As most of you know, Caleb and I travelled to Jamaica this August. We chose to stay in Runaway Bay and we loved every minute of it. While lounging by the pool and beach can be the highlight of your vacation, I like to do my research and make the most of my travels. That being said, adventure is key. I try to have the perfect combination of daily relaxation while combining a few activities.
If you can guess, or by the obvious title, this entry will teach you all there is to know about some fun excursions in Jamaica. Similarly to my Los Angeles blog, below are my top 5 activity picks! If you are ever in Jamaica (Ocho Rios, Montigo Bay and or Negril)... particularly our area, you must try some of the following.
Before we get started, above is a typical compilation video montage of our trip. Sometimes, even if I purchase the audio...there are still copyright restrictions. CLICK ON MEif you want to watch our travels via YouTube (on a laptop) where as up above is the compilation on my trusty sidekick, Vimeo. I had such an amazing experience and you all know how much I love making videos. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did creating it. I am actually very happy with how it turned out. I used Final Cut Proto edit while my trusty GoPro & Cannon70D was used to film. Enjoy this lengthy post alongside a snippet of the fun we had.
My favourite excursion by far was Blue Hole. The water was magical and the entire setting looked as if it was cut straight from a movie. About an hour drive from our resort (which has many twists and turns) you will uncover beautiful coves and sparking ice blue water. The name is truly fitting. Your guide will take you through small patches of water falls and various points where you can cliff jump. If there was an option to spend an entire day here, I would be the first one to sign up. The water feels immaculate on your skin, it is unlike any other water I have swam through. If you have a wonderful guide like ours, he will even take pictures for you! If you have a DSLR, ask your guide to carry it along as they won't be getting wet and have walked around before, sure not to slip on stones. The snapshot above was taken by Dante He was amazing, he would adjust settings on our camera and squat down for angles as if he were a professional. Our guide treated us too well and I can honestly say, I will remember this excursion forever.
Luminous Lagoon...oh how beautiful these waters were. This lagoon is filled with sun electrified algae that radiates a neon blue colour when there is movement against the current. When you jump in and swim around, you will notice the waters around you changing a never before seen colour. When you arrive in the boat, filled with endless rum and cokes, you will stop in the middle of the open water. I originally had thought it would be in a cave or a cove. Nope. Middle. Of. The. Cove. I at first thought "oh no thanks, I'll just stay here". No matter the waters, I always fear there is something beneath that will grab me and take me away...all thanks to ocean horror movies that I love so much. There was fair warning of the waters. They are not deep and there are no sharks. Our captain said verbatim: "In Jamaica, there are no great whites....just great blacks". With his knowledge, he explained that over the years, mud has built up at the bottom of the water. When I jumped into the water, the feeling I felt on my foot was HORRID! Okay, don't let me discourage you. Just imagine an icky shin deep warm murk around your legs that don't fully submerge your legs because hey...you are in water! I was not a fan of this and kept my legs as high as possible to avoid this feeling. Some people didn't mind it at all and were focused on the beautiful radiating light. So sad to say but learn from our mistakes. PLEASE bring your professional cameras, or ensure that the tour you book has the photographer on board. It is always nice to be able to take home photographs as memorabilia. We were nervous about getting our camera wet which isn't the case. You can set your bag in the middle of the boat as it it is just you, a few others and the open water. Unfortunately, our excursion did not have a photographer (some do) to buy photos. Thus, our iPhones were not equip to catch the beauty of these waters. We were not the only ones! Samsungs were able to actually capture the light (just a little). Here, I have attached a link for you to view what we saw in person. Sometimes, there are moments in life that are best lived through instead of behind a camera. Even though we don't have a photographed memory to show you, I hope you believe me when I say, this attraction is a must do.
DUNS RIVER FALLS
Duns River is amazing. You literally sign yourself up for a hike up these magical falls. Perhaps it was the time we went but if you go around noon, you will notice the falls are PACKED. I truly suggest going when they first open and preferably during the week, not weekend. The locals bring their families at this spot which has more to offer than their spectacular falls. There are also gardens and parks to walk through and explore. I also encourage you to check out these parks and other attractions, much like the locals. You can choose to go up the falls with a guide, or without by yourself. Now having been with a guide, I would love to try going on my own. Please note, when you go up with a guide, you are linking hands with the entire group like a little family. During your tour, you will also participate in fun photo ops and video opportunities (as they encourage you to buy their video for $40.00). Our guide was kind enough to ustilize our GoProduring these ops. You will be getting soaked. So I would recommend you all to leave your stuff on the bus, with your driver or in your locker (which vary in cost). We also saw many people carrying around these neck cases. I honestly am thinking of buying one of these for my next vacation. They are perfect for water excursions and to have a place to keep your cash, dry.
HORSE BACK RIDING
Oh, I love animals. When we saw this excursion, Caleb and I immediately knew we wanted to add this to our Jamaica list. A few things to keep in mind before booking is your comfortability riding on a horse. It isn't a requirement, but after having done the tour, I sincerely recommend it. The duration of the tour is roughly 3 hours in the blazing sun, on your horse. For about an hour straight you will ride your horse towards the beach. The tour consists of both nature trails and the ability to ride your horse through the ocean. Seriously...Through. The. Ocean. AMAZING! Seeing as you cannot bring much with you, ensure to have some cash with you to purchase a water by the rest stop beach bar. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and felt really comfy on Sweet Pea. Caleb loved his horse, Lova Lova and they both seemed to really like each other. It was a liberating and beautiful experience. As a reminder, bring a towel. Seeing as it is hot, the towel will be used to drape the saddle, in which case, your legs won't rub against the saddle creating a rash or making it an uncomforatble ride. The towel really helped and also dried up the ocean water when our horses took us through it. There was honestly nothing else quite like it. I would do this excursion again.
Make sure to make the most of your stay. Your local resort will have a multitude of activities sure to leave you smiling. I know I am contradicting myself from the start of this entry, but something you must do in Jamaica is keep up with your daily resort itinerary. Spend the day relaxing, go to the breakfast buffet, try out everything you want to, sleep by the cabana facing the pools, explore the grounds, watch and participate in their shows, and always check out what the schedule holds. You can be a part of a beer chugging competition one hour and play battle of the sexes in the next. I loved my morning Aqua aerobics and had a ton of fun plying 'Guess That Song'. I was told to sit one round out because I was getting all the answers before my fellow guests! Jamaica has many beautiful parts to explore, I highly recommend adding this travel destination to your next vacation.
I hope these 5 excursions are must adds to your Jamaica travel list. As I was writting my top 5 things I did, I also felt it was best to add a few helpful travel and packing tips as there were a few things I had wished I knew (or were reminded) before this trip. I also encourage you all to travel to Jamaica. If you have ever thought about this destination in passing, I know I had, after my travels, I know I would easily go back without hesitation!
- Ensure to bring extra cash with you, especially at all inclusive resorts. The hard working staff is always providing you with smiles, drinks and ensuring you have a positive experience. They truly make your vacation a once in a life time experience, tip them accordingly. We did our best to leave a few dollars here and there during each meal provided. Having worked in the service industry, this small gesture goes a long way. If someone is helping you and making you smile, it is always a wonderful thing to give back.
- Research your beach
During our stay, we found that our beach is shallow and the Luxury part is a little rocky. Walk your way on over to The Grand side (family side) as they have a BEAUTIFUL beach! Always research your resort before you book to find one that suits all your beach needs. But...don't take any reviews to heart. Every place had mixed reviews. I became anxious when choosing our first vacation spot. What if this or what if that? The stress became overwhelming. I ended up going with my gut and didn't let any reviews affect my decision. I am my own person and have my own mind to make. I was so glad I did. Of course, this entry is more of my personal take. Everyone's experiences are different, these are just a few tips, tricks and some background information I wish I knew. Take it with a grain of salt or an informative guide before your next Jamaican escape.
- Remember to pack some essentials: You cannot be without sunscreen, sunglasses, a blanket (for the plane), accessories, your camera, underwater camera (GoPro), medicines, locks for your suitcases, headphones (because music is life), bug spray, and snacks. Even though it is an all inclusive, you ca never go wrong purchasing a few snacks to nibble on in your hotel room. I know you can find many of these items on the resort, but buying them in your home town is always the more frugal option.
- If you book excursions, tick on a few extra days to your stay. Don’t get me wrong, we loved our relaxation time. But seeing as those excursions can run for 2-5 hours, that is a good chunk of your day spent gallivanting making you a little tired. Also, the sun rises very early and sets right around 6:15-45. Enjoy the beauty while it lasts and add those extra days.
- Check pool times
The night staff clean the pool around 8 throughout the night. The pool is only open until 7:30 but open very, very early. I assumed I may be able to have a few night swims (not that this disappointed me) but something to keep in mind when booking with our resort or any resort in particular. If you are keen on night swims, give your potential resort a call and ask their regulations.
- Cleanliness is key
You will never find a cleaner hotel then The Bahia Principe. There are a multitude of staff consistently replenishing your fridge (Bigga was my favourite pop), cleaning the rooms, the lobby, keeping the grounds in tip top shape every day. This was a huge plus in my books!
Wherever you decide to stay, whatever you decide to do, just remember to make the most out of your trip. A positive attitude will completely transform your experience. I recommend living in the moment to appreciate everything in its entirely. Enjoy every moment and keep in mind your company or your alone time is what is important. Value the energy in this trip, make sure you exude happiness and laughter. You ultimately have a choice in how you feel during your stay, make sure you leave Jamaica (or anywhere) with lots of smiles.