Family Vacations to Negril, Jamaica

Negril, Jamaica
Search out cool sea creatures with your kids on Negril's beaches (courtesy, Jamaica Tourist Board)

Negril Family Travel Tips

Negril, on Jamaica's west end, lures visitors with calm, clear waters and seven miles of golden sand, aptly called Seven Mile Beach. More laid back than bustling Montego Bay or Ocho Rios, Negril has plenty to do. Concessionaires offer jet skiing, parasailing, snorkeling, and other water sports. Stroll along the water's edge, but be aware that in Negril family resorts intersperse with clothing-optional beaches, so on a walk your kids may see more than you'd like them to.

If you can drag your children away from the beach, several attractions are nearby. At Kool Runnings Water Park, swirl down water slides and float in a lazy river. The 300-acre Royal Palm Reserve, a ten-minute drive from Negril, affords a glimpse of Jamaica's lush interior. A boardwalk leads through the forest established to protect the Morass Royal Palm. Get a panoramic view from the look-out tower, fish for perch and tarpon in the lake, or go for a horseback ride.

Head your horses into the hills or into the surf on a guided ride at Rhodes Hall Plantation. Located five miles outside of Negril, the plantation, which dates to the 1700s, sprawls on 550 acres. The horses lead you past coconut, banana, and papaya plants, and huge strands of bamboo. Some trails lead to the estate's Crocodile Lake, home to more than 70 of the toothy critters, while other outings end with you and your steed swimming in the Caribbean. Chukka Blue Adventure Tours also offers a mountain and sea adventure, but it departs from Sandy Bay, about 45 minutes from Negril toward Montego Bay. For both outfitters, kids must be at least six years old and able to ride alone.

From Negril, you can take day trips to explore Jamaica's south coast. In about 1.5 hours you reach the mouth of the Black River, entry point to one of Jamaica's largest wetlands. On a guided pontoon boat trip, look for crocodiles hidden among the thick mangrove roots along the river banks.

In Negril, many people show up at Rick's Café, a cliffside bar, in late afternoon, for the stunning sunset view. Before that orange ball sinks below the horizon, professional cliff divers jump from the 30- to 40-foot ledges into the sea. Kids might be interested. But if you go, arrive early as it gets crowded and seating is limited. Later on in the evening, especially on weekends and during spring break, Rick's fills up with partying twenty-somethings.

Tip: Often the best part of a vacation is meeting the locals. Jamaica's Meet the People program pairs you with a like-minded family. ('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


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