Here’s the thing and don’t laugh: We both LOVE the one and only, the legend, Bob Marley. We love his music, his believes, his One Love ( as you can tell from our blog name ), we love the Rasta culture etc. you get the idea. So we though, we must visit Jamaica, the roots of all.
Neither one of us had any idea where exactly to go in order to truly have the experience and what we were looking for? At that time (2011 ) there weren’t many travel blogs with recommendations and advice for what to see and do in Jamaica. All we could find were the only 3 popular tourist destinations Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril with their all-inclusive resorts. All the pictures of course looked so amazing with stunning white sand beaches, palm trees, just a dream. “So let’s do this” we said.
Despite our mixed filling on staying in all inclusive resorts we booked 5 nights in Negril and 3 nights in Montego Bay. At least we both love chilling on the beach, we thought.
Here are 7 things you should know before you go:
1. Know why are you going there and what do you want to see.
It’s important to know if you want to just sit on the beautiful beach, swim in the ocean, read a book under your umbrella and do nothing but relax. Or if you want to see more of the country, meet the locals, have an adventure, learn about the culture and have more fun.
2. Location is the key
If we had to go back in time and do it again we would’ve skipped Montego Bay ( personal opinion ), maybe see Ocho Rios or not, but mostly we would have stayed in a smaller place, explored and see more of the country; see the real Jamaica and the people. But hey, don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing bad with all inclusive resorts. There are some stunning boutique style small hotels that we wouldn’t mind staying at all if we could afford. Plus relaxing on the beach and doing nothing sometimes sounds very tempting for us. But you can’t quite experience the new destination this way. Of course, you can still participate in organized excursions from your resort but it will be packed with many other guests.
3. Local people are genuinely nice
Make an effort to meet some Jamaicans, and they will amaze you with their happy, positive spirit and genuinely nice hearts. They are always singing, always dancing and smiling. “Ya, mon…No problem mon”
And yes, a lot of them will be walking on the beach trying to sell you stuff. But if you get to talk to them, not about their product but about them, they will open up and it’s fun to get to know their life.
4. Jamaica has way more to offer that the white sandy beaches of Negril and Montego Bay.
It’s a true Caribbean a gem being visited by millions of people each year, but very few of them see the real Jamaica outside the resorts. There’s amazing rainforests and waterfalls, local villages, markets and much more. We were lucky enough to meet this couple, who had already organized a day trip with some locals to pick them up and show them around beyond the beaches. So we joined them and turned out to be the highlight of our trip. We saw what we thought a bit of real Jamaica is. The best part, we never crossed a path with any other groups of tourist. It was amazing experience.
We visited Little Bay, which was such a peaceful and beautiful place even in a cloudy day.
Bob Marley batting mineral spring. “Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing, gonna be alright!”
The happiest Mikey. Taking a dip at Bob Marley swimming cave.
5. The Blue Hole Mineral Spring
Located in a remote part off the beaten path it’s one of the must see and do attractions in Jamaica. You can jump or climb the ladder into the turquoise deep water. After that enjoy exfoliating your skin with the natural limestone mud buried inside the walls of the spring. You can spend an afternoon there, have a cocktail at the bar or play some volleyball. We had the luck to have the place for the 4 of us only and we had a blast.
6. The Beaches
Here we feel the need to be completely honest, hopefully without offending anyone. Is it because we got spoiled, but the more we’ve traveled and seen or our ladder for stunning tropical beaches has lifted way higher. The beaches here were not the most beautiful and breathtaking as you would think. It’s really hard for us comparing them with Hawaii, Philippines, Indonesia, Fiji or the Maldives just to name few. Nonetheless, Jamaica is not just about the beaches. We enjoyed 100% of it’s everything else. There’s still so much that we wish we did and saw, but we are planning to go back again.
Philippines, Indonesia, Fiji or the Maldives just to name few. Nonetheless, Jamaica is not just about the beaches. We enjoyed 100% of it’s everything else. There’s still so much that we wish we did and saw, but we are planning to go back again.
7. Sunsets at Rick’s Cafe
One of the most popular places for tourists and locals as well. It’s true, this place gets pretty crowded but definitely worth making a stop. The sunsets are spectacular and you can enjoy live music, jumping from the 35 foot cliffs or just have a cocktail and good time.
The worst photo, but the only one proving Mikey jumping from the cliffs there.
For the end, we can only add that we loved our time in Jamaica. Without a doubt, there is way more that we haven’t seen yet, but we know we will be back for sure.