I am passionate about the benefits of travelling with children – for the children and for the parents – but unlike many families, ‘family travel’ for me does not simply involve picking a family-friendly resort with a great kids club. I am convinced that exposing my daughter to new and interesting sights, sounds and smells is great for learning and brain development. I want her to have a wider perspective on the world than just a routine of school and play dates.
If I were to go on vacation in Jamaica, Montego Bay is the obvious starting point – this is the cruise line terminal and the destination of international flights. It is also known for its duty free shopping and of course beautiful weather and beaches. After all Christopher Columbus named this “el Golfo de Buen Tiempo” or Fair Weather Bay when he first sailed into the bay in 1494.
But what would I do in Montego Bay with kids in tow? For a start, Montego Bay is a bustling Jamaican city and I’d want to get in touch with the real island culture, the way Jamaican’s live. I want my daughter to be aware of other cultures, languages, climates and religions.
I think a great way to do this would be to join the “Meet the People” program organised by the Jamaica Tourist Board. Through this it is possible to meet local people, including visiting schools, playing football and eating with a family in their home.
Doctor’s Cave Beach
Lovely Doctor’s Cave beach is one of the most well-known beaches in Jamaica and its sheltered, turquoise sea is a big drawcard for families. There are facilities here, including snorkel and scuba gear rental.
Reggae Catamaran Cruise
Or how about a family cruise to see Jamaica from the sparkling waters of the Caribbean Sea? Tour operator Island Routes run Reggae Catamaran Cruises that sound lots of fun and include snorkelling, waterslides and huge water trampolines!
Black River Safari
The South Coast of Jamaica is the most unspoilt on the island and the Black River is a very special habitat for plants and animals. Island Routes runs swamp safaris to Black River and YS Falls.
Eating Out in Montego Bay
If you can get the right balance, eating out with your kids while on vacation can be fun for everyone, and even a little romantic for Mom and Dad. Two recommendations are Scotchies Restaurant, for its authentic jerked chicken in an atmospheric setting where you can watch the meat being grilled over a wood fire. Then there is Glistening Waters, a restaurant and marina that is also fantastic for families, for the glowing light released by micro-organisms in the sea at sunset.
Where to Stay in Montego Bay
Montego Bay boasts a wide range of accommodation, from Montego Bay hotels and resorts to self-catering apartments, all near the palm-fringed beaches of Jamaica’s second city.