Finding things to do in Jamaica that work as well for parents as they do for college students and young adult children can be a challenge. Traveling with a freshly minted college grad, a college junior and soon-to-be college freshman, this TravelingMom got in touch with her adventurous side. Sort of.
4 Favorite Things to Do in Jamaica
Traveling with young adult children is different from traveling with young children. For one thing, they can drink. In Jamaica, where the drinking age is 18 and the all-inclusive resorts include alcoholic drinks in their package, drinking is a big part of a family vacation with young adults. For another thing, they choose the things they want to do. With my kids, that means the family is headed for some adventure!
Even with me, a slightly cautious mom in tow, we found enough adventure to keep the kids happy and keep me from screaming. Or at least not screaming too much. These were our 4 favorite things to do in Jamaica.
Our driver, courtesy of Visit Jamaica, chauffeured us to Mystic Mountain, famous for its bobsled track. Who doesn’t love the movie “Cool Runnings” about the 1988 Olympic hopes of four Jamaicans? We figured we couldn’t be in Jamaica without taking a bobsled ride! We headed to Mystic Mountain, where that manager told us: “Don’t tell a Jamaican they can’t do something.” You can read all about the ill-fated bobsledders’ journey and more history as you meander the line to get to your bobsled. Each bobsled holds one rider but if you don’t feel like “driving” you can hook your bobsled to another and just enjoy the ride. The kids drove; I went along for the ride. We all loved it.
TravelingMom Tip: Don’t go to Mystic Mountain on Tuesday or Wednesday, if you can help it. The cruise ships arrive on those days and the line can be very long. But if the choice is between going on a Tuesday or Wednesday or not going at all, go, but go early! It’s too much fun to miss just because the lines are long and there are plenty of other things to do.
Next stop on our tour was Chukka Caribbean Adventures. Our driver dropped us off, but Chukksa offers transportation from various points in Jamaica. (Check the website to figure out how to get there.)
I’ve never loved heights, but I have been known to allow myself to be pressured into ziplining. I don’t want to be left out. This was a tough decision for me because there were so many other fun options at Chukka: river tubing, ATVs, kayaking, horseback riding and more.
My issue with ziplining is that I don’t trust myself to use the hand-braking system. On this outing, I opted for the auto braking option so I wouldn’t have to think about it. My daughter, on the other hand, took a running start from the edge of the platform and sailed over the trees. Our guides, Dr. P and Tamika, made sure we were safe and laughing the whole time.
After ziplining, we moved on to tubing at Chukka. Our guide Erlando had us all singing (I don’t sing and I was singing) on our tubing adventure. Tethered together, we floated down a calm and clean fresh water river, ending with a swim in the warm water.
This was a highlight for me. We were tethered together, floating down a calm and clean fresh water river…singing. The metaphor of our family tethered together as our children grow into adulthood was not lost on me. I only wish it had lasted longer.
I found it challenging to organize our time at Chukka because we arrived late-ish (2pm) and were unaware that the placed closed activities at 3:30ish. The “ish” of the laid-back Jamaican world worked in our favor. We had time for both the zipline and the tubing!
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TravelingMom Tip: If you want to get the most bang for your buck, arrive before noon so you can take advantage of all of the activities. Bring a towel and water shoes and eat lunch there. The food is good.
4. Cook together
I always say that a recipe is the best souvenir. My kids like to cook and I sorta like it. We had a cooking lesson at the jerk chicken shack at Moon Palace that was fun and tasty. It took only a few minutes, but the memory will give back forever. Here is the recipe by Chef Hockeno Clarke at Moon Palace:
Recipe for Jerk Marination
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 chopped onion
- 2 oz. chopped scallion
- 1 oz. ginger
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 oz. fresh thyme
- 1 tbs. pimento seeds
- 4 scotch bonnet peppers
- 6 oz. soy sauce
- 4 oz. water
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- In a food processor add all the ingredients: onions, scallions, thyme, ginger, garlic, pimento, scotch bonnet, soy sauce, and water.
- Taste with salt and black pepper.
- Marinate the chicken.
- Place in the refrigerator for over night.
- Ignite your charcoal grill and close it to get a temperature of 350 to 400 degrees.
- Cook over sweet wood for approximately 30 minutes.
Every time we eat jerk chicken, we will remember our trip to Jamaica together. I also recently found a jerk chicken truck in New York City that I will use to conjure smiles and memories whenever possible.
TravelingMom Tip: Buying the recipe ingredients in Jamaica adds to the whole experience. A trip to the grocery store counts as a cultural excursion.