Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Family Vacation with Older Kids

Kim Orlando Avatar

Finding things to do in Jamaica that work as well for parents as they do for college students and young adult children can be a challenge. Traveling with a freshly minted college grad, a college junior and soon-to-be college freshman, this SheBuysTravel got in touch with her adventurous side. Sort of.

Things to do in Jamaica with college students and young adult kids.
Tubing in Jamaica with my college students and young adult. Photo credit: Kim Orlando / SheBuysTravel

4 Favorite Things to Do in Jamaica

Traveling with young adult children is different from traveling with young children. For one thing, they can drink. In Jamaica, where the drinking age is 18 and the all-inclusive resorts include alcoholic drinks in their package, drinking is a big part of a family vacation with young adults. For another thing, they choose the things they want to do. With my kids, that means the family is headed for some adventure!

Even with me, a slightly cautious mom in tow, we found enough adventure to keep the kids happy and keep me from screaming. Or at least not screaming too much. These were our 4 favorite things to do in Jamaica.

Read More: What’s the Secret to Planning a Family Vacation with College Students and Young Adults?

1. Bobsledding

Our driver, courtesy of Visit Jamaica, chauffeured us to Mystic Mountain, famous for its bobsled track. Who doesn’t love the movie “Cool Runnings” about the 1988 Olympic hopes of four Jamaicans? We figured we couldn’t be in Jamaica without taking a bobsled ride! We headed to Mystic Mountain, where that manager told us: “Don’t tell a Jamaican they can’t do something.” You can read all about the ill-fated bobsledders’ journey and more history as you meander the line to get to your bobsled. Each bobsled holds one rider but if you don’t feel like “driving” you can hook your bobsled to another and just enjoy the ride. The kids drove; I went along for the ride. We all loved it.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Don’t go to Mystic Mountain on Tuesday or Wednesday, if you can help it. The cruise ships arrive on those days and the line can be very long. But if the choice is between going on a Tuesday or Wednesday or not going at all, go, but go early! It’s too much fun to miss just because the lines are long and there are plenty of other things to do.

2. Ziplining

Next stop on our tour was Chukka Caribbean Adventures. Our driver dropped us off, but Chukksa offers transportation from various points in Jamaica. (Check the website to figure out how to get there.)

Family ziplining with young adult kids on Jamaica.
My younger, college-age son ziplining. Photo credit: Kim Orlando / SheBuysTravel

I’ve never loved heights, but I have been known to allow myself to be pressured into ziplining. I don’t want to be left out. This was a tough decision for me because there were so many other fun options at Chukka: river tubing, ATVs, kayaking, horseback riding and more.

My issue with ziplining is that I don’t trust myself to use the hand-braking system. On this outing, I opted for the auto braking option so I wouldn’t have to think about it. My daughter, on the other hand, took a running start from the edge of the platform and sailed over the trees. Our guides, Dr. P and Tamika, made sure we were safe and laughing the whole time.

Tubing is a great activity for parents and young adult kids on Jamaica.
Tubing and singing down the river. Photo credit: Kim Orlando / SheBuysTravel

3. Tubing

After ziplining, we moved on to tubing at Chukka. Our guide Erlando had us all singing (I don’t sing and I was singing) on our tubing adventure. Tethered together, we floated down a calm and clean fresh water river, ending with a swim in the warm water.

This was a highlight for me. We were tethered together, floating down a calm and clean fresh water river…singing. The metaphor of our family tethered together as our children grow into adulthood was not lost on me. I only wish it had lasted longer.

I found it challenging to organize our time at Chukka because we arrived late-ish (2pm) and were unaware that the placed closed activities at 3:30ish. The “ish” of the laid-back Jamaican world worked in our favor. We had time for both the zipline and the tubing!

SheBuysTravel Tip: If you want to get the most bang for your buck, arrive before noon so you can take advantage of all of the activities. Bring a towel and water shoes and eat lunch there. The food is good.

Read More: Hotel Review: All-inclusive Royalton Negril, Jamaica 

Things to do in Jamaica - Jerk Chicken Recipe
Photo credit: Kim Orlando

4. Cook together

I always say that a recipe is the best souvenir. My kids like to cook and I sorta like it. We had a cooking lesson at the jerk chicken shack at Moon Palace that was fun and tasty. It took only a few minutes, but the memory will give back forever. Here is the recipe by Chef Hockeno Clarke at Moon Palace:

Recipe for Jerk Marination

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 oz. chopped scallion
  • 1 oz. ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 oz. fresh thyme
  • 1 tbs. pimento seeds
  • 4 scotch bonnet peppers
  • 6 oz. soy sauce
  • 4 oz. water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. In a food processor add all the ingredients: onions, scallions, thyme, ginger, garlic, pimento, scotch bonnet, soy sauce, and water.
  2. Taste with salt and black pepper.
  3. Marinate the chicken.
  4. Place in the refrigerator for over night.
  5. Ignite your charcoal grill and close it to get a temperature of 350 to 400 degrees.
  6. Cook over sweet wood for approximately 30 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

Every time we eat jerk chicken, we will remember our trip to Jamaica together. I also recently found a jerk chicken truck in New York City that I will use to conjure smiles and memories whenever possible.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Buying the recipe ingredients in Jamaica adds to the whole experience. A trip to the grocery store counts as a cultural excursion.

Kim Orlando Avatar
Kim Orlando, founder of SheBuysTravel, is a lifelong traveler, an entrepreneur and a sought-after social media and marketing consultant. She has made hundreds of appearances on TV and in digital and print media, sharing advice and tips built on decades of travel experiences. Hailing from the hills of Kentucky and taking her story to New York, Los Angeles, and beyond, Kim built an online platform, the original TravelingMom, that has reached millions of moms and empowered them to explore the world with their families. Today, TravelingMom has evolved into SheBuysTravel. Kim has been featured on “News Nation,” “Today,” “Good Morning America” and on numerous satellite media tours. She has contributed travel guidance to outlets including The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and more. (Read more about Kim’s media appearances here) Her travel mantra is simple: All travel counts. “You don’t have to go far. Leaving your home is travel,” Kim says. “Wherever you go, even just to the next town over, you can learn something new, see someone and something you haven’t seen before. “It’s good for the brain and good for the soul.” An epiphany in early parenthood started Kim on the journey that led to SheBuysTravel. She’d been a fan of a newsletter for women travelers, and she saw an opportunity. “I thought something like that for moms could be extraordinarily helpful,” she said. “I was traveling for work, traveling for fun, and I was looking for support.” That seed grew into the award-winning website TravelingMom, created as a resource for traveling families of all stripes. Today, TravelingMom has evolved into SheBuysTravel, with an expanded mission to serve women travelers at any stage of life. Millions of readers have visited the site for trip planning help, travel secrets, destination information and gear recommendations. What sets SheBuysTravel’s content apart, Kim says, is its foundation in real-world experience. “Our writers and editors have actually gone out there and done this stuff,” she says. “They’ve booked the flights, tried the tour, tested travel clothing, visited that new hot spot to see if it’s worth the hype. It’s all real.” Memorable Adventures A 2022 tour Kim guided to Bhutan was a particularly standout experience. “Bhutan sounds so exotic, of course,” she said. “But the part where my heart just glows and warms is thinking of the people we met – amazing women doing amazing things in Bhutan.” Their ranks included a former police officer whose ventures into food science helped mitigate food insecurity for residents of Bhutan’s highlands. Top Tips Planning for travel can be daunting, Kim acknowledges. “I always say: Go anyway. No trip is going to be perfect. There’s always going to be something you didn’t expect, something that doesn’t go the way you pictured or planned it. And that something is what’s going to make it a great trip.” And on a practical note: “Go early! Getting to the airport or hitting the road just an hour earlier relieves so much stress.” Kim’s Background Kim, a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, holds degrees in finance and entrepreneurship and has deep experience in developing and running businesses. Her previous work includes developing and running communications workshops and overseeing document management for corporations. SheBuysTravel hits a sweet spot where Kim’s two loves of travel and entrepreneurship meet. “The longer I work in this field, I only want to do more,” she says. “I find the travel world so exciting – not just the trips, but the whole online world of travel. There are still so many opportunities.” The World Awaits “The ‘best trip ever’ probably won’t be the same for an empty-nester or mom of three versus a single woman celebrating a bachelorette party with her friends,” Kim says. “We want to keep it real for traveling women, no matter what their age, life stage, where they came from or where they’re going. “We want to inspire women to travel in any shape or form.” In her free time, Kim enjoys visiting her adult kids, creating trips and traveling with her BFFs to explore the world. Her most recent adventures can be found on InstagramFacebook and LinkedIn.
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