8 Top Things to Do in Jamaica on Family Trips

Boats floating in the water near Ocho Rios in Jamaica.

Paul Thomas / EyeEm / Getty Images 

Thanks in part to the island's many all-inclusive beach resorts, Jamaica has become a popular destination for family friendly getaways. If you want experience life beyond your resort, there are still plenty of activities to keep everyone busy—try your hand at zip-lining, bobsledding (riding on a mountain coaster), cruising around on a catamaran off Negril's beautiful coast, river rafting adventures, hiking to scenic vantage points of Dunn's River Falls, and learning more about Jamaica's past at the historic Rose Hall. Most attractions are within a few hours' drive of any of the main resort areas, plus the island is only about 146 miles wide and 51 miles from north to south, though road conditions and traffic may add more time to your trip.

When it comes to all-inclusive resorts, Jamaica offers many choices and conveniences for traveling families. Beaches is the family resort brand of Sandals' all-inclusive resort company, which happens to be based in Jamaica. Families will also be able to find several value-priced all-inclusive hotels with onsite waterparks and other fun features just for kids, while other properties offer different, more luxurious perks. At the Franklyn D. Resort and Spa, for instance, each family has access to their own vacation nanny throughout their stay.

01 of 08

Head to the Nearest Beach

People relax and swim at Doctor's Cave beach

Holger Leue / Getty Images

Doctor's Cave Beach, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Phone +1 876-952-2566

Whether you're based in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, or another part of the island, you're not likely to be too far from a beautiful stretch of sand. Take your pick and bring the family for a refreshing dip in Jamaica's crystal-blue Caribbean Sea. For a real treat, head to Doctor's Cave Beach, pictured here, which offers calm waters perfect for wading and swimming (ideal for little ones as well as their grandparents) and water trampolines just offshore for those old enough to swim to them.

02 of 08

Discover Underground Beauty at Green Grotto Caves

Green Grotto Caves in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

GummyBone / Getty Images

Main Street, Discovery Bay, Jamaica
Phone +1 876-973-2841

Enter an underground labyrinth at Green Grotto Caves, located about half way between Ocho Rios and Falmouth in Discovery Bay. A popular national landmark, the site was once used by Jamaica’s Indigenous Arawak and Taino people to hold ceremonial rituals and later as hideouts for Spanish soldiers during English control in the Caribbean, enslaved Africans who escaped Jamaica's plantations during the 1700s, and 20th-century smugglers who were sneaking weapons into Cuba. Check out the intricate cave system on tours led by guides; children as young as four are welcome to attend.

03 of 08

Go River Rafting on the Martha Brae

Martha Brae River rafting
Jamaica Tourist Board
F89V+68J, Martha Brae, Jamaica
Phone +1 876-940-7018

For an unforgettable only-in-Jamaica type of experience 40 minutes from Montego Bay, take the family rafting down the Martha Brae River. Jamaica Rafting offers packages including round-trip transportation from your resort, a 75-minute guided rafting adventure on a 30-foot bamboo raft down the Martha Brae River, a trip to Miss Martha’s Herb Garden to learn about the medicinal purposes of herbs that can be found in the area, and the chance to shop for locally made arts, crafts, and souvenirs at the Rafter’s Village.

04 of 08

Try Bobsledding at Mystic Mountain Rainforest Adventures

Two people racing down the mountain on a bobsled in Jamaica

Rainforest Adventure

Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Phone +1 876-618-1553

"Feel the Rhythm, Feel the Rhyme, Get on Up, It's Bobsled Time!" Whether or not you recognize the line from Cool Runnings, plan to spend several hours at Mystic Mountain Rainforest Adventures, located near Ocho Rios along the northern coast.

Children of all ages will be eager to take a ride on the bobsled, a type of mountain coaster that is becoming more popular at ski resorts throughout North America. Younger kids can even hop in and enjoy the ride on their own bobsled, which comes equipped with a special brake. The ride takes you on a beautiful trip through lush rainforests and best of all, guests can ride as many times as they like.

Other fun things to do at Mystic Mountain Rainforest Adventures include the SkyExplorer lift, which takes guests up and down the mountain, a waterslide, a beautiful butterfly garden, and a small museum that spotlights Jamaica's famous athletes—including the bobsled team from the film Cool Runnings—and gives a quick introduction of the country's history. For more adrenaline-seeking thrills, families can tack on a zip-line package.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Venture Out to Dunn's River Falls

Waterfalls at Dunn's River in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Pauws99 / Getty Images 

Main St, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Phone +1 876-974-4767

One of the best-known attractions in all of Jamaica is Dunn's River Falls, which makes an especially fun outing, as visitors can literally climb up the waterfall. Be aware that it's typically a popular and crowded spot, where people climb the falls in groups as a human chain (each group is led by a guide). Be sure to wear your swimsuits and bring your water shoes along for this sure-to-be-memorable adventure. Most resorts on the island offer day trips to Dunn's River Falls, which is located near Ocho Rios along the north coast, about an hour's drive west of Montego Bay.

06 of 08

Get to Know Negril

Jamaica, Westmoreland Parish, Negril beach

Du Boisberranger Jean / hemis.fr / Getty Images

Negril, Jamaica

Even if you're not staying in the area, consider taking a day trip to Negril, a beautiful area located on the western tip of Jamaica that's home to a famous 7-mile beach. It's also lined by an eclectic assortment of restaurants and small (and often family-friendly) hotel and resort properties. Negril also sports a very different cliffside area where you'll find a number of resorts as well as Rick's Cafe, where area locals and tourists are known to jump and dive off the cliffs into the beautiful blue water below.

Families who want to stay in Negril can choose from two Beaches all-inclusive family resorts, each of which have outstanding features for kids. Negril also has some great opportunities for staying at smaller non-all inclusive properties.

If you're just passing through and hoping to get a taste of Negril, opt to get picked up at your resort by the Island Routes catamaran cruise tour company for a relaxing half-day boat trip that includes lunch, snorkeling, and the chance to indulge your inner child and play on a water trampoline.

07 of 08

Learn About the Island's Dark Past at Rose Hall

Rose Hall, Jamaica, Caribbean, West Indies

Robert Harding / Getty Images

Rose Hall Road, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Phone +1 876-953-2323

Rose Hall, located along Jamaica's north coast near Montego Bay, is one of the best examples on the island of a restored "Great House," or in this case, one of the mansions that presided over the plantations several centuries ago. Tours are offered and provide a glimpse into this part of the Caribbean's darker history, which involved slavery and a particularly terrible plantation owner's wife, whose cruelty made her known then and now as the White Witch of Rose Hall.

08 of 08

Get Outdoors with Chukka Caribbean Adventures

Full length of young man on zip line

Jordane St-Hilaire Dupuis / EyeEm / Getty Images

Unit #2, Freeport Shopping Centre, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Phone +1 876-619-1441

Chukka Caribbean Adventures offers several types of excursions, including zip-lining in the rainforest canopy (safe for children as young as 6 to do themselves), ATV safaris, dune buggy rides, horseback riding on the beach, river tubing, and kayaking, among other popular family-friendly adventure activities. There's something for everyone, with outposts in near Montego Bay, Negril, Falmouth, and Ocho Rios.

The company is perhaps best known for its eco-adventure outpost at Good Hope Estate, a 2,000-acre plot of land that was once a plantation and is now home to several wading pools, a 50-foot waterfall with a plunge pool, and a smattering of Caribbean-style bars and restaurants.

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8 Top Things to Do in Jamaica on Family Trips