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Magic for Budding Adventurers – a Family Holiday in Jamaica

/ Jamaica Travel Tips


Letting children run free and safe whilst they connect with Jamaica’s stunning nature and heritage is part of the charm of a family eco holiday at Hotel Mockingbird Hill, that’s tucked up on a verdant hillside overlooking Port Antonio, the Caribbean Sea and Blue Mountains.  Parents can magically stand back and enjoy an alternative safe family holiday that’s perfect for budding explorers without a compound or security guard in sight!

Letting Children Decide What they’d Like to Eat on Holiday

Children are asked daily by our restaurant’s kitchen staff what they would like to eat, which they then cook individually for them using the freshest organic local ingredients. Picnics are available on request and made to order for those out on an adventure.

Banana pancakes still remain the favourite breakfast treat for children although traditional Jamaican fried dumplings also known as Johnny Cakes come a close second; we love watching their faces as they discover ackee!  Fruit and home-made organic yoghurt is available for those children that prefer lighter breakfasts which they frequently do when discovering the new taste of tree ripened mangoes and papaya.

To stimulate interest in vegetables children are encouraged to visit the hotel’s organic kitchen gardens with our gardeners and pick something they may like to try.  Depending on the season they are encouraged to pick their own fruit in the secluded rear terraces that make up our 7-acre organic gardens for eating right there on the spot or to juice when back at the hotel’s kitchen.   All ice-creams are churned on site, the winning flavour made from our delicious sugar bananas.   Little ones cookery lessons can be arranged taking children on a tastebud adventure as they learn how to cook simple but delicious Jamaican dishes.

Safe & Accessible

Portland is not only Jamaica’s  most beautiful parish but its safest too.  For parents with babies, your monitor or iPhone App can easily relay a safe sleeping baby in airy private rooms whilst you sit on the terrace or veranda of our TripAdvisor’s #1 Port Antonio restaurant and enjoy a late dinner or starlit cocktail or nightcap.  Trusted babysitters are available for parents who’d like to try one of our Saturday morning yoga lessons, a double massage in the Wellness Garden one of Port Antonio’s other restaurants for the evening.  During your stay cots with mosquito nets and single beds are available in any of the 10 double rooms in addition to the family suite with lounge. Children love the locally sourced room gifts they find each morning that help create ever lasting memories of Jamaica and her people.

Turn off the TV and go and do Something More Interesting Instead!

Each of the rooms at Hotel Mockingbird Hill has wi-fi and a tablet can be borrowed; there are no TVs in the rooms, we recommend doing something far more interesting instead like ramble and bathe in waterfalls, splash in Caribbean Sea, take a dip in the pool, learn to surf, cut and press your first vinyl track, ride on a banana boat, eat cake with an awesome view, learn to drum, build a jerk firepit, explore 7.5 acres of eco-gardens and enjoy the very best slow food in Jamaica.

10 Things for Children to do in Port Antonio Jamaica

1. Beach Hop

Portland is famous for having the best beaches in Jamaica.  Mockingbird Hill offers a free daily shuttle to the stunning white sands of Frenchman’s Cove which is unique in that children can run through the freshwater streams that join the sea, jumping from tree swings into the safe shallow waters of the sea. There is plenty of shade and lunch available at this former 1960s celebrity bolt hole.  Winnifred Beach is just off the Fairy Hill Community.  Its reef makes for good snorkelling and as beach food goes this is probably the best to try on the island, as vendors freshly prepare fish and jerk delights under the shade of enormous vine clad trees.

2. Bathe in a Waterfall’s Pools

Children are invited to accompany trusted guides in exploring the network of old mule tracks that makes for easy rambling followed by a cooling splash at Reich Falls, Jamaica’s impressive waterfalls without any queues, and child-friendly natural shallow pools.

3. Raft Down a River on a Traditional Banana Boat

Build a healthy appetite as you take your children on a ride on an original banana boat and raft down the Rio Grande.  Children love al fresco lunch at Belinda’s riverside eaterie whose coconut shrimps don’t get better as they listen entranced to her tales about her 4-mile walk to work each day.

4. Eat Cake up High

We suggest eating cake up at the Old Tavern Coffee Estate whilst finding out all about coffee.  In between playing hide and seek amongst the coffee bushes take a tour of our favourite Blue Mountain coffee farm and learn about roasting.  Even if your children are too young to taste coffee, we believe they are never too young to smell great coffee! Dorothy bakes amazing cakes and observing the valley below makes the most memorable of elevenses.

5. I spy Birdwatching

22 of Jamaica’s 28 endemic birds can be found in Mockingbird Hill’s eco-gardens and we have a special flyer to help little ones identify Jamaica’s special birds.  They’ll adore our robin, the vibrant green and red Tody as well learning the fascinating stories behind the bird’s local names, hummingbirds like the Doctorbird as well as Old Man & Old Woman Bird, Auntie Katie, Big & Little Tom Fool, Hopping Dick and the Duppy Bird, Hopping Dick and Little Tom Fool & PeeWee.

6. Explore a Cloud Forest

Take a special drive up to Ecclesdown Road that cuts through the John Crow Mountains to our local cloud forest.  It’s recently been nominated to become a UNESCO site and cuts through the Jamaica’s John Crow Mountains.  Without the worry of any nasty stingers or bites, kids love to explore its ancient bamboo forest that is colourfully interspersed with beautiful  Heliconias, Blue Mahoe trees  (a hibiscus variant) and large purple flowers produced from Horse-Eye Bean vines. If you are lucky you may see the America’s largest Swallowtail butterfly and for those that like slugs and snails, Jamaica has 561 variants, 56 snails endemic to the island.

7. Snorkle on a Deserted Island

Take a ride with a local fisherman into the Blue Lagoon, where the film with Brook Shields was filmed and watch as its colour change from turquoise to sapphire according to the time of the day.  You can request a stop off at the deserted Pellew Island, previously known as Monkey Island for some of Jamaica’s best snorkelling.  For teenage children you may want to hire a kayak to go to visit this shady paradise island.

8. Learn to Surf

Yes it is possible to learn to surf locally in the warm Caribbean Sea.  At nearby Boston Bay you can hire a board for the day for $30 and receive private one to one lessons for just $50 per hour and which are open from 9-5 daily. Back up from the beach you can visit the home of ‘Jerk’ cooking and  even if your little one isn’t so keen on Jamaica’s most famous spicy barbecue sauce, they will love learning a how to make the best ever barbecue, using a traditional fire-pit and an array of perfumed woods and aromatic leaves and berries.

9. Master Drumming

Enjoy a history lesson with a visit to the Maroons, the slaves who were the first to defeat the British army. Children adore learning to drum led by the Maroons on their famous Gumbeh, a single-sided square drum on legs, the Thunder, a double-headed drum played with a padded stick and the Keteh, a single-sided cylindrical drum that is played rhythmically with the hands.

1o. Record & Press a Tune

Take one of our Pressing Tunes music tours to Kingston.  You can visit the Alpha Music School to see where the roots of reggae began and listen to the boys as they practice their instruments, visit the Bob Marley Museum and most importantly as vinyl makes its great comeback, record with your little ones a tune and watch whilst it is pressed to take home as a living memento of your holiday in Jamaica.


Port Antonio can be reached from Montego Bay or Kingston on the Knutsford Express luxury coach or by registered taxi that can be arranged by the hotel.

Book your family holiday in Jamaica at Hotel Mockingbird Hill


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  1. yardedge May 2, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Great! Thanks for sharing! Love Porti!