Mexico and the Caribbean

Are We There Yet? 9 Fun Family Resorts in Jamaica

From all-inclusives on the beach to sprawling hotels with water parks, you'll find a boatload of fun at these family resorts in Jamaica.

Eyeing the breakfast buffet at an all-inclusive resort on the beach, my curious 7-year-old niece is intrigued with the Jamaican staple called saltfish and ackee. Announcing that it ‘looks a lot like scrambled eggs’, she agreed to give it a try after the affable Chef explained that although the island’s national dish, made with the yellow part of the ackee fruit, does look like scrambled eggs , it’s uniquely Jamaican. A few forkfuls later and the creamy ackee sautéed with peppers, onions and flaked codfish got the thumbs up.

Known as the birthplace of reggae and adored for year-round sunshine and white sandy beaches, Jamaica dishes up a hearty helping of hospitality. For a vacation worth its sea salt, savor the many ‘try it, you’ll like it’ moments at these family-friendly resorts.

Come for the Beach, Stay for the Food

On the north coast near the village of Lucea, Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort and Spa is a gigantic all-inclusive that despite its size- 516 rooms – is easy to navigate. A 30-minute drive from the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay and next to the Grand Palladium, Lady Hamilton is vacation gold with tennis courts, golf at the Johnny Walker Championship Course and a quartet of pools. Kick it up a notch at the water park, treat the brood to rubs and scrubs in the spa, learn how to windsurf and busta move in the Boogie Woogie Disco.

Not for the faint-of-appetite, 10 restaurants, 17 bars and room service cater to the pickiest of eaters. For those with a yen for Japanese fare, chefs at Sumptuori put on quite a show as they slice and dice table-side. For an island vibe, rasta pasta at Xaymaica is the real deal, jazzed up with scotch bonnet peppers, and for early rise and shiners saltfish and ackee is the star attraction at the breakfast buffet. Instagram-cool, Raggs & Friends are colorful canine characters that roam the resort posing for snaps. For tiny tots, Baby Club makes nap time fun, Mini Club entertains kids up to 12 years old, and at the Black and White Teen Club social butterflies can play air hockey and video games with their newfound BFF’s.

Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa

Montego Bay
7.6 Good (1630 reviews)

Crown Jewel on the Beach

A fast 15 minutes from the airport, you’ll get from the baggage carousel to the beach before you hear ‘are we there yet’? At the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa, the biggest decisions you’ll make are when to book a massage, what to eat for dinner and how many scoops do a sundae justice at the Sugar Cane Ice Cream Parlor. The suites and villas are spacious with smart add-ons in the larger ones like washers, dryers and butlers who do just about everything, including unpacking the suitcases. Next up is a beeline to the big beach where kayaking, catamaran sails and stand-up paddle boarding come with all-inclusive stays.

At the Kids Club, landlubbers will enjoy the scavenger hunts and the Patois language classes are “irie, mon”. At the Teen Lounge, foosball games are lively, while grown-ups take five with an icy Red Stripe at the Rum Runner Bar. When relaxation needs that extra nudge, the Grande Spa is, indeed, grand. It is housed a ginormous 30,000-square-foot villa, with 14 treatment rooms, saunas, soaking pools and the only Himalayan salt lounge on the island. Snag a spot on a heated bench and you’ll feel like you’re in the ocean without getting wet. Althou

Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort And Spa

Top rated
Montego Bay
9.2 Excellent (1140 reviews)

Seashells, Snapshots and the Big Splash on Runaway Bay

Whether you’re with toddlers or teens, or both, Jewel Lagoon Water Park at the Jewel Runaway Bay Beach Resort ticks all the boxes with a zero-entry beach lagoon, splash pools, family raft ride, snow cone hut, speed slide and a large oceanfront sundeck. Inside the park, Blue Bayou Grill is convenient for sliders and salty dogs. For a shareable thin-crust pizza, keep the swimsuits on at the casual Court Jesters; one of 7 restaurants at the all-inclusive. For snacks by the water’s edge, go for the jerk chicken and dumplings, called Festivals, that mop up the sauce at Two Palms Jerk Hut.

For splash time outside of the water park, a trio of pools are never crowded. The Kids and Teen Camp go beyond the predictable with horse and carriage rides, magic shows and reggae dance lessons. A big plus for parents, nannies can be arranged so Mom and Dad can sneak away to Platinum for a lobster dinner or cocktails at Jaspers Chillin’ Pool and Piano Bar.

Jewel Runaway Bay Beach Resort & Waterpark

Top rated
Runaway Bay
9.0 Excellent (322 reviews)

Island Classic with a Storied Past

Eight miles west of Montego Bay, Round Hill Hotel and Villas are regal in rooms designed by part-owner Ralph Lauren. Where Prince Harry and his entourage have hung their hats, the hotel that opened in 1953 has hosted Beyoncé, Sir Paul McCartney, spy novel writer Ian Fleming and John F. Kennedy, who penned the “ask not what you can do for your country” inauguration address poolside in Villa 25. Add a pinch of spice to the hotels many history lessons and keep Friday open for the Jamaican Night Buffet where red pea soup, coco bread and jerk chicken are worthy of second helpings.

Working off those buffet calories is a cinch on a kayak, pedal boat and at the 7-Up Club where kids up to 7 years old shoot hoops, play baseball and catch a retro vibe with ‘hide and seek’ and hopscotch games. For the younger set, The Pineapple Kids Club is action-packed with water sports and reggae lessons. As a nod to the island’s British history, traditional Afternoon Tea is served with cucumber sandwiches artsy without the crusts. For family bonding time, glass bottom boat rides around Round Hill Bay depart every morning with guides delighted to share the underwater sights and secrets of the resort.

Round Hill Hotel and Villas

Top rated
Montego Bay
9.0 Excellent (199 reviews)

Red Carpet Welcome for Kids at this Beachfront Resort

Get your camera ready at the Sunscape Splash Montego Bay where kids are treated to a celebrity check-in on red carpeted stairs. Ten minutes from the ‘Hip Strip’ in Montego Bay, this toes-in-the-sand all-inclusive is surrounded by the Montego Bay Marine Park and fronts a beach nearly 2,000 feet long. A family affair with connecting rooms available, it’s a mixed bag of fun in the sun like hanging out at the Pirate’s Paradise Waterpark, snorkeling, parasailing and splashing around in 5 pools, one just for kids. Noshing and nibbling is a breeze at 6 restaurants, like the Seaside Grille where the local catch comes with a side of ocean views.

At one of the largest supervised kids clubs in Montego Bay, Explorer’s Club for kids 3-12 years old is open until 9 p.m. giving mom and dad a good chunk of time for date night. With a parental green light, campouts in tents or on the beach are offered weekly. At the Core Zone Teens Club, movies on the beach and karaoke contests bring in a crowd.

Sunscape Splash Montego Bay

Montego Bay
7.9 Good (969 reviews)

Sun, Sea and Steel Drums at This North Coast All-Inclusive

A short hop from the airport, Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall sits on one of the prettiest beaches on the north coast. All-inclusive with 7 restaurants, the resort is chockablock with activities that go beyond relaxing on a seaside sun lounger although there are plenty of those. Think out-of-the-box and catch a wave on a boogie board, explore down under with snorkel gear, get your Zen on in a beachfront yoga session and torch those pesky buffet calories in a water spinning class.

Fun for foodies of all ages, the chefs lead cooking demos, there’s a children’s menu at the FuZion Asian Grill and the jerk chicken wings at Barefoot JerkZ are crowd-pleasers. For the indecisive, ChoiceZ honors its name with plenty of buffet choices and to ward off the late night munchies, 24-hour room service delivery is fast. Under the watchful eyes of a cheerful staff, KidZ Club and Teen Club shake it up with pajama parties and dance lessons. Nix the early bedtimes and head instead to the beach for steel drum concerts and acrobatic shows on the sand.

Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall

Top rated
Montego Bay
8.8 Excellent (10 reviews)

Thrills and Chills at the Sugar Mills Water Park

Flanked by the mountains on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other, Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa has fun in the water written all over it. Fronting a white sandy beach on the north coast, the all-inclusive lays claim to one of the biggest water parks in the Caribbean. Outfitted with a 280-foot waterslide, Sugar Mills Falls Water Park keeps the theme with waterfalls, lagoons, lazy river and a trio of pools. Catnip for active kids, the jungle garden has a rope and wood suspension bridge.

For family bonding time, rubs just for kids like the Reggae Relief Massage and the Tropical Citrus Body Scrub are on the menu at the Radiant Spa. For an afternoon away from the kids, the resort offers access to 54 combined holes at the onsite Cinnamon Hill Golf Course as well as the nearby White Witch and Half Moon courses. Tots and tweens up to 12 years old are welcome at the Kid’s Klub while the older set chill in the Teen Zone. If tennis is on the vacation bucket list, you’re in business on 6 courts. A perk for families, ask the concierge to arrange shuttle service to the nearby shopping mall and attractions like the Rose Hall Great House, where tales of the White Witch are important chapters in the island’s history.

Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa

Top rated
Montego Bay
8.6 Excellent (3996 reviews)

A Dose of Vitamin Sea at This Montego Bay Resort

For all-inclusive on the beach, Royalton White Sands Resort ups the ante with its own private island and a pirate-themed Splash Park with sprays and spritzes guaranteed to keep the kids in the water all day. On steep slides and others just a few feet above the ground, it’s a natural high for kids of all ages and the adults who travel with them. At the adjacent Royalton Blue Waters, the lazy river that meanders through both resorts is a super cool take on soaking up the rays. There’s plenty of Vitamin Sea with unlimited snorkeling and kayaking, as well as introductory lessons in the pool for wannabee scuba divers.

While hungry kids might go for the Italian comfort food at Grazie Trattoria or the children’s buffet at Gourmet Marche, junior foodies will get a kick out of the Indian dishes at Taj. At the Hangout Teens Club, ratchet up the fun meter with volleyball on the beach and musical theater at night. For the younger set, Clubhouse Kids Club is where the resort’s mascot bunnies Max & Ruby hang out posing for snaps.

Royalton White Sands Resort & Spa - All Inclusive

Montego Bay
7.7 Good (1952 reviews)

Stay at 1, Play at 2 in Montego Bay

A seaside all-inclusive, Royalton Blue Waters Montego Bay is adjacent to its sibling resort Royalton White Sands. Those bunking at the more upscale Blue Waters can take advantage of the ‘stay at 1, play at 2’which means more variety for the vacation buck. There’s a focus on fitness at both resorts in tennis classes for kids, beach boot camp and spinning classes.

The fine art of relaxation is easy like Sunday morning in sunrise yoga classes and if that isn’t enough to lower the blood pressure, book a Royal Massage at the Royal Spa where the four-hand rubdown performed by a pair of therapists is sublime. Sipping and snacking is varied in 11 restaurants from Hunters Steakhouse and the Jerk Hut to Scoops Gelato and Caffe Lounge for Blue Mountain coffee brewed from beans grown in the mountains. Connoisseurs of the shaken and stirred won’t be disappointed at the Martini Bar that stays open until 1 am. Not-to-be-missed, White Party every Monday night is a beach blowout with high-energy light shows, music and dancing.

Royalton Blue Waters Montego Bay

8.0 Very good (14 reviews)