Beaches Ocho Rios in Jamaica, voted among the Top 10 Best Beach Resorts by Parents magazine, has something for everyone in the family including toddlers. This ideal family beachfront getaway makes it easy to entertain toddlers away from home thanks to a Pirates Island Water Park, extra-large accommodations and an all-inclusive kids camp for all ages with certified nannies. Not to mention, twenty-two acres of lush tropical gardens, a gorgeous private white-sand beach, six gourmet restaurants with plenty of highchairs and kids menu items, three fantastic swimming pools and an entire ocean of water sports. Below are some tips and lessons learned from our experience traveling to Beaches Resorts Ocho Rios with two toddlers.
Tips for Traveling to Beaches Ocho Rios with Toddlers
My husband, twin 2.5-year-old boys and I spent four nights at Beaches Ocho Rios, a Spa, Golf & Water Park Resort in Jamaica. Having traveled to Beaches Turks & Caicos with toddlers last year, I thought I knew what to expect. However, I soon discovered while fundamentally the same, each Beaches destination is a little different.
Car Seats and Going Through Customs
Although our boys had their own seats on the plane, we didn’t take their car seats having gone with Frequent Flyer TMOM’s advice and used CARES harnesses instead, which eliminated the extra bulk and made our flight super easy.
The only drawback to the Ocho Rios location is that it’s a 90 minute bus ride from the Montego Bay airport to the resort, which is a complimentary transfer, but makes the trip longer. They had two infant car seats for my sons’ protection, but my boys are now in toddler forward facing seats, so they were quite annoyed with being restrained like that. So, depending on your child’s age you might want to bring your own car seat to make it extra comfortable for them.
Once you arrive in Jamaica your family will need to go through customs first. The lines are long, but Funjet Vacations offers the add-on of booking Club Mobay, which provides a fast track option through Jamaica immigration. This feature is a lifesaver for families and I’d highly urge you to order this additional service. Also, on your way back you receive access to the Club Mobay lounge with complimentary drinks, food and best of all, a children’s play area for them to let off steam before boarding.
We used a double umbrella stroller for the airport portion of our trip, but once we arrived at Beaches Ocho Rios it stayed folded in the closet until we were ready to leave. The property itself is built on a cliff overlooking the ocean, so lots of stairs and ramps. We found it easier to let the kids run around and carry them when needed instead of waiting for elevators and folding and refolding the stroller. Fortunately, Beaches Ocho Rios’ property is much more manageable and intimate in comparison to their sprawling Turks & Caicos location. Thus, only bring a light weight stroller if anything.
Beaches Ocho Rios Kids Camp
A free kids camp for newborns and toddlers? Deal breaker! Beaches Resorts includes a supervised kids programs for five different age levels including infants. Called “Camp Sesame,” there are lots of activities for kids to do there such as playing in an inflatable ball pit, which my boys dove into as soon as they walked into the room. I found this camp to be bigger with more toys and more colorful than the Turks location, however, it didn’t have the playground or it’s own toddler pool like that location had.
My sons attended two of the four days at the camp from 10 a.m. until their afternoon nap time. Those few hours at the camp allowed for my husband and I to go kayaking and have lunch together. It’s also open in the evenings, but we didn’t end up taking advantage of that this time and instead ate together each night.
At Camp Sesame our boys had their diapers changed and were also brought to lunch and fed, but most of all, there was lots of playtime. My boys cried at first when we dropped them off on the second day, but when we called to check on them just 15 minutes later the staff said they were busy riding toddler bikes. One activity that they especially liked while at camp was going on a rubber duck hunt with Sesame Street’s Ernie. How cute is that?!
All nannies and Kids Camp staffers at Beaches Resorts are members of the International Nanny Association, America’s oldest and largest in-home child care association. They are also dubbed “Super Nannies.” To become accredited, each nanny must meet the minimum requirement of 2,000 hours of child-care services. Additionally, they have been trained in safety, nutrition and child development.
When dropping off your kids for the first time, you’ll need to fill out a document with information about your child (allergies, passport number, if you are allowing them to go in the kids pool or not, etc.) and assign a password for picking them up after. In addition, you will need to provide a bag with diapers if necessary, change of clothes, swim diapers, sun hat, rash cream and a sippy cup. Don’t forget to label or write their name on their shoes, cup and bag.
Sesame Street Activities
Beaches Resorts is celebrating over 10 years with Sesame Street®, which is a huge bonus for little ones. There is a Sesame Street Parade with drums that’s a lot of fun and almost nightly live stage shows with performances from all the Sesame Street characters. The live shows are followed by a dance party with kids being welcomed to come up on the stage to dance. Surprisingly, my boys were eager to run on up and jump around. It was adorable and one of my favorite activities each night.
At an additional cost, your kids can partake in character breakfasts and nighttime tuck-ins and more. We did both and each experience was better than I had hoped for. The character breakfast was like a big birthday party with one-on-one meetings with favorite Sesame Street characters. It’s perfect for memorable photo ops. As for the character tuck-in, I was afraid my kids might be afraid of having a character in their room or not want to participate, but they loved it. Elmo lied on our bed and had a child on both sides of him, while a Beaches staff woman read an interactive storybook that had them engaged. By the end of the story, one of my sons was practically falling asleep on Elmo’s soft furry body, which was adorable and a memory I’ll treasure.
Water Park & Beach
While a water park sounds like something for big kids, Beaches’ Pirates Island Water Park has a smaller kids section where they can splash around and wade in, as well as small water slides too. There were two rubber slides the size of a regular slide at a playground. By the second day, my boys were bravely riding down them by themselves and into our waiting arms. Much to their laughter and delight we also went on some medium sized slides with them on our laps.
SheBuysTravel Tip: One of our favorite things to do when taking a beach vacation is to hire a photographer for family photos. This is a special gift and souvenir that we cherish. We use Flytographer to book a local photographer located in the area that we're traveling to. Use this link and you will get $25 off your photo session.
Besides the water park, every water sport imaginable is included along with top-of-the-line equipment and professional instruction. Read more over at Traveling Dad.
Here’s a video of our experience:
Rooms & Cribs
We stayed in a spacious, recently refurbished Caribbean Oceanview Luxury Veranda room with lovely mahogany furniture including a king-sized bed, plasma television, Xbox, microwave, wet bar and stocked refrigerator. Although just one room, the sunken living area provides the allusion of two rooms, perfect for the kids area. Watch our room tour video here.
My boys are still too little to be in beds, so we requested two cribs to be brought in and there was still space to spare. The clean, wooden cribs came complete with sheets, blankets and a bumper. For older kids, this part of the room also has a daybed couch with a roll-out bed underneath it.
If you have kids that aren’t restricted by school schedules yet and if your family has the flexibility to take your vacation at your leisure, the months of September and October when older kids are back in school is a less crowded time to visit Beaches Ocho Rios.
If your kids are still in diapers, be sure and pack enough. We ran out on the last day, but luckily we were able to purchase more in the gift store for our trip home.
I had packed baby food pouches just in case, but with all the food options at the resort they went unused and just took up space in our bags. Our kids are picky eaters too, but they were able to eat something at each meal.
Beaches Resorts makes traveling internationally with toddlers a day at the beach. We’ve always wanted to go to Jamaica and loved that we were able to bring our boys with us. What I especially like about Beaches Ocho Rios is that there are so many activities that families can do together, but also there’s the included Kids Camp for when parents want some adult-time to connect as a couple again and go snorkeling or even have a romantic dinner. It’s the best of both worlds. Yeah Mon!