Jamaica

Spotlight: What to Do in Jamaica

You just stepped foot in beautiful and sunny Jamaica. You’re prepared for a nice vacation full of plenty of R&R on the beach, a few yummy cocktails and memories to last a lifetime. On your trip, you’ll want to make sure you have a full list of things to see and do while you’re here. We’ll also throw in a few recommendations on where to stay if you’re still planning the perfect Jamaica getaway.

First, you’ll need a great resort to stay and play at while in Jamaica.

Adults Only Paradise: If you’re looking for an adults only haven with a beautiful beach, unlimited all-inclusive options and lively entertainment, Secrets Wild Orchid in Montego Bay may be just what you need. There’s a large free form pool with a swim up bar for swimming and wait staff on the beach if you’re into splashing in the waves. And with nine restaurants and 10 bars, your evenings will shape up to be unforgettable.

Adults Only Resort - Secrets Wild Orchid - CheapCaribbean.com

For the Whole Family: Do you need a place that has something every member of your family will love? Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa will do the trick. Parents can play a round of golf at Cinnamon Hill Golf Course or hang by one of three pools. The kids will enjoy the new Sugar Mills Water Park and Kidz Club & Teen Zone. There’s even an all-inclusive package that includes snorkeling, kayaking, windsailing and 1,000 feet of beach, perfect for all members of the family.

Family Friendly Resort - Hilton Rose Hall Jamaica - CheapCaribbean.com

Ultimate Rest & Relaxation: Riu Palace Tropical Bay in Negril is the perfect place to call home for a few days. Although not as popular as the infamous Seven Mile Beach, this resort sits perfectly on Bloody Bay Beach, where calm, clear waters meet 4-stars of all-inclusive luxury. Don't worry, just because tranquility and relaxation are a major perk of this resort, you can still enjoy the five restaurants, four bars and limitless amount of activities.

Best Resort to Relax - Riu Palace Tropical Bay Jamaica - Cheap Caribbean

Next, you’ll want to live like the Jamaicans do. This means you need restaurants to try with great local flavors and places to explore that show the true meaning of what it means to be Jamaican.

For food, it’s almost mandatory that you try some version of jerk chicken or pork, as it’s a Jamaica staple. Our recommendation for the best is Scotchies in Montego Bay. With their secret combination of spices and hours of slow cooking over sweet wood and pimento, the savory jerk chicken or pork is unlike anything you’ve ever had before. And if you’re in the mood for a sweet treat, grab some sugar cane and give it a taste. This is another flavor that’s popular in Jamaica. By simply sucking on the cane and enjoying the sweet juices, you’ll be able to satisfy your sweet tooth just how the Jamaicans do.

If you’re looking to experience a little adventure, venture out to Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios. A short ride up the mountain will take you to a museum, where they pay tribute to the Jamaican sporting history. Learn all about how a Caribbean island known for its beaches came up with the first ever bobsled team and then experience bobsledding for yourself. Take a ride in a real bobsled as you zoom down the mountain and enjoy the tropical views. There’s also plenty of shopping and even a water slide on site so you can be sure to enjoy all of Mystic Mountain.

old-ford-craft-market

And when you’re looking to bring some of your trip home, don’t forget to stop by the Old Fort Craft Market. Not only can you find authentic pieces of Jamaican culture, you can walk through the old stone structure that dates all the way back to the 17th century. You’ll find everything from handmade jewelry to historic art pieces, all built by local craftsmen who’ve perfected their craft for generations. The vendors here pride themselves on selling souvenirs that are built with peace, love, respect and unity. And who wouldn’t want to bring that positivity back home with you?

Not that you needed any convincing, but it’s obvious to see that Jamaica has so much to offer anyone looking for a vacation of a lifetime. And now that you know a few of our favorite things to do and see in Jamaica, we want to know what you suggest. Share your must-dos with us in the comments below. And let’s jam in Jamaica, mon! 

Five Must-Shop Caribbean Stores by JetSetSarah

 

JetSetSarah blogs for CheapCaribbean.com

By: JetSetSarah

Got the retail itch? Step away from the three-for-$20 T-shirts and those dreadful knitted caps with the dreadlocks attached! Savvy shoppers bring home authentic Caribbean goods that look good and/or work well, and evoke happy memories every time you look at them. Here are some of my favorite souvenir-snagging spots.

Irie Life, South Hill, Anguilla 

There are T-shirts and then there are T-shirts. Irie Life sells the latter, and wearing one immediately marks you as one of Anguilla’s coolest customers (even the most stylish locals sport them around town). This store is located in South Hill and housed in a hilltop cottage painted red, green and gold. Expect trendy colors (neon Ts are current bestsellers) and styles (hoodies, burn-out textured stretch cotton), with nary a boxy crew-neck in sight.

Irie Life, Anguilla Shopping from CheapCaribbean.com

Shop Smart: Make no mistake; Anguilla is notoriously pricey. Time your trip for the end of the summer, however, when shops are anxious to move leftover merchandise in advance of the winter high season, and you’ll score great deals.

Gallery of West Indian Art, Montego Bay, Jamaica

When I lived in Mo’Bay, this decades-old store secreted in a residential about 10 minutes’ drive from the city, was my go-to for Jamaican and Caribbean art and craft. Montego Bay’s, The Gallery is most famous for its menagerie of multi-colored “spotties,” hand-carved painted wooden animals stippled with white polka dots. But it is also a great find for handmade small furniture pieces and an impressive collection of colorful Cuban canvases. For more about Gallery of West Indian Art, visit them online.

Shop Smart: Don’t leave without a handmade Christmas tree ornament from the store’s year-round collection.

Olé, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Looking for the perfect Panama hat? Make a beeline for Puerto Rico and milliner Guillermo Jeffs’ tiny boutique on Old San Juan’s bustling Fortaleza Street, where you can browse more than 5,000 of them. Toppers start at a very reasonable $50 and rise to a whopping $4,000 for a hand-woven model that takes about two years to make. Whichever you choose, Guillermo will custom-fit the Panama to your head, employing his decades of experience – and a hat block and blow dryer – to ensure the perfect fit. For more information, visit Olé's Facebook Page.

Jamaica Shopping from CheapCaribbean.com

Shop Smart: Ole offers more than 20 colors of hat ribbon to choose from, so instead of falling back on traditional black, get creative!

Mixik, Tulum, Mexico

I fell in love with the hand-carved wooden angels you see at resorts all over Mexico, so I was thrilled to hit pay dirt at this Tulum shop, which has a vast selection of the charming cherubs. It’s also jam-packed with locally crafted gifts, art and accessories you’ll find impossible to resist (or is that just me?)

Shop Smart: Can’t find what you want at the beachfront store? There’s also a larger location in el pueblo. Store can be reached at: 52-984-871-21-36

Zaka, Soufriere, St. Lucia

Simon Gajadhar used to be a shipwright but has clearly found his (ahem) groove as a wood carver and artist. Visit his fret-worked cottage in Soufriere, St. Lucia and you too will be enchanted by the colorful collection of masks and totems, all carved from recycled wood and old telephone poles. For more information about Zaka, visit their website.

St. Lucia Shopping from CheapCaribbean.com

Shop Smart: While the larger masks will set you back hundreds of dollars, prices for smaller pieces start at a very reasonable $20, so you can bring back something for everyone - even that grumpy woman in Accounting).

 

Jet Set Sarah, Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, is a Caribbean travel expert, award-winning travel journalist, and TV personality. Former executive editor of Caribbean Travel +Life magazine, she ventures to the beach and beyond, sharing the diverse culture, relaxed lifestyle and colorful people of the world’s favorite warm-weather destination. She is also jetsetter-in-chief at JetSetSarah.com, where travel and shopping meet.

 

 

Spark the Flame: Getaways to Rekindle the Romance

We’re all about love. In fact, it’s safe to say we’re in love with love. And when you throw in a picture-perfect backdrop to match, it makes love that much sweeter, doesn’t it? So this week, we’re celebrating the love birds out there with our top picks for romantic getaways.

Whether you’re a honeymooner, celebrating an anniversary or just two people who want to escape for a little romance, the Caribbean & Mexico make for perfect places to do just that. Our first fave sits on the iconic Seven Mile Beach and has 4.5 stars of incredible luxury.

Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort is a five-story and 273 guestroom resort that recently underwent a $15-million renovation, making it an updated and perfect place to spend your vacation time. Grab a mai tai at the poolside Sol Bar with your sweetie or take a dip in the 85-foot beachfront pool that calls this resort home. Couples also love the hot tub or a romantic stroll in the lagoon-style courtyard fully equipped with lush greenery.

Grand Cayman Islands Romantic Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

The location of the hotel on Seven Mile Beach makes it one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, with warm water and a reef perfect for snorkeling just a couple feet of shore. There are also endless amounts of activities with scuba diving, windsurfing and sailing easily accessible to all couples.  Of course a romantic getaway wouldn’t be complete without a customized couples treatment at La Mer Spa. The Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort is the perfect mix of adventure and romance, all set on one of the most famous beaches in the Caribbean.

Now, how about a resort that truly celebrates couples? Couples Sans Souci is 35 beachfront acres of Jamaican cliffside dedicated to nothing but couples. It has also recently been voted the number one spa hotel in the Caribbean by Travel + Leisure, making it a romantic oasis that's perfect for celebrating love, no matter the occasion.

Jamaica Romantic Vacations from CheapCaribbean.com

Here at Couples Sans Souci, your days can be spent in the private coves and curative mineral pool with hidden mineral grottos. Stop by the swim-up bar for an island cocktail or eat at one of five restaurants serving everything from authentic jerk chicken to stuffed shrimps at Casanova. With all the superb all-inclusive options at this resort, you’ll never go hungry or thirsty. Don’t forget to plan a trip with your honey and visit Dunn’s River Falls and then finish up the day with a peppermint-sea-twist body treatment, the perfect end to an adventurous day with the love of your life.

Grab your guy or gal and head to Punta Cana for a little DR romance. At Excellence Punta Cana, you can enjoy some adult-only paradise. Venture down to the Dominican Republic beach and grab a daybed where you and your honey can truly unwind in the Caribbean sun. The pool is home to submerged lounge chairs and a swim up bar, so you’ll never have to leave that water.

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Excellence Punta Cana is also home to a 1991.47 ft. jogging track, a full schedule of activities like yoga and the full-service Mille Spa. Arrive early for your appointment at Mille Spa and relax in the Swedish saunas, steam rooms and refreshing cold-plunge pools, and then be transported to a state of utter relaxation with a couples massage.

Dinner plans consist of a torch-lit dinner for two on the beach. As the night comes to an end, retire to your colonial-style suite, fully equipped with an in-room Jacuzzi. And by upgrading to the Excellence Club, you can enjoy Bulgari toiletries and a maxed-out mini bar and room service menu. This adult-only resort will help you and your partner come home feeling refreshed, clear-headed and stronger than ever.

So as you can probably agree, celebrating your love on a quiet beach may be just what you and yours truly need. Whether you’re a newlywed just beginning your journey or looking to commiserate the many wonderful years you’ve shared with your significant other, we strongly suggest a trip to paradise to celebrate it all. Who doesn’t love love right?

Perfect Your Swing: The Best Caribbean & Mexico Golf Resorts

Do you live for putting greens and perfecting your golf swing? Are you busy trying for your next ace? Whether you’re a self-proclaimed or nationally acclaimed golf pro, what’s better than top-notch golf courses and even better rated beaches, all in one. In honor of Golfer’s Day on April 10th, here are a few of our top picks for Caribbean & Mexico golf courses.

Puerto Rico is known for more than just its stunning beach views and Latin vibe. Golf courses in Puerto Rico come highly recommended and that couldn’t be truer for Trump International Golf Club at Gran Melia Golf Resort.

Guests at Gran Melia Golf Resort can tee off at one of two 18-hole championship courses, designed by PGA winner Tom Kite. With putting greens to the left and iconic views of the Atlantic Ocean and El Yunque to the right, this course and resort is an avid golfer’s dream.

Gran Melia Golf Resort in Puerto Rico by CheapCaribbean.com

With views so beautiful on this course, it'll be hard to focus on your golf game.

After a long day on the course, go for a dip in the 335-ft, oceanfront, lagoon-style pool, fully equipped with a swim up bar serving ice cold cocktails to help you celebrate your below par game. When it’s time to eat, choose from Italian, sushi or Puerto Rican fare at any of the five restaurants on-site. Mentally prepare yourself for next day’s golf game with a nightcap at The Avenue Bar, one of the many happening nighttime spots at Gran Melia Golf Resort.

The next of our favorite golf resorts comes from La Romana in the Dominican Republic. Caribbean Travel + Life has named the three Pete-Dye-designed golf courses here, “Top Caribbean Golf Courses”. In addition, Casa de Campo La Romana is a 7000-acre resort located on a quarter-mile of beach dotted with lush greens and palm trees.

Casa de Campo Golf Resort in the Dominican Republic from CheapCaribbean.com

The three golf courses found at Casa de Campo are just as beautiful as they are well-known for the course themselves.

Often called a “mini-country” unto itself, Caso de Campo La Romana includes one of Latin America’s only principal polo complexes, three golf courses, a shooting club, an equestrian center, a marina village and a replication of a 16-century Italian village above a river gorge. Schedule a round of golf at Dye Fore, Teeth of the Dog or Links – the three legendary courses here, designed by Pete Dye himself.

After spending the day in a golfer’s paradise, make sure to take advantage of another feature here – upper and lower deck pools with swim up bars, as well as fourteen other pools scattered around the resort. End your day with an authentic meal prepared with local ingredients from one of several resort restaurants. Your Dominican Republic vacation can’t be beat with a stay at Casa de Campo La Romana.

If you’re looking for a resort that not only offers superb golf courses, but also promises a vacation the whole family will enjoy look no further than Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa. The Cinnamon Hill Golf Course that’s home to this resort has been listed as a top course in Jamaica by Golf Digest. 

Hilton Rose Hall Golf Resort in Jamaica by CheapCaribbean.com

Please the entire family with this Jamaican resort with something for everyone.

Not only will the adults enjoy a round at Cinnamon Hill, the kids will get a kick out of the new Sugar Mills Water Park, or Kidz Club and Teen Zone if the parents need a few hours on their own. There’s even an all-inclusive package that includes snorkeling, kayaking, windsailing and 1,000 feet of beach, perfect for all members of the family. As mealtime approaches, chose from one of four resort restaurants with menu items sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. There’s no denying that your next family vacay would be a win for everyone if spent at Hilton’s Rose Hall Resort & Spa.

So now that you’re in the know on where to go for the best golf vacations in the Caribbean & Mexico, it may not be a bad idea to perfect your back swing before you jet away. If you’ve got a favorite golf resort of your own, be sure to comment and let us know!

 

Bottoms Up! Signature Vacation Drinks You Have to Try

Sun, sand and a cold drink in your hand – three necessities while on your beach getaway. Here at CheapCaribbean.com, we do our best to provide the sun and sand, all with great deals…but the drink, that’s up to you. Have no fear…we’re here with a few of our island favorites to try on your next vacation.

If the Mexico beaches are where you plan on spending your vacation, we suggest you sip fresh made sangria or better yet, ask your resort bartender what’s his or her favorite. On our most recent trip to Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, we asked for a specialty and our bartender suggested their famous Havana Lights Cocktail. They even shared the recipe with us, incase you want to give this drink a try at home before you go.

  • Three-fourths oz. light rum
  • Three-fourths oz. coconut rum
  • Three-fourths cup pineapple juice
  • Half oz. melon liquor
  • A few drops of grenadine syrup

Mix and shake the first three ingredients, then pour into a cocktail glass. Add a few drops of grenadine and then finish the drink off with a splash of melon liquor. Garnish with your favorite fruit and enjoy!

Resort Drink Recipes at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun from CheapCaribbean.com

Grab a happy hour snack and drink at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun's beachside cafe.

If you’d rather leave it up to the professionals, make plans to stay at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun. You can also enjoy Unlimited-Luxury® which comes standard at this adults-only resort and promises kayaking, cooking demos, tequila tastings, floor concierges and Vegas-style shows. If this doesn’t sound like a beach bum’s dream, we’re not sure what does.

In Jamaica, you’ll find lots of drinks featuring rum, as it’s one of the island’s favorites. And while there’s lots of drink options on your Jamaican vacation, we asked our devote beach goers what was their favorite and the results are in. It was a tie between a Dirty Banana and Rum Punch – both island signatures.

Resort Drinks from Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa from CheapCaribbean.com

You don't even have to leave the ocean to get a refill at Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa.

Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa is a couple’s retreat, perfect for giving both of these favorites a try. This all-inclusive resort is fully equipped with top-quality liquor and five bars, including a swim up bar, making it virtually impossible not to ask a bartender for one of these sip-savoring signatures. Parked right on Seven Mile Beach, this Sandals resort earned a coveted Five Star Diamond Award for their top-notch service. And don’t worry, there’s seven restaurants, nightly entertainment and even a Piano Bar to make your Jamaican vacation one you’ll never forget.

Dreaming of the powdery white sands and crystal clear waters in Aruba? We are too. That’s why we recommend a luxury Aruba getaway to Occidental Grand Aruba, fully equipped with high-end all-inclusive, upgrade options, and of course, ice cold signature cocktails.

Aruba Drinks at Occidental Grand from CheapCaribbean.com

Dive up to one of the swim up bars and ask for your favorite drink at Occidental Grand Aruba.

Picture yourself sprawled out on a beach lounger while one of Occidental’s staff brings you a mouth-watering, hard-to-resist concoction. Our suggestion on what you should order? An Aruba Chi Chi. This drink is sweet and refreshing as it lends itself in similarity to a pina colada. Made with vodka, coconut, pineapple and ice, an Aruba Chi Chi is the perfect companion to a day spent on the beach.

So now that you have some of our favorites, tell us yours. Also, if you're looking for more drink recommendations, be sure to check out our website with even more options. Cheers, beach goers!