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
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.
MORE FAMILY-FRIENDLY FUN ACTIVITIES
• Jamaican sun demands daily ice cream breaks but skip the
overly processed stuff and take in a Jamaican staple, Devon
• 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.
©HEATHER GREENWOOD DAVIS
VIEW OF OCHO RIOS
©HEATHER GREENWOOD DAVIS