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Top 5 family vacation ideas for Montego Bay, Jamaica

The whole family will love these top five vacation ideas for your next Jamaican adventure. | By Tanvi Chheda | December 15, 2022

The best family vacations are those that allow parents and kids to relax and reconnect. As the third largest island in the Caribbean, with powdery tropical beaches as well as four mountain ranges, Jamaica checks all the boxes and makes for an easy and fun family getaway. Consider:

  • Activities for all: Enjoy tennis, golf and a water park with a 280-foot (85 meters) water slide

  • Embrace nature: Ride on a bamboo raft along the Martha Brae river or hike to the peak of the Blue Mountains

  • Cultural curiosities: Get a dose of history and architecture at Devon House

For water explorers

Jamaica’s Martha Brae River, once used to transport sugar to the harbor for export, is tucked within lush rainforest and now often used as a popular river float excursion. Board a private 30-foot (9 meters) bamboo raft and glide along a 3-mile (5 kilometers) stretch. Or, take a quick swim as your captain shares folklore about the area and the legend behind Martha Brae (it’s named for an Arawak witch who supposedly changed the course of the river to prevent settlers from finding gold hidden in caves).

With a mangrove-lined shore and coral reefs below, Montego Bay Marine Park, which encompasses the majority of Montego Bay, is an excellent area for water-lovers who want to try their hand at snorkeling — a suitable excursion for all ages and abilities. Or stay above the water in a boat to spot birds such as herons, egrets, pelicans and more.

Don’t feel like venturing too far? You and your family can happily spend the day splashing around Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa’s secluded white sand beach. Try kayaking, paddleboarding or snorkeling in the warm Caribbean waters, or head to the on-site Sugar Mills Falls water park, with lagoons and waterfalls, a 280-foot water slide, three whirlpools, a designated kids' zone, daily family activities and live music.

For adventurous types

Discover what else Montego Bay has to offer by taking a day trip to see stalactites, stalagmites, limestone formations (and several species of bats) inside the otherworldly Green Grotto Caves. An easy 45-minute drive from Hilton Rose Hall, the caves are believed to be the former dwellings of Jamaica’s early inhabitants and were subsequently used by pirates as hideouts and to store rum barrels during prohibition.

Another quick one-hour drive from Hilton Rose Hall is Ocho Rios, where you'll find the stunning Dunn's River Falls, a 180-foot-high (55 meters) waterfall that continues to rebuild its terrace-like steps thanks to deposits of travertine rock. It’s an hour or so climb to the top of Dunn's River Falls, likely better with older children, but everyone can still cool down in the splash pad at the base. The falls eventually empty into the Caribbean Sea, making Dunn's River Falls an incredibly unique experience.

Take your tropical getaway to new heights and view Montego Bay from above by hiking through Jamaica's beautiful mountainous areas. This adventure requires a full-day commitment, since they are a 2- to 3-hour drive from Hilton Rose Hall. Trust us — the hike is absolutely worth the drive!

Blue Mountain Peak, the highest point on the island at 7,402 feet (2,256 meters), is the most famous hike in the area offering gorgeous vistas and bird watching as you climb from ferns and eucalyptus trees to elfin forest and above. At 14 miles (22.5 kilometers) round trip, this trek will require planning in advance, which your Hilton Rose Hall concierge will happily coordinate.

For history and culture buffs

Soak up some Jamaican history on a tour of Devon House, about a 2-hour drive from Montego Bay. Built in Kingston in 1881, the mansion is a blend of Caribbean and Georgian architecture, and features several Jamaican, English and French antiques and artifacts, which can be viewed during a 30-minute guided tour of the interior rooms.

Today, the neoclassical mansion and its manicured lawns are a Jamaican heritage site and popular attraction, with an on-site ice cream shop (try classic vanilla, mango or Devon Stout beer-based flavors!) and bakery, as well as artisan shops. Pro tip: Book a kids zone single entry ticket for access to the playground for one hour and a single scoop of Devon House I-Scream. Don't want to spoil your appetite before dinner? Don't worry — you can always stop by the ice cream station at Hilton Rose Hall once you return for the evening.

Head to the hills of Montego Bay to visit Ahhh Ras Natango Gallery & Garden, a combination of botanical garden and art gallery. This is a serene place to see work by local Caribbean artists as well as a variety of plants and native birds like the iridescent purple-blue Jamaican swallowtail hummingbird.

For a little roots, rock and reggae, visit the Bob Marley Museum, housed within the music legend’s former colonial-style home. Guests can get a glimpse into some of Bob Marley’s treasures while on a 75-minute museum tour, from his gold and platinum records to his favorite denim shirt worn on stage. Many spaces, including his bedroom and kitchen, have been preserved as they were during his life. An on-site cafe serves some of Marley’s favorite juices and dishes. Just 15 minutes away, you can also tour Tuff Gong studios, one of the largest Carribean studios and where Marley recorded much of his music, including “No Woman No Cry.”

No matter what your vacation style, Montego Bay is jam-packed with adventures. The whole family will find relaxing and reconnecting a breeze while enjoying any of the area’s enticing experiences and attractions.

Tanvi Chheda is a travel writer and family travel expert based in Los Angeles. From taking her daughter to Peru at the age of 2 to visiting several U.S. National Parks with her family, she loves seeing new places through her kids' eyes and encourages other families to do the same. A former Travel + Leisure editor, Tanvi has written for The New York Times,, Robb Report, Virtuoso Life and Ciao Bambino, among others.

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Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa

Have it all at our resort, spanning 400 tropical acres along the Caribbean coast. Spend breezy days at our water park, relaxing on the private beach, or playing our championship golf course. Watersports, a spa, and 11 places to dine await, along with excursions in Montego Bay and nightly entertainment. A family-friendly resort, children 2 and younger stay free.

Learn moreGo to Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa Hotel Website