R was grinning ear to ear when I mentioned Jamaica as a possible option for our Christmas getaway. When I think of beaches, I see myself in the sand, with a book in my hand ( oh, that rhymed ) and sipping a mojito/beer/mai tai (you get the idea). But for R, water is his best friend. So naturally, like most couples we made a deal (marriage, compromise and all that jazz), one trip a year to an island. I wouldn’t complain and he wouldn’t drag me into the water (or so was the deal ).So, it was settled. We were going to spend 3 nights and 4 days in Montego Bay and make the best of it. Plus, JA offers visa on arrival to Bharatiya Nagarik , so that’s one less thing to worry about. It’s already looking good :).
Intent of this time off:
R : Swimming. Staying in the water until wife yells.
S: De-stress (eat, drink and read). Find Sapota and/or Seetaphal.
Day 1: Land in Montego Bay around noon. Check in to our B&B and walk to the Doctor’s cove beach
Day 2: Day tour to Blue Hole and Glistening waters
Day 3: Day tour to Negril
Day 4: Relax and take the last flight out
Accomodation : Mynt Retreat & Spa (Reserved on booking.com)
Day 1: A very Bollywood movie-ish drama unfolded while R and I tried to make it to H-town for our flight to Montego Bay. R was flying in to ATX from Pittsburgh. We were to drive to H-town the following morning to catch our flight to Montego Bay. Long story short, his flight got delayed, detoured and delayed some more and he made it to H-town instead of ATX only a few hours before our flight to Montego Bay was to take off. Despite the whole ordeal, R was quite cheerful (its the idea of the beach, I tell you).
Fast forward 3 hours, we made our wayout of the tiny Mo’bay aiport (which reminded me a lot of Goa airport) and soon were face-face with the humidity of the island. Our B&B host Valerie has arranged for an airport pickup and we tried to find a placard with our names on it amongst the sea of posters in front of us. A good 30 mins later we arrived at our B&B (Mynt Retreat & Spa). Now, the reason for choosing this place were fresh cooked meals, budget and location (in that order 😉 .
Ricardo was on time and extremely courteous when he picked us up in the morning (and this needs a special mention cause this was Christmas Day and he chose work over family. And the guilt I had over this is indescribable). On the way to the Blue Hole, he stopped at various places to let us click pictures, take in the scenery and gave us some insight about the place and the people. Oh, Ricardo also treated us to some yummy sweet potato pudding on the way. It took us a good 90 mins to get to the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios. R and I would definitely recommend this place if you are looking for a quiet swimming experience, jumping into the water like Tarzan and other cool stuff. Mind you, this is a private pool and the guides help you through the different pools (depth wise), offer to take pictures and stay with you till you exit the park.
Ricardo helped us find a lunch spot where we gorged on some lamb curry, jerk chicken and more potato pudding . And oh, did I mention fresh coconut water bought at the street vendor?? (fond memories of the home country ). As I was getting nostalgic, we made it to our glistening waters tour. We would definitely recommend this tour as seeing bioluminescence is the closest I have got to experiencing magic. And if you want to take it up a notch, the tour allows you to swim around the boat and you can be a glowing mermaid :D. Magic, right?.
We said goodbye to Ricardo as he dropped us off at the B&B. Valerie and her staff had a Christmas dinner for their guests earlier that day. Since we were out all day, they saved R and me a plate of food with traditional Christmas delicacies which was inhaled by the both of us.
Still reeling from the bioluminescence experience from the night before, we headed to the patio for breakfast. After feasting heartily on fruits and salt water fish cooked with coconut gravy and a huge cup of blue mountain coffee, we were ready for our day excursion to Negril(the house of the famous sunsets). Mark ( one of the guides from the tour company) drove us to the 7 mile beach (one of the most popular destinations in Negril).
Now, I have had my heart set on eating some Sapota and Seetaphal while on the island. The ladies at out B&B said I might be out of luck cause it was off season. But but but, on our way to Negril we found a street vendor selling said fruits. I’ll leave you to imagine – me screaming, running out of the car, looking at these fruits longingly as R pays for them and then devouring them.
Where were we? Yeah 7 mile beach, so, it’s got none of that local flavor. Mostly America-nized with a MargaritaVille for a lunch spot and flocked with tourists. In short, the experience was blah! After a quick lunch, quick hour in the water, we made our way to the famous Rick’s cafe, the southernmost point of Negril and a much touted view point.
Now, this was more relaxed. We snagged a table by the edge of the cliff as we watched divers jump in to the water(my heart was in my mouth everytime some one jumped). Red stripes and Rum& Tings were followed by a gorgeous sunset. Just when we thought it couldn’t get better, the band started playing which led to some dancing (mostly by me ).
A nearly perfect end to a wonderful evening. I will refrain from talking about our experience with souvenir and coffee shopping at the local markets. Would definitely recommend buying stuff at the airport or take a local to help haggle and to prevent buyer’s remorse.
I have had enough of my share of time in the water and looked forward to the massage that Valerie set up for me. All attempts to coax R into a couple’s massage back fired. Off he went, to spend the last few hours at the beach. In a way, its kind of perfect. We got to spend the last few hours trying to relax the best way we know how. So, there you have it folks – our mini-cation and how we tried to savor the spirit of the island life in a mere 3 days. It’s not the ideal scenario. But yes, its do-able.
1. Liberty Tours – More for the professionalism
2. Take advantage of the seasonal fruits.
3. Try the Rum and Ting
4. Buy your souvenirs/coffee at the duty free stores at the airport. Not worth haggling with the street vendors / store owners downtown
5. Bring water shoes ( or buy them at the local stores)
6. Taste the blue mountain coffee!!
Bharatiya Nagarik : Indian Citizens | Bollywood : Indian film industry | H-town : Houston | ATX : Austin | Sapota : Neesberry/ Sapodilla | Seetaphal : Custard Apple