Jamaica – Dairy of the Island Vacation

Our summer vacationΒ πŸ˜€.

Took a red eye flight(12:15 am) on American Airlines with one stop over in Charlotte, NC.

Day 1
Reached Montego Bay at 11:30 am. Montego Bay is locally referred to as “Mobay”. Place has very thick vegetation, so many coconut and banana trees. They have buildings built in concrete, everything resembles India. The weather was warm and humid. We stayed at Hilton Rosehall resorts and spa which was all-inclusive. The hotel had arranged for a shuttle to pick us up from airport. Initially the English language spoken by the locals was very hard to understand. They have British influence, still the pronunciation and the accent was very different..

Checked in at the hotel. We were welcomed by the cold towels and mango-ginger juice. The hotel had many restaurants on the property. Headed to the restaurant “Fresh” for a healthy lunch (veggie panni (with pineapple and jalapeΓ±o, onion and pepper jack cheese), salad with mango vinegratte, desserts there were so many options). Kids enjoyed the food and drinks. The funny part is in this all inclusive hotel everything except bottle water is inclusive.πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. Had to pay if we asked for bottled water.

The kids couldn’t wait to get to the water. Went to the “Sugar Mill Falls” and lazy river. There were 2 big slides and for one of the slides we had to use the tubes to slide. Kids and the adults had so much fun, we kept on sliding away all evening. Got to be a kid again πŸ™‚

LazyRiver

The hotel had access to the beach. After playing in the lazy river, we went to play in the beach, where it was fun jumping against the waves. This beach had lot of pebbles and weeds. Since it was the first day we just continued to play and decided to explore more later.

There was a local cafe that served coffee, cookies and pastries. In the evening went there to grab our evening coffee/latte. Sipped the coffee sitting in the open terrace with some coconut cookies.

We had dinner reservation at “Three Palms” a Caribbean restaurant. We were so looking forward to the Caribbean food. Menu had very limited choices for vegetarian, upon request they customized food for us (group of 11). We had bread with a “dip and fall back” dip (loved the name πŸ˜€) , salad with guava dressing and spring rolls, stew and rice, veggie stir fry and rice. They also served some jerk sauce on the side, ah spicy but still very tasty. The restaurant folks very so friendly.. Learnt a local word “yeah mon” (while pronouncing the word sound of n is not fully pronounced) which means “yes man” or “yes mam” or “hey man”..

Day 2
Next day breakfast at Luna de mar – fresh fruits, omelette and other goodies. They had really fresh and juicy fruits.
Today we decided to spend the day at the resort till we headed out for the evening trip. Back to the lazy river and slides. We never got tired of this. Attached to the pool was a bar, enjoyed the drinks as we swam and floated in the lazy river.
Lunch at “Mangoes” resturant- chapathi rolls stuffed with some mildly flavored veggies was the highlight. It was so close to the Indian roti.

RotiRoll

Drinks
Saw many folks enjoying tender coconut, which were not in any of the drink stations. Finally found the way to get my hands on a tender coconut. All we had to do was to ask a gardner and he would climb the tree, pick it and open it up. We were all so excited when we found a gardener πŸ˜€- but could get only one and 11 of us shared it πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.

FreshTenderCoconut
Later in the afternoon went on a ride in sail boats against the big waves got very wet in super salty water but still was fun. The guy who was maneuvering the boat gave a funda that the salt water will clean the eyes and swallowing the salt water would make bones strong πŸ˜€. After the ride all of us built sand castles, enjoyed the breeze and sun while swinging under the huge coconut trees..

BuildingCastle

SailBoat

Went to the beach, got in the water upto 5-6 feet depth and hopped on a board that was docked, walking to the board was an adventure for me πŸ˜€.. entire family (11 ppl) hopped on it and kids were trying to challenge their swimming expertise 😊.

After coffee and a wide variety of pastries started our evening adventure..

Took a bus ride to Falmouth to watch the “Luminous Lagoon” where the lagoon has water from Caribbean ocean and one of the local river. Reached the place well before sunset. This open area was known to have lot of mosquitoes, the tour package included a drink and mosquito repellent. This activity is done after sunset.. as we were waiting for the sunset, sprayed ourselves with loads of mosquito repellent 😳. Enjoyed loud music in a small tent setting, while the lil ones spent time playing Dominos. Then came out tour guide who got us boarded on a boat, that drove to the center of the lagoon which was about 5 feet deep to watch microorganisms called dinoflagellates, which live on layers where salt and fresh water combine and glow the brightest in shallow when water gets disturbed. These microorganisms are found in 7-8 places in the world and one of them being Falmouth. We got to jump into the water and swim to experience the light generated by these microorganisms. The bright luminous light looked wonderful like a group of stars in the dark sky. It is a must to know swimming for this one as we have to float and need to be able to maneuver without standing on the feet..

A day full of water activity, kids were totally happy..

Resort had a teen room filled with all gaming consoles which was like an icing on the cake πŸ˜‹πŸ˜„..

Day 3
We had planned a day trip to Ocho Rois. Booked a private vehicle to Mystic Mountains and Dunn’s river falls. We got a private vehicle with driver and a guide. Both spoke in English. The tour guide gave us information about the area while we were driving. She also told us English is the first language offered in school and also the main language for communication, Patoux is their native language which is not taught in school as the language has no defined script.
Roads are beautifully maintained by the government. We passed by the school where the Usain Bolt (worlds faster runner) studied, street where he spent his childhood and also the track where he practiced his running.

It was 1 hr 30 mins ride to mystic mountains, stopped at a local road side fruit shop to get tender coconuts. The street was paved with avocado trees, ackee trees (national fruit), mango and banana trees. In the Mystic Mountain park took 15 minute ride in the sky explorer to get into the park. Went on the bobsled ride which lasted about 5-8 mins… Super fast ride that has lots of turns and slopes. Had lunch at a local restaurant, watched some Jamaican performance and heard to live music. The restaurant was on the top of a hill with beautiful views of the city.

Next we headed to do Zip Lining. Most of us in the group were first timers doing this, we were super excited. Got the gear on for the Zip Lining after waiting for an hour and went on to zip line in the rainforest. It was a fun experience. There were 5 high speed zip lines. When going on the first line all I did was praying that I land safe πŸ˜„. Later on enjoyed the view and was looking forward to the adventure.

Thereafter headed to the Dunn’s river waterfalls for hiking up against the waterfalls. This is one of the must do activities in Jamaica. We were in a group of 30 ppl. Formed human chain and hiked up on the naturally carved steps against the water fall. Our guide Peter was 70 years old, he was so strong he handled every person so nicely when it was hard for anyone to climb up. We climbed up to the top and spent some time in one the lagoons with super cold and clear water. It was perfect for the surrounding weather. The hike took about an hour and 30 mins, including the time for some pictures in between.

Every nite one of the restaurants had a themed dinner. It was Jamaican food today, there were quite a few vegetarian options. These were the ones worth the mention super sweet juicy mangoes, sugar cane juice, coconut curry vegetables with white rice, deep fried red banana, Jamaican deep fried doughnut knots. They had many fresh mixed salads with tropical fruits and few other dishes like pasta. The chefs there were kind enough to share the recipe for some of the above dishes we requested. They even showed us the ingredients :). Hope to recreate them soon.

Fresh Donuts

Day 4
The mornings were so beautiful, calm and bright. The breeze was so pleasant, less sultry in the early part of the day. Got up early to experience the morning, took a stroll in the beach.

Resort

After all the yummy food in the past few days had to make a visit to the gym. Right after the workout spotted a gardener, got fresh tender coconut cut from the tree. Enjoyed the quite morning chatting away with my cousin. My lil one got a swollen eye, had to treat him with water and ice to help relieve from pain. He didn’t feel good so took him to the nurse station for some medical help.
After breakfast went on a whale boat ride where tube boats in the shape of a whale is connected to a motor boat, with handles. It was at the equipment rental place close to the hotel. After wearing our life vests, we are seated on the tubes and the only support we had were the handles. The person driving the motor boat will keep on checking on us if the speed is ok/want to increase/want to decrease. We can make this ride as adventurous as we would like. We drove about 1 mile into the water away from the shore and a super big wave came, exactly when the driver tried to make a turn, against the wave. My teen and niece lost control and dropped of the tubes in to the ocean😲. It was one heck of a scary moment. Thankfully they are good at swimming and the life vests helped them float. Everything was ok and we came back to the shore. Oh my that was one super scary adventure.

Lunch was at “Moonrise”. They served extremely thin crust pizza topped with julienned veggies. Simple herb seasoning and some sauce, was so yum.

Went back to the lazy river, spent the rest of the evening there. Most of the places we went has water activities or we were at the beach so hardly took my camera out to take pics. This is the only downside of this kind of vacation :).

Day 5
Booked a taxi at the hotel travel desk ($30 per person) and went Negril for some shopping and watching the sunset.

Drive to Negril was 87 kilometers from Mobay!! Negirl is known for its clean beaches that is 7-mile stretch.

The city looks a lot more developed when compared to the Ocho Rios part of the island. On our way to Negril the driver took us to a local shopping area, didn’t like it at all just got to buy some spices. Drove to a resort (Negril tea tree house – $5 entrance fees) to access the beach and other facilities. Water was clean from weeds and rocks. Beautiful 7 miles of sand beaches overlooking the light house. We had many kinds of sellers trying to solicit us to buy guava, water activities, massages and more. The beach was beautiful but the place didn’t seem family friendly.

Next stop was at Rick’s cafe to watch the sunset. The street near the cafe was lined with small shops where the sellers were handcrafting jewelry and there were some stores selling t-shirts, liquor and some ppl were just standing around smoking away. The cafe was a happening place with loud music and folks dancing away, enjoying their drinks. As we walked in saw many people jumping from the cliff with different heights (highest being 30 ft). Kids (6 yrs old and up) got so excited and everyone jumped of the 11 ft high cliff into the 20 ft deep water area. Some of them went more than once. Listened to some live reggae music by a local performer and watched the sunset. It was a cloudy day, still could get a fairly good view of the sunset.

Day 6
Heading back home after an yet another great, adventurous and relaxing vacation πŸ˜€


Note:
Very humid weather.
Need lot of good sun screen ..
Mosquitoes were not seen as much as we read about the Zika alert.. mostly saw them only at nite in areas that have no/low light..
Soaked ourselves in the sun and got loads of vitamin D, hope that covers for a long time πŸ˜€
Can bargain everywhere including while purchasing the tickets to attractions at the hotel.
Not required to get local currency everything is priced in US dollars
Do not exchange currency at the airport.

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