by Michele Peterson
As I float with the current, following a silver fish above a sea grass bed in Montego Bay Marine Park, I spot my 11‐year‐old grandson making a hand signal that unmistakably screams stop. I pop my head out of the water to find out more. “That’s a great barracuda,” he says, taking the snorkel from his mouth. “Stay away…it might mistake you for prey.”
This is untamed Jamaica where a vast range of sea creatures – from plump yellow starfish to schools of blue angelfish – are just a flipper kick away. With so many Caribbean beaches to choose from, it’s easy to find family‐friendly fun. But when planning our family vacation, I was looking for more than just fun in the sun. I was hoping to find a still‐wild spot where we could delve deep into nature but not sacrifice luxury.
I decided on Sunscape Cove Montego Bay, an all‐inclusive resort that’s been earning well‐ deserved buzz for the refurbishment of a property set directly on the marine park. Newly launched under the AMResorts brand, a collection of luxury all‐inclusive resorts in Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Curacao, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, it offers premium accommodation as well as proximity to white sand beaches, coral reefs and mangroves. The next morning, we don’t waste any time getting out to explore the peninsula. Guests at Sunscape Cove enjoy full access to facilities at neighbouring Sunscape Splash Montego Bay with its pirate‐themed waterpark and four outdoor swimming pools, non‐motorized water sports and Explorers Club for kids. Just offshore the sea flashes with so many striped sergeant major fish it feels as though we have plunged into a washing machine full of black and yellow swim suits.
The next day, Jamaica’s lush rainforest lures us inland. Our destination is the Blue Hole, a natural plunge pool above Ocho Rios that’s less well known than Dunn’s River Falls and sees fewer crowds.
We spend a blissful afternoon exploring the Blue Hole’s teardrop‐shaped waters. Accompanied by a young guide who points out prime spots, we fling ourselves into a warm turquoise pool and explore dark underwater caves. An easy trail further into the rainforest leads to a multi‐tiered waterfall set among ferns, where it is possible to swing on a vine rope over the cascades.
We wrap up our Jamaican adventure where it began, by snorkelling Montego Bay National Marine Park. As we float in the clear waters, I review my slideshow of memories — from barracuda to swimming holes — and realize that this open‐air classroom has served up a few life lessons along with its experiences. Most notably, avoid long silver fish with razor sharp teeth.