A family enjoying Seven Mile Beach — Photo courtesy of Beaches Negril
It's time to take a break from work and reign the kids in from their busy schedules. If beach activities and relaxation mixed with a bit of culture are high on your list, consider Jamaica. Of course, what you choose to do depends on the ages and abilities of your children, but here are 10 reasons why Jamaica can make for a perfect family vacation.
Beaches: Regardless of where you stay, a gorgeous beach is nearby. Between powdery white sand, bright blue water, secluded coves, fishing villages and popular tourist areas, families will be able to find a suitable beach to settle on.
All-inclusive resorts: Park the family and enjoy an (almost) worry-free incidentals bill. Not only do they wrap food, accommodation and most activity costs into your room rate, all-inclusive resorts like Beaches Negril offer tons of entertainment just for the kids. Want to hit the spa? The kids will gladly hang in the game room or another supervised area while you zen. Yes, this includes babies.
Bicycling tours: Lauded as one of the best ways to see Jamaica, book a downhill cycling tour that's 95% pedal-free. Stop for photo opportunities, lunch and a waterfall swim--all are included. Reservations for children ages 7 and older are accepted.
Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica — Photo courtesy of Bahman
Waterfalls: Experience a national treasure, Dunn's River Falls, featured in the movie Dr. No and numerous travel ads as a symbol of the island. Take a guided climb up the falls or just let the water cascade around you. Either way, it's the experience of a lifetime.
Bird watching: Considered a bird watchers paradise, spot over 200 species among a gorgeous tropical landscape that provides a variety of habitats. Some of these birds are found nowhere else on Earth. December through June are ideal months for bird watching due to the cooler climate when mature birds allow themselves to become more visible.
Heritage tours: From the Bob Marley museum to the earthquake-sunken Port Royal, embark on a truly unique Jamaican experience. Explore the Green Grotto Caves, thought to be a half million years old, or even the first banana capital of the world, Port Antonio. The list goes on.
Safari on the Black River: Once regarded as one of the most important ports on the island, Black River is now a popular scenic boat ride for viewing over 300 species American crocodile, numerous birds and gorgeous mangrove trees. Afraid of crocs? Don't stress, you don't have to get off the boat.
Dolphin Cover — Photo courtesy of Half Moon, A RockResort
Dolphin encounters: Touch, swim alongside and even take a belly ride on a dolphin. Dolphin Cove has locations in Negril, Ocho Rios and a program exclusively for Half Moon, A RockResort guests. The prerequisite is that all participants must be able to swim. Life jackets are provided and very young kids who can't swim can partake in the encounter program.
Hiking in the Blue Mountains: Shortly after landing on the island, references to Blue Mountain coffee will make you crave a cup. Appreciate it even more by donning the hiking boots for a long 14-mile hike in the mountains, the highest elevation on the island at approximately 7400 feet. Or, take a partial hike.
A huge variety of outdoor sports: Between water sports like water skiing and parasailing, ATV tours, water tubing, sport fishing, scuba diving (the island is full of dive sites), golf, ziplining, catamaran rides and more, channel your inner adventurist. Whether your it's baby or teenager are in tow, arrange an appropriate outdoor adventure all will enjoy.
Try to arrange transportation with your hotel or resort in advance as the roads can be a bit tricky. Pack sunscreen and other light essentials so you don't have to pay resort prices for necessities. Do be prepared to slip in to that "ya, mon" mentality. You won't regret it after you return home refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the school year.