That’s how everyone greeted us in Jamaica and that’s how we’re going to greet you today! We spent four days on this lovely island and we’re ready to tell you all about it — our hotel, what adventures we got into, and of course what we ate.
First things first, we’ve done you a solid and provided some tips for traveling to Jamaica during a pandemic. Check out those tips here. Now, on to our fun 🙂
After more than a year of no travel, we wanted to stay somewhere nice, so we opted for the S Hotel Jamaica, which was located less than five minutes from Sangster International Airport and Montego Bay’s Hip Strip. The Hip Strip is designed for tourists, with popular hotels, restaurants, shops, and beaches. Our hotel was awesome — modern decor, friendly and helpful staff, on-site COVID testing, and direct beach access. The hotel had complimentary breakfast and dinner, which was served daily buffet style. But one of the most popular aspects of the hotel is definitely the pools. There’s one huge outdoor pool on the first floor, equipped with floatie toys, surrounded by cabanas and plush seating, and has a bar nearby. Guests can dine outside by the pool and there’s live music each night. S Hotel also has a smaller infinity pool on the fourth floor with an amazing view.
In true 2 Girls Who Travel fashion, we wanted a little adventure with our travels, so we sought out a tour that would give us a lot to do in a short amount of time. We booked a full-day tour through Viator that allowed us to visit and climb the Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios and visit Bob Marley’s home in Nine Mile. It takes hours of travel time in between these locations, so it was pretty nice the tour offered both. Our day started bright and early with a pick-up from our hotel where we met the other people who would be on our tour with us. Of course there was another group from Houston. We’re everywhere! Our tour guide took us to a shop to pick up souvenirs and then we made a pit stop because some people were hungry before making our way to The Falls. The view at The Falls is beautiful, but we weren’t able to take many pictures because you don’t want to risk having your phone washed away. The hike up The Falls wasn’t bad. The water rushes at some points and there’s some steep steps, but you have a guide to help you along. Some things to remember for The Falls:
- Bring a waterproof case for your phone and cash.
- Wear water shoes. We ordered ours from Amazon ahead of the trip, but they also have a place you can purchase them from before going into The Falls.
- Wear a swimsuit or clothes you don’t mind getting wet (obviously) and a towel.
- Pack an extra outfit to change into after The Falls.
Next, we stopped for lunch, which is included in the tour, and consisted of jerk chicken. Then we began the long trek to Nine Mile, home of the legendary Bob Marley. The road to Nine Mile is long, narrow, bumpy, and high in altitude. Aaaaannnd, that didn’t work out well for Val. Car and/or altitude sickness is a possibility, so we suggest taking medicine beforehand. And even that may not help, so just keep it in mind. But there are some beautiful views along the way.
Once you approach the massive entrance to his home, you’ll see lots of locals selling weed. Smoking weed is pretty common in Jamaica and you’ll see it a lot. You definitely are not pushed to purchase or smoke any, but the option to partake is there. We did not 🙂 There’s a bar at the entrance where you can have a drink before touring Bob Marley’s home. The time spent in the home itself is about 30 minutes and you’re able to learn the reggae singer’s history while viewing his bedroom with the bed he shared with all his siblings, a chapel, and several murals. Our guide was great and he and a band performed a Jamaican song for us. The ride back to drop everybody off is long, but we suggest just falling asleep on the bus because you’ll be pooped after the day’s activities. One more thing — and this is super important: be sure to bring enough cash to tip your tour guides. We say guides because this includes your driver, your guide at The Falls, and your guide at the Bob Marley Museum.
Food and Drink
Here’s a standard in Jamaica: you will eat jerk everything and drink rum punch. Period. Our hotel was kind enough to hand us a complimentary rum punch when we checked in. And every dinner offered us a variety of jerk meat. We tried jerk chicken, jerk pork and jerk fish. We also had jerk chicken at lunch during our tour. It was good and spice levels vary, so it was nice to taste a bit of each at the hotel buffet. Because the hotel didn’t include lunch, we ventured out for lunch at Usain Bolt’s restaurant Tracks and Records, just a few minutes’ walk from our hotel. Now the aesthetic inside is amazing. There’s a wall with a painting of Bolt doing his signature move and an elevator that takes you to the second floor where you step into the dining area. Bolt’s memorabilia as well as Jamaican records adorn the walls and there are several televisions airing some of his sporting highlights. Now here’s a complaint. When we were seated and given menus, we were immediately told about a half dozen things that were not available. We don’t remember them all, but what stands out is no chicken wings and no margaritas. No bueno. Kim opted for a shrimp alfredo pasta that was good, but short on shrimp. Speaking of shrimp, Val ordered “pepper swims,” which the menu describes as shrimp in sweet and spicy pepper sauce. The level of spice however was insane. Val’s a spice lover and these were in fact too spicy for her consumption. Just know what’s spicy to Americans may be mild to Jamaicans. Lesson learned. The escovitch fish sandwich was delicious, though. Highly recommend. Aside from rum punch, you must order a Bob Marley drink in Jamaica. It’s served frozen and is in the signature colors of Jamaica: red, yellow, and green. It’s sweet, yummy, and super popular among tourists. We saw the hotel bartenders make several of these! There’s also a Bob Marley shot, often served flaming, that’s worth a try too if you’re a shot person!
Our hotel provided us with direct access to one of the top-rated beaches in Jamaica: Doctor’s Cave Beach. This beach was everything. It’s a very serene atmosphere, as we learned that radios and vendors are not allowed. The waters are cool (not freezing), calm, and clear. We had a lot of fun frolicking. And when we were done playing in the water, we laid out on the lawn chairs and enjoyed a cocktail. We’ve seen our fair share of beaches during our travels, and Doctor’s Cave Beach is ranked pretty high up there.
So, in case you couldn’t tell, our vacation to Jamaica was amazing, much-needed, and long overdue. Hope it helped you make some decisions on your Jamaica vacay or at least got you in the mood to travel again. We’re glad to be back at it. Where should we go next???