Our Guide To Jamaica: 10 things you Need to do

Are you ready to explore Jamaica with us?Pack your bags and take off on a cute family vacation of four to a destination you need to add to your bucket list, because I seriously recommend you guys going to Jamaica, asap.As soon as the cold weather kicked in, we escaped with Air Transat to a one week, all inclusive to Ocho Rios, a charming spot with spectacular natural surroundings, lush greens and white-sand beaches. After reading and reading endless tips about Jamaica, eating all the patties and drinking all the red stripes, I experienced the 10 best things you need to do on your next adventure (hopefully soon) to this lovely country.ya man!

1.) You need a really cool hotel

Our adventure started at the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande, a 5-star all inclusive and part of Air Transat’s family collection we treasure so much. I was thinking, what were our favourite things about this hotel and I have so many in my mind, that you honestly need to go, point. The staff was an absolute dream, super friendly and after three days, they knew Nico’s and Oli’s names. 
The food 
I definitely travel for food and Jamaica didn’t disappoint. There was no shortage at Moon Palace dining options and during our 7 days we tried every single restaurant, snack bar and treats around the hotel, with a 24-hour room service every-single-day. One extra point to the hotel? No reservation required to any a-la-carte restaurants between 6pm until 11pm. There were so many unlimited options to choose from, including:
Italian fine dining a la carte – La Gondola
Asian Teppanyaki – MOMO (If you want to do the teppan experience, they will require a reservation)
Authentic Jamaican cuisine – Pier8
Buffet with daily specials – Buccaneers Reef
Parisian Cafe – Boulangerie
Casual Pizza & Pasta by the beach 

The rooms
If you’re travelling solo or with your family, Moon Palace Jamaica has perfect options catered to each traveller. We stayed at the family deluxe room, with two bedrooms in one, featuring one king size bed for mom and dad, a mini-bar restocked daily with adult-only drinks (hello red stripe), our private bathroom and balcony. For the kids, two double beds (so comfy they didn’t want to wake up) and with daily treats, like chocolate milk, juices, gummies, and everything made just for Nico and Oli. All rooms are equipped with free wifi, bathrobes (yes, including mini ones for the kiddos), smart tvs, xboxs, all smoke-free,  and 24-hour room service with a kid-friendly menu. 

2.) Get a direct flight, upgrade both ways to Option Plus & get to know Air Transat’s awesome Kids Club:

Travelling with a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old to the south could be a challenging task and since we discovered Air Transat’s Option Plus, our travelling days never looked the same.  
What’s Option Plus again? All the perks of business class in Economy: 
– Seat selection (yes, anywhere!)
– Priority check-in 
– 1 additional bag, so you’ll have all the space for alll the things
– Priority boarding (god bless)
– Priority queue ar airport security (if you’re in Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver)
– Priority baggage handling
– A comfort kit (blanket, pillow, eye mask)
– An alcoholic beverage and a meal from the bistro menu (Nico and Oli loved the new mac n cheese from the winter menu!)
If you are convinced now, right? Read all about it here

Travelling with tiny travellers to Jamaica?  Air Transat’s Kids Club is free and available to all kids aged 2 to 11, yay! I know our little ones get SO excited about vacations, and mamas, Transat knows how to entertain and surprise them like pros. Our mini-globetrotters will get:
– On-board surprises and games during the flight
– Stroller gate delivery service if you have one
– Contests every season for amazing family vacations 
– Priority baggage handling
– Family pre-boarding in Economy Class
You can register your little one, here and to know more details, just watch this cute video, okay? 

3.) Have a fresh coconut water by the beach

Jamaicans are super laid back and at our hotel, we did chill out every morning by the beach while Nico and Oli enjoyed the sand, and we got our fresh coconut water (the typical tropical refreshment in here) delivery. YES, this was our daily reward. I couldn’t believe we were lucky enough we had a stunning view of the blue mountains with reggae echoing directly from our beach chairs and having quick snacks with the kiddos. 

4.) Try all the food, all the local food

Eating traditional food of a Caribbean country is hands down my favourite sport and one of the best parts of traveling for me, personally. Jamaica has some insanely good flavours and typical dishes we tried for the first time with the help of our hotel staff and even Nico and Oli loved everything, bonus points! 
What to have? 
Jerk chicken: one word: YES! We had Jerk bbq by the beach every day, and a few options at the restaurants of the hotel. Jerk chicken is without doubt, the essential of Jamaica. 
Curry goat: OMG! this was my favourite during the trip and the most popular dish after jerk in Jamaica. You-need-to-try-it.
Saltfish fritters: sometimes prepared with ackee, so delicious I blame all my extra pounds on them.
Rice and peas: peas or red beans, southern style. The main difference? Jamaicans add a bit of coconut milk to the mix, hello tropical heaven!
Plantains: my magic word. We had it fried and even for breakfast
Dumplings: talking about deep-fried heaven, dumplings were a must every day, prepared with flour and served with butter.
Patties: we had them during our excursion day and guess who got all the patties? of course me!
Drinks: You need to try their blue mountain coffee, the red stripe and all the rum.

5.) Explore your hotel and do some water activities

At Moon Palace Jamaica, outdoor activities and water sports are available for all, for the little ones and mom and dad. Want to surf every morning? check! The FlowRider simulator is available for all ages and personalized instructors will help along the way. For the little ones? An amazing splash park and water slides, aka all the fun! 
Also, beach volleyball courts are available and a big aqua sports center with a dolphin habitat where you can swim with them any day. 
There are two beaches separated by the pier, the north beach (smaller one) is dedicated for all things water sports, like small sailboats, paddleboards, kayak, pedal boats and a ton more. The south beach is the bigger for swimming, and it was so quiet with no waves, we felt it was a pool, just perfect for the Nico and Oli and all ages with a gorgeous view of the mountain filled with palm trees, just stunning.

6.) Have a date and try the kids club one day

One thing we loved about our hotel was the kids club. Moon Palace kids club was filled with unlimited (and free) arcades, gaming stations, karaoke days, air hockey tables, a lego section that Nico adored, a kitchen play area for Oli with a tiny little market (even this mama played here most days), an indoor ball pit and daily activities with the sweetest staff that loved Nico and Oli. If your kids are fully potty trained, you’ll be able to drop your them off as long as you want between 10am until 10pm. 
The kids club will serve lunch, snacks (unlimited popcorn) and dinner if you want to. We talked about Nico’s severe allergies during his registration to the kids club and they took this SO seriously, my mama heart couldn’t be any happier. At the hotel, kids with allergies wear a special and custom allergy wristbands, so all the staff is aware of them. For the first time, I felt so safe dropping Nico (he was so happy he didn’t want to leave every single day), while we enjoyed some drinks and quiet time. 

7.) Explore and book a tour outside your hotel

Local tours are available to book anytime with a travel planner in the lobby, and we totally recommend you do one! Discovering Jamaica’s natural gems are something you CAN’T miss. We visited Dunn’s river falls, one of the most popular tourist attraction of the island, where you can actually climb the waterfalls or walk along the way like I did with Oli (I thought she was too tiny to climb rocks, right?). We took a swim together at the end of the activity and we heard the birds and toucans from the mountain, just so precious. The falls empty into the Caribbean sea and we walked all the way there with our little ones. 
There are so many excursions you can book with Air Transat, and here are our top ones:
– Blue Mountain bicycle tour
– Tropical Tour, Negril beach sunset and Rick’s cafe
– Black river safari and Y.S. Falls

8.) Order room service and have ice cream for breakfast

It’s vacay time so you need to enjoy a “me” time in your room with 24-hour room service. The menu is available in your TV screen, and I was surprised to find such a complete in-room dining experience. Local plates were available (yay to taste all the local yumminess), so you might develop a mild addiction to dumplings, plantains and salt fish like we did. 
The boulangerie is also available 24-hours, so if your doctor ordered sweets right before going to bed, you got it! lattes, cappuccinos, macaroons, gelatos, icre creams and fresh crepes are the best items on the menu.

9.) Watch a sunset by the beach

Tropical sunsets are something else, am I right? Knowing that Montreal was so cold and full of snow, we treasured enjoying every single sunset during our week with the kids. Jamaica is a gem, a true gem. The peaceful blue water of our hotel beach and the vibrant mix of yellows, reds and oranges will set you in a peaceful mood the rest of your trip. 

10. Learn a bit the Jamaican patois

The Jamaican Creole is primarily spoken in Jamaica, and it’s their native language for centuries now. The patois comes from a mix of old french, british english and spanish, and it’s SO fun to learn a bit more the local words Jamaican use on a daily basis.  A few examples you need to learn?
To eat – Nyam
How are you – How yuh stay?
I’ll be right back – Mi soon come
Over there – Ova deh
OMG – Jeezum pees
Bye and take care – Walk good
Well done – Big up, respect
Move over – Small up yuhself
Are you ok? – Yuh good?
Hey! – Yow!

My sweet birthday boy enjoyed his day with lots of sun, kisses and cute surprises! I can’t believe he’s 6 already. Can’t.
Aren’t they the sweetest thing?

This was the point where the river and sea meet, and you could feel the warm and cold water running together.

This trip was done in partnership with Air Transat. All opinions, stories and pictures are entirely ours.If you want to explore Jamaica soon, here’s all the info of our hotel and flights. 
Happy travels sweet friends!
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