Family playing in a waterfall in Jamaica.
© Jamaica Tourist Board
Family playing in a waterfall in Jamaica.

Overview

Though justly famous for its beaches and its music, beautiful, brash Jamaica is so much more besides: turquoise seas and swaying palm trees, spectacular mountains and rivers, tumbling waterfalls and cactus-strewn savannah plains, vibrant towns and cities, and an ever-growing number of exciting activities make it a compelling spot for a Caribbean family holiday you'll never forget.

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Things to do with kids in Jamaica

Take a thrilling bobsleigh ride then zipline through the rainforest canopy on Mystic Mountain, reached via its Skyride cable-car. Also on the peak is a pool with a waterslide with amazing sea views, plus a hummingbird sanctuary. Packages are available with local adventure expert Island Routes (islandroutes.co.uk), who also offer catamaran cruises (some with cave-swimming), river-tubing and -rafting, horse-riding in the sea, kayaking and deep-sea fishing, among many other adventures.

Travel up the coastline east of Port Antonio, where legendary beaches include Frenchmans Cove, Dragon Bay and the Blue Lagoon.

Climb up to Reach Falls, where your kids will have a ball scrambling through the hard green cascade. If you're feeling fit, take them (with a guide) up into the rainforest afterwards.

Try the smaller, more bohemian area of Treasure Beach with its old fishing villages and abundant wildlife.

Explore Montego Bay Marine Park in a semi-submarine on an underwater tour or visit the Royal Palm Reserve, Negril's number one eco-tourism attraction, a natural habitat for 114 plant species and more than 300 animal species.

Introduce your children to reggae at any number of outdoor venues in Kingston. Visit the Bob Marley Museum to pay homage to the Hon. Robert Nesta Marley in his former Kingston home and recording studio, or plan a day-trip to Bob's birthplace and final resting place in Nine Mile village in the parish of St Ann.

Go to Hellshire beach, a quiet spot most of the week, with horse-riding and watersports, but the place to come party with Jamaican families at weekends.

Fisherman in Jamaica.© Island Routes.

Fisherman in Jamaica.

Eat

From fiery jerk meat to inventive seafood dishes and the ubiquitous rice and peas, the Jamaican diet is surprisingly varied. The Rasta preference for natural cooking means you can get good vegetarian food fairly easily. Snacks are good, too, especially the staples beef, vegetable or chicken patties, and there's a vast range of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The classic – and addictive – Jamaican breakfast is ackee fruit fried with saltfish cod, usually served with the delicious spinach-like callaloo, boiled green bananas and fried or boiled dumplings. 

Outside Kingston and the north coast resorts, international eating options are limited, which may be an issue with younger kids.

Schoolboys in Jamaica.© Island Routes.

Schoolboys in Jamaica.

When to go to Jamaica

Jamaica enjoys its best weather during our winter. Family holidays in spring and summer will be cheaper if you and your kids can take the humidity.

Rainfall is highest in October when there is also a likelihood of hurricanes (book at the very last minute if you wish to travel at this time of year).

Mystic Mountain bobsleigh, Jamaica.© Rhonda Carrier

Mystic Mountain bobsleigh, Jamaica.

Cost

The cheapest hotel deals on Jamaica, including flights, start at around £500pp/week at two- and some three-star hotels. Generally, expect family holidays to cost £550-1,200 per adult for a week.

Expect to pay from only US$100/night for B&B accommodation (some including 2 meals) and £700–£4,500/week for villas.

Destination stats

Capital cityKingston

Flying time10hrs All flight times are based on flights from UK London airports, to the capital or nearest destination airport.

Carbon footprint8.51 CO2 Estimated tonnes of CO2 produced for return flights for a family of four.

TimezoneGMT -5

CurrencyJamaican Dollar

Weather Today

29°C

84.2°F

A catamaran slide in Jamaica.© Rhonda Carrier

A catamaran slide in Jamaica.

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Sunset in Jamaica.© Jamaica Tourist Board

© Rhonda Carrier