Jamaica Or Turks & Caicos For A Family Vacation? We’ve Got Tips On How To Decide!

The Caribbean is renowned for its stunning and pristine islands. When deciding which island to visit, it's important to consider the type of vacation experience you desire. If you're contemplating between Jamaica and Turks & Caicos, there are several factors to consider. While both are Caribbean destinations offering breathtaking natural beauty, fantastic beaches, vibrant culture, and adventurous excursions, they provide distinct experiences.

Beaches Negril Jamaica Seven Mile Beach Ocean

Let's start with the Turks & Caicos Islands, a tropical archipelago consisting of 40 islands and cays, with only eight of them inhabited. On the other hand, Jamaica is one of the largest islands in the Caribbean, situated near Cuba and approximately 430 miles away from Turks & Caicos. Each destination offers unique attractions and activities, making your choice dependent on the specific experiences you seek.

If you opt for Turks & Caicos, get ready for a diverse vacation experience that feels like multiple vacations in one. This destination offers an array of amazing things to explore. On the other hand, Jamaica stands out for its stunning waterfalls, lush foliage, vibrant nightlife, and rich history. Both destinations boast natural beauty, so your decision may come down to the differences in certain areas, which we will delve into in this guide.

Expert tip: Are you unsure which of these islands is best for you? Check out our list of things to do in Jamaica and things to do in Turks & Caicos that you might find useful in your holiday planning.

Flight times: Jamaica vs. Turks & Caicos

The amount of time it’ll take to get to a destination can be a major influencing factor when planning a vacation. This is an even greater consideration if you’ll be traveling with children. Fortunately for beach and sunshine lovers, both Jamaica and the Turks & Caicos in the Caribbean are incredible destinations that are just a short flight away from the US. A short flight will make it easy to be on the beach in no time, with less time for mid-flight meltdowns!

Beach Grace Bay Providenciales Turks Caicos

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In case you’re wondering how long a flight to Turks & Caicos is, a flight from a US city like Miami to Turks & Caicos generally takes around one hour and 47 minutes. As for the question of how long is a flight to Jamaica, you can get to this island by plane from Atlanta in under two hours. Generally, the average flight time from the US to Turks & Caicos is three hours and 45 minutes, while the average flight time from the US to Jamaica is around five hours.

When considering the time it will take to get to Jamaica and Turks & Caicos, you’ll find that flight times are shorter from some cities as compared to others. Some families may find that it takes less time to get to Turks & Caicos from the US. There are many airlines that fly to both of these destinations so you’re unlikely to have a hard time organizing flights.

Size and landscapes: Jamaica vs. Turks & Caicos

Size and landscape of Jamaica

Jamaica and Turks & Caicos vary greatly in terms of their size and landscapes. Jamaica is one of the largest islands in the Caribbean measuring around 4, 255 square miles. As Jamaica is the larger of these two destinations, it naturally has a higher population of over 2.8 million people. Around one-third of the population of Jamaica resides in the capital city of Kingston, which is also the island’s largest.

Aerial Marina Cruise Ocho Rios Jamaica

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Though Jamaica and Turks & Caicos both have unique landscapes and interesting natural sites and landmarks, Jamaica stands out for its green and beautiful mountainous terrain. This island has many waterfalls, rivers, and forests that you can explore. The Blue Mountains, Dunn’s River Falls, the Luminous Lagoon, and the Cool Blue Hole are all attractions worth visiting in Jamaica. If you plan on going to Jamaica for a family vacation, we highly recommend doing some hiking or outdoor tours.

Size and landscape: Turks & Caicos

Turks & Caicos is made up of 40 islands and cays of different sizes. Only eight of these islands are inhabited. In total, the islands of Turks & Caicos are just over 238 square miles. The most popular island in Turks & Caicos is known as Providenciales. It is around 47 square miles and has a population of just over 45,000 people.

Bight Reef Coral Gardens Turks Caicos Aerial View

Image credit: Ygo Neto Batista/Shutterstock.com

Turks & Caicos makes a great vacation destination for travelers who love the thought of being able to visit more than one island in a single getaway. Some of the populated islands of the Turks & Caicos include Grand Turks, North Caicos, South Caicos, Middle Caicos, and Salt Cay. The majority of these islands are flat and have coastal landscapes with wetlands, sandy beaches, coastal cliffs and caves, and inland saline ponds.

Beaches: Jamaica vs. Turks & Caicos

The beautiful beaches are among the features that make the Caribbean stand out. This region is known for its gorgeous beaches with white sand, and even some with pink sand or black sand, the latter found mostly on volcanic islands. Turks & Caicos and Jamaica are great destinations if you’re looking for a fun beach vacation as both of these destinations are known for their amazing beaches.

Beaches in Jamaica

Jamaica has miles upon miles of white sand shores that vacationers can enjoy while on the island. If you ask for the best beach in Jamaica, it’s likely you’ll be directed to Seven Mile Beach, Negril. Seven Mile Beach has calm waters and a lively ambiance. The convenience factor of this beach is part of its appeal to families. On Seven Mile Beach, you’ll find lots of restaurants, bars, and water sports opportunities including kayaking, jet skiing, sailing (Hobie Cats), and banana boat riding. Beaches Negril, a fabulous all-inclusive family resort, is also located on stunning Seven Mile Beach.

Beaches Negril Jamaica Beach Lounge2

After working up an appetite in the sunshine, it will feel truly blissful to settle in at an oceanfront restaurant on this beach where you and your family can try authentic Jamaican food and drinks. The jerk chicken is highly recommended — you can wash down the spiciness of this dish with some tropical fruit punch, Jamaican rum, a refreshing Red Stripe Beer, or simply some cold water.

Good to know: Beach chair and umbrella rentals are available at Seven Mile Beach in Jamaica. The waters of this beach are calm and shallow, which is ideal for families with kids.

Beaches in Turks & Caicos

Without a doubt, Turks & Caicos has some of the most impressive beaches in the world. The crystal clear, turquoise water on many of these beaches and the powdery white sands are the perfect ingredients for a beach day that is better than most. The beaches in this territory can be found on the coasts of the various islands and cays. During your Turks and Caicos vacation beach hopping on beaches like Grace Bay Beach, Taylor Bay Beach, Half Moon Bay, and others can certainly be a possibility. Beaches Turks & Caicos is located on the highly-rated Grace Bay Beach.

Beaches Turks Caicos Grace Bay Beach Family2

Grace Bay Beach, Turks & Caicos is great for participating in water sports like paddle boarding, windsurfing, kayaking, parasailing, jet skiing, water skiing, and more. The water here tends to be calm most of the time, making it conducive for snorkeling and scuba diving. There are also lots of great amenities that make this a convenient location for families. Bight Beach and Leeward Beach in the Turks & Caicos are connected to Grace Bay Beach adding to its extensive length. The size of this stunning beach means it's never too crowded to enjoy a day out in the sunshine.

Good to know: In the Turks & Caicos Islands, there's a barrier reef about a mile off the coast of Grace Bay. This reef helps keep the water in the area calm and it is a great place to go snorkeling or scuba diving.

Things to do and attractions: Jamaica vs. Turks & Caicos

Aside from the beach, both Jamaica and Turks & Caicos offer lots of exciting activities and adventures. Here’s what you can expect!

Things to do and attractions in Jamaica

Jamaica is both an entertainment-focused destination and a tropical paradise where fun, relaxation, and rejuvenation can be your primary focus. On this island, you can have a vacation that combines adventure with luxury, especially if you stay at an all-inclusive resort. The mountainous landscape of this island means that you’ll find lots of magnificent waterfalls like the famous Dunn’s River Falls and Reach Falls and quite a few natural blue holes like the Ocho Rios Blue Hole. You can explore these and some of the other awesome places and things Jamaica is known for during your vacation.

Dunns River Falls Jamaica

Other interesting places to visit in Jamaica include the Blue Mountains, which are great for hiking. The Blue Mountains are most known for the Blue Mountain Coffee that grows here. You can also visit Nine Mile Village, which is the birthplace of Reggae legend Bob Marley or the many museums and galleries on this island including the Bob Marley Museum. History buffs can consider going on the various plantation tours available in Jamaica. Aside from this, there are lots of other things to do in Jamaica with kids and plenty to do for adults as well.

Expert tip: For some kid-friendly adventure out of your resort, go to Mystic Mountain or to the Aquasol theme parks. At these locations, you can find various rides and attractions for kids.

Things to do and attractions in Turks & Caicos

Turks & Caicos might be a good choice for a family vacation if spending time in nature and out on the ocean appeals to you. Active families can set up tours to go whale watching, dive with sharks, snorkel with turtles and rays, go horseback riding, and explore islands like Half Moon Bay where the native rock iguanas live. Provo Ponies has a great coastal horseback riding adventure kids may enjoy. Or, if your children love animals and the beach, you can visit Potcake Place and volunteer for the day to take a rescued puppy out for a walk.

Beaches Turks Caicos Catamaran

If you love diving, Turks & Caicos is a great destination for this. The beauty of the beaches of these islands extends beyond the shores which means there are lots of thriving coral reefs to explore. Some of these reefs are located near shore while others, often the ones with more diverse marine life, will require a boat trip. Sailing trips or catamaran tours that include snorkeling are also among the exciting things to do in Turks & Caicos with kids.

Aside from the ocean, you’ll be able to dive into a bit of history in Turks & Caicos too. For a blast from the past, visit the Cheshire Hall Plantation, the Salt House Museum, or the Turks & Caicos National Museum. At the latter, you’ll be able to see carefully preserved artifacts from shipwrecks including the Molasses Reef Wreck, which is a sunken European ship that dates back to the 16th century.

Best time to visit: Jamaica vs. Turks & Caicos

The best time to visit Jamaica is November until mid-December. Resort and flight deals tend to be best during this time. For those who don't mind crowds, December to mid-April can be a great time to go. December to April is considered peak-season for Jamaica. During peak or high season, there tends to be more visitor traffic as this is a popular time to vacation there. Peak season tends to see the best weather and there are usually more activities happening on the island overall. High-season travel can be more costly but it can help to book your family trip in advance to manage costs.

Plane Over Jamaica Window

Image credit: Felix B/Shutterstock.com

The best time to visit Turks & Caicos is during the months of February, March, and April. These months are during the high season for this territory. December can also be a great time to visit but keep in mind that there’s likely to be more crowds around this time. If you want to visit the Turks & Caicos during the December holidays, plan your vacation as early as possible. May, June, and July can also be good for family beach vacations in the Turks & Caicos.

Good to know: The best time to visit any destination will depend on the kind of vacation you want to have. If there’s a special occasion you want to travel for or you just want to go in a certain month, you can look up some of the activities happening in the various destinations around that time to help make your decision.

Resorts: Jamaica vs. Turks & Caicos

Resorts in Jamaica

Jamaica has many all-inclusive resorts but two in particular are known to cater specifically to families with kids. These are none other than Beaches Negril and Beaches Ocho Rios. Beaches Ocho Rios is located on the northern end of Jamaica while Beaches Negril is on the west side of this island. At both of these resorts, you'll be able to find inclusions, amenities, and activities kids and parents will love.

Beaches Negril Jamaica Seven Mile Beach Family Aerial Family

*Picture: From thrilling water parks and endless activities to top-notch childcare services, Beaches Negril offers a tropical getaway like no other.

Beaches Ocho Rios is about 90 minutes by car from the airport and transfers are included for Beaches Resorts guests. Beaches Negril is around 80 minutes by car from the airport and transfers are included as well. Both of these resorts have lush, scenic, tropical gardens and are located near a beach. Both Beaches Negril and Beaches Ocho Rios have water parks, kids camps, unlimited land and water sports, day and night entertainment, multiple restaurants and so many other perks and inclusions that give them major points for a family beach vacation!

Resorts in Turks & Caicos

As you explore the various resort options in Turks & Caicos, you might find yourself feeling as though your vacation has already begun. If you’re planning a family vacation in Turks & Caicos, Beaches Turks & Caicos is a great option. This resort caters specifically to families, which means that there will be something to do for every member of your family.

Beaches Turks Caicos Aerial view BTC

*Picture: Escape to paradise with your loved ones at Beaches Turks & Caicos. Let your children's imaginations run wild as they explore the white sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters.

Beaches Turks & Caicos is located on the island of Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos. There are many perks to staying at this resort including that airport transfers are included in the cost of vacation packages for guests. Luxury transfers also come with certain rooms which can make an upgrade worth it. Beaches Turks & Caicos is set up village style with various themes that can make it feel as though you’re experiencing five resorts in one. Some of the features guests can look forward to here include a 45, 000 sq ft water park, 21 restaurants, a gorgeous beach that’s around 12 miles long, and 10 pools including some with swim-up bars! Beaches Turks & Caicos is a 15-minute drive from the airport on the island of Providenciales, which makes it a convenient resort for families.

Jamaica vs Turks & Caicos — which will it be for your next vacation?

We get it … it's hard to choose between Jamaica and the Turks & Caicos for a family vacation. The good news is that you and your family can explore both of these islands at some point, starting with the one that appeals to you the most and meets your vacation needs right now. In both Jamaica and Turks & Caicos, you’ll find everything you need for an incredible beach vacation, from postcard-worthy beaches to fun-filled adventures in and out of the water.

Beaches Turks Caicos Surf Simulator

Jamaica and Turks & Caicos both have luxury elements to their offerings, particularly within all-inclusive resorts like Beaches Resorts. The combination of luxury, adventure, and relaxation means that you’ll be able to have an awesome family vacation no matter which of these islands or Beaches Resorts you choose!

Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Writing for 13 years, Kylie discovered that experiences tell the best stories. As a Caribbean mother who wrote for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, she believes inspiration is even found in our kids!