The island nation of Jamaica in the Caribbean Sea is associated most often with reggae music and jerk spices, but it is steadily gaining a reputation for family beach vacations. Hotel resorts have expanded their amenities to include activities for tots, teens and in-betweens, as well as for parents who might want a little time for themselves.
All-inclusive resorts are abundant in Jamaica, offering a way to keep the whole family active and entertained for a predetermined price. All meals, drinks and tips are usually included, as are most activities. Kids clubs, water sports, swimming pools and teen nightclubs ensure that every age group has something to engage in. Some resorts have adults-only policies, but family travel is welcome in the majority of properties.
Supervised kids camps and clubs at many Jamaican hotels operate during daytime hours, leaving adults free to relax or engage in other activities. There are at least 15 hotel resorts on the island that offer programs for children, featuring a wide range of activities like miniature golf, movies, excursions, water sports, sand castle building and sports. Some continue the fun into the evening, or will arrange private babysitters for guests.
Montego Bay, the second-largest city in Jamaica, is particularly popular with families. At the all-inclusive Holiday Inn Sunspree, kids 12 and under stay free and get to be part of a Vacation Club that operates from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., separated into age groups. The elegant Half Moon Resort is spread around its own private beach, with an equestrian center, 54 swimming pools, a natural dolphin lagoon and a 24-hour medical center. It has a separate children's village and a Hype Zone for teens that is open until 10 p.m.
The town of Negril on the west coast of the island is home to the RIU Palace Tropical Bay, a Victorian-style hotel with a kids program and extensive water sports that everyone can enjoy, including fishing, kayaking, parasailing, water skiing and snorkeling. Beaches Resorts was named by "Parents" magazine as one of the "Top Ten Beach Resorts for Families," with the property on Seven-Mile Beach in Negril standing out for its pirate-themed water park, Sesame Street characters, Liquid Nightclub for teens and a DJ academy for the whole family.
The Runaway Bay area of Jamaica has a hotel with a distinguishing feature that's hard to top: your own vacation nanny. At the Franklyn D. Resort, your children are assigned their own nanny who cares for them from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, providing meals and taking them to all of the activities on the grounds, from the private kids beach to the large variety of fun opportunities in the kids club. They also look after your suite with basic housekeeping. When it's time to meet up for family time, the resort has native Caribbean floor shows, glass bottom boat rides, beach and pool volleyball, board games and a variety of eating choices. Everything is included in the price.
- Jamaican Sun image by kushty from Fotolia.com