Family Vacations to Montego Bay, Jamaica

Montego Bay, Jamaica
Ride horses along the shore and through the water in Jamaica (Mark Downey/Photodisc)

Montego Bay Highlights

Beautiful beaches, lush rain forests, spectacular waterfalls, and green mountains combine to make Jamaica one of the Caribbean's most beautiful islands. Jamaica also offers exceptional golf and a number of family-oriented, all-inclusive resorts. Most tourists fly into Montego Bay, lodging there or heading west to Negril or east to Ocho Rios.

Jamaica's coast harbors some gorgeous beaches. In Montego Bay, a day at Doctor's Cave Beach on five miles of white sand offers a sample of Jamaica's specialties—great beaches, good snorkeling, and tasty cuisine. A mix of international tourists and locals frequent this beach, concessionaires rent chairs and umbrellas, and vendors sell meat patties, goat curry, and other native dishes. Here, kids can find enough new friends for a pick up game of surfside touch football. Although the water's calm at Walter Fletcher Beach, it's a party atmosphere. AquaSol Theme Park rents water toys and offers banana boat rides, kayaking, Waverunners, and even a go-cart track. Twice a week, dance to a live reggae show.

Dolphin Cove (, a dolphin experience based in Ocho Rios, has a branch at Half Moon Resort, where kids as young as four may take part in the activities. Ages 12 and older learn about the friendly creatures, help train them, and swim with them. Meet more underwater critters by snorkeling the Montego Bay Marine Park. For those who prefer not to get wet, board Mobay Undersea Tours' semi-submarine and view the schools of rainbow-colored fish from the portholes. (

The most famous plantation house on Jamaica, Rose Hall, lies eight miles east of Montego Bay. Costumed guides lead tours through the restored great house built in the late 1700s. Learn about plantation life and listen to the saga of Mistress Annee Palmer, a cruel owner who killed three husbands, beat her slaves, and was eventually murdered.

Go on an adventure from Montego Bay. Take young kids on a gentle rafting trip on the Martha Brae River. On this relaxing float, a boatman poles your 30-foot bamboo raft for three miles, passing under tree branches and wild banana plants while recounting local tales.

Chukka Blue offers many outings, but if your family's adventure wishlist combines beaches and horses, then book Chukka Blue's Horseback Ride 'n' Swim. Your mount knows the trail well and leads you through a farming village, across a river, along the beach, and into the Caribbean. The horses swim, the waves break across their backs, and you need to hold on even though you're laughing. 'Tweens and teens will like the experience. (

Tip: Often the best part of a vacation is meeting the locals. Jamaica's Meet the People program pairs visitors with a like-minded family. Contact the Jamaica Tourist Board. ('s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 26 Nov 2007 | Last Updated: 23 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Montego Bay


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