Jamaica: Geckos, English pubs, and Dunn’s River Falls

Although Ireland has been my favorite vacation so far, I must say that our honeymoon to Montego Bay, Jamaica was a close second. In fact, I think I’ll even say that the two vacations could be listed as 1a and 1b! Our wedding was on Friday, August 4th, 2017, and we had decided to leave early Sunday morning for Sandals, Royal Caribbean (I’d advise anyone getting married to have a gap day between the wedding and the honeymoon. We were able to have a full day of rest and just hang with all our friends and family from out of town without a schedule to adhere to). Fun fact: There are two Sandals resorts in Montego Bay: The Sandals Montego Bay and the Sandals Royal Caribbean. By booking at one, we also had full access to the other one all throughout the day (or at least until the shuttles stopped going back and forth). This was great because we actually formed a little friendship with a couple from the other resort, so we were able to go back and forth to hang out with them every now and then.

First: The geckos.

Everything about our arrival was very easy. When we got to the airport in Montego Bay, there was a lounge for anyone that had booked through Sandals that had drinks and snack included while we waited for our shuttle to arrive. Upon arrival to the resort, we were taken to our suite, and away our honeymoon went! First and foremost, I have to preface this part with the fact that I hate anything that crawls; insects, spiders, lizards, literally anything that slithers or crawls like a bug. Honestly, this was the only negative that I saw, and it really wasn’t that big of a deal (I can hear everyone with arachnophobia dying inside right now). Very occasionally, I would see a little gecko run across the sidewalk from one bush to the next, but that was about it. The ONLY part that I would actually not do again from the trip had to do with the geckos: The French restaurant, Le Jardinier. Now hear me out. The food was great. I would go to the restaurant for the food in a heartbeat. The only problem was that we were seated in a table in a corner near a bush. Unfortunately for me, the bushes are where most of the creepy crawlies hung out. The entire time we ate, I was looking over my shoulder at what felt like dozens of geckos within a couple feet of me. Keep in my mind, I have a TREMENDOUS aversion to that type of stuff, so I can subsequently feel all the eye-rolls going on right now as well. Like I said, this restaurant was the only place I was bothered by the geckos. Other than that, I was good to go!

Next: English Pubs.

We developed a pretty good routine while we were in Jamaica. It’s amazing how much human beings crave structure, even during a week long vacation. In the morning, we would would go down to the main breakfast buffet. After enjoying a cup of blue mountain coffee (if you’ve never had it, and you’re a coffee drinker, your life will be changed), we would go catch the ferry out to the private island about a football field away from the shore. For lunch, we’d eat at either the Jerk Shack on the private island, or we’d go back to the The Mariner, which was a little bar and grill right next to the beach. Also, for anyone that cares for drinks, the assortment was plentiful, but for beer drinkers, the only thing on tap was Red Stripe at almost every spot on the island. After lunch, we’d go take a nap in the suite, as we had rain every single day for about an hour around 1 or 2 p.m. After taking a nap, we would find a resort activity to do, like paddle boarding or taking a couple hours to lay in the hammocks above the water. For dinner, we would go to one of the nicer restaurants that require semi-formal dress and a reservation. My favorite was definitely the Bombay Club, where I had the surf and turf both times we went. After dinner, there was usually some sort of entertainment in the amphitheater in the middle of the resort. My favorite night was when a well known steel band came and performed for everyone (for any “Office” fans, I’m also thinking about Michael Scott singing “hot, hot, hot” while playing the steel drum after his vacation with Jan). Where does the English Pub fit into all this? Well, every night after the entertainment, we would go to The Cricketers Pub, located right next to the amphitheater. This was the one thing that we stuck to religiously. All five nights that we were there, we went to this pub, and we would order the same thing every night. We actually had a “usual” by the time we left! I don’t even have a “usual” at any restaurants at home! I ordered the bangers and mash, and Rebecca would get the fish and chips, and each night, it was better than the last. This is also where we got to know the two bartenders at the pub and learned more about their life stories and how they came to work at Sandals. This was absolutely one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Last: Dunn’s River Falls.

Almost everyone I knew that had been to Jamaica before told us that this was something we needed to do while we were there. I will add that this was the only additional thing we had to pay for while were at Sandals (this, and whatever we wanted to buy from some of the local shops). The shuttle took about 2 hours to get there, and we actually stopped on a bridge overlooking the most gorgeous view on the island (at least that’s what our driver told us). I wish I had a picture of it, but I wasn’t really into picture-taking at this particular time. In fact, all the pictures you see that I post from around that time were probably only taken after Rebecca gave me a death stare if I didn’t take it. Fortunately, I’ve come around , and I actually enjoy taking them! Now that I’ve started a travel blog, I think I may be a little more obligated to in the future! Anyways, we got to the falls, and we were placed with a group of about 15 people that will be hand in hand as we started from the bottom and walked through the water up to the top. Pro tip: Make sure you have water shoes! Rebecca was smart enough to bring hers, but I ended up buying some on the way to the falls. We had an absolute blast with the group we were part of. There were some flat spots along the falls that had some natural pools built up, so where there was a slowdown, we were able to swim around for a bit while we waited on the groups in front of us to regain their footing. Now, the only thing that was a little bit of a downfall was the exit from the falls. When leaving to get back to the parking lot, there was a relatively narrow walkway that was loaded with vendors trying to sell you anything and everything for about a quarter mile. I hate letting people down, so I’ve never enjoyed walking through areas like that where high pressure sales are enforced. Nevertheless, the experience was amazing, and I recommend anyone on the island to go check it out!

Alright, here’s my final pro tip! If you ever visit on of the Sandals in Jamaica, and if you love coffee like I do, try this out. Each morning, housekeeping would restock whatever you used from your refrigerator or coffee basket the day before. Here’s what we did. We knew we’d be able to get the blue mountain coffee at the breakfast buffet, so we took the coffee pouches that were in our rooms and put them in our luggage. Each pouch made a full pot of coffee, so if you take the 5 mornings we were there, plus 3 pouches they restocked every day, we had 15 pouches of the most amazing coffee in the world to take back home with us! Trust me, it’s worth it 🙂 .