If you are planning a vacation to Beaches, you have three toadally awesome Caribbean locations to choose from. It's so hard to choose! These all-inclusive resorts each have a lot to offer, but researching the activities, location, price and size of the resort, among many other factors, can help you figure out how to choose the right Beaches Resort for your family. You'll have no regrets! Hop along as we break it down to help you pick your perfect Caribbean vacation destination. (And stay tuned — your favorite froggies will soon be offering some hoppin' discounts on Beaches vacations!)
How to Choose a Beaches Resort
While the resorts are all similar in concept, they each have aspects that make them unique and special. One resort might capture your interests more than the others. Let's compare them by the factors that will most impact your decision, including location, size of the resort, activities offered, dining choices, rooms and price.
Beaches Resort Locations
There are currently three Beaches Resorts: two in Jamaica and one in Turks and Caicos. Turks and Caicos is about a 75-minute flight from Miami, and Jamaica is about 90 minutes from Miami. The two smaller Jamaica resorts are on opposite ends of the island from each other: Beaches Negril sits on peaceful Seven Mile Beach, while Beaches Ocho Rios has a private (but smaller) beach, 22 acres of lush gardens and nearby golf and exciting excursions. It's located 10 miles east of the town of Ocho Rios. Turks and Caicos, on the other hand, is a large resort located on a 12-mile beach in beautiful Grace Bay.
Two new Beaches Resorts are being developed. Soon you can visit a new location in Jamaica at Beaches Runaway Bay, located between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. This all-new resort will feature dedicated wellness areas and new activities you don't find at other Beaches Resorts such as skateboarding, bike trails and a climbable treehouse. It has access to an 18-hole championship, Runaway Bay Golf Club. I think we are ready to run away to this place right now! There's also a new Beaches destination coming to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It's about a 3.5 hours flight from Miami. Hop back after more details and opening dates are released for these new resorts. While we await this frogciting news, we will continue to discuss the resorts that are open right now.
Flights and Distance from Airport
Your location may also help in determining which island to visit based on availability and affordability of flights. Look at flights from your nearest major airport to the various islands. In Jamaica, flights go into Montego Bay (MBJ). In Turks and Caicos, flights go into Providenciales (PLS). You might want to choose a resort with affordable and direct flights (or the fewest amount of connections). A handful of U.S. flights (mostly in the East Coast and Canada) fly direct to PLS, whereas you’ll find more direct flights to MBJ from locations across the U.S. Not all flights are daily, though, so check their availability before booking.
Travel Distance from Airport to Resort
You might also calculate the time it takes to get between the airport and your resort. From the airport, you’ll take a shuttle to your resort. The good news is that airport transfers are included in your vacation. But some resorts are closer to the airport than others:
- Montego Bay to Beaches Ocho Rios: About a two-hour drive (There is also Ian Fleming International Airport minutes away if you can fly into that airport.)
- Montego Bay to Negril: 80-minute drive
- Providenciales to Beaches Turks and Caicos: 15-minute drive
So while you might have to take a connection to get to Turks and Caicos, that quick drive to and from the airport may be worth it, saving up to two hours in a vehicle! We frogs have visited both Negril and Turks and Caicos, and we greatly enjoyed that quick drive to Turks and Caicos after a long flight (especially when traveling with a small child). When the plane lands, it's a quick trip to the hotel, and ultimately, the beach!
Size of the Resort
Does your family want a large resort with a lot of pools and restaurants, or a quieter, more peaceful resort that’s easier to get around? Turks and Caicos is the largest, and Negril is the smallest Beaches Resort. We'll also briefly discuss the villages at the resorts. A village is a themed small "neighborhood" section of the resort with a defined architecture and vibe. But no matter where you stay on the property, you can use the facilities, pools and restaurants across the resort.
Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos being the biggest resort (at over 75 acres) means a lot of walking to get from place to place. That can make running back to the room for a forgotten item a much longer process. However, it’s also nice to have such a variety of restaurants, activities and grounds to explore. Beaches Turks and Caicos has 10 pools, 24 restaurants, four whirlpools, three swim-up bars and four villages in one resort, so you can get that more intimate feel in your village, but still have the whole resort to enjoy. If your tadpoles don't want to walk across the resort, you can hop aboard the mini train! Woot! Woot!
- Key West Village – A blend of casual elegance and laid-back lifestyle at the beach.
- Italian Village – Higher-energy Mediterranean village with fountains and sculptures, huge zero-entry pool and swim-up bar. Close to the beach and water park.
- Caribbean and Seaside Villages – Two village areas are woven into one. On the Caribbean side (further from the beach) you'll find pastel bungalows and larger buildings with sweeping lawns, coconut palms, sport courts and walking paths. The oceanfront Seaside Village has lush gardens, shady porches and pools. It has a true Caribbean feel. This area is a more established, older and quieter section of the resort.
- French Village – A Caribbean Village with a French accent that's close to the action. With formal gardens and a half-acre pool, grand whirlpool and swim-up bar with a European vibe. It has a more open feel and is set back from the beach and is close to the water park.
Ocho Rios is built on a cliff face. Its 22 acres include three villages, seven restaurants, five pools, two whirlpools and one swim-up bar. It's the surf and turf resort with plenty to do on land and in the water.
The Ocho Rios villages include:
- Beachfront Greek Village - On the beach with a wooden boardwalk and great views of ocean and beach. (Frog family hop tip: the rooms to the east have less traffic and more privacy than rooms to the west.)
- Oceanfront French Village - At the waterfront.
- Caribbean Village - Set back from the beach and up higher for expansive views.
Negril is the smallest resort at 20 acres, but it is spread out, with 1,400 feet of white sand beach. It's on flatter land than Ocho Rios, with nine restaurants, seven bars and three pools with two swim-up bars. It offers beautiful sunsets and a relaxed vibe.
The Negril villages include:
- Island Village - Behind the water park
- Reggaeville - Centrally located between the water park and main pool
- Calypso Cove - A little further from the main pool and water park
Are you a beach bum or adventurer? Negril and Turks and Caicos have nicer and larger beach areas, but Ocho Rios has more to do away from the beach.
How to Choose a Beaches Resort Based on Activities
While water and land sports are included at all Beaches Resorts, some locations offer activities not found at others. For example, golfers may take interest in Ocho Rios (which also offers all-inclusive golf for kids). Families who like to water ski, wakeboard or tube might consider Negril.
All three resorts offer SCUBA for certified divers (beginners must take a resort course for $100 before diving), snorkeling, aquatrikes, Hobie Cats, windsurfing, paddleboarding, kayaking and glass-bottom boats, plus Laser Bug Boats for kids and teens. On land, all three resorts offer unlimited play in the Xbox Play Lounge, basketball, pool tables, table tennis, board games, fitness centers (with classes), day and night tennis, lawn chess, croquet, shuffleboard, a teen lounge and more. All resorts offer Sesame Street character parades and stage shows for the younger guests. Turks and Caicos also offers a mini train ride.
You'll find entertainment throughout the day, as well as shows at night. Turks and Caicos' weekly activities include:
- Monday - Manager’s Jamboree (for families)
- Tuesday Evenings - Sesame Street Live Parade
- Wednesday - Sandals Select Luncheon (for families)
- Daily - Sesame Street activities (The Beaches Caribbean Adventure with Sesame Street)
- Four Separate Shows Weekly - There are four Creativiva musical theatre productions that bring to life acrobatic performances, singing, dancing, acting and technology.
Ocho Rios offers golf (at a nearby Sandals about 30 minutes away) and 22 acres of lush tropical gardens. It has a lot of exciting excursions off the property and banana boat rides. Kids can tee off after noon and enjoy complimentary golf lessons twice a week. Trench Town will be your teens' and tweens' hang-out spot, with fun arcade games, electronic basketball and laser hockey. It has club-like black lights, graffiti wall murals and concert posters. Kids can listen to music on Trench Town's state-of-the-art sound system, or watch flat-screen TVs — all in a space created just for them.
Ocho Rios' themed events include:
- Sunday - White Night and Chocolate Buffet
- Monday - Jamaica Day
- Tuesday - Festival of the Arts (Talent Show)
- Wednesday - Carnival Street Party
- Thursday - Reggae Fest
- Friday - Caribbean Beach Party
- Saturday - Family Fiesta
Negril is a little smaller, but spread out along the beach. It's the only resort that offers water skiing, wakeboarding and miniature golf. It has beach volleyball, soccer, billiards, bocce ball, horseshoes, cards and parties. You can take dance lessons, do karaoke and enjoy live music. Little ones will love Sesame Street fashion shows and talent contests. Teens can play in the Trench Town teen game room with foosball air hockey, basketball, TVs and a graffiti wall. The resort offers an adults-only Piano Bar Sing-Along at the Theatre Bar, theme nights and beach parties, nightclubs, bonfires and live bands. Golfers will have to pay for transport to golf, which is three hours away.
Negril's themed events include:
- Sunday - Reggae Night and Karaoke
- Monday - Jamaica Day and Manager’s Meet and Greet
- Tuesday - Sandals Select Cocktails
- Wednesday - Beaches Festival of the Arts
- Thursday - Sesame Street Carnival Parade and Caribbean Carnival Beach Party
- Friday - White Night and Chocolate Buffet
- Saturday - International Night
Dining Choices at Beaches Resorts
Do you like a wide variety of restaurants to choose from? Or do you like to frequent your favorite spots? Take a look at the dining choices to see which resort most suits your family's tastes.
Turks and Caicos
The Turks and Caicos location offers the most dining choices, with 21 restaurants, including an adults-only restaurant, and 15 bars. Some restaurants include:
- The Jerk Shack
- Bobby Dee’s 1950s Diner
- Café de Paris Patisserie
- Bella Napoli Pizzeria
- Bayside Buffet Open Air Eatery
- Neptune’s Mediterranean Seafood
- Courtyard Bistro Snacks
- Dinos Pizzeria
- Sky International Cuisine
- Schooners Regional Seafood Grill
- Sapodillas Caribbean Cuisine
- Soy Sushi Bar
- Kimonos Oriental Cuisine/Teppan Table
- Arizonas Southwestern Cuisine
- Giuseppe’s Italian Cuisine
- Bombay Club Indian Fare
- Mario’s Fine Italian
- Le Petit Chateau
- Barefoot by the Sea Seafood on the Sand
- The Cricketers Pub Authentic British Fare
- Reflections Buffet International and Local Cuisine
- Curls & Swirls Ice Cream and Milkshake Truck
- Mr. Mac Artisan Macaroni & Cheese Truck
- Late Night Chocolate Buffet
- Sesame Street Breakfast (additional fee) featuring all nine characters at 8 a.m. on Monday and Thursday. Private birthday parties, with a character of your choice, are available for a fee, as well.
Negril has nine restaurants and frozen dessert spots:
- Kimonos Oriental Cuisine/Teppan Table
- Soy Sushi Bar
- Dinos Pizzeria
- Café de Paris Patisserie
- Stewfish Jamaican & Caribbean Seafood (served right on the beach)
- The Mill (buffet)
- The Venetian Italian
- Mariachi Mexican
- Bar.B.Q. Southwestern Flare
- YoYos (frozen yogurt, gelato and sorbet with toppings)
- Sweeties (ice cream counter)
Ocho Rios has seven restaurants:
- The Venetian Northern Italian Flare
- Neptunes Mediterranean Seafood
- Bayside Restaurant Open Air Eatery
- Bella Napoli Pizzeria
- Josephine’ Gourmet Creperie
- La Parisienne French Cuisine
- The Opa Sunset bar on the Terrace is an adults-only bar
Water Park Attractions
The Pirate Island water parks are a major attraction for the tadpoles. The water parks vary slightly per location. If floating down a lazy river is key for your water park day, you'll want to visit Turks and Caicos or Negril.
The 45,000-square-foot Turks and Caicos water park includes:
- Kid-friendly pools with a zero-entry pool for tots
- Water cannons
- Pop-up jets
- Cranks and spray
- 10 water slides, including three huge slides, slides for tadpoles and eight new slides
- Separate splash deck
- Swim-up soda and juice bar
- Lazy river
- The Caribbean’s only surf simulator
- Food trucks, 50's diner and ice cream machine
- Waterfall pool
- Rainforest game room
The 27,000-square-foot Ocho Rios water park includes:
- 11 water slides (including tube slide, body slide, speed slide and six kiddie slides)
- Kids Zone with zero-entry kiddie pool, splashing seahorse and squirting sea turtle
- Water Crawl and Aqua Play Area with themed stepping stones soft-play foam features.
- Water cannons
- Treasure chest
The 3,962-square-foot Negril water park includes:
- Lazy river
- 200-foot waterslides
- Misting pool
- Plunge pool
- Swim-up bar
- Ice cream machine
- Beach grill
- Kiddie area
- Pop-up jets
- Cranks and spray
- Easy beach access
Beaches Resort Rooms and Prices
Your budget can be a big determining factor when it comes to choosing a Beaches Resort. Did you catch the latest buzz? We frogs are hopping into booking discounted Beaches vacations very soon, so you can get the best deal on your trip!
The nice part about Beaches is that whether you have the least expensive or the most expensive room at the resort, you still have the same access to all of the included meals, drinks, activities, Kids Camps and water parks. The higher-level rooms come with other perks such as private lounges, stocked bars, butler service (at some resorts) or events.
All resorts have a variety of room categories, although only Negril and Turks and Caicos have butler service accommodations.
Turks and Caicos has 758 rooms and 44 room categories (including rooms with butler-class service) with accommodations for up to 14 people. Its lowest room rates start a little more than at the Jamaican resorts, but the child prices sometimes go down as the adult prices go up.
Negril has 185 rooms and 24 room categories, some of them with butler-class service. This Beaches resort is mid-priced between the other two.
Ocho Rios has 222 rooms, 16 room categories and no butler-service options. Ocho Rios has extra-large accommodations and some of the lowest prices, making this resort a good value. It offers a variety of room levels, too, from Together Nest Suites for lovebirds, to Concierge Level rooms with extra space and fully stocked bars and a lounge, to Luxury Level rooms, which are the Beaches standard. Ocho Rios does not offer butler-class accommodations.
Excursions at Beaches Resort
Excursions are not included in the all-inclusive price. You certainly do not need to leave the Beaches property to have a great time! But if you want to explore the area outside of the resorts, you can book excursions for an additional fee. Take a look at the type of excursions each resort offers. If you find any must-do activities, then that may be a good resort location for you. Once you book your resort, you can book your excursions before your trip.
Turks and Caicos offers catamaran tours, deep-sea fishing, sunset cruises, shopping, scavenger hunts, historic tours, a Sesame Street Sail Away Catamaran Cruise, a kayak tour and more. A tweens' and teens' catamaran snorkeling cruise is an option if your older kids need to sneak away but still be under supervision. You can also head into town or go for a dune buggy ride.
Ocho Rios offers some of the most exciting excursions. Go for a Wet 'n' Wild Dune Buggy tour, take a catamaran cruise, journey to a secret river and take an open-air carriage through the tropical forest, visit a blue hole and climb its cascades or use the rope swing to jump into the water, or go ziplining. You can also swim in a luminous lagoon, climb waterfalls, swim with dolphins, go deep-sea fishing, head out on a swamp safari, visit a plantation and more.
Negril has some waterfalls and zipline adventures about 90 minutes away. You can also take catamaran cruises and swim with dolphins.
Whatever tour you take, be sure to find out the distance it takes to travel to your destination. A destination that means a three-hour bus ride in each direction is going to take away from your vacation fun (not to mention that it's not always easy to do with tadpoles!).
At the resort, you might be interested in introducing your tadpole (ages 8 and up) to diving (for an additional cost). The Bubblemaker program is an introduction to the thrill of breathing underwater. This program introduces SCUBA in a pool setting through fun games and activities. They can also join the PADI Seal Team and discover a world of underwater fun and adventure built around action-packed Aqua Missions.
Ages of Your Kids
No matter how old your kids are, all of the resorts make a great vacation. But here are a few things to think about.
If you have babies and toddlers, all of the resorts have a kiddie pool (Turks and Caicos has two). You might be more comfortable at a quieter and smaller resort such as Negril, where you do not have to lug your stuff a long distance or require a stroller. The Sesame Street parade is nice in Negril. Beaches Turks and Caicos has a Sesame Street Character Breakfasts (for a fee).
If you have smaller children to watch at the beach, the smaller beach at Ocho Rios can be easier to keep track of them. But keep in mind that this resort is vertical and has six flights of steps from the beach to the top restaurants. There is an elevator, but it's good to consider, especially if you have little ones to cart around. The boat traffic will be pretty busy in Ocho Rios, as well.
If you have older kids who are adventurous in nature, then Ocho Rios is going to offer the most exciting excursions off the resort in terms of heading into tropical forests, climbing waterfalls and swinging from ropes over natural water holes. These do cost extra.
Your older kids who are looking for independence will have more room to roam at Turks and Caicos, or more adventures outside the resort at Ocho Rios.
All of the resorts have Kids Camps and certified nannies. Here' s a look at the childcare options offered at all Beaches Resorts:
- Infant Program for Ages 0-2: Your baby will be taken care of by certified nannies in a climate-controlled nursery filled with cribs, strollers, high chairs, rocking chairs and everything your little one could ever need.
- Toddler Program for Ages 3-4: At Kids Camp, potty-trained 3- to 4-year-olds are supervised by certified nannies. Tadpoles have opportunities to play in toddler pools, collect shells, get their faces painted, go for a treasure hunt, play with puppets, have costume time, enjoy magic shows and build sandcastles, just to name a few.
- Navigators Program for Ages 5-7: At Kids Camp, your froglets can participate in beach science, beach olympics, talent shows, treasure hunts, arts and crafts and more.
- Adventurers Program for Ages 8-10: Your adventurous kids can participate in exciting scavenger hunts, beach soccer, capture the flag, water pong, reggae jam sessions and more.
- Tweens Program for Ages 11-14: From dive–in movies, to karaoke, to a whole world of water sports and activities, the Kids Camp keeps tweens engaged with fun just for them! Sporty tweens can take to the sands in beach soccer, beach volleyball, flag football and more.
- Teen Program for Ages 15-17: Teens get their own special spaces and places to hang out and meet others. With pizza bars, soda bars and their own "nightclub," Club Liquid, until 11 p.m. Teens can enjoy group water sports, boat cruises, pool olympics, tennis clinics, karaoke, discos, dance parties, talent shows and more.
The nannies and Kids Club are all included, but all resorts also offer private childcare for $20 per hour. Special Needs One-on-One Beach Buddies run $15 per hour.
Hopfully, you have a better idea about how to choose a Beaches resort for your family. I'll let you in on a little secret: They are all great and you'll want to keep coming back to eventually try them all!