kayaks

Beaches Resorts offers water sport activities such as kayaking, sailing and snorkeling / Raphael Ocampo for TDAD

Family trips are usually more work for parents than staying at home.

Packing, schlepping and entertaining is a mission with kids, but I found a place that turns this paradigm on its head: Beaches Resorts in Ochos Rios, Jamaica via Funjet Vacations.

Beaches offers plenty to do for kids and parents alike. As fun as it is to hang with the little ones, isn’t it nice to know there’s a destination where you can drop off the kids at Camp Sesame for a few hours without guilt? After all, they are not only being taken care of by professional staff, but also by characters like Grover, Elmo and Ernie. The camp is open from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., although we didn’t quite leave them for more than a few hours at a time – guilt does kick in eventually as you’re sipping a pina colada at the swim up bar.

Beaches Resorts is all-inclusive, meaning once you are there, you never have to open your wallet. Your Benjamins (and most likely Hamiltons) can go into hibernation until you return to America. Keep in mind it’s not one of those all-inclusive hotels like what you experienced in Cancun during spring break during your sophomore year in college. It is classy, has great cuisine and entertainment for everyone in the family.

Beaches Resorts Water Sports

Beaches Resort Sailboat

Personal catamaran sailing lessons available / Raphael Ocampo for TDAD

Depending on your level of adventure – from Crocodile Dundee to Al Bundy – you will find an outdoor activity for you. I ventured out to the open seas in a kayak thinking I was a regular GI Joe, only to see another dad cruise by me on a mini-catamaran Beaches sail boat. Another dad passed by in a paddle board. They do have motorboats that drop you off so you can snorkel at the nearby reef or even scuba dive, if you’re that hard core. Again, all of this costs nothing – all your have to do is sign out the equipment and get your compulsory life jacket.

The sailing seemed too good to pass up since I never had the courage to venture out on my own before. I took advantage of the guides, and had a gent take me out on one and (quite literally) show me the ropes. It was easier than I imagined but that was probably because the sail boats were catamarans, which means they were more stable, and they also had a rudder to maneuver more easily. I’m not quite sure if I would do it alone yet, but my horizon was expanded, even if by just a gust of wind.

 

Golf at Sandals Country Club

Golf is included in resort

Golf green fee is included in resort, caddie is required / Raphael Ocampo for TDAD

Okay, I know you just traveled across the Caribbean to Jamaica, but why not golf? Golf is also included and you can sell it to your wife fairly easily since playing 18 holes takes little more than 2.5 hours. The resort offers storage for your clubs near the lobby so you can bring clubs and not worry about it taking half the closet space. If you’d rather skip the $25 check-in fee for your clubs with your airline, you can also rent clubs there. Beaches also provides a complimentary shuttle to the nearby Sandals Golf Country Club – about 20 mins from Beaches Ocho Rios.

The golf course itself is rarely crowded so you can play fast. You do have to pay $20 for a caddie, though, as caddies are required. I had a particularly amazing caddie named Dale aka “Tiger.” If you go, I would recommend that you request Tiger. He gave me such fantastic golf tips that I wasn’t sure if I had just golfed 18 holes or got a free golf lesson. It is customary to tip your caddie between $10 to $20 per bag.

Water Park at Beaches Resort

After you have your fun and your lady has hit the spa, you can spend the afternoon in one of the many pools. The main pool deck has a swim up bar, which makes shakes for kids so they can feel like ballars on the seats that are submerged in the water. There is a kid pool that is complete with slides for all ages – from toddlers to teens. I counted at least eight slides, some so high that they have a 42″ height requirement.

Getting to Jamaica

Our 90 minute flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Montego Bay, Jamaica was very easy on Jet Blue Airlines. We made our travel arrangements through Funjet Vacations, and good thing, too. We were able to travel like a VIP thanks to their assistance. As we made our way through Montego Bay International Airport, we were faced with a daunting immigration line for foreigners. With Funjet’s affiliation with Club Mobay, we were able to use the Fast Track line and bypass the line entirely, much to the chagrin of the other travelers who starred at us as we whizzed by. The same applied on the return flight!

There are two Beaches Resorts in Jamaica – Ocho Rios, the one we visited, had a 90 minute car ride to the resort. You should be prepared for that, but know that the destination is definitely worth the journey to get there.

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