My idea of camping is a decent hotel with room service.
Ok, kidding. I’m usually too frugal to order room service, but I definitely prefer a nice comfy CLEAN spacious bed over a plastic mattress the size of my kitchen counter in a moving truck that was far from “clean”.
Oh my gosh the bathroom in that thing was the size of my pinky. And I showered at KOA’s with bugs. Y’all don’t understand..I despise bugs.
However, my hubby promised me that if I took this adventurous road trip with him, our next family vacation fund would be put towards a beach trip.
Let me just say, he did not disappoint. Not only did he surprise me with a 10 year anniversary trip to Jamaica in January, but we also booked a family trip back for May 2015!
So not technically fourteen STRAIGHT days at the beach, but I did feel like he was redeeming himself. Ha.
While we loved taking an adult only trip (who doesn’t, right?), I must say, we equally loved being able to experience the Caribbean with our kids.
We stayed at Beaches Ocho Rios in Jamaica and absolutely loved it! For those of you thinking about taking a family vacation WITH kids… here is my Beaches Ocho Rios Review:
During our first visit to Jamaica (sans kids) we met a couple in line at Customs that had three young kids with them. We were initially intrigued because we didn’t think that Jamaica seemed like the kind of place you would take your family.
They told us they were going to Beaches Resort Ocho Rios and it’s was their FOURTH time taking their kids there. That spoke volumes to me and immediately peeked my interest.
We had some hesitation about taking our kids to an “all-inclusive” resort, but after taking a look at Beaches Resorts website? Boom! Sold.
It’s like all-inclusive meets kid-friendly meets Sesame Street.
Beaches has three different locations: Beaches Ocho Rios, Beaches Negril and Beaches Turks & Caicos.
We knew we wanted to take the kids back to Jamaica so we compared Beaches Ocho Rios and Beaches Negril (both in Jamaica) and landed on Ocho Rios.
I have heard WONDERFUL reviews on Negril, but it seems more like a romantic spot. Somewhere I’d love to go again with just my hubby.
We personally liked the layout of Beaches Ocho Rios better! I also loved that the beach was enclosed by two piers. You know, in case you have wandering kids who think they want to run the beach.
Won’t happen there. They can’t get far. LOL!
When you fly into Jamaica you land in Montego Bay. Ocho Rios is a two hour drive from Montego Bay. If I’m being completely honest, this was the biggest drawback for me and the #1 reason we did not go to Ocho Rios when we went on our adult only trip.
We already live 2.5 hours from the nearest airport, have to take 2 flights to get to Jamaica and the last thing I wanted to do was drive ANOTHER 2 hours once we got there.
I’m here to tell you…the 2 hour drive to Ocho Rios? Is 100% worth it. I can officially say that now since I have stayed in Montego Bay AND Ocho Rios. Go the extra 120 miles. It makes a world of difference.
When you get off the plane and get through Customs there are tons of Sandals representatives directing you to the Sandals lounge. They are expecting your arrival and immediately take your bags, offer you a drink and get you a shuttle within 20 minutes. I don’t even think we waited 10 minutes for our shuttle.
The shuttle is included in your vacation package.
The water is definitely WAY prettier in Ocho Rios versus Montego Bay. My kids even joked that it looked like a giant swimming pool. It was so blue and clear.
I will say that there isn’t a ton of beach area in Ocho Rios. It was a smaller sized beach (between two piers), but it was plenty for what we needed. The best part is that it wasn’t super crowded either. Tons of places to sit and build sand castles.
I have been told that if the beach is your thang’…Beaches Negril has AMAZINGLY LARGE BEAUTIFUL BEACHES.
Again, we were perfectly satisfied with our beach, but it wasn’t huge. But beautiful? Yes.
And the kids built endless sand castles.
The Pool at Beaches
The resort has 2 main pools and the water park pools (which I will discuss further in a second). We spent a lot of time at the main pool. There was a stage area right next to the main pool where they played all kinds of games and had dance parties. Never a dull moment!
The pool had a kid-friendly swim up bar where my kids LOVED to order unlimited virgin strawberry daiquiris, apple juice and water.
I am just waiting for the first time my 5 year old thinks he’s going to order a virgin daiquiri here in the US. Haha! They aren’t quite “all-inclusive” here.
Things To Do
I could spend lots and lots of time on the amenities and activities that Beaches offers. I have never experienced ANYTHING like it in my life.
Because it’s a family-centered resort a lot of thought has gone into creating a destination that will appeal to families. They’ve got it down!
There are endless (and I do mean endless) amenities, starting with the Sesame Street-themed kids camps and camps for tweens and teens.
My kids did the kids camp one day while Jeff and I hit up the spa (holla!) and they got to read a book with Elmo and learn how to make pizza at one of the restaurants. There was always some kind of activity scheduled every hour of every day for the kids.
They even had a water park AT THE RESORT!
Complete with big slides and little slides. I was worried that my youngest would be too little to do the slides, but they even had slides for his age. Plus they had pool tables set up in the same area and my kids loved that.
I never knew Parker even cared about playing pool…but apparently it’s his new favorite thing.
There was an XBox lounge and a dedicated “tweens” area for rainy days.
The Aqua Center on the Beach offered tons of free water sports including snorkeling, windsurfing, glass bottom boat rides, catamaran sailing, kayaking, and scuba diving. We took the boys on the glass bottom boat ride and it was a great experience.
Basically, the place is a kid’s paradise!
Oh and did I forget to mention you could schedule breakfast with the Sesame Street characters? It did cost a little extra, but it was totally reasonable and TOTALLY worth it.
Does nightlife and kids go in the same sentence? Haha! It does at Beaches.
They had awesome Sesame Street stage shows set up for the kids during the week and even had a circus one night, complete with a parade, mechanical bull and bouncy house rock climbing wall. And yes, my adventurous middle child rode the bull AND climbed the wall. #scaredofnothing
For me the most stressful part of any vacation is trying to decide which “type” of room and what area of the resort to stay in. Especially when you have never been there before. Rooms come in endless iterations from one room to four bedroom suites. Add to that, three levels of service (luxury, concierge and butler), in different villages, and the combinations are…overwhelming.
Rates are based on the size of your room, the view, and the level of service. If you are looking to save money, choose the smallest room your family will be comfortable in since even a luxury level room gets you access to the same all-inclusive amenities of the resort.
We chose to stay in the Caribbean Village because we liked that it was closest to the main pool. We also requested to have a room on the first level so that we didn’t have to go up and down steps or take the elevator every time we needed to run back to the room. We got lucky because they put us RIGHT by the pool. It was close enough that every time a kid needed to pee? We just went to the room instead of the bathrooms.
Beaches Ocho Rios has 7 different restaurants to choose from. NONE of them require reservations (can I get an amen!) and only one of them requires “fancy” attire.
I was happy when I found out that you could basically “come as you are” because my kids hardly ever want to dress fancy. At least not without putting up a fight!
They also offered unlimited self-serve ice cream. Need I say more?
I will say that my littlest one is SUPER picky and only eats very plain boring foods. For example, he will eat chicken, but only a plain chicken breast. Most of their chicken was Jerk Chicken and he wouldn’t eat it. He doesn’t eat nuggets or fries and he only eats Kraft mac n cheese. See? I told you, picky pants.
I depleted my snack stash by day 5 so it got a little ugly with him because he only wanted to eat plain hamburgers, no bun. But they only offered those at the lunch restaurant so dinner got interesting. I will assume though that your kids aren’t nearly as particular as my little one. They have TONS of kid friendly options that most kids would eat in a heartbeat. In fact, my oldest told me that his favorite part of the trip was the breakfast buffet. Ha!
The People at Beaches Ocho Rios
Again, like last time, my favorite part about Jamaica is the people! They are lovely.
Even describing them as lovely is an understatement.
They are accommodating and want you to have the best time!
The entertainment staff spoil the kids rotten and truly go out of their way to try and get to know you.
I’ve been to Mexico a time or two and trust me, you don’t feel near as loved there.
I even met an awesome House of Rose fan named Heather who worked at a nearby resort and came to Beaches with the PR manager to introduce herself! I was humbled that someone from another part of the country was following our journey.
Not only did we love the staff, we met some incredibly nice families there too.
The first few days we were there my kids clicked with a few other kids and they became what my son called “best friends in Jamaica”. They left to go home a few days before we did and my kids were so so sad! They still ask me if “Noah and Lillianan” can come over.
Unfortunately, they live in Rhode Island and we live in Illinois.
We also met another blogger who was there traveling, Vicki from HonestMum.com.
She is from the UK and her and her family were there traveling on “holiday”, as she called it! 🙂 I adored her accent and we had a ton in common since we are both bloggers.
Plus, she is a boy mom and our boys met at Kids Camp.
The Roses would HIGHLY recommend any Beaches Resort if you are looking to take your family on a all-inclusive vacation.
Beaches did not pay me nor did they pay for our trip. All of the opinions in this post are based on my own experience.
We are hoping to visit Beaches Turks & Caicos sometime next year!
Learn more about Beaches Resorts HERE.
If you are interested in more pictures from our trip then check out these posts:
Ya’Mon – The boys see the Caribbean ocean for the first time
Carnival Night In Jamaica – Complete with a parade
Best Friends In Jamaica – Meeting new friends
Sesame Street Live – Breakfast with the characters
Beachin’ It – More photos from the beach
Sand Castles & Sand Wars – The boys loved the beach
Family Pictures Gone Wrong – Our attempt at a family photo on vacation
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