After a slightly bumping descent, the wheels of the plane touch down safely. The captain’s voice comes over the intercom to announce “Let me be the first to welcome you to Jamaica!”. Vigorous applause and cheers fill the cabin, the nosiest of which come from folks with the same rhythmic accent that will soon be ever present. You know there’s something special about a place when the expats are the loudest to cheer “hallelujah” when the plane touches down and it has nothing to do with turbulence but everything to do with the magic of the island.
Looking around at the faces of my fellow passengers, it strikes me that there are many obvious family groups of young, old, and older all sitting together, chattering excitedly. Clearly Jamaica is a fantastic place to vacation with the whole extended family. But sitting on the beach for days isn’t always the most exciting option, no matter how stunning the surroundings. So what can you do to entertain every member of your crew? Here are just 3 of the many attractions in Jamaica that everyone will enjoy!
Take a chair lift over the tree canopy high above Ocho Rios and be awed by the sights. The chair lift takes you up hundreds of feet to where you can choose from riding on a Jamaican bobsled, zip lining through the forest, sliding down the water slide.
And if that’s too strenuous, try floating in the infinity pool overlooking Ocho Rios or wandering through the Mystic Pavilion displaying facts and mementos from Jamaican Olympic and cultural history.
Smaller children are charmed by the Butterfly and Humming Bird gardens which provides a tempting assortment of flora for the birds and butterflies to feed on before they flit off to other areas in the rain forest. When you are invariably hungry after all that activity, the restaurant at Mystic Mountain provides a magnificent look of the forest and the clear Caribbean Sea below.
If you’re concerned about accessibility, the chair lift can be stopped to allow safe boarding and unloading, and you get to control the speed of the bobsleigh (as either a single or a double rider). Speed junkies will love it!
Fun fact – the chair lift, bobsleigh and zip line were all designed to have the smallest footprint in the jungle. Helicopters were used to bring in the pieces for the towers and the bobsled track was brought up by foot rather than cut through the forest.
Good Hope Estate
The Good Hope Estate is a former sugar cane plantation that encompasses 16 historical buildings, and action packed activities over the 2000-acre property. With the Ultimate Thrill Seekers package, you can ride a dune buggy or ATV through the plantation grounds, swing through the trees on the Canopy Zip line and have a splashy river float via kayak or raft!
The guides on all our adventures were friendly, fun, and loved sharing stories of their history and culture. Our ATV guide stopped in the middle of the tour to pluck an orange from the tree for us to sample. The river guide gave us a cautionary lesson in the lilting Jamaican patois – never say ‘kid’ when referring to a child because the parent may take offense to you calling it a goat! Its obvious the guides are proud of where they work and their culture.
More sedate adventures include the obstacle course, an aviary, spacious swimming pool, a tour of the Great House and particularly delightful, the Appleton Rum Tasting. The great house tour will wow even young kids; it is big, beautiful and the view is spectacular. Keep a close eye on them though as there are many stairs and the paths can be tricky.
Glistening Waters Luminous Lagoon
After sundown near the town of Falmouth you may find a radiant treat. Where the Martha Brae River meets the Caribbean Sea, is a scientific wonder and unique oceanic phenomenon – bio-luminescence! There are a handful of places in the world where you can witness the marvel after dark, but the dinoflagellates that cause this brackish lagoon to glow are some of the brightest in the world.
It’s an enchanting experience to glide in the warm water and witness the luminosity around your limbs. As I lifted my hands full of water and let it trickle down, my arms sparkled as if they were covered in millions of tiny stars. No one can resist the beauty of swimming in the shallow lagoon (3-8 feet), as water glows with their movement.
Non-swimmers can still enjoy the effect by dipping their hands over the side of the boat and watching the wake to and from the centre of the lagoon. If you’re lucky, you’ll experience a rainstorm and can watch the whole lagoon light up.
Glistening Waters also offers a full-service marina and boat charters for fishing. Those inclined to spend a full or half day on the blue can bring their catch to the restaurant afterwards and let the chefs take care of cleaning and cooking of the catch!
Author was a guest of the Jamaican Tourism Board. Opinions are her own.