba diving in the crystal-clear waters of the South China Sea, hiking through the lush rainforests, and ziplining across treetops. If you or the kids adore wildlife, you can visit the Hainan Gibbon Reserve to witness the world’s rarest primates, Hainan black-crested gibbons, in their natural habitat. A trip to Wuzhishan National Park—home to Hainan’s highest peak, Wuzhi Mountain—offers breathtaking views and thrilling trekking opportunities.

    Wuzhi Mountain’s scenic beauty © Ethan Lee

    For a cultural experience, you can visit the 800-year-old Wenchang Old Town, where you can immerse yourself in the local history, traditional architecture, and authentic Hainanese cuisine.

    If you and your family members are seeking a place to stay in this tropical luxury hotspot, Hainan’s high-end hotels offer the perfect blend of comfort and extravagance. Renowned brands like St. Regis, Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, and Mandarin Oriental have established their presence on the island, providing visitors with a selection of spectacular family-friendly accommodations. One such retreat is The St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort, which treats its guests to more than 800 meters of private white-sand beach, a picturesque marina, and a protected mangrove forest. If you’re looking for a more central location, The Ritz-Carlton Sanya offers an array of customized family activities and beachfront views.

    Hainan is easily accessible by air from major cities in China and via international flights from Singapore, Bangkok, and Moscow.

    Take the Pure Vida Plunge in Costa Rica

    Pure Vida means pure life or simple life—a way of living and a source of pride among Costa Ricans. You can get a taste of pure vida by visiting this outstanding destination for luxury family travel.

    Waterfront and lush green trees in Costa Rica © Costa Rica Drone Tours

    A variety of activities await nature enthusiasts, adventure-seekers, and beach lovers of all ages in Costa Rica. The family-friendly tourist mecca offers exceptional hiking, bird-watching, mountain-biking, and equestrian experiences along with numerous water-sports options such as snorkeling, sailing, and kayaking.

    Bird species in Costa Rica © Zdeněk Macháček / Unsplash

    Costa Rica also offers a rich cultural experience for families. You can visit world-class museums like the National Museum of Costa Rica in the main city of San Jose, which showcases the country’s history and cultural heritage. But that is hardly the only attraction in San Jose, which is filled with other museums, lively markets, and historical landmarks.

    Myriad luxury family-friendly hotels are found in Costa Rica, including the Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, where children can absorb the local culture through engaging and educational activities. Hacienda AltaGracia, tucked in the Talamanca Mountains foothills, offers exclusive experiences ranging from horseback riding and rainforest hiking to waterfall explorations and cooking classes for youngsters.

    Arenal’s Tabacon Grand Thermal Resort & Spa is renowned for its hot springs and tranquil gardens. Family suites provide ample space for everyone, including dining areas.

    Costa Rica is easily accessible from the United States, with direct flights available from major cities. The flight time from New York City is only about five-and-a-half hours, about the same as the flight time to Los Angeles.

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