Bang for your buck: Spring break beach showdown

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As families and friends search the Internet for last minute vacation deals, it’s an all an out showdown for the best beach resorts this spring.

Duking it out for the top spots on many U.S. travelers' lists are the ever-popular Florida and the soft sands of the Caribbean.

By comparing the overall price, evaluating different beaches, resorts and assessing the family friendliness of these popular destinations, we discover which destination is truly worth it for a spring break you won't soon forget. 


First up, we take a look at the best of the best in the Sunshine State. The sun soaked beaches, crystal blue waters-- and a little help from Disney-- have made this state one of the largest tourist attractions in the U.S.. Just last year, Florida welcomed a record 112.8 million tourists.

The pros for Florida include the typically balmy temperatures, usually hovering in the low 80s, cheap flights from most major U.S. hubs, and the mere fact that you don’t need to pull out your passport are all major plusses. 

Orlando may be the world's theme park capital, but when tourists just want to relax, many head to what they call the heart of the golden coast, also known as Pompano Beach. The low-key area is centrally located between Palm Beach and Miami and was named TripAdvisor’s top travel destination on the rise. It’s a popular fishing spot the coral reefs offer some of Florida's best diving.

Sitting directly on the beach, the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa is a relaxing place to stay with gorgeous views of the of the Atlantic. Enjoy a massage at the resort spa, eat a meal at one of several on-site restaurants, and you can in some shopping and entertainment. Rates start in April at just $261 per night.

Families who want the sun of Miami-- but not necessarily all of the adult fun-- can take advantage of the reasonable flights and stay just outside the bustle of the city at Turnberry Isle Miami. Play a round of golf, get a facial and let the kids enjoy the 35-foot waterslide, lazy river and toddler pool. A Family Fun package-- which includes activities like golfing for kids-- starts at just $399 per night.

Escape the usual spring break crowds and visit Amelia Island located on the Northeast coast of Florida. The southern most barrier island boasts 13 miles of beautiful sandy beaches with golf courses and nature walks. The Omni Amelia Island Plantation is a great choice for families with its splash park and a  10,000 square foot family friendly pool. There is also a nature preserve center at the hotel that offers classes on turtle nesting and shark tooth hunting. The price isn’t too bad, either, with rooms starting at just $259 a night.


Next up, it's the Caribbean. This part of the world is famous for its iconic turquoise waters and pale white stretches of sand, making for some of the most premium beach spots in the world. The Caribbean consists of thousands of islands, so possibilities are basically endless when it comes to tourism. There are also a myriad of price ranges.

The pros include the rainforests, plentiful diverse cultures and beautiful beaches. The typical temperature hovers around 85 degrees and most islands are a short flight from the U.S.

If you want a relatively hassle free Caribbean vacation, head to Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory is rich in history, has great beaches and lacks the hassle of international customs and passports.

If you want to be checked in and get on the beach within an hour of landing, consider the San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino. This family friendly resort is located right in the very chic Candado Beach area. It boasts newly renovated rooms, offers two pools with a waterslide, plus plenty of activities for children. The on site restaurants can be pricey but explore the food scene just outside the resort for lower priced meal options. Mofongo is a can't-miss native treat. Rates start at $330 per night.

The Cayman Islands is known as the playground for billionaires with its upscale beach resorts but you actually don’t have to be loaded to vacation at this elite spot.

The Comfort Suites Seven Miles Beach recently underwent a million dollar renovation and is bringing affordability to the Caymans. The hotel offers access to the famous 7 Mile beach and has studios and two bedroom suites with free Wi-Fi and breakfast. Prices start at just $215 per night.

Want to spend a little money? Upgrade to the The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa which is fully equipped with a swim up bar and each room has granite bathrooms and very comfortable beds. 

The Bahamas are always a tourist favorite because of the gorgeous waters and close proximity to the States. Just take a ferry or a twenty minute seaplane ride 50 miles south of Miami to Bimini. Bimini consists of two small islands in the Bahamas and is known as one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite getaways. The Resorts World Bimini Bahamas by Hilton was just recently featured on ABC’s "The Bachelor." The property sits on five miles of white sand beaches, sports multiple infinity pools and a world class spa, marina and casino. They offer lots of different packages with rates starting at $482 per night.

All inclusive resorts are an easy way for many families to vacation and there are plenty of them in the Caribbean. If you have that kid who is just too restless to lay around on a beach all day then try Nickelodeon's Hotel and Resorts in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Kids will love the waterpark and green slime and the adults can relax in the swim up suites and lazy river. Lowest all inclusive rates are $159 nightly (per person) and kids under thirteen are free. 

Carey Reilly is a lifestyle blogger, TV host, comedian and lover of cocktails. She is the editor of Follow her on Twitter @careycomic and Instagram @careyreilly.