Why visit Jamaica
Jamaica has been on my bucket list for years. I’d never been to the Caribbean before and although there are many Caribbean countries I’d love to visit, Jamaica was top of my list. The Caribbean climate, tropical waters and miles of beaches are only a few of the reasons to visit Jamaica. The island is bursting with adventure and culture. There are so many things to do in Jamaica (see my recommendations below) and so many beautiful places to see. The locals are some of the friendliest and happiest people you’ll meet and they love to engage with tourists and share their culture. I’m also so excited to share our trip with you because I honestly think we made the absolute most of seven days in this beautiful tropical island. We didn’t visit the typical tourist hot-spot Ocho Rios (where the cruise ships dock). Rather we travelled south along western coastline staying in two amazing resorts and getting to experience an authentic rural Jamaica along the way.
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Where to Stay
We stayed in two different locations – a luxury cliff-side resort in the ‘casual capital’ Negril, and in an oceanfront bungalow on Jamaica’s rugged south coast, Treasure Beach.
The Cliff Hotel, Negril
The Cliff is acclaimed as one of the best luxury hotels of the Caribbean and within moments of checking in we could understand why. While this is a Caribbean pool resort, it’s far from a bustling and overcrowded resort you might expect – there’s no need to worry about reserving a sun lounger early in this resort. There is a distinctive serene ambience in the resort. It’s surprisingly quiet yet the activities such as a group pilates class and cocktail hour in the cliff bar at sunset make sure you get the opportunity to meet other holiday goers and local staff alike. The staff and other guests will know your name and make you feel at home.
We stayed in a large junior suite complete with a hammock on our balcony overlooking the pool and cliffs. We loved our room however after getting the chance to see the beautiful villas I would love to return with a group of friends and book a villa for a week – they are amazing! The hotel’s restaurant is beautifully situated on the cliffs. There are also two areas to bask in the sun; by the hotel’s large pool area or down by the cliffs themselves. Both areas have their own bars and you can quickly cool down by taking a dip in the pool or jumping off the cliffs. The hotel spa is also a must-visit. It’s is secluded amongst the trees overlooking the cliffs. The idea behind this design is that research shows that the sound of the ocean slows down our brain waves and de-stimulates us. Trees and plants surrounding the spa not only allow for extra privacy but are antioxidants and the spa also uses all these indigenous plants as organic products during treatments.
Jakes Hotel, Treasure Beach
Jakes Hotel is nested in the rugged landscape of rural Jamaica, where areas of swaying palms on white sand beaches meet sweeping savannahs and rocky coastlines. Staying in Jakes allows you to get a true sense of Jamaica; the resort began by the owner buying a 100 year home which is now the reception area and grew the resort from there and also bought neighbours homes which she turned into villas. The owner of Jakes was keen to not disrupt the rural Jamaican landscape therefore the villas were built in such a way that they’re tucked between trees and on cliff edges. This also allows for the utmost privacy in most villas. Not only does the beautiful surroundings of Jakes Hotel represent rural Jamaica, you really do feel get the opportunity to connect with locals each day. Jakes makes every effort to support it’s close-knit community by sourcing local produce and buying directly from small local farmers and fishermen.
Jakes offer a range of rooms to fit various price range, including hotel rooms, villas, cottages and beachfront bungalows. We stayed in an oceanfront bungalow with a private deck and roof deck where you could watch the most beautiful sunset on the Caribbean horizon. The location of Jakes is also great. It’s one of the best hotels to stay in if you want to visit Floyd’s Pelican Bar (more on this below), a boat will actually pick you up at the hotel to bring you. The hotel is also a short distance from Black River Safari and YS Falls. Be sure to book in a yoga class on the rooftop terrace of the hotels spa.
Things to do
YS Falls and Zip-lining
Zip-line over the cascading waterfalls before swinging from a rope swing into the falls. This was one of the biggest highlights of the trip for me and the staff at the falls really did make our experience so much fun. There are many beautiful falls dotted around Jamaica, some of which can be extremely overcrowded (particularly those close to Ocho Rios).
7 Mile Beach
Enjoy a beautiful 7 miles beach stretch and finish with a drink in Margarittaville. There are also lots of water sports activities and boat trips that leave from the beach.
Floyd’s Pelican Bar
A driftwood bar stilted in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Treasure Beach. An absolute must if you visit Jamaica. It’s such a unique experience.
Martha Brae River Rafting
This was top of my list to do as rafting the Martha Brae river is a very well-known tourist activity in Jamaica. It’s also in a really good location, not too far from Ochos Rios and Montego Bay.
Enjoy farm to table dining in a rural mountain valley.
Situated atop a cliff, Rick’s Cafe is undoubtedly one of the best bars in the world and it has numerous awards which confirms this. Rick’s Cafe is the perfect place to grab a rum, enjoy Reggae music and dancing and to watch the sunset. It also happens to be one of the best places to cliff dive on the island so be sure to bring your swimsuit! Most people arrive before dusk to watch the divers before enjoying the beautiful Jamaican sunset. It’s ideally only a few minutes away from the Cliff Hotel.
Horseback Riding and Swimming Experience at Rhodes Plantation
I’ve always wanted to swim with horses in the Caribbean and the experience we had with Rhodes Planation certainly lived up to my expectations. After a forest and beach trek we got into the ocean and the horses actually swam through the water. It was such an amazing experience.
Snorkelling with Famous Vincent
Unlike many snorkelling experiences, Famous Vincent offers a guided snorkelling tour ensuring you get the most out of the experience.
Black River Safari
Take a boat trip on the Black River to spot wild Crocodile. Black River Safari also have an infirmary were they look after injured or weak crocodiles until they’re healthy enough to return to the wild. We got the chance to hold a baby crocodile while we visited.
For any additional information on any of the activity be sure to check out Visit Jamaica.
Flights, Visas, Getting Around Jamaica & Safety
One of the things I heard often before my trip was how dangerous Jamaica was. Having been there, I can honestly say that I never felt unsafe while there. However, we were very careful and safe for the entire trip yet we managed to explore so much of the country. We were able to do this by booking a driver with Paradise Travels in Jamaica. I’m not the kind of holiday-goer who has any interest in staying in a resort for an entire week. I wanted to emerge myself in the Jamaican culture, drive through the rural countryside, stay in various locations and pack in as many excursions and activities as possible. We were able to do this by booking Paradise Travels. I would highly recommend booking a driver for a couple of days and pack in as many activities as possible in that time.
You don’t need a visa to travel into Jamaica however be mindful that you might need to fill out the ESTA form if you’ve a stopover in the US. We travelled from Dublin to Montego Bay via Atlanta with Delta Airlines. There is also the option to travel to London first and then travel direct to Montego Bay.
For any additional information be sure to visit www.visitjamaica.com.
Most of my swimwear, kaftans and my basket bag with black embroidered trimming were all from Primark who kindly partnered with me while I was in Jamaica. I actually don’t ever remember a time where I went on a holiday and didn’t raid Primark beforehand! I always pick up so many really nice pieces before a trip. I particularly loved the red and white swimsuit teamed with the high-waisted white denim shorts, straw hat and basket bag. It was such a perfect holiday look and so affordable.
My headbands (red and yellow) were both from Zara.
I also purchased a few pieces from Shopbop for the trip. The colourful plunge neck dress was is no longer in stock but it’s from a brand I love called MinkPink and you can check out their collection here. The colourful swimsuit pictured above at Pelican Bar is also from Shopbop and it’s by a brand called Maaji. I’ve never before invested in swimwear pieces and after swooning after so many pieces from Shopbop’s swimwear collection I invest in this bikini set from Maaji and I adored it. It’s such an amazing fit and the bottoms are actually reversal so I feel I can get even more wears out of them!
If you’ve any questions about the trip please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Until next time,