If you’ve been considering a family vacation to the Caribbean, take a look at Jamaica. It’s easy to get there from the U.S. There are loads of shoulder season deals, which generally run through mid-December. Plus, new waterparks, sailing classes and even bobsledding experiences make Jamaica a must-visit destination for families. Look for over-the-water suites to make their debut in Montego Bay next year, too. Take a look at eight reasons to pack your bags and head to Jamaica with the family.
1. Sailing Camps. Beaches Negril and Beaches Ocho Rios recently added four-day sailing camps for kids ages eight to 14. Children that attend the Sailing Fun camp will get a healthy dose of nautical knowledge while learning to navigate the clear Caribbean waters. They’ll also receive a completion certificate.
2. Raggs Musical Show. Last December, I checked out the new children’s program, Play at Palladium with Raggs, at the Grand Palladium Resort in the Riviera Maya. The characters are likable and their music is fun and catchy. Catch them at the Grand Palladium in Montego Bay. As a bonus, look for a new waterpark to open up at the resort later this fall.
3. Shoulder Season Deals. For travel through mid-December, take a look at Get All Right Jamaica, a website owned by Visit Jamaica (the country’s tourism bureau) for travel packages with savings of up to 50%. You’ll even find big discounts on select island attractions and restaurants, making now a great time to book a trip to Jamaica, if only for a long weekend.
4. New Flight Options. It’s easier than ever to get to Jamaica. Southwest Airlines recently launched non-stop service to Montego Bay (from Baltimore, Atlanta and Orlando). In fact, in the last 10 years, Montego Bay’s airport welcomed 30+ new airlines and tripled in size.
5. Over-the-Water Suites. These may still be on paper, but by late-2015, you could find yourself in one of five over-the-water suites at Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Island in Montego Bay (a first in the Caribbean). Look for outdoor sitting areas and hot tubs. Best of all, you won’t need to travel all the way to the Maldives for such an experience.
6. Bobsledding. Inspired by the Jamaica bobsled team (from the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary), you can experience the tropical landscape of Ocho Rios in a new way aboard a bobsled at Rainforest Adventures Jamaica. Children at least 46” tall can slide down the 1,000-meter track.
7. Ride ‘n Swim. It’s not hard to find horseback riding while on vacation, whether on a beach or in a forest. But, how about a ride through backcountry trails followed by a “swim” while horseback in the ocean. Try a two-hour horseback ride ‘n swim with Braco Stables. What better way to take in the island views.
8. Voluntourism Opportunities. Throughout Jamaica, there are a number of orphanages, schools and hospitals in need of everything from school supplies to baby clothes to children’s books. Take a look at the Jamaica section of the Together for Good website to identify local organizations in need that could benefit from donations you are able to bring to Jamaica when you vacation.
Photo Credit: Gary O. Grimm