Happy Saturday World Wide Web! It has been far too long since I wrote on this blog, and today, that changes.
Today, I want to tell you all about Jamaica.
You see, my husband and I had planned this trip eight months ago, and we were beyond ready for it when it came. Let me tell you about all things Jamaica, All-Inclusive, and then maybe you will want to go and experience Jamaica too!
As I said, we booked our vacation to Jamaica eight months ago. Do I think you need to do that in order to go to Jamaica and save some money? Absolutely not. However, we had the money and the time for it at that moment in March, so we said hey – let’s get this planned.
You see, my husband travels 38 weeks of the year – so not having a plan is tough for us. I also am one of the most planned out people who you will probably ever meet (I struggle without a schedule), so for me it was a great PLAN to make for his off-season.
When looking at locations to spend our vacation, we looked far and wide across several different islands. Punta Cana, Hawaii – you name it. We fell in love with Jamaica because we both enjoy reggae music, clear beaches and flights under that three-hour threshold.
We did a lot of research on prices, locations and what best fit what we wanted, which led us to Secrets St. James – Montego Bay. One of my favorite bloggers, Paleomg, got married at this resort and it looked bomb, so I figured why not?
When we made our final decision with Secrets, it was an easy call to a booking agent with the company and boom – we were in, with a honeymoon package and all.
Now to the details…
The flight to Jamaica was smooth for the most part. I have THE WORST luck with commercial air as I am always delayed, but we got out pretty-much on time. It turns out the seat next to mine was broken, so they had to move a bunch of people, and then the girl in front of me had some sort of panic attack which brought medical staff on-board – but it all worked out.
We landed in Jamaica right around 1PM, and the transition from flight to customs was rather simple.
Pro-tip: If you are going through customs and a kiosk is available – USE IT. We wasted an hour in a line we didn’t need to be in, but it was ok regardless.
In Jamaica they drive on the right side. This was something I was completely unaware of until we got in our cab (which seated four people, but they crammed five of us in), and saw the driver on the right.
Our trip to the resort was so comical, as Jamaicans really like the throttle and brake pads. If you can picture the Austin Power’s scene of him maneuvering back and forth in that tunnel, well, the ride was a lot like that. My husband even looked over at one point to see if it was a manual, but quickly realized that it’s a different country and life is just different – driving included.
We actually looked up why they honk horns so much in Jamaica and it turns out that it’s a part of life. Honks for love, your annoying, you suck, hello, goodbye – you name it.
When we arrived at the resort, I have felt like I should kiss the ground. I was alive, and we made it – amen!
As soon as we exited the vehicle, we were greeted by a bellman that led us to two other bellman, who didn’t seem interested in us for the first minute we stood there. My husband swears they were passing Cannabis in front of us to one another, but I am a total grandma and didn’t notice. Once *whatever* they were speaking about in Patwa was over, they kindly lead us into the reception area…
The reception area was nice and frustrating at the same time. To be honest, I am not sure if we were razzled by the plane, the drive in or the two bellman out front, but we were both over the process by this point. During check-in we had to wait about 30 minutes for three couples in their fifties who were all on a vacation together and going hard in the paint at 2PM in the afternoon.
We even nicknamed them the three stooges, which I know is judgmental, but hey – they acted the part and we were ready to see our room.
When we finally got through check-in, which was about an hour-long process (our room wasn’t ready at first), we took a big breath and decided to walk around and get a drink or two. This is where the fun began…
I cannot say enough about Secret’s Montego Bay and how fun it is for a resort vacation.
During the first night – we walked around the entire resort which is nearly a mile in circumference and checked out all that the resort had to offer.
Secret’s Montego Bay has two sides – St. James (where we stayed) and Wild Orchid.
St. James is a little less upscale than Wild Orchid, and if we were to stay again we would definitely stay on the Wild Orchid side – despite having access to both sides. The resort as a whole has over five beach areas and four pools that you can hang out at during the day. They also have an array of restaurants, as well as multiple bars and even a nightclub for guests to utilize.
Our first night at the resort, we fell in love with the Piano Bar – which has top shelf alcohol and a stage for live music. The house band played a lot of Bob Marley and we were immediately in drunken heaven. I even got my husband to dance, and for those of you that know him – know that is a big deal!
During our first morning we woke up early (I am a morning person) around 6AM and got ready for our first day. Since we did the walk the night before, we knew we liked the Wild Orchid beach (non-preferred) and thought we would get a hut on that beach. All the daily activity schedules say that you can’t save chairs around the pool and beach area, but we did it with no problem. We spent most of the day’s laying around, grabbing a top-shelf drink from the bar at the St. James lobby and going to dinner.
I just want to note that this resort is beyond safe. We would leave my pool bag on our chairs during breakfast (as did most people) and nothing was ever touched. I wouldn’t recommend leaving a phone/wallet, but for a bag with sunscreen and books – no one cares.
Our day’s followed that same pattern for the seven days we were at Secret’s St. James. Beach > Drinks > Lunch > Drinks > Beach > Drinks > Dinner > House Band > Bed (9-11PM or so).
It sounds like a lot of drinking, but it wasn’t. At this resort, drinks on the beach aren’t the strongest – so we would have a few and just chill. My husband likes to sleep and I like to read, so generally that is what we would do during the day. If you ever go here I highly recommend the , “Purple Rain.” I din’t try it until our last day and I was immensely sad that I didn’t discover it before.
We made a point to have lunch at Oceana nearly everyday, which is one of the restaurants at the resort that has amazing mussels and salmon. If you’re like us and don’t make seafood at home, you would enjoy this restaurant too.
During the evenings we would pick a random restaurant to go to, and build our schedule on where the House Band was playing that night. We are suckers for live music, so we really spent a lot of time listening to their variations of American and Jamaican music.
Late night, the resort offered different activities like game shows, a nightclub and even a silent disco. On the two occasions that they had the silent disco, we went – because if I am intoxicated I want to dance, and it is so fun for no one else to hear the music. (Silent disco is when everyone has on headphones to hear the DJ, and if you don’t have headphones – well, it’s silent). We went to the nightclub once, but it just wasn’t our scene and by that point we were just drunk enough we wanted a quesadilla and some sleep.
During our time at Secret’s St. James Montego Bay we never left the resort. They offer a lot of different excursions that you can pay a bit extra to go on, but for us that just didn’t seem worth it. There were enough activities to keep us happy, that we didn’t have to worry about it. We even got to see a couple get married on the beach right in front of us one of the days! It was a blast.
If you are looking for a place to getaway and forget the stresses of normal life, then go to Jamaica (specifically this resort). After seven days, I don’t think I have been ever more relaxed or tanned in my life. Jamaica is well worth the trip.
Some key advice that I haven’t mentioned yet:
- Take cash with you for tips. The quality of life in Jamaica is really not the best, and a lot of the resort workers work 12+ hours a day with one day off. Treating them with respect insures respect for you, and no tip goes unnoticed. I give HUGE props and love to my husband for this during our vacation. He has the biggest heart and gave a lot of money to the few workers that really got to know us, treat us well and make our vacation phenomenal. He got hugs, high-fives and better service from all of them due to this – so keep that in mind because WE are beyond fortunate for the lives we live.
- Pack your own cup. At All-Inclusive’s you get as much as you want – it’s free. So bring a Yeti or cup that’s larger than the normal size and it will keep you from running up for more drinks out of kind-of gross glasses. We didn’t think to bring cups, but we instead purchased some from their gift shop, and boy did they come in handy.
- Do a walk around to know what the resort has to offer. I am so thankful that we took time to walk around the first day and learn the flow of the resort. For Secret’s there are Preferred/Non-Preferred areas that they enforce during peak season. Fortunately for us, Thanksgiving is not peak season, so you were able to go anywhere. If you are looking to travel to this resort I would highly recommend investigating that before booking to make sure you’d be in the area’s you’d want to be in. Honestly though, we never sat on the preferred side anyway, we just walked on the path through it.
In short, Jamaica is amazing and I really hope we make it back there again in the next few years. We all work very hard for our lifestyle, but are also very fortunate – so why not prioritize vacations? This is something I am so bad about, but hope to be better about in the future.