Thrill-seeking in Jamaica

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Jamaica is the island for rainforest bobsledding, wild river rafting, waterfall climbing, treetop ziplining and subterranean caving. It’s fantastic at enormous waterparks; considers flip-flops formal-wear; doesn’t have a cut off point when it comes to beautiful beaches and thinks of jungle safaris as downtime. No surprise to find older kids love holidays here, and you only have to look at the endless variety of teen-centric activities to see Jamaica loves them right back.

 

Dunn's River Falls & Park, Ocho Rios

You can’t visit Jamaica without climbing Dunn’s River Falls, it’s one of the island’s most iconic experiences, almost as famous as jerk chicken, slightly less well known internationally than Bob Marley, and basically a right of passage for teenagers.The falls are always busy - that’s part of the fun – but they’re also enormous, so finding space in the lagoon-like pools to catch a breath is never an issue. The climb to the top is fairly strenuous, though more than doable for most older kids. Just leave plenty of time, since it’s pretty much impossible not to stop and stare constantly – the falls are as beautiful as they are thrilling, and they’re very thrilling.

Mystic Mountain, Ocho Rios

Bobsledding in a rainforest might seem unusual, but Jamaica has bobsled history: in 1988 the national team was the first ever from a Caribbean country to compete in the Winter Olympics, and they’ve been competing ever since. So in fact, a Jamaican Rainforest Bobsled makes perfect sense: just don’t expect any snow on Mystic Mountain. Instead custom-designed bobsleds speed through tropical rainforest on a 1000m long gravity-drive. It’s no less thrilling than more traditional bobsledding, only the views are much better.

 

River Rapids Adventure, Rio Bueno

When it comes to intense white-water activities, River Rapids Adventure owns just about all the thrills on the Rio Bueno. They’re also highly experienced, so kids are in the safest possible hands no matter how extreme the fun gets, and it does. Think river tubing and boarding, kayaking, rafting and climbing the fabulous Bengal Falls in the company of excellent guides. All adventures are suitable for teenagers, and younger kids are welcome to try river rafting or jungle tubing.

 

Rafting on the Martha Brae River 

Rafting on the Martha Brae River has impressive celebrity endorsement: turns out everyone from Spike Lee to HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Usain Bolt are fans.The scenery’s gorgeous and raft captains are masterful tellers of haunting tales about Martha Brae, the legendary Arawak witch who tricked Spanish fortune hunters and changed the course of the river forever. Then there’s swimming - if kids want a break from plain sailing, they can hop off the raft into the river.

 

JamWest Motorsports & Adventure Park, Negril

This is the place for off-road ATV tours deep into the jungle and along the beach on quad bikes and dune buggies. Competitive families can try Racing Zips parallel ziplines or take the JamWest rock climbing challenge. The park’s natural mineral pools come with extreme waterslides. Wild jungle safaris throw some learning into the intrepid explorer mix. And if more peaceful communing with nature is their thing, kids can go horse riding, wander through the aviary or get up close to cuteness at JamWest’s petting zoo.

 

Green Grotto Caves, Ocho Rios

The magnificent Green Grotto Caves’ human history stretches all the way back to the Tainos, Jamaica’s original people. Spanish invaders hid here in the 1800s to escape the island’s English invaders. In the 20th century the caves were used by smugglers. And during WWII the Jamaican government turned them into storerooms for precious rum. All these tales and more are part of the fascinating Green Grotto guided tour. But nothing compares to the experience of actually walking through the one and half kilometre long network of underground chambers, and the big reveal of the Grotto Lake right at its heart.

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