Jamaica Vacation All-Inclusive Resorts vs Planning a Family Reunion vs Planning a Wedding ... and 5 more
Edited by Kathy McGraw, Maria Quinney, Eng
The birthplace of reggae, Jamaica is an island nation with miles of beaches, lush tropical forests, rocky mountain peaks, and reef-studded tropical waters. With its colonial past, first under Spanish rule, followed by British rule, it has a rich cultural history that dates back to the time of Christopher Columbus. Today, Jamaica has a thriving tourist trade with over 1.3 million tourists visiting annually.
Method 1: All-Inclusive Resorts
When you're looking for a cheap Jamaica vacation, it's hard to beat the kind of value Jamaican all-inclusive resorts provide regarding services and amenities. With food, drinks, and entertainment included in the price, you get a lot of bang for your buck.
- 1The Caves, Jamaica. Located on the rocky coast of Negril, the Caves is a unique resort built right into the limestone cliffs there. A highlight of staying at the Caves is diving in the many natural caves carved into the surrounding rocks, but if you'd rather not, you can swim in the saltwater pools and share drinks with your love in one of the many hidden grottos on the property. [Advertisement
- 2Hotel Riu Montego Bay, Jamaica. The Hotel Riu is part of a Spanish-owned chain of hotels and resorts in the Caribbean and offers an amazing value for the amenities included in its all-inclusive rates. They include dining in any of the resort's restaurants, watersports, including snorkeling, kayaking, and even diving.Advertisement
- 3Breezes Runaway Bay, Jamaica. Why not treat that golf nut in your life to an all-inclusive tropical golfing experience? Let them enjoy swinging a golf club at the resort's signature 18-hole golf course, sand pits optional, of course. While they're putting on the green, you can work on your tan poolside or on the beach, swim in the sea or the pool, or get a massage.
Method 2: Planning a Family Reunion
With its clear turquoise waters, beautiful mangrove-shaded beaches, Jamaica is an idyllic place to hold your next family reunion. Your entire family can snorkel, go sailing, waterskiing, or simply sunning on the beach. Here are some ideas for where to stay to make sure everyone has a great time.
- 1Franklyn D Resort & Spa, Jamaica. There is no other resort quite like the Franklyn D. Resort and Spa for catering to people of all ages. You can leave your children safe in the care of your own personal Vacation Nanny, provided by the resort free of charge, while you enjoy activities such as kayaking, volleyball on the beach, a relaxing massage or simply work on your tan.Kids of all ages will enjoy "Big Blue," the resort's 100-foot water slide, as well as snorkeling and picnics on the white sand beach.Advertisement
- 2Mullion Cove. Mullion Cove is a private villa with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. It can sleep 12 people comfortably and has a private tennis court so that your tennis-loving relatives can have fun playing against each other. It also has a private beach, so that you can your family can enjoy the surf and sand without anyone else intruding on your family time.
Method 3: Planning a Wedding
Who wouldn't want to get married in this tropical paradise? You can get married and start your honeymoon at the same time. Whether you want to wed your love on the beach, with sand in your shoes and the wind making a mess of your updo, or in a beautiful tropical garden, you are sure to find the perfect venue here.
- 1Couples Tower Isle, Jamaica. After you tie the knot on the resort's private beach, grand room, or garden, you and your new spouse can let it all hang out on the private island where you can sunbathe in the nude without anyone bothering you. And because there are no children allowed, you can enjoy your stay in peace and tranquility. And that's not all: the resort has six restaurants, five bars, four jacuzzis, and four pools.
Method 4: Vacationing with a Family
With its endless sunny beaches, fun water activities, beautiful waterfalls, and towering mountains, Jamaica is the perfect spot to vacation with your family. The kids will enjoy hiking, snorkeling, and splashing in the waves while you relax on the sunny beach. Here are some ideas about where to stay and what to do.
- 1Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa. With the largest water park in Jamaica, Sugar Mill Falls Water Park, this all-inclusive resort is the next best thing to heaven for the little and big kids alike. There is a private beach for your sunning, snorkeling, and splashing pleasure. Of course, for the mature members of the family, there is a spa onsite where you can pamper yourself with luxurious beauty treatments and relaxing massages.
- 2Dolphin Cove, Ocho Rios. In a 5 acre expanse of jungle and lagoons, your children will be thrilled by the antics of the dolphins and awed by the majestic sharks that swim in its waters. Your kids can snorkel with stingrays and even swim with the dolphins and sharks! When they get tired of the water, head through the jungle trail to see iguanas, snakes, and colorful tropical birds in the foliage.
Method 5: Private Rentals
If you want more privacy than you can find at a resort or hotel, or you want a quiet place you can call your own during your stay in Jamaica, a private rental property might suit you better. Many private vacation rentals have private beaches, hot tubs, and sports equipment, such as kayaks and snorkels on the property. Here are a couple examples to consider.
- 1A Summer Place. This seven bedroom luxury villa is located in Discovery Bay. It has a private beach, kayaks, a gym, and even a private tennis court. This villa is perfect if you or your partner are tennis nuts. You can face off against each other in complete privacy and never have to worry about someone else stealing your tennis ball.
- 2Calypso Villa. This charming one bedroom and one bathroom villa are located in Montego Bay away from the tumult of the resort areas. It boasts a breathtaking view of the water from the balcony and a lovely tropical garden in the back.
Method 6: Renting a Car/Transportation
While renting a car gives you the most freedom to move about the island at your pace, it is not recommended. Instead, use taxis, or use your resort's shuttle; many hotels and resorts run a shuttle service for their guests to and from popular tourist sites. If you must rent a car, then Montego Bay has the best rates for rental cars on the island.
Here are four very good reasons why you should reconsider renting a car:
- Road signs are largely absent
- There are too many cars for the number and width of the roads on the island
- You have to remember that, like in the United Kingdom, Jamaicans drive on the left side of the road
- Insurance costs and damage deposits are quite steep.
Method 7: Things to Do
Whether you enjoy hiking mountain trails, scuba diving, snorkeling, tennis, golf, or just relaxing in the sun, there's a little something for everyone to do in Jamaica.
- 1Accompong Maroon Festival. Take part in a Jamaican cultural tradition by attending the Maroon Festival in Accompong, a village in St. Elizabeth Parish. The festival celebrates the signing of the peace treaty between Maroons and British after the Maroons defeated them in the First Maroon War. Learn how the Maroons lived and enjoyed authentic Maroon food, music, dancing, and storytelling.
- 3The Seville Great House. An important historical site of the Colonial Period, the Seville Great House sits on land that was among the first Spanish settlements in the New World. When the British captured Jamaica from the Spanish in the 17th century, the land was gifted to an army officer, Richard Hemming. His grandson built the Great House in 1745 and developed the land into a sugar plantation.
- 4Bob Marley Center and Mausoleum. No visit to Jamaica would be complete without visiting the home and resting place of the great Bob Marley. Nestled in between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios is the village of Nine Mile, where the great musician and singer was born. There you can see the house in which he grew up, and see the tributes his acolytes have carved into its walls, and beside it is his mausoleum where you can pay your respects.
- 5Dunn's River Falls & Park, Ocho Rios. A one-of-a kind natural beauty, Dunn River Falls cascade down into a pool at the bottom. You can climb up to the top of the falls yourself, or opt for a guided tour. Be sure to bring a change of clothes, or wear a bathing suit, as you're going to get soaked on the way up. When you get back to the bottom, you can have a snack at the cafeteria there and change out of your soaking clothing in the dressing rooms provided.
- 6Seven Mile Beach, Negril. Sunbathe by day and party by night at this popular Jamaican beach. As the name implies, the sandy expanse runs along seven miles of coastline, sharing it with the resorts and hotels along its course. You can snorkel offshore here as well as rent kayaks and sailboats. At night, the beach becomes a party zone where you can enjoy lively music, dancing, and of course, plenty of rum.
- 7Blue Mountains National Park. For those vacationers who are interested in a rugged island adventure, head for the Blue Mountains on Jamaica's east side. The misty tops of the mountains rise over 7,000 feet and produce the world-famous Blue Mountain Coffee. You can go hiking along one of the many trails in the park, and there are guided tours in which you can take part. Come prepared with plenty of water and dress in layers, as the weather can get chilly in the higher altitudes.
- 8Boston Beach, Port Antonio. If you love surfing, then you have to visit Boston Beach because the rugged coastline there makes for some seriously epic waves. Of course, you can spend the day lounging on its expanse of white sand, but you'll also want to sample some authentic Caribbean jerk which is thought to come from this area.
- 10Doctor's Cave Beach Montego Bay. The mineral content of the water off the shore of Doctor's beach turns the water various shades of blue, from light to dark as the water deepens. Sunbathe on the white sand, grab a snack from the many food vendors there, or rent kayaks for the day. The snorkeling is also quite good here.
- 11Glistening Waters, Falmouth. Truly a one of a kind experience, the glowing water of this special lagoon on the north end of Jamaica will blow your mind. Of course, the best time to experience this natural phenomenon is at night. The glowing water is caused by tiny organisms that emit light when disturbed, called bioluminescence. Glistening Waters is one of only four other locations on the planet where it makes the water glow; the three other locations are in the Bahamas, Indonesia, and Puerto Rico.
- 14Throne Room, Negril. An amazing experience for scuba divers, the Throne Room is a cave that's in about 60 feet of water and is about 50 feet wide. Growths of coral and sponges decorate the cavern's walls from floor to ceiling
- 15Widowmaker s Cave in Montego Bay. Off the coast of Montego Bay is this beautiful cave of coral, sponges and thrumming with fish and other sea life. The cave entrance is in 80 feet of water and winds your way through tunnels heading into and out of the cavern. Exit in 35 feet of water.
- 16SS Kathryn Wreck, Ocho Rios. The SS Kathryn is a WWII minesweeper that was sunk to create an artificial reef off the waters of Ocho Rios. With a maximum depth of 50 feet, in clear water with good visibility, diving this wreck is suitable for all experience levels. Sealife here abounds, from squirrelfish and bluehead wrasses to sting rays and nurse sharks.
Method 8: Seven Day Itinerary
- 1Day 1. Arrive in Montego Bay, Jamaica and get settled in your hotel. Relax, have a nap to recover your energy from the long flight, then wake well-rested to enjoy tasty Jamaican cuisine and take in some awesome live reggae tunes before turning in for the night.
- 2Day 2. Start the day with the exciting zip line Canopy Tour through the treetops of the rainforest, whipping through them at 35 miles per hour. After that, enjoy some lunch at one of the many delicious restaurants serving Caribbean cuisine, before heading to The Rose Hall Great House where you'll hear all about the White Witch of Rose Hall. If you're a golfer, you may want to hit the links of the legendary White Witch Golf Course before heading back to your hotel for a little rest before heading out the sample Montego Bay's nightlife.
- 3Day 3. It's time to pay respects to the great master of reggae, the Prophet Bob Marley, himself. Walk though the house was he grew up and look around at the items of his that have been preserved. See the writings on the walls that his followers have left for him. Once you've gotten your fill of his childhood home, head on over next door to his final resting place. After and an appropriate amount of homage to the great man, feel free to wander the quaint streets of Nine Mile and sample delicious Jamaican food from street vendors and buy a souvenir or two to commemorate your visit from one of the many shops and carts that line the streets.
- 4Day 4. Pack your bathing suit and head to Dunns River Falls and the Irie Blue Hole in Ocho Rios. At Dunns River Falls, you can climb to the top, but mind your feet because the way can get treacherous. Stop to have a bite to eat at the little restaurant at the bottom before making your way to another beautiful pool of water and its waterfall, the Irie Blue Hole. Finish your day with horseback riding on the beach. How memorable!
- 5Day 5. Now, it's time to head to Negril where you can swim with the dolphins at Dolphins and Barney's Hummingbird Garden before visiting the Caves for a little natural cave diving or cliff diving under the guidance of experts. Take in the beautiful vistas from Negril Lighthouse and spend the afternoon at the beach of Booby Cay Island.
- 6Day 6. On your next to your last day in paradise, take a breather and relax. Sample some of the famed Jamaican jerk chicken from its alleged birthplace at Boston Bay, then meander on to Frenchman's Cove where you can swim in the calm waters of the River, or brave the rough seas beyond the shielding rocks. Be sure to try some of the Jamaican food served by the vendors who come to sell to tourists like you.
- 1Day 7. Relax and enjoy your final day in Jamaica. Walk along the shore at Walter Fletcher Beach and perhaps to some easy snorkeling in the clear water there.
When Is The Best Time to Go?
The best time to go is from November to the middle of December because, although the weather is always warm, the island won't be as crowded. As a bonus, flights and hotels will be cheaper during this period as well.
For More Information
Visit the Tourist Board of Jamaica for more information on visiting Jamaica. You can find out about upcoming events and events that will be happening at the time of your visit.