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Jamaica has plenty to offer

your kids (and your parents) on

a multigenerational family trip.

with the entire family.


By Heather Greenwood Davis

FALL 2018 | Ultimate Family Vacations



Ultimate Family Vacations | FALL 2018

My teenage sons, Cameron and Ethan, are doubled over

in laughter. The cause of this tear-inducing mirth – my

father in a hairnet. We are at the Yaaman Adventure Park in

Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and the hairnet isn’t a fashion choice.

We’re doing a Jamaican cooking class, learning to make jerk

chicken, fried dumplings and callaloo and it’s all hands-on

deck on this trip that includes both kids, my husband and my

parents. This is our third day together and the laughter has

been a constant. That’s a big deal.

Keeping everyone happy on a multigenerational trip takes

attention to detail, but it helps that in Jamaica big families

are a part of the culture. It’s not uncommon here for kids to

be raised with grandparents in the house and so tour guides

and outfitters are comfortable with the variety of ages and

interests a multigenerational family trip can bring.

The result can be a trip – like ours – which offers the right

mix of “this feels slightly out of my comfort zone” and “wait

until I show my dad what I can do” activities.

At historic Fort Charles, both generations fell in love with

the high rampart walls, pirate stories and shady benches.

My parents had the added benefit of watching their grandkids

absorb some of their homeland’s history with interest. And the

next day at Island Gully Falls, I joined my husband and kids in

a jump from a 15-foot cliff into bright blue waters, while my

parents donning blue life jackets floated happily in the

neighbouring freshwater pools and cheered us on.

At every stop, each generation found the parts of the

experience that best suited their personality. But having

the others along for the trip was enough to nudge us all in

ways we might not have ventured otherwise.

Somehow, in Jamaica, when grandparents offer up a spoonful

of the soursop-flavoured ice cream they grew up with to kids

who never stray beyond vanilla and chocolate, the offer is

accepted. And when kids challenge their grandparents in the

cooking class to get creative with their fried dumpling shapes,

instead of sticking to the traditional donut-hole look, they

acquiesce. The announcement that the “boys” are hitting

the pool before dinner includes both dad and grandpa, age

is irrelevant.

There are moments when the kids forget they love action

and moments when the grandparents forget they prefer to

chill. And our vacation is better for it. Plus, there are some

vacation moments that are universal. When it’s time to leave

the grounds of this 18th century estate, I spy both generations

snapping selfies to remember the moment and despite the

smiles, there’s not a hairnet in sight.


• Jamaican sun demands daily ice cream breaks but skip the

overly processed stuff and take in a Jamaican staple, Devon

House I-Scream.

• Younger kids will like the bright murals and local live music in

the courtyard, but teens and adults will also get a kick out of

the stories behind the legendary singer/songwriter at the

Bob Marley Museum.

• Head out to Island Gully Falls and Blue Hole to climb the rocks,

jump off cliffs or rope swing your way from shore to shore.