Jamaica’s reputation precedes itself — from sultry James Bond movie sets to fiery reggae concerts, chances are high that this island paradise lends itself to wind-in-your-hair, the-world-is-my-oyster-style fantasies. And, all in all, that fantasy might not be the first to mind for the typical parent, deep at work planning their next family-friendly vacation. But: What if we told you that Jamaica was a paradise for more than the thrill-seekers and Rasta-revelers? If you’ve never thought about things to do in Jamaica with kids, it’s time you recognized the island provides more than one flavor of vacation.
Now, to be clear: The issue is not that there’s nothing in Jamaica that kids will be excited about. There’s plenty in Jamaica that will undoubtedly excite kids — and leave you scrambling for a good excuse. Reggae concerts? “Um, maybe when you’re older.” Crocodile-spotting along the Black River? “What about something with less crocodiles?” Cliff jumping? “Oh man, would you look at that, I’m so jet-lagged. I’m going to get some sleep, you kids stay on the resort, you hear?”
Relax: There is a happy middle ground, both exciting and not too exciting. One of the best things to do in Jamaica with kids? River tubing along the Chukka White River. Climb aboard your inner tubes and push off from the riverbanks to be well on your way to fun for the whole family. Besides the breezy tropical forest scenery and the occasional (tame) rapids, you’ll be pleased to note that the water is enchantingly clear, thanks to the limestone bedrock. If the rapids don’t satiate the need for thrills, the nearby zip lines just might.
If your kids have ever expressed boredom while learning history, chances are you’re not spending enough time covering pirates. Luckily enough, Jamaica was once home to “the Wickedest City in the World” — Port Royal. From the moment the English took the city from the Spanish in 1655, it had flourished for the wrong reasons. Nefarious characters, eye-popping debauchery (your discretion on how much history to share with your child) and a small ocean’s worth of rum were the city’s mainstays: It’s been reported that a pirate would spend more plundered gold in one night than a plantation worker would earn in a year. At one point, the notorious Captain Morgan had actually been elected lieutenant governor and served for roughly 13 years. Port Royal was a city situated somewhere between modern Las Vegas and Sodom and Gomorrah.
Then, in 1692, a massive earthquake hit the island. Between Port Royal being built almost entirely on sand and subsequent tsunamis arriving, two-thirds of the city was swallowed by the sea in the blink of an eye. Much of this sinner’s den sits on the seabed to date, just under 40 feet of water. If scuba diving wasn’t enough to rule this out for most families, the special access needed from the government most certainly will. But luckily enough, multiple museums on dry land delve into this fascinating history: The National Museum of Historical Archaeology as well as the Fort Charles & Fort Charles Maritime Museum can be found in modern-day Port Royal (thankfully lacking pirates), while the Museums of History and Ethnography at the Institute of Jamaica in Kingston can be found at — you guessed it — Kingston.
If daytrip adventures aren’t what you had in mind for your family getaway, you’ll be pleased as rum punch to know that modern resorts are more than capable of captivating imaginations (and attention spans) of all ages. For example, Moon Palace Jamaica hosts an utter bevy of natural beauty and bespoke gems either on the resort or just minutes away. Take a dip and swim with friendly dolphins, try your feet at shredding waves on The FlowRider, horseback ride along Papillion Cove or opt for getting your head in the clouds with the Mystic Mountain Sky Explorer.
Before you rush ahead and book all the things to do in Jamaica with kids for your upcoming trip, stop. Deep breath. Call one of our travel agents. Not only do they have years (sometimes decades) of insider tips and recommendations, but also their professional connections to industry-leading brands can secure you plush perks and exclusive amenities. Consider that you can enjoy an extra $1,500 resort credit to Moon Palace Jamaica (which can then be used on many of the best things to do in Jamaica with kids) with the help of one of our agents, and you’ll quickly realize it’s not just your kids who are ecstatic.