When my family and I were invited to visit the newly improved Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club, an all-inclusive Jamaican property with a Sesame Street partnership, I wondered whether my then-six-, eight- and 11-year-old kids were too old for Grover. But this resort is ideal for kids (and parents) of all ages.
For starters, the kids couldn’t believe the water park: three major slides, plus a bunch of smaller ones. Their assessment? “Awesome!”
And then there was the food. Breakfast was at the all-day Bayside buffet (my husband, Jay, finally got to try ackee and saltfish, Jamaica’s national dish). For lunch, seafood-focused Neptunes had the best location on the pier. All of us enjoyed dinner at Eleanor’s — the fanciest eatery at the resort — and the Italian bistro, The Venetian, had excellent pasta and pizza. Then, each night before bed, we indulged in a kid-friendly show, including a Caribbean dance extravaganza.
Overall, the resort was big enough to not feel crowded, but quaint enough for the kids to get to know their way around. “When do we get to go back?” Wyatt asked last week. An annual trip would be perfect.
Price Range: $$$-Save up
What to do
While there’s plenty to keep busy with on the property, we took advantage of the resort’s Island Routes tour desk and had some extra excursions organized for us. First, we did the speedboat ride (with WildFun Jets and Tours) that dropped us off for a climb at the famous Dunn’s River Falls. Now, my guys are all pretty athletic, but I’d stick to the 10 and older crowd for this classic island adventure. Milla, 11, and Jay loved it.
Next, over at Dolphin Cove for the Dolphin Encounter, we had the experience of a lifetime. I had swam with dolphins in Bermuda in my 20s, but nothing compares to seeing your kids’ eyes light up when they give a dolphin a kiss. The $80 we paid for the four photos was worth it in my books!
Treat: The super-yummy self-serve ice cream stations were a hit. My kids were in heaven!
Breakfast party: I kid you not, the Sesame Street Character Breakfast was Jay’s favourite part of our trip. When The Count arrived, I thought Jay was going to faint from excitement.
Grown-up treat: Not only did we have an in-room fridge stocked with goodies for the kids, but we also had one just for Mom and Dad. (Who doesn’t love all-inclusive bottles of wine?)
Glass-bottom boat ride: Seeing ocean life this way is so great for the kids. Sponges, coral, colourful fish…though they did keep asking where SpongeBob’s house was.
A version of this article appeared in our October 2013 issue with the headline “Beaches Ocho Rios”, p. 30.