How to Make a Jamaica Vacation Work for the Whole Family

by  Paul Eisenberg | Jan 22, 2010
Riu Ocho Rios
Riu Ocho Rios / Photo courtesy of the property

Book a worthy, self-contained Jamaica resort for your next family vacation and you’ll be a hero, right up until the moment your restless brood ventures off property and discovers there’s nothing to do nearby. 

Picking a resort that’s a hub rather than a final destination may seem sensible and obvious, but it doesn’t always emerge as a priority. And it’s not hard to see why. As the trip planner your focus is on nailing down a place with the activities and amenities your family demands. And while your family may refuse to admit it, they probably enabled your pick, testifying that they wanted a relaxing vacation, not a sightseeing one, and getting crazy giddy every time they saw the resort’s photos online.

If you’re looking at Jamaica, one of the better hubs is the all-inclusive Riu Ocho Rios. It’s got what discerning kids would describe as the bare minimum: About a gazillion square yards of gardens, a private beach, a pool with an obligatory swim-up bar, seven restaurants, kid’s activities, and water sports. But this hub also has three solid “spokes.” Dunn’s River Falls and Dolphin Cove are six miles east of the property and Shaw Park Botanical Gardens are slightly beyond those two, about eight miles east of Riu Ocho. While these spokes are conveniently clumped together, they’re each good for a full morning or afternoon. Limit yourself to one spoke a day and let the resort pick up the slack the rest of the time.

Riu Ocho rack rates average $323 per double occupancy, but you can cram up to four in a standard room. You’ll pay a child fee amounting to 25% of your total room price for each kid 2-12 and an extra person fee of about 40% of the total for each child 13 or older. Kids under two are free, however, and there’s no daily charge for wheeling in a crib or cot.

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