Oh, Jamaica. How beautiful and wonderful you were! Regretfully, I left so much of you unexplored.
I wasn’t ready, Jamaica. I wasn’t ready to reach deep into your landscape, food, and culture. Jamaica, I promise I will visit again. I promise I will look at you with eyes that see. I remember seeing the poverty as I rode by, in our air conditioned taxi. Just a few miles later, I remember seeing the opulence of brand new hotels, still under construction. Shows like Departures and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown weren’t on my radar yet. My wanderlust was still under the surface, contained by the trappings of routines and expectations that working hard and being stressed all the time was what one did; that spending the money to travel was frivolous.
Sometimes, a person needs to relax.
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I said yes! But there’s no romantic “how he asked me” story (and that’s okay!)
Back in February, 2011, my husband and I were engaged and had not yet set a wedding date. He found an incredible deal on an April trip to Jamaica. We eloped on April Fool’s Day and left a week later for our honeymoon in Negril! It was my first experience at an all-inclusive resort and it was fabulous! I know some will say it isn’t real travel, though after the experience I completely understand the appeal of the all-inclusive resort.
We went to the Hotel Riu Palace Tropical Bay. It was beautiful. Our room was on the ground floor and perfect. We weren’t far from the beach and we spent the vast majority of our time there. We did try the pool and the swim up bar, because it was too inviting to not try it.
Buy Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode about Jamaica!
The Cliff Divers are a must-see
We were both working full time and stressed at our jobs. We were exhausted, so the only off resort thing we did was go to Rick’s Cafe. It reminded me of Key West, with fabulous cliff divers to entertain the crowd.
I was enthralled! These guys are fearless! A few tourists jumped from lower spots. The water was so blue and inviting. I wished I’d been wearing my swimsuit. No, I wouldn’t have jumped because I’m a scaredy-cat, but I’d have floated in the aquamarine water until the sunset.
We also stopped at a mall on the way; I bought Blue Mountain coffee as gifts for my coffee-loving family. I bought some for myself, too. It was delicious!
What I missed…
I’ve watched enough Anthony Bourdain to know that we didn’t really see the real Jamaica. There are several things I want to see now, after the fact, but we have such limited time at beaches so that’s where we stayed.
However, I am the talkative sort. I had lovely interactions with the people working at the resort, especially the dining room. If my husband surprised me with another Jamaica vacation with kids, I’d be ready to go. In fact, I told him if we do go back to the same resort, please request the same room. I don’t beat around the bush with hints around here!
It turns out, my husband cannot read my mind.
Can I go back to Jamaica right now?!
Even though I wasn’t ready to explore Jamaica, my new husband and I did end up getting something we both desperately needed: relaxation.
Where to Stay
Best Family Resort In Jamaica
For families, Beaches Resort by Sandals in Negril is the best option. It has Pirates Island Water Park included in the price. The water park has giant waterslide, water cannons, kids’ pools, and a lazy river. It also offers SO MUCH MORE for kids, like Sesame Street character interactions and even kid camps. I want to visit again right now! Have I mentioned that yet? It’s all-inclusive (with alcohol, if you’re interested) and located on Seven Mile Beach, which is stunning.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Hotel Riu Palace Tropical Bay in Negril, Jamaica. We loved this all inclusive resort. It had good food, amazing coffee, and an alcohol dispenser in the room (if you’re into that). We stayed in early April, which is an excellent time to visit. There weren’t many mosquitoes (though my few bites did swell up a bit) and the resort was fairly quiet. It’s also located on Seven Mile Beach in a stunning and calm location.
We were a little concerned about what I would eat, but my husband had visited this resort chain before and had an idea of what would be available. Everything was labeled, for the most part. Each morning, a chef made omelets to order, using real eggs. At lunch, there were buffet options, as well as a shack on the beach selling jerk chicken. The sauces were all on the side, so it was safe for me!
As always, cross contamination is a worry. If you are extremely sensitive, please ask before booking, again at check-in, and before every meal about which options will be the safest for you. I do recommend avoiding the specialty restaurants. At the time we visited, they didn’t seem to be able to accommodate me.
Have you visited Jamaica? What was your favorite part of your visit? Is Jamaica on your wish list?