This guest post is written by Charmaine, she loves exploring her home country Jamaica and sharing her new finds with others, especially when she finds those hidden gems. You can learn more about Jamaica on her blog.
Planning a family vacation can be a nightmare since you have so many people to satisfy. Fortunately, Ocho Rios has a myriad of family friendly activities that appeal to all age groups. And that’s so important as no one wants to hear those dreaded words on vacation “Mom/Dad, I’m bored”.
Hopefully my list of things to do in Ocho Rios with kids will enable you to plan a family vacation that is educational, fun-filled and awe-inspiring.
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The best things to do in Ocho Rios with kids
On the map you can find 7 family friendly activities in Ocho Rios
- Mystic Mountain
- The Turtle River Falls and Gardens
- Dunns River Falls
- Konoko Falls and Gardens
- Seville Great House
- Yaaman Adventure Park
- Green Grotto Caves
1. Mystic Mountain
This attraction was inspired by the famous Jamaican Bobsled team that made their debut in the 1988 winter Olympics. Mystic Mountain not only has a bobsled ride but also a zip line and Sky Explorer. Children under 5 years enter free of charge and can make use of the sky explorer, pool and water-slide.
Children over 5 years (as long as they stand over 46 inches/117cm) can go bobsledding and zip lining. An added bonus of this attraction is the breath taking views of the town of Ocho Rios.
There is also an educational pavilion where your child can learn about the different species of hummingbirds in Jamaica, the 2nd smallest bird in the world and Jamaica’s national bird.
My personal favorite and something that should keep the adults in the group entertained is the History of Jamaica pavilion located by the exit of the Sky Explorer which provides a mini history course on Jamaica.
You can learn about our pirate past, our sugar plantation era, our music and our athletes. Also have a look at the bobsledding section, which explains the story that inspired the attraction.
2. The Turtle River Falls and Gardens
This attraction is one of Ocho Rios’s best kept secrets. While most people have heard of Dunns River Falls (read more below), I am pretty sure few have heard of the Turtle River Falls and Gardens. This 15-acre tropical garden consists of over 14 cascading waterfalls.
In my opinion it is more suitable than Dunn’s River Falls if you have children. You will pretty much have the place to yourself and you will avoid the crowds Dunns River Falls attract. Also, there are tiny waterfall pools where your children can play.
But it’s not all play. Your young ones can learn about the flora and fauna of Jamaica. Or they can wonder at the fish in the Japanese Kai Pond. An added bonus is the walk in the aviary, where you get to feed the birds. This is a great opportunity for some amazing photos!
3. Dunns River Falls
Dunns River Falls is one of the most scenic waterfalls in Jamaica. If you are traveling with kids over a wide age range, the older children can climb the falls while the younger ones can play in the water splash park, which was recently introduced at the site. It is a relatively small play area, but when I passed it, the children were having so much fun!
It can get very crowded so if you are traveling with kids try and get there early. The crowds start to arrive at around 9:30 am, so if you can get there when it opens at 8:30 am, that would be ideal.
Additionally, avoid going to Dunns River Falls on cruise ship days. Dunns River Falls is in close proximity to Mystic Mountain and Dolphin cove, so these tours can be easily combined for a full day of fun with the whole family.
4. Konoko Falls and Gardens
Konoko falls is another hidden gem. These waterfalls are located around 5 minutes from the resort town of Ocho Rios. While not as big as Dunns River Falls, they are just as picturesque. You can find lots of small pools where the children can splash around and play.
There is a museum on the premises that provides information about Jamaica’s history from the Taino Indians to the inhabitants of today.
There is also a mini zoo where the children can learn about the animal life indigenous to Jamaica. An added bonus is the interactive aviary where children can feed the birds.
5. Seville Great House
The proliferation of great houses on the island is a reflection of Jamaica’s colonial past. The Seville Great House is off the beaten track and located about 20 minutes from the town of Ocho Rios.
I always encourage visitors to learn a bit about the country they are visiting as it enriches your travel experience. If you have older children, this is a great opportunity for them to learn a bit about the history of Jamaica.
The site is also one of Jamaica’s premier archaeological sites, The on-site museum displays artifacts from the era of the Tainos, Africans and Europeans.
6. Yaaman Adventure Park
This attraction is located about 15 minutes from Ocho Rios near Sandal Ochi hotel. An adventure park is always a great way to keep the children entertained for a day!
This one provides mud buggies or ATV, Segway rides, camel rides, Jitney tours, culinary tours and a bird aviary.
7. Green Grotto Caves
Located around 35 minutes outside the town of Ocho Rios are the Green Grotto Caves. This tour will take you on a journey of Jamaica’s history from the Tainos (the first inhabitants of Jamaica) to the present day.
Your children will not only learn about Jamaica’s history, but also about the caves themselves and how this natural phenomenon evolved. This attraction is suitable for kids 4 years and older.
Traveling with a baby? Also check out this post what to pack for baby’s first trip!
The best places to eat in Ocho Rios with kids
You will find that most of the hotels in Ocho Rios are all-inclusive hotels and food is included in the price of the hotel.
I would recommend this to traveling families, since these hotels are used to dealing with children and have a lot of child friendly foods.
If you plan to really experience Ocho Rios, there are a variety of kid-friendly restaurants. The first on our list is Scotchies. It is located around 10 minutes from Ocho Rios and is a good place to stop if you want to experience Jamaican food.
If you want to stop for snacks, visit the Eight River Plaza in Ocho Rios. There you will find Juici Restaurant, a popular Jamaican franchise that sells patties.
Patties are a traditional Jamaican snack and consist of a crispy crust with meat fillings. The most popular filling is beef, but other options such as chicken, lobster, shrimp, and a vegetarian option are available. There are also quite a few fast food outlets in the plaza if you need a back-up plan!
Devon House Ice Cream or Scoops
If you are traveling on a hot day, why not take your children out for some Jamaican ice cream. Devon House Ice Cream store in Kingston has been rated by National Geographic traveler one of the top 10 spots in the world to have ice cream. They raved about the exotic flavors that are available, such as Sour sop, Guava, Mango, Coconut and Devon stout.
If you can’t make the trek to Kingston try their location in Ocho Rios. The trading name for their store in Ocho Rios is Scoops and it is located in the Island Village shopping Center.
Main Street in Ochos Rios
If you drive along Main Street in Ocho Rios there are also a lot of restaurants. Most of the restaurants are located at the bottom part of Main Street near the Turtle Tower Beach apartments.
The best places to stay in Ocho Rios with kids
Ocho Rios is one of the main resort towns in Jamaica. Runaway Bay is around 20 minutes from Ocho Rios so we have added a few hotels located here on our list.
Jewels Runaway Bay
Jewels Runaway Bay is one of the three properties managed under the Jewel brand. There is a Jewels Resort in Ocho Rios, but it is for adults only.
However, there are also two locations in Runaway Bay. Jewels Runaway Bay is the more family friendly option.
The main draw of this hotel is the lagoon water park they have on premises. There are also three pools on the property, including a sunken treasure infinity pool. If there are any grownups that are golf fanatics Jewels has an affiliated golf course nearby.
Beaches Ocho Rios
Beaches Ocho Rios is located in Boscobel which is around 15 minutes outside of Ocho Rios. This family friendly hotel is geared towards providing the perfect family holiday. Beaches seem to really make an effort to entertain children of all ages.
For the older children there is an Xbox play lounge, a Pirates Island water park as well as nightly entertainment. The resort also offers water sports, beach volleyball, basketball and tennis.
For the younger children there is a kid’s camp with a certified nanny on duty. A nice touch is the resorts partnership with Sesame Street where children can play every day with their friendly cast of characters.
Franklyn D. Resort
Franklyn D. Resort, also located in Runaway Bay, is around 20 minutes from the town of Ocho Rios. This family oriented resort has a number of programs geared toward kids.
For younger kids there is a fully supervised Kiddie center. Some activities geared towards younger kids are tie and dye lessons, a children’s playground, educational computer games, shell collecting and more.
For the older kids they have their own hangout spot with Xbox 360’s, Nintendo Wii’s and a games room with pool and ping pong. For the more adventurous teen there is a Teen Scuba Diving adventure.
Other activities geared towards older kids are kayak races, bike tours, a teen disco, reggae classes basketball and much more!
The best way to get around in Ocho Rios with kids
When traveling in Jamaica you will find that transportation costs can eat up a significant portion of your budget. Fortunately, all attractions on our list can be reached at a reasonable cost.
Additionally, Ocho Rios is a pretty compact town and most of the attractions are in close proximity to each other. If you need transportation your hotel can usually organize this for you. Keep in mind that transportation costs vary quite a bit so don’t be afraid to bargain, especially if you have a large group.
If you want to travel between various towns in Jamaica, I would recommend you travel via the Knutsford Express bus service.
A family trip to Ocho Rios: in conclusion
The diverse number of family friendly activities makes Ocho Rios the ideal place for planning a family vacation and will ensure that you create some priceless memories. There is a reason people return to Jamaica year after year!