Sure, you could splurge on luxury villas, pricey excursions, and posh dining on your next family vacation to Jamaica, but it’s also easy to enjoy the best of Jamaica on a budget. With its vibrant mix of culture, legendary beaches, and a new crop of family-friendly hotels, Jamaica’s wealth of budget-friendly pleasures is proof that the best things in life might cost less than you think.
A day spent exploring Montego Bay Marine Park is one of the best bets for enjoying Jamaica on a budget. Established in 1991, this vast area of protected coral reef and crystal-clear waters is home to an abundance of marine life such as brilliant angelfish, sea urchins, and parrot fish. The ecosystem of mangroves and white sand beaches offers an all-ages natural playground perfect for snorkelling or spotting heron, egrets, and pelicans.
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Kids can connect with nature without breaking the bank at the Green Grotto Caves, a series of underground caverns that also serves as a journey through the island’s history. These caves on Jamaica’s north coast once provided shelter for the Tainos, Jamaica’s first peoples, as well as Spanish troops during the war of 1665. But today, families will enjoy exploring interconnected passageways and chambers filled with stalactites and stalagmites leading to a deep cavern featuring an awe-inspiring grotto filled with translucent water.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy the true taste of Jamaica. Just head to Scotchie’s, a no-frills eatery with three locations, beloved by locals and visitors alike. In Ocho Rios, grab a picnic table set beneath a colourful cabana and groove to reggae music while you dive into succulent jerk chicken or pork. Be sure to order plenty of the kid-pleasing sides like fried cassava chips, corn-on-the cob, and mac ‘n cheese. Your order comes wrapped in aluminum foil so no worries about making a mess.
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Another popular spot where dinner for the whole gang will set you back much less than you might think is the Pelican Grill on Montego Bay’s Hip Strip. This family-run restaurant has been serving up Jamaican comfort food for more than 50 years and is the place to go to sample home-style dishes such as ackee and saltfish, West Indian curries, and, of course, jerk chicken with rice and peas. The old-fashioned soda fountain with its creamy malted milkshakes is sure to be a hit with kids of all ages.
Sunscape Splash Resort & Spa
Sleep, eat, and play for less at Sunscape Splash Montego Bay, one of the newest additions to Jamaica’s inventory of family-friendly, all-inclusive resorts. Located directly on Montego Bay Marine Park, you’ll save on excursions as non-motorized water sports are included as part of your package. There are even complimentary guided tours of the marine park departing from the beach each morning at 10:00 a.m. Bonus? The onsite Pirate’s Paradise water park features 2 waterslides, a meandering lazy river, and four outdoor pools. If you feel the need to splurge, an upgrade to the Sun Club category scores you complimentary room service, upgraded room amenities, and extra privileges.
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Skip the overpriced excursions and soak up some history along with some fun at Doctors Cave Bathing Club. Established in 1910, the Doctors Cave Bathing Club was founded by a doctor and his friends who accessed a secret cave opening to enjoy a morning swim in the buoyant waters of Montego Bay. The cave itself is long gone, but the soothing nature of the clear water remains. Today’s savvy families can purchase a day membership and soak up the curative powers of sun and sea (Adult admission is $6; kids under 12 half-price).
Get your culture fix for less at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre. This impressive facility houses an art gallery as well as a museum featuring informative displays of ancient artifacts. Admission is free for children under the age of 12. If you have some extra time, the centre itself is located at the historic Sam Sharpe Square. This square was named for the national hero who was executed in the Montego Bay Market Place in 1832 for his role in the Emancipation War. Sharpe can be proudly seen on the back of the Jamaican $50 bill.
Whether you’re planning a Jamaica family vacation for few, or a holiday for the extended family, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Jamaica on a budget.
Book a flight or an all-inclusive package for a fun-filled family vacation in Jamaica