By Brant Long
If your idea of Spring Break in Jamaica conjures up images of scantily-clad American college students engaged in various shenanigans and gorging themselves on mixed drinks, it’s time you visited Ocho Rios.
Located along Jamaica’s north central coast, Ocho Rios boasts a much different version of spring break, with a variety of cultural and family-friendly happenings; and without the pandemonium of more popular college destinations such as Negril and Montego Bay.
When you add in its natural wonders--average March and April temperatures in the low 80s, the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean and a plethora of stunning destinations including Dunn’s River Falls and Blue Hole -- it is a jewel begging to be explored.
Start with the Kiteboard World Cup stop in nearby Port Antonio from March 25-April 3. The event brings in professional kiteboarders from across the globe for 10 days of competition as well as stunt shows and special speed races. This visually-stunning sport sees competitors hit the waves of the Caribbean strapped to large, aerodynamic kites that can reach top speeds of 60 miles an hour. Throw in more than 30 competitors vying for top awards all at the same time, and the Kiteboard World Cup is a sight for the whole family.
Stay near the water March 31-April 2 to enjoy the Easter Regatta sponsored by the Montego Bay Yacht Club. The regatta is a friendly, multi-class race featuring entrants from throughout the Caribbean. The regatta takes the boats along Jamaica’s North Coast with a phase of the four-leg race taking place off of Ocho Rios.
Carnival and Jazz
The first week of April sees Carnival come to Ocho Rios with events ranging from concerts, shows and street parades. The weeklong festival, one of the largest in the Caribbean, occurs at locations throughout the area.
One of the new highlights of the Carnival is the Road March, which debuted last year to rave reviews. Revellers parade through the streets of St. Ann’s joined by costumed bands. A number of renowned Soca artists are slated to return to perform at Carnival including Alison Hinds, Lil Rick, and Skinny Fabulous.
In late April and early May, the sweet sounds of jazz reverberate through the Ocho Rios air at the 28th Annual Jamaica International Jazz Festival. The event has become well-known throughout the Caribbean for showcasing some of top jazz talent of the region and the globe.
The Party at Palace Resorts
Palace Resorts’ all-inclusive Moon Palace Jamaica is located in the heart of all the activities on Main Street in Ocho Rios. One of Jamaica’s top-rated resorts by TripAdvisor, Moon Palace features Jamaica’s largest spa, watersports, kids’ and teen’s activities (Kids and Teens stay for free!) and onsite nightlife.
Family-friendly options do abound over spring break in Jamaica and, with its natural wonders, beautiful weather, friendly people, and active event calendar, Ocho Rios is a perfect addition to any spring travel bucket list. So no matter what your age, Jamaica is calling you and your family. It’s time to answer.