As many of you saw on my social media a few days ago, I traveled to the number one country on my bucket list – JAMAICA!!!
It was not number one because of its resorts, but because of my obsession with Bob Marley, the Rastafarian culture, reggae music and the laid back, “yeh mon, no problem” attitude. Obviously the resort was beautiful, but I wanted to give everyone some tips on getting OFF of the resort and into what the area really has to offer if you ever plan to go there or just want to research to learn more about it.
Below are the 3 things I was able to experience, starting with my favorite and most highly-recommended excursion that I will go into great detail about… Followed by a quick description of my other favorites and recommendations:
- Visit Bob Marley
This may be something that is not top priority for you, but for me, I can now die happy. You start by taking an hour or so shuttle through the REAL towns in Jamaica, where you see how they truly live off of the resort. Their colorful homes were beautiful, but also many broken down or unfinished, and there were people wandering everywhere by foot. Tons of stray dogs and goats, children waving from their porches and tiny roads that give you anxiety every time a car approaches from the opposite direction. If you have a tour guide, I encourage you to ask them as many questions as possible. It wasn’t part of their speech, but we asked about their religion, eating habits, government, home owning process and anything you can imagine, and they were more than willing to answer – followed by a casual “yeh mon.”
Once you get to Bob Marley’s home in the small, poor village where the Jamaican music legend lived, they take you directly to his house. The second you step off of the shuttle, you are given the opportunity to purchase “ganja” (better known to us as marijuana) in all forms while you’re surrounded by ganja plants mixed in with the garden. Not my thing, but they offered it in ways that you could smoke, eat (like ganja cake) or drink (like ganja tea), and they encourage it throughout the tour. If you’re offended by that, don’t go, but to them, it is not to get high, sit around and play video games. It is a way to release your mind to bigger things, enjoy the music and pay your respects to the king himself, Bob Marley.
After you step on the property, you go straight to his bar, where you non-smokers like me can grab a Bob Marley shot or drink for the tour. We were then introduced to our tour guide, who was 100% the human version of Rifiki from the Lion King, all the way from his infectious laugh to his deep one-liners to help us better understand the meaning life.
We then spent time in Bob’s record shrine room with the chair of his beautiful mother, his one-bedroom house with his single bed that you hear about in his famous song “Is This Love,” his meditation rock overlooking his village and his tomb surrounded by all of his instruments, songs, family pictures, birthday cards and more, which was very overwhelming to be next to.
All in all, go to this if you’re ever able to and soak in the true culture of a Rastafarian musician and his home.
This was something I wanted to see, because it is one of only four places in the world that you can see this phenomenon. It is caused by micro-organisms in the water that glow when disturbed to make a beautiful blue color in the dark nighttime waters. You not only get to see the glow at night behind the boat as it takes you out into the middle of the ocean, but you get to get in and move around for yourself on a gooey, cloud-like ocean bottom. They say it’s micro-organisms. I say I’m a mermaid.
If you want to see a more beautiful side of Jamaica, head over to Dunns River Falls. There, you will not only see a stunning waterfall, but are given the opportunity to climb it from bottom to top. You are in a group that makes a chain by holding hands to get there, but if you’re super badass like me and my group, you just follow each other while fending for yourself. You have a photographer on-site to capture the moment, while allowing you to stop and take pictures in the falls and jump in where it’s deep. It’s not only gorgeous, but you get a huge sense of accomplishment when you get to the top.
On the other hand, these are the 3 things that I regret not doing due to lack of time, but recommend doing them while you’re there… guess I’m just going to have to go back to do these too J
Head to Negril to Rick’s Café, which is home to one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world, cliff jumping (in the safest way possible), and one of the best spots to party OR relax while eating and watching the sunset.
- Local Night Club
Jamaica’s reggae music and wild dancing are my favorite things about the culture, and I’m mad I didn’t get to see it for myself. They tell you to stay on the resort at night, which we did, and all we got to experience was a nightclub with a bunch of tourists dancing to the same shit we’re forced to listen to at home. I didn’t go all the way to Jamaica to continue to whip and nae nae. DISCLAIMER: If you do go off of the resort to see the real night life, make sure to stay close by and have a trusted tour guide go with you who is familiar with the area. DO NOT go alone!
- The Black Market
This was another “don’t do” by tour guides, but some of our rebellious ladies in our group headed off of our resort to the black market and found the smart way to shop. You have the opportunity bargain constantly (which I am TERRIBLE at), but get to purchase unique items to Jamaica that you’ll never see in a gift shop. DISCLAIMER: I was told not to bring children, because you get approached by sellers constantly and it could be frightening for them.
TO ADD TO YOUR BUCKET LIST: Go to Jamaica! …And experience the REAL Jamaica!
I’m well aware that it is not cheap to go to Jamaica and it’s not something you can do tomorrow, but if you ever get the chance in life to travel, go a on a honeymoon, a family vacation, etc. DO IT! It has the luxury resort fun, the beautiful weather, a quick flight from the US/Canada, AND you are given the opportunity to hear about, see and experience the real culture.
If you stay on a resort, try the Iberostar Resort at Montego Bay. Some of you may have experienced shitty food and drinks on an all-inclusive vacation, but their rooms, service, pools, food and drinks were all amazing. I have only been on one other all-inclusive vacation, so my bar may be set pretty low, but in my eyes, they treated me like a queen.
THANK YOU JAMAICA! And in the wise words of our new friends, RESPECT.