Family Vacations to Jamaica

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Jamaica – Family Vacation Guide

The fourth largest island country in the Caribbean, Jamaica is the perfect spot for families in search of an easy getaway and a rich reggae-infused culture. As one of Jamaica’s most famous sons once wrote, “Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be all right.”

This is the land of jerk chicken and reggae, beaches and rainforests, blue mountains and blue lagoons. With a range of hotel options (all-inclusive resorts, stylish boutique properties, lavish hideaways), there’s something for everyone. The easy-going atmosphere is ideal for little kids (there’s even a hotel that has a fleet of free nannies on staff). Teenagers love the 24/7 energy and all the adventure sports, from Zip lining to scaling one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful waterfalls. And did we mention? The weather’s warm and sunny most of the time.

Why Go

  • Easy Access

    There are tons of direct flights to Jamaica from most major U.S. cities. Most travelers fly into Montego Bay, but you can also fly into Kingston.

  • Sunny Weather, Great Prices

    High season runs from December to March, but the weather’s warm and sunny year-round, save a passing shower on summer afternoons. But there’s a bonus in summer: It’s low season, so that means that prices are also low.

  • Beautiful Beaches

    Jamaica has over 50 stunning public beaches, including Negril’s action-packed Seven Mile Beach, Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay, with its crystal-clear water, and quiet Frenchman’s Cove near Port Antonio, which is one of the prettiest beaches in the Caribbean. Montego Bay’s Cornwall Beach has some of the safest swimming on the island for younger kids. And of course, there are myriad private resort beaches, just calling your name.

  • The Food!

    If you like spice, Jamaica’s your place. Jerk chicken is the island’s most famous dish, and you’ll find it being cooked in steel drum pans wherever you go. Our favorite place is Scotchie’s, a not-so-fast-food spot with locations around Montego Bay. Want to see the home of jerk chicken? Head to the jerk shacks along Boston’s Beach, where the dish was invented. Wash it all down with a cold Red Stripe.

  • The Nature

    There’s much to see beyond the beaches. Jamaica is home to the sprawling Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Guided hiking tours in Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park are a thrilling way for teenagers to explore some of this magnificently wild UNESCO World Heritage sites; one of the most bio-diverse environments in the Caribbean. Another experience not to miss: rafting on the Martha Brae River in Montego Bay.

Where to Go

Jamaica’s two main airports, Kingston and Montego Bay can be found on opposite sides of the island. Kingston is known more as the commercial center of Jamaica while Montego Bay is known for its resorts and family activities. A great area for families is Ocho Rios, located in the Parish of Saint Anne. About half way between the two airports, it offers great beaches, lush jungles, family friendly resorts, and a variety of attractions and amenities.

Montego Bay

Montego Bay is the most famous resort area in all of Jamaica and with good reason. The beaches are stunning, the golf’s great and many of the island’s grandest resort hotels line the shore. You’ll find it all here — the best water sports, great duty-free shopping and fantastic seafood restaurants. Another perk: It’s within easy access of the international airport.

Where to Stay

When it comes to resorts, it doesn’t get more family-friendly than Franklyn D. Resort & Spa, which has a fleet of nannies on staff. Half Moon Bay has horseback riding, a kid’s club and more. With its stylish villas and Ralph Lauren-designed rooms, Round Hill Resort is the place to see and be seen. And there are myriad all-inclusive properties around Montego Bay, like Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa and Iberostar Rose Hall Suites.


Set on the western point of Jamaica, Negril used to be impossible to reach except by boat — but these days, there’s an excellent road in and out. The allure of Seven Mile Beach has proved irresistible to quite a few major international resorts, and you’ll find Kool Runnings, Jamaica’s biggest waterpark, here, too. On the cliffs, Rick’s Café is a magnet for its legendary cliff-jumpers. Negril is also lined by a long coral reef, so the snorkeling and diving is the best on the island. Don’t miss the view of the sunset from the Negril Cliffs or a visit to the Negril Lighthouse for panoramic views of the coast.

Where to Stay

There are tons of charming boutique properties throughout Negril. On the beach, check out Idle Awhile. On the cliffs, Tensing Pen or the Caves are the places to stay. When it comes to resorts, Beaches is the stand-out, thanks to its 24-7 kid-friendly programming.


Ocho Rios

Jamaica’s cruise port doesn’t have Montego Bay’s glamorous reputation but it does have the motherlode of outstanding, all-inclusive resort hotels and fun family activities. Think high-wires, wild waterfalls, extreme sports. Nearby Runaway Bay is good for younger kids: It’s close to the action in Ocho Rios but has quieter resorts with private beaches when you want a breather.

Where to Stay

Beaches is the spot for families. For families who have money to blow, it doesn’t get any better than Goldeneye, on the outskirts of Ocho Rios.

Port Antonio

The lush eastern end of Jamaica is where to find some of the world’s loveliest beaches, most admired swimming spots and gorgeous colonial architecture to sweep you back two centuries in a heartbeat. Port Antonio is as different from Montego Bay and Ocho Rio as you’ll get, but it shouldn’t be missed. Don’t miss the Blue Lagoon and rafting on the Rio Grande River.

Where to Stay

With its on-site recording studio and impromptu concerts by local reggae stars, GeeJam is a music lover’s dream, set in the lush rainforest. The villas are propped on the edge of a hill; many have private plunge pools. The Trident is a classic resort that was recently given a hipster overhaul.


You probably wouldn’t choose bustling downtown Kingston — Jamaica’s capital — as the base for a family vacation, but it’s a lively city that can make a refreshing break the beach, especially for reggae lovers. Come here for live reggae, ridiculously good Caribbean cooking, museums and botanical gardens, colorful markets and some of the country’s most famous historic buildings.

Where to Stay

Better for older kids or babymoons, the atmospheric Strawberry Hill is perched in the Blue Mountains above Kingston.


What to Do


  • Zip-lining: Along with its warm, pristine beaches, Jamaica is a tropical island with mountainous terrain and lush rainforests. When mountains meet rainforest, it’s the perfect combination for zip-lining! There are several areas in Jamaica that offer an amazing ride through the jungle, such as Mystic Mountain and Chukkah.
  • River Tubing: Take a relaxing float down a lime-stone created green river, and enjoy the tropical scenery surrounding you. Most river floats will be tame enough for young children. Hop a ride at Chukkah Good Hope or the Martha Brae River.
  • Cooking Class: Try your hand at cooking Jamaican fare, such as Jerk Chicken, Callaloo, and of course, every kid’s favorite, Festival Bread! Yaaman offers a cooking class for kids and adults of all ages where you will be walked through, step by step, how to prepare your own special Jamaican meal. Be sure to book your class at least several days in advance. You’ll also enjoy a 30 minute tractor ride, guided by a hilarious tour guide who will teach you about the history and plants all the way up the hill to the historic house where you will cook your meal on the back porch with stunning views of the coast below and enjoy the lush, manicured gardens.
  • Discovery Point: Discover for yourself where Columbus is thought to have first set foot on Jamaican soil.
  • Bobsledding: Head to Mystic Mountain where you can join the Jamaican Bobsled Team and ride a bobsled down the mountain. While you’re there take advantage of the best view on the island from the lookout tower, swim in the pool, go down the waterslide, go zip-lining, relax in the hummingbird garden and walk the nature trail.
  • Swim with the Dolphins: Swim with the dolphins at Dolphin Cove, located at Moon Palace Resort. Dolphin cover offers interactive programs for all ages and abilities and allows you to learn about marine life and conservation in and educational and fun way.
  • Go to the Beach: This is an island, of course you simply must enjoy the beach!
  • Pools, Water Slides, Splash Pads: If the kids (or you) need a break from the salt water, take a trip to one of these amazing places for some water play: Chukkah Good Hope, Dunn’s River Falls and Mystic Mountain.
  • Hike a Waterfall: If you have adventurous and brave kids age, hike straight up the middle of a waterfall. This is a guided hike that starts at a beach and ends in the mountains. It is a total of 180 feet up and is fairly strenuous, but safe. Your guide will show you exactly where to place your feet and when it’s safe to jump in the water. They do this all day and know the waterfall by heart. You do not have to know how to swim to hike the waterfall, but kids must be at least 36 inches tall.
  • The Blue Hole: This local, aptly named hidden gem features a large, deep pool of blue water, fed by a waterfall where the bravest visitors can jump from.
  • Try Local Cuisine: Jamaican fare offers incredibly flavorful and unique dishes that have been inspired by the many cultures that have impacted the country. Some Jamaican classics that you must try are:
    Jerk Chicken: Marinated for days and smoked for hours, this chicken is flavored with a mix of spices that include its signature scotch bonnet pepper. The chicken is generally cooked on logs of sweet wood over an open fire or smoked in a metal smoker. You will find jerk chicken on the street cooking in “pom-pom” ovens or, head to Scotchies to watch them cook it on the sweet wood logs. Jerk pork can also be found and is equally delicious!

    Callaloo: This spinach-like vegetable will be served together with other steamed vegetables and is delicious!

    Patty: Patty is difficult to describe, so you’ll just have to try it for yourself! Found in Jamaica, like you would find a burger, the patty has a thin, crusty pastry shell with spiced meat inside. You can have it served in with coco bread or eat it plain, but either way it will be a tasty experience. There are three main Patty chains on the island: Juici, Tastee and Mother’s.

    Ox Tail: Don’t let the name scare you, this might be the best thing you’ve ever tasted!

    Festival: This tasty fried bread made of flour, cornmeal, sugar, and baking powder, is kneaded and then fried in oil to create a tasty, savory and sweet bread. Kids usually love this!

    Fresh Fruit: The tropical climate of Jamaica produces some of the tastiest fresh fruits ever! The streets of Jamaica are lined with local fruit sellers where you’ll find bananas, passion fruit, akee, coconut, cassava (yams), sorrel, mango, papaya, sugarcane and more. Stop by these stands and grab some fruit for your drive.

Educational Value for Kids

You wouldn’t think of rafting as educational, but sailing on traditional Jamaican rafts down the mysterious Martha Brae River in Montego Bay is great fun for kids and local navigators double as history experts so learning is squeezed into the adventure without anyone noticing.

Getting Around

Whichever way you choose to get around Jamaica, it can be easy, fun and an adventure. Renting a car from the airport is a good option if you’re interested in exploring Jamaica on your own. If you plan to spend much of your time at the resort, hiring a driver can be less expensive and a great experience. Paradise Travels offer airport transfers or custom tailored tours of the island for a flat day rate. The guide will not only drive you, but also knows the best areas and will be sure to keep you safe. They provide car seats as needed and a cell phone to communicate with you throughout the day.

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