Cruises offer guests the opportunity to sample a number of Caribbean islands and then return to their favorites for a longer visit. While trying out different tropical islands is fun, it can be hard to get a feel for any destination in a short six to eight hour visit. Although it’s difficult to experience much of any island in such a short time, it is possible to get a sense of its people.
Perhaps that’s one reason why cruise passengers often return to Jamaica. While the island is lush and beautiful, the country’s greatest treasure is its people. They tend to be warm and friendly, welcoming island visitors with a smile.
Jamaica has three major ports of call, one of which is Ocho Rios. Named Ocho Rios, meaning “eight rivers” in Spanish, this former small fishing village has become one of Jamaica’s top destinations for tourists. For those wishing to return to Jamaica, Ocho Rios is a great choice for an active land-based vacation. There’s something for everyone in this region, whether you’re looking for beautiful beaches, adventure, history, wildlife, or just lots of fun.
Cruise Vacations on Land
Ocho Rios offers a wide array of resort vacation options. The majority of these are all-inclusive resorts. All-inclusive resorts most closely replicate the cruise experience on land. Compared with cruising, all-inclusive properties offer their guests even more dining options, drinks and amenities for one up-front price. As one recent convert told me, “All-inclusive resort vacations provide the best parts of cruising, without the stress of numerous add-on costs and scheduling requirements. The trick is to find the right resort.”
For families seeking all-inclusive properties in Ocho Rios with lots of activities and family room, the best choice is Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club. Set directly on the Caribbean Sea, this 22-acre property offers a wide variety of accommodations and activities to please every age group. It’s a particularly good option for families and multigenerational groups who want to make great vacation memories, both together and apart.
Beaches Resorts are known for their excellent staff. Beaches Ocho Rios carries its strong guest service orientation straight through to its lodging options, providing Suite Concierge Service in selected accommodations. Vacationers can choose from large megasuites, luxury suites and family-sized rooms. Some are located oceanfront and many have beautiful sea views.
Cruise passengers are generally accustomed to eating at a small group of included venues onboard their ship, paying additional surcharges when they wish to dine at selected specialty restaurants. At Beaches Ocho Rios Resort, guests can choose from six different dining options, all of which are included as part of their vacation. None require reservations. There are seven all-inclusive bars on property, serving up guests’ favorite tropical libations with a smile. There’s even a free Chocolate Buffet on Fridays.
Activities and Fun for Everyone
Beaches Ocho Rios Resort is an incredible Caribbean playground for families. The resort features five pools and the massive 27,000 square-foot Pirates Island Water Park. Many parents find it hard to get their kids to leave this area with its three huge water slides, the Treasure Island Aqua-Play area, and a kiddie area and zero entry pool for the resort’s youngest guests.
The Kids’ Camp at Beaches Ocho Rios offers daily activities and adventures for children of all ages, from the youngest infants to teens. Separate facilities are offered for infants from 0-2, toddlers ages 3-4, and kids ages 5-7 and 8-10. Tweens (11-14) and teens (15-17) have their own distinct areas and programs, including special “no parents” hours at the cool Liquid by Beaches nightclub. The resort’s Trench Town teens hang out is a hot spot for teens to chill out, with games, flat-screen TVs, and a state-of-the-art sound system.
Beaches Resorts has an exclusive partnership with Sesame Street, adding to the delight of vacationing kids and their parents. Younger children will love seeing and interacting with all their favorite Sesame Street characters at the resort and playing with them at themed activities throughout their stay. Older kids will find their bliss at the resort’s X-Box Play Lounge. Beaches Resorts also has a partnership with New York City-based Scratch DJ Academy, providing the resort the opportunity to offer ‘DJ 101’ for tweens, teens and families.
Beaches guests have plenty of water sports options including Stand Up Paddleboarding, sailing Hobie Cats, windsurfing, snorkeling, banana boat and glass bottom boat rides, and lots more. There are several marine parks around Beaches Ocho Rios, making it a great destination for snorkeling and diving. Unlimited all-inclusive scuba diving is available at Beaches for certified divers. There are also scuba courses offered for children and non-certified guests for a small fee.
Sports lovers will have plenty to do at Beaches. Guests can play tennis, croquet, basketball, and more. In addition, golfers enjoy free greens fees at the 18-hole Sandals Golf and Country Club and transportation is included. To get some additional pampering or soothe sore muscles, choose from an extensive array of treatments (for an extra charge) at Beaches’ Red Lane Spa. A variety of exciting experiences are also available through the resort’s Island Routes Caribbean Adventures tour desk.
Have Fun and Give Back
Beaches Ocho Rios offers its guests more than just a great vacation. Through programs launched by the Sandals Foundation, Beaches offers ways to engage in philanthropic activities as well. Those who would like to give back and help the local community can do so on a Reading Road Trip. Offered in conjunction with Island Routes Caribbean Adventures, this excursion takes visitors to local schools where they can help by reading books with local children and leading exercises to improve kids’ reading comprehension skills. Tour participants and all Beaches Resorts guests can help support local schools by bringing along books and schools supplies for donation. Through the Sandals Foundation’s partnership with Pack for a Purpose, over 3,500 pounds of school supplies have been donated to local Caribbean schools. Check the Pack for a Purpose website for details and lists of each school’s needs.
Beaches guests and island visitors also have the opportunity to learn about endangered sea turtles on a special Turtle Watch Tour offered by the Sandals Foundation and their partners. As part of this unique excursion, guests can interact with researchers and observe turtles during the nesting and hatching season. Watching baby turtles emerge from their nest is definitely a bucket list experience and one that should not be missed. All tour proceeds support endangered sea turtle conservation and research. See the Island Routes Caribbean Adventures tour desk for more information.
If You Go:
For more information about Beaches Ocho Rios Resort, visit www.beaches.com.