Jamaica: Suggested Itinerary

Clear seas, Cocktails, Rastafarianism and Reggae

Day 1: Arrive in Montego Bay and check into a hotel for the night. There's one attraction in Montego Bay for the entire family: the multi-million-dollar Aquasol Theme Park, with its array of watersports activities, including a giant water slide. After you've checked out the attractions of this waterworld, you can order lunch at an outdoor restaurant and get in some beach time on the sands of Walter Fletcher Beach, which is part of the theme park. All this fun is right in the heart of Montego Bay.As the day wanes, book a cruise on the Calico, a gaff-rigged wooden ketch sailing from the Montego Bay waterfront.


Day 2: Plan an overnight stopover in Negril on your whirlwind tour of Jamaica. Heading east along the A2, stop at Mayfield Falls & Mineral Springs. At this working farm, the entire family can swim in an underwater cave and stand in awe at all the waterfalls. After continuing east, stop for a picnic lunch at Hurricane Park and drive into Negril for the night. If you arrive in the afternoon, you can still get in some beach time along the fabled Seven Mile Beach.


Day 3: Leave Negril on the morning, passing through the low-lying Negril Hills, going all the way to the major port city of Savanna-la-Mar. En route to Treasure Beach, the best place to break up your day is at Paradise Park, a 405-hectare working cattle ranch. The family can swim in the Sweet River here, take hikes, and even go horseback riding. After a visit and perhaps a picnic lunch, continue on the A2 through the twin towns of Belmont and Bluefields en route to Whitehouse. Here you can take a safari, exploring Black River, the second-longest river in Jamaica, and a vast marshland called the Great Morass.


Day 4: When you reach Montego Bay, check into a hotel and plan a day of R&R with your family. Most kids at this point want more hours on the beach. However, if your family wants to continue sightseeing, make it the old town of Falmouth. After a good night's sleep, you'll be ready to set out the following morning to enjoy the major highlights of Jamaica's North Coast, which is far more touristy than the South Coast you've just visited.


Days 5-6: Follow the A1 east to Ocho Rios - the most family-friendly resort in Jamaica, and you'll want to spend at least 2 nights here. On your first day, after driving along Jamaica's notorious bad roads, your family may want to dispense with driving for the rest of the day and head for the beach. Mallard's Beach in the center of Ocho Rios is the most convenient. On the morning of Day 6 you can set out to do some touring. The major attraction at Ocho Rios is the 546m Dunn's River Falls. Other family-friendly fun includes such active attractions as rafting on the White River or swimming with dolphins.


If you'd like to go for a short but scenic drive, the lush gorge Fern Gully is one of the beauty spots of the North Coast. If time remains in the day, a final attraction of interest is Coyaba Gardens and Mahoe Falls.


Day 7: Set out on the morning of Day 7 to visit historic Port Antonio in the east. Along the way, stop off at Harmony Hall. This art gallery, crafts store, and restaurant is more of interest to adults than children. Alternatively you can take in the 90-minute jitney tour of Prospect Plantation, a working plantation - featuring pimentos, allspice and limes. After arriving in Port Antonio, check into a hotel for the night.


Day 8: You can either head for the beach if you're tired of touring or take the entire family rafting on the Rio Grande, a tradition started by film actor Errol Flynn, who once lived in the area.


Day 9: Your final look at Jamaica, its capital of Kingston, is also the most difficult. It is noisy and congested and possibly dangerous, yet filled with some intriguing sights. Sights in Kingston that can easily fill up a day of sightseeing include the National Gallery, Devon House, the Hope Botanical Gardens & Zoo, and even the Bob Marley Museum. Try also to time it so that you can wander an hour or so through the Kingston Crafts Market.


Day 10: Kingston is the major transportation hub of Jamaica, and flights are possible for other destinations in the Caribbean or for your return home.