Guest post by Dani the Wanderer
Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.
Day 1: Getting to Jewel Paradise Cove Beach Resort
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. The trip started with an early 4am wake up to be able to catch our 7am flight out of Indianapolis. With a short layover in Charlotte by noon we had arrived in Montego Bay! Regardless of being one of the most unorganized airports going through customs in Jamaica by 1:30pm we were pleasantly greeted and loaded onto our bus to take us on the less than 2 hour journey to our end destination. It was a relief to run into other members of our group on the bus, we had a total of 21 people on this Carribbean adventure! After a day of traveling we grabbed some buckets of Red Stripe and hit the road. It took a while for our rooms to be ready and some confusion about what type of rooms but the resort was very helpful to help in our accommodations. We enjoyed some time at the pool and celebrated our first evening with a nice dinner at Platinum and the piano sing along bar!
Day 2: Resort Day
We enjoyed our first full day by playing pool volleyball and making multiple trips to the swim up bar. There were a few options for lunch each day, Aquamarina Grill for burgers and fries, Coral Cafe for a buffet, and Court Jesters for pizza. The pizza was my favorite most days for lunch. The piano bar turned into Karaoke on this evening which we took full advantage of. The late night place to be was Bling where we enjoyed showing off all of our dance moves!
Day 3: Ochos Rios Excursion
The early bird catches the Mahi! Four of us scheduled an off shore trip. We got very lucky with the outfitter we found (Sunshine Water Sport Fishing), we can owe that to the resort’s travel advisor! We were picked up at our resort and taken to the marina in Ocho Rios. We stayed out on the water for a little over four hours, the water was extremely choppy. I had never gone on an offshore ocean excursion before, we trolled the whole time and never stopped or casted our own line, I think if I went again I would ask to stop and do more of the baiting and casting to get the whole experience. We caught 3 smaller and 1 large Mahi Mahi, we think the large one weighed around 50 pounds. The best part of the excursion was where they took us to cook our fish. We went to a very local spot and got to watch them clean multiple types of fish from the days catch. It took a while to cook but we were all (well 3) recovering from sea sickness:) I personally enjoy vacations that include more local adventures so this was a major highlight of our trip. The fish was delicious and we even had them heat it up again at dinner that evening at the resort. We made it back in time to get ready and meet our group for a Sunset Cruise provided by our resort. The night ended like most with libations and dancing!
Day 4: Resort Day
Our resort included a lot of the water activities, started this morning with a snorkel trip. Lots of beautiful coral and bright colored fish. After lunch some of us took out the paddle boards and the sail boat that they also offered. The resort held a beach party this evening. Another trip highlight. The beach part consisted of freshly grilled meats, vegetables, and fresh coconut drinks. We were entertained by locals dancing, and even playing with fire. The best part of the evening was the goat races, yes, goat races. Resort guests would volunteer and each grab a goat in which they would hold by a rope and race 5 other goats, not something you see in the US.
Day 5: Cool Blue Hole Excursion
Our resort offered many excursions to choose from; Dunn’s River Falls, Konoko Falls, etc. however an employee of the resort recommended a more local spot and it turned out to be one of the best parts of the trip. Our taxi (fit for 17 people) picked 23 of us up at the resort. None of us knew what to expect. We show up to what looks like a hollowed out dumpster and pay $10 to get a wrist band for our excursion. Our tour guides quickly grabbed us and took us to the first cliff jump. The guides were the best we encountered the whole trip. They were more than happy to take our water proof cameras and get pictures of us all jumping from the cliffs, rope swings, and swimming under waterfalls. The water was beautiful! The most intense obstacle for me was walking down a waterfall half way to then jump off over rocks into the water. Talk about a thrill! The highest jump was 40 feet and a handful of our group were brave enough to do this! After the rush of this excursion we all took our turns napping or relaxing poolside before checking out the Hibachi restaurant on site, this was the best dinner of the week at the resort.
Day 6: Horseback Riding in the Sea
A few of us decided to book the horseback riding excursion (Chukka Horse Ride & Swim) through the resort. We started on land and walked through scenic areas on the horses, we then returned the horses, took the saddles off and rode bareback through the ocean. The water was amazingly clear and it felt like the horses were floating in the water. I would recommend this excursion, it also was quite short and we were back at the resort by noon to meet up with the rest of our group for lunch. Unfortunately this was our last full day at the resort. We soaked in as much of the pool that we could. We made friends with some of the resort workers and they took us to a local restaurant for dinner. It was nice to leave the resort for a bit and get a taste of local fare.
We flew home the next morning.
Traveled in July 2015