Family Carribean Vacation – In today’s economic climate it pays to look for a bargain, but without sacrificing the amenities and the fun. For affordable family vacations in Jamaica, take a look at what the resorts of Montego Bay have to offer. With its pristine beaches kissed by balmy breezes and its clear, sparkling waters with its endless selection of water and land sports and with the wonderfully warm, welcoming smiles of everybody you meet, Montego Bay is alive with new energy and excitement for the whole family. Besides the warm silky sands and the sound of its soft lapping surf, Doctor’s Cave Beach is world famous for the magical healing power of its hidden spring which flows into the Caribbean.
This is actually where Jamaica’s tourist industry had its start, after published articles in the 1920’s claimed miracles for the waters’ curative powers, which brought osteopathic physicians and their patients from around the world to Montego Bay (although the cave itself was destroyed by a hurricane in 1932). A good bet for family fun on Doctor’s Cave Beach is the Sea Trek excursion down beneath the waves in safety helmets, which provide air and a close look at the infinitely varied sea life. And don’t miss Aguasol Theme Park, with its wide selection of water sport fun. This beach has banana boat rides, water trampolines, jet skis, wave runners, pedal boats, kayaks, snorkeling, and glass bottom boats; as well as go-kart tracks and a disco after dark.
Besides the great beach activities, family fun adventures abound around Montego Bay resorts. Tour a rum distillery with the Appleton Express, an air-conditioned bus trip from Montego Bay to the Appleton Distillery on Jamaica’s south side, which includes a tour of the distillery and a free bottle of rum for every visitor (children receive soft drinks), as well as a tour of the Ipswich Caves. Your family can also visit the Barnett Estate plantation, which offers a look back into the past when sugarcane and coconuts were the main island industries. Or, tour the Belvedere Estate, which was the first plantation to be burned during the Christmas Rebellion of 1831, and today is staffed by craftspeople in period costumes who work the blacksmith shop, clay-oven bakery, and herbal shop. Guided tours by docents in costume and horseback tours of the plantations make history come alive.
The 1831 Christmas Rebellion – which freed the slaves – was led by Samuel Sharpe, whose birthplace is on the working coffee and banana plantation Croydon in the Mountains, which also offers family tours. Some other historical sites worth a visit are the Greenwood Great House, which was home to
Elizabeth Barrett Browning and which affords a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by colonial slave-owning plantation families; and Rose Hall, which was formerly the home of Annie Palmer, the notorious White Witch (voodoo practitioner and husband-poisoner) which is famous for the ghostly apparitions in its bedrooms. And the highlight of any family Jamaica vacation is the Bob Marley Experience theater which features a documentary on the life and work of reggae’s great star, together with a collection of Marley memorabilia on display and for sale.