When you think of Jamaica with little kids, you envision a beach right? Jamaica star attractions are definitely their beautiful beaches, but also how much Jamaican culture embraces families. However, last year,thanks to the Jamaican Tourist Board, my daughter and I had a wonderful experience at the Half Moon Equestrian Centre that has really stuck with both of us. So if you’re heading down to Jamaica with your kids, if you’re near to Montego Bay this is something a little different, not very expensive, and A LOT of fun.
Located at the luxurious Half Moon Resort just outside of Montego Bay, Half Moon Equestrian Centre is truly a snippet of another world – and tax bracket. The stables are pristine, the vegetation lush, and the horses are beautiful. Everyone obviously loves their job, because the vibe there amongst the staff and animals is truly laid-back. Half Moon offers riding lessons and horseback rides at the beach, but for toddlers and preschoolers, their pony park and pony rides are the perfect speed and level of engagement.
The pony park at Half Moon is a small corral with smaller versions of the magnificent horses stabled there. And the ponies have friends – a donkey, some goats, some bunnies, and some doves. The children are introduced to the ponies and their friends one by one, and preschoolers are allowed into the enclosure to gently pet and feed their new friends.
Children under 6 can then go for an escorted pony ride, either just in the corral or a short jaunt through the property. Helmets are provided, but kids need to be wearing longer pants and secure shoes. Seeing how quickly my then-four-year-old adopted perfect riding posture and how natural she appeared as a rider made me realize that I should probably work harder 😉
The cost of this experience is what surprised me. Typically family excursions on any Caribbean island can tend to be quite pricey. We swam with dolphins the day before and the price tag for that is quite steep. However to enter the pony park is $10, and a ride is an additional $10. You’re there for about an hour, and you’re welcome to have a seat on one of the shady benches to watch the lessons and hang out. The washrooms are very clean and the staff are all lovely.
If you have a smaller baby in tow, they won’t be able to interact with the animals, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy the experience! The grounds are flat and quite manicured, but we were there after a rain and it was quite muddy in spots. A regular stroller should be able to manage ok, but if you have a bigger kid going on a pony ride, you may not easily be able to keep up. Your tot is in good hands, though – I only connected with my daughter for her photo ops! The sun is very strong, and it can get quite hot, but there are lots of shady spots. Insect repellent was recommended, but we weren’t bothered by mosquitoes while we were there.
Opening times: 9:00 am – 12:00 noon and 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm.
Cost: $10 per person entering & $10 per pony ride. Phone (876)953-2286 or fax (876)953-9489.