I told my cousins, who I speak to everyday, that I'm starting a travel blog. The first thing they asked me is, "what are you writing about? Jamaica?" and "what will you call it? Sweet sweet Jamaica?" This is because I always refer to my former home as Sweet Sweet Jamaica. I laughed and said "no, not just Jamaica and no sweetsweetjamaica.com is already taken." I did however deem it necessary to start with a post about the country where my roots began.
I grew up in Jamaica and even though I no longer live there, I visit very often. Anyone who knows me knows that I take great pride in my home country. To me, it is the most beautiful place in the world. My mom moved my sister and I to Florida in 1999 to give us more opportunities to choose from. We've had a good life here - no complaints. However, I still hope to return "home" one day. Meanwhile, I'm thankful it's only a short flight away and quick, affordable, weekend getaway.
The Jamaican culture is unlike any other. Our motto is "Out of Many One People" because it is a melting pot of countless ethnicities. The vibe is very laid back and slow paced with an emphasis on socializing and having a good time. You'll often hear "everything is irie" meaning everything is ok. It's amazing how such a small place on the map has been able to make such an impact on the whole world. It is famous for many things including reggae music, athletes, food, beaches, etc. There's so much to do and explore on the island. I could talk all day about Jamaica, but let's get to the logistics.
There are many destinations in Jamaica to explore. This time we'll talk about Montego Bay, or as the locals call it Mobay. I recommend starting with this location because it's the easiest way to get your feet wet with what Jamaica has to offer. A main reason is one of the two international airports on the island is in this city (airport code MBJ), so you won't have to travel far to get to your resort.
So how will you get there? Look out for my blog on "How to Find the Best Flight" to see how I came up with the results below:
With it's close proximity to the US, Mobay has quick non-stop options from many USA cities.
The most popular type of accommodation here is an all inclusive resort, but there are many options to choose from. I mostly use Expedia to save by booking my flight and hotel together. Look out for a future blog on how to find the best hotel. Here is an example of a weekend stay (Friday-Monday):
Packages including airfare and an all inclusive stay can be very reasonable. There are a few times in the year where it gets a little more expensive, but deals are not hard to find. Many resorts will even include airport transfers, so phone your hotel before paying for any external transfers. If you do have to purchase transfers separately, Expedia will give you that option at the end of the booking process.
A personal favorite of mine (if you feel like splurging just a bit) is Secrets St. James. This luxury included 4 ½ star resort will not disappoint. The Secrets brand is a chain of all inclusive resorts which refer to themselves as "Unlimited-Luxury" resorts. I've tried two resorts under the Secrets Brand so far and the quality is top notch.
This adult only resort is situated on a peninsula which is in an area of Montego Bay called Freeport. It features 9 restaurants, a coffee shop/cafe, 8 bars serving premium drinks, 2 outdoor swimming pools, a white sand beach, a full service spa and many more. Even cruise ship guests choose this resort to spend their day in Jamaica by purchasing a day pass. It's only 0.6 miles from one of the cruise ship terminals.
Another alternative to the popular all inclusive resort option is airbnb. There are many listings to choose from in Montego Bay. One piece of advice, if going that route, is to choose something within walking distance of the Hip Strip (Gloucester Ave.) This strip is a 5 minute taxi drive from the airport and is home to Margaritaville, popular "Blue Beat" waterfront nightclub/lounge, Biggs BBQ Restaurant, world famous Doctor's Cave Beach and many more. Eat, swim, sunbathe, shop and dance the night away.
So now you're ready to pack your bags and go to Jamaica right? Say yes like the locals do, ya mon!
Look out for a future blog on must see and eat in Mobay.