Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Jennifer Miller

25 Aug

By

Top 10 Things for Families to Do in Jamaica

August 25, 2014 | By |

With its postcard-perfect beaches, lush jungles, and vibrant culture, it’s easy to see why so many vacationers crave the laid-back “Island Vibe” of Jamaican paradise. Jamaica offers many unique experiences for both seasoned adventurers and first-time travellers. Choose from exciting activities like zip-lining down mountainsides or rafting down jungle rivers. Alternatively, relax on the beach, find a local treasure at a street market with friends, and take advantage of the luxuries offered at your all-inclusive resort! With so many things to do and see, Jamaica has become one of the most visited vacation destinations in the world. But what does Jamaica have to offer for families looking for the ultimate vacation experience?

The answer: A lot!

At resorts such as the Beaches Negril Resort and Spa, families can enjoy fun kids clubs, adventure excursions, and beautiful beaches. Parents, why not leave the kids in the hands of a capable babysitter while you take some time to relax at the spa or check out a nightclub? Jamaica also offers multiple family-friendly cultural tours and historical sights. Best of all, all of them are doable as a day trip, no matter which Jamaican city your resort is located in.

If you have a limited amount of time to spend sightseeing, it can be a bit tricky to pick just a few excursions out of the many available. To make your selection easier, here are our top 10 family adventures to have in Jamaica.

1 – Take a Canopy Tour 

Fly through the jungle like a tropical bird with Ocho Rios’ Canopy Tour.

Canopy-tour-ocho-rios

See the sights and sounds of the canopy as your tour guide introduces you to the various species of flora and fauna unique to Jamaica and the Caribbean. Both kids and adults are sure to come away having had the time of their lives with this exhilarating and educational adventure.

2 – Try Jamaican Bobsledding

Ever heard of bobsledding in a country where temperatures rarely dip below 23 degrees? Since the movie Cool Runnings, bobsledding has become the ultimate Jamaican experience.

Bobsledding-Jamaica

If your family is ready to race down the mountain track through the jungle, head to Ocho Rios’ famous Mystic Mountain Rain Forest Adventures – a kid’s dream come true. In the meantime, why not get a preview to see what all the fuss is about?

3 – Take the Family Dog-Sledding… Without the Snow

Jamaica is full of surprises, like Chukka Caribbean Adventures. Another Ocho Rios adventure, this dog-sledding outfit is perfect for the animal lover in every kid. All of the dogs at Chukka Caribbean Adventures are rescue dogs, and are eager to lavish affection on every visitor to walk in. Families can choose from either the “Encounter” or “Experience” options. Spend time playing with the sled dogs and watching them run a course or two, or hop in a buggy and experience full-scale Jamaican dog-sledding for a few minutes. Due to the heat, expect to spend much less time in the buggy than you would in a colder climate. 

4 – Don’t Miss Dunn’s River Falls

Dunns-River-Falls-Ocho-Rios

Without a doubt Jamaica’s most popular sight, Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios attracts thousands of visitors a year. Take a tour up to see the river! There are multiple fun ways for a family to make their way up the river depending on the ages of their children. Excursions to Dunn’s River are most easily done with kids aged 6+, as most tours consist of hikes, buggy rides, or ATV adventures. Families with very young children might enjoy taking a bus tour.

5 – Raft the Jungle Rapids

Best suited for families with kids aged 9+, river rafting has always been a fantastic family adventure. Suit up in your life vests, grab a paddle, and hit the rapids! Braco Adventure Tours in Falmouth offers multiple river adventure tours, from the original fun of river rafting, to other experiences such as river boarding and kayaking. What better way to get up close and personal with Jamaica’s natural beauty?

6 – Join the Adrenaline Junkies at Rick’s Cafe

If you can’t decide between relaxing with a cold drink and hitting some adrenaline-inducing adventure sports, why not head over to Rick’s Cafe, near Negril? This popular restaurant on the coast is known world-wide for the cliff-jumping that takes place there. Perched on the edge of a 30-40 ft cliff, Rick’s draws in adrenaline junkies from around the globe. Sip an ice-cold drink and watch locals and foreigners alike leap from incredible heights to plunge into the turquoise waters below, or try your own hand at it. Teens are sure to enjoy spending an hour or three at Rick’s Cafe.

7 – Go for a Family Ride Along the Beach

The Montego Bay Shore Excursion is a dream come true for young equestrians in the making. Saddle up and take an afternoon or evening ride along the beach, enjoying the sights along the way. Watch the sun set on the ocean as your guide takes you on a tour across the bleached white sands. Could anything be more perfect?

8 – Explore the Local Culture with John Hall’s Adventure Tour

John Hall’s Adventure Tour is well known for being extremely family-friendly. Babies are more than welcome on this tour. Your guide will take you out of Montego Bay and into smaller, less-visited towns and villages around Jamaica. You’ll experience local dance, foods, and customs. Kids will enjoy playing games, learning interesting facts, and meeting local children. If your family wants to get away from the crowds and see Jamaica from a new perspective, the John Hall’s Adventure Tour is perfect for you.

9 – Swim with Dolphins and More at Dolphin Cove

Swimming-with-dolphins-Jamaica

Dolphin Cove is not to be missed, especially if there’s a marine life fan in your family! Swimming with dolphins is a bucket-list item for many travellers, and where better to finally tick it off the list than in beautiful Jamaica? Dolphins aren’t the only marine life at Ocho Rios’ Dolphin Cove. Visitors can also meet the local stingrays, feed wild sharks, snorkel with colourful tropical fish, and take a kid-friendly walk through a portion of the jungle.

10 – Rusty’s X-Cellent Adventures

Recommended primarily for teens, Rusty’s X-Cellent Adventures in Negril is an adrenaline-packed mountain bike tour that leads participants over rocky, muddy, and wild terrain for a unique look at Jamaica’s wild side. Teens are sure to have a blast. Expect to return to your resort muddy and exhilarated!

Jamaica has a lot to offer, whether you’re into adventure sports or simply want to finally take the time to relax. With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find a tour which perfectly suits your needs!

20 Jun

By

Walking Along Negril’s 7-Mile Beach

June 20, 2014 | By |

For many, arriving in Jamaica is the experience of a lifetime. Imagine waking to warm tropical beaches, cool drinks under a golden sun, long relaxing afternoons wandering the streets filled with Caribbean culture and enough adventure for even the most avid adrenaline junkie. With plenty of shops, restaurants, and outdoor activities, this Caribbean island is a tropical paradise for anyone needing to take a break from a busy schedule. Negril’s 7-Mile Beach is the most famous beach on the island, and has been rated in the Top Ten Beaches worldwide by many travel magazines. The soft white sands and thriving reefs just offshore attract thousands of tourists each year.

Negril caters to tourists far more than Ocho Rios does, but it’s far quieter than Montego Bay. The result? A perfect combination of relaxing natural getaways, beautiful resorts, and adventure sports for travellers of all ages and levels of experience. In short, Negril has a little something for everyone, and much of it is centred around this postcard-perfect beach.

No matter what your interests, Negril’s 7-Mile Beach has enough attractions to ensure that you’ll find something that suits you.

Take an invigorating walk

With so much soft white sand, coastal views, and lush rainforest just outside your hotel, why not explore down the beach? Despite its title, 7-Mile Beach is little more than four miles long, making a hike down the length of it and back a reasonable excursion if you have a few hours to spare. It’s also worth exploring in smaller segments, as the heat can sometimes be exhausting. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen! Watch a sunset you'll never forget with sand between your toes, or have the beach to yourself as the sun rises over the ocean.

Engage in some retail therapy

Shops near the all-inclusive resorts on the north end of the beach can be overpriced, offer less, and the quality of the items offered is not nearly as good as it is at the south end of 7-Mile Beach. It’s possible to find local crafts and goods almost anywhere, and there’s a tourist mall that offers the best dresses, watches, and luxury items in Negril. Don’t be afraid to shop locally. You’ll have twice the fun, as bartering with the locals can get you some fantastic deals and you’re certain to enjoy yourself in the process.

"Wasting Away" at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville

One of 7-Mile Beach’s most popular hangouts, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, boasts a wide selection of delicious international and local foods; of course, you're going to want to order a margarita!

Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville Negril Jamaica

“Margaritaville” by Huseyin Sakaoğlu (Flickr)

Right on the beach, it has its own section of snow-white sand leading to the ocean. A large water trampoline floats temptingly in the shallows, and families and young adults alike are certain to appreciate the friendly, relaxing atmosphere of this vacationer’s hotspot. I dare you to make it through your whole meal without singing a Jimmy Buffet song out loud!

Take a leap at Rick’s Cafe

This is likely the most popular restaurant on the island. Rick’s Cafe is set atop one of the cliffs that line 7-Mile Beach. It offers excellent food, a lively atmosphere, and markets itself primarily towards the younger generation of vacationers.

Rick's Cafe Negril Jamaica

“Ricks Cafe (Jamaica)” by Ras Juanjo (Flickr)

For a true taste of the Caribbean, order their world famous surf and turf; the lobster will make your mouth water! Families are also welcome, but it’s recommended for families with older kids, as there isn’t a great area for young children to swim. After all, if you visit Rick’s Cafe, you should really bring your swimsuit. It’s famous worldwide for its cliff diving. Local divers will show off their skills by leaping from the highest points of the cliff, for a small fee. Some will even climb to the tops of trees overhanging the cliffs and execute perfect dives from there. Amateurs can also dive from any point, at their own risk. It’s reasonably safe, and the slight sting upon hitting the surface is easily overlooked when compared to the exhilaration of leaping off a towering Jamaican cliff to land in the pure warm waters below. Tales of cliff jumping into the blue sea are sure to impress your snowbound friends at home in Canada!

Get wet at Kool Runnings Water Park

With multiple water slides, lazy rivers, and kiddie parks, Kool Runnings Water Park is the perfect destination for families looking for a place to get out and enjoy the warm Jamaican sun. A sure fire hit with families, if you want to win the "best parent" award with your kids for the day, you'll want to take them here! One of the only water parks in Jamaica, Kool Runnings Water Park was voted the Best Attraction by the JHTA in 2013, and for good reason! Well-maintained and affordable, locals and tourists alike enjoy fun family trips to Negril’s top attraction on 7-Mile Beach. Be sure to try out the bungee trampoline!

Fly high: Go parasailing

For a breathtaking view of the beautiful 7-Mile Beach of Negril and the fantastic Caribbean ocean, book a parasailing tour. You’ll fly up to 500 feet in the air, allowing you the best bird’s-eye view of Negril and its neighbouring towns. Parasailing is one of the most popular activities on 7-Mile Beach, and is great for families or single riders alike. Suitable for all ages, the Parasailing Professionals run rides daily. Rides start and finish at the boat, and no experience is necessary to enjoy this fun and exhilarating adventure!

Where To Stay The Night

Plage de Negril Jamaique

Beaches Negril Resort & Spa

Families will enjoy this beautiful resort at the north end of Negril’s 7-Mile Beach. With no less than three outdoor pools, there’s plenty for the kids to do! The resort also offers a full range of activities, including kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, hydrobikes, waterskiing, and more. There’s plenty to do for all ages. Kids will love the mini-club, while parents might enjoy relaxing at the spa or taking advantage of the nightly activities. Teens can make friends at the teen disco held every night, and enjoy adventure sports during the day. The Beaches Negril Resort & Spa also has its own scuba and water sports activity centre, which sets it apart from the majority of the other hotels and resorts lining 7-Mile Beach.

 

Sandals Grande Riviera Beach and Villa Golf Resort

This all-inclusive resort at the end of the beach is the perfect getaway for couples. It boasts 7 impressive pools (not including whirlpools, of which there are plenty to go around), 15 restaurants, and 9 bars. It specializes in weddings and comfortable private suites for couples. It is reserved for those 18 and older, which some honeymooners prefer. This resort has one of the best spas on the beach, with an impressive array of treatments available, ranging from mud baths and reflexology to pedicures and aromatherapy. A quiet, relaxing haven, Sandals Grande Riviera also offers complete wedding packages. Couples can choose from a wide range of colour palettes, work with their own wedding coordinator, and customize their own wedding through the Sandals Wedding Designer site online.

 

Grand Pineapple Beach Negril

The Grand Pineapple Beach Negril is the best resort around for singles looking to get away from the rush of everyday life and spend some time by themselves. It’s smaller than the other resorts, and doesn’t offer multiple pools or organized events. However, it is in a beautiful location, and has a pool, bar, restaurant, and is by all accounts a classy, well-kept resort. Sailing, snorkelling, and tennis are a few of the on-site activities offered here. The resort is located near many other attractions, and horseback rides, dive centres, shopping malls, and water skiing can be found just a short walk away.

View all the resorts in the area

 

Things You Should Know Before Visiting

– The beach is actually just over 4 miles long, though tourists have insisted on keeping the famous 7-Mile title.

  • For the best shopping, visit the south end of the beach.
  • West End Road, south of downtown Negril, offers the best local cliff jumping. Not for the faint of heart!
  • Topless sunbathing is allowed all along 7-Mile Beach. Full nudity is allowed only in certain locations, such as private coves on the West End cliffs.
  • Exploring outside of your resort or hotel is completely safe, so long as you use the same street smarts you would at home. Don’t walk alone in strange areas at night, keep in mind that drugs that are illegal back home are also illegal in Jamaica, and treat officers and locals with respect.

03 Jun

By

6 Slices of Heaven: Jamaica for the First Time Traveller

June 3, 2014 | By |

Jamaica’s vibrant culture, magnificent beaches, thriving reefs and jungles, and bustling cities make this island the perfect destination for anyone who needs to get away, relax, and live it up for a while. This Caribbean island is well known for being a stopping place for many cruises and honeymooners, so resorts, water sports, and other services catering to tourists are in abundance. Why does Jamaica have so much appeal to Canadians? Perhaps it’s the mouthwatering Caribbean cuisine. It could be the natural beauty of the island. Or that Jamaican culture varies so widely from the cultures of other countries Canadians might have visited, such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, or Mexico. If this is your first time travelling to Jamaica, choose the part of the island which best suits your needs and consider your options for what you definitely don’t want to miss and the many possibilities you haven’t thought about yet as you determine what to do in Jamaica.

Read More