Jamaica gets you from A to ‘all right’ with luxury all-inclusive resorts, adventurous nature tours, and rich culture.
By Jason Lewis
Jamaica is awesome! Leave your stresses at home, because you will not need them for this trip. This vacation is the perfect way to forget about work and daily responsibilities. The only things on the agenda for this trip is going from the swimming pool to the warm-water beaches, eating great food, and taking amazing excursions.
The island is beautiful; reggae music is always playing; the water is warm; the locals are very nice and welcoming; and the all-inclusive resorts are luxurious. This Caribbean island is truly paradise.
Resort life is great, and the resort staff go out of their way to create an environment that you do not want to leave. But there is a lot of nature and culture outside of the resorts that you should not miss. Creating the proper balance between life on and off the resort is key.
The simplest way to get off of the resort and see what the island has to offer is to go on the many excursions. Tour buses will pick you up right from your hotel.
From Montego Bay, Martha Brae River is a short drive away. This raft tour starts on an inland part of the island, and you will sail down the river with a captain who guides a bamboo raft. The experience is enhanced by the interaction with the raft captains, who are locals. They will tell you about the culture and lifestyles of Jamaicans. They also know about every single plant and flower along the river, explaining natural history facts as you can take amazing photos.
In Ocho Rios, the main attraction is Dunns Rivers Falls, and in Negril there are miles of sandy beaches. Starting from Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril are about 90 minute drives away in opposite directions. There are tours that will take people from one town to the next, and some people decide to take advantage of the attractions in the town that they are staying in to avoid the long drives.
One way to get a better experience of the culture is to hire a driver, which will allow you to get off of the beaten path. Cynika Drake, president of Lavish Lifestyles Concierge, a travel and event planning company, highly recommends doing this.
For $100 U.S., she was able to hire a driver who stayed with her for the bulk of the day.
“Our driver picked us up from our hotel, and drove us through little towns so that we could see different areas, and see how the people who do not work on a resort live,” Drake said. “We went into town and listened to live reggae music. We even stopped at a roadside restaurant and treated him to lunch, because we were only paying $100 for the whole day. Here (in the U.S.), $100 may only get you an hour ride in some places, verses a whole day in Jamaica that somebody is spending with you.”
One other perk about having a driver is that you can ask him to take you to where the locals hang out. The tourist areas can be somewhat Americanized, so having a person from the area can give you a better taste of what the island has to offer.
While it is great to see the sights, for people who pay for the all-inclusive resorts, you want to get your money worth. Since everything at the hotel is already paid for, you are losing money the more that you are away from it.
“We all appreciate a luxurious experience,” Drake said. “When you stay at a luxury resort, you are taking some of the amenities that we’re used to at home with us there. You have access to a spa, there are normally 3-5 restaurants on the property. You have entertainment in the evenings. There is a bar and a club there. I think that you get a lot when you stay at a resort.”
The great thing about all-inclusive resorts is that you do not have to pull out your wallet very often. Three meals a day are paid for, and there typically will be a snack bar where food is always available. For people who like to drink, it’s easy to get alcohol at any point of the day or night.
Most of the resorts are right on the beach, making it easy to go from from the swimming pool to the ocean by walking a few feet.
While there isn’t much of a need to pay for anything on the resort, it is a good idea to have cash. Taking a lot of small bills is good for tipping. The wait staff at the resorts are extremely nice and they make sure that you are well taken care of, so tipping a couple dollars here and there is proper. Tipping drivers and tour guides is also a good thing to do.
You can exchange currency, but there really is not a need to, and many people have said that they did not receive an even exchange. The resorts, excursions, and small shops all accept U.S. bills, and many places will allow you to swipe your card. So there is not a need to exchange money.
Planning for a trip of this nature is important. You can do it yourself, which is incredibly time consuming, or you can hire a company like Lavish Lifestyles Concierge to do it for you.
“We do all of the research for you,” Drake said. “We research the best restaurants to eat at. We research things to see and do while you’re there. And we have relationships with hotels. If you use a company like Lavish Lifestyles Concierge, you get the personalized attention; the better rates; better rooms, and you save hours of time researching the best restaurants and things to do.”
Jamaica is an amazing place to visit, and when properly balancing time on and off the resorts, it can be an extremely relaxing and memorable trip.
Lavish Lifestyles Concierge can be contacted at www.lavishlifestylesla.com.
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