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Montego Bay, Jamaica


Jennifer and I decided on Jamaica for our official honeymoon.  We were married in November of 2015, and we took a couple short trips (Santa Barbara and Big Sur), that year and in 2016.  We finally got around to our honeymoon in June of 2017.  This was our first major trip together, and planning for it seemed like it took months because we wanted to get everything just right.  Jen’s work schedule was pretty crazy, so she let me do the bulk of the planning. 

After researching Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril, I decided on Montego Bay.  All three towns look amazing, but Ocho Rios and Negril are long drives from the airport in Montego Bay.  After two red-eye flights from Los Angeles, we didn’t want a long shuttle ride to the resort.  The Riu Palace in Montego Bay was about 10 minutes from the airport, and it is an adults-only, all-inclusive resort.  We were really looking for an adult vacation, so the resort worked out perfect. 

Our trip was five days and four nights, Monday through Friday.  When we got to the Riu Palace, it was pretty much everything that we imagined.  After looking at photos and videos of the resort for months, we were finally there.  This was our first time staying at an all-inclusive resort, and we quickly figured out that it was pretty awesome.  The staff was super helpful and nice.  It was cool to not have to worry about paying for food and drinks as we went.  We ordered drinks when we wanted, and we ate as much as we wanted whenever we wanted.  It was a care-free resort!

While we loved being on the resort, we didn’t want to spend our entire trip on it.  We had three full days (taking away the half day when we got there and the half day when we left).  So we did one excursion on each of the full days.  We did activities within 30 minutes of the resort because we weren’t interested in taking long drives to go on excursions.  So we skipped Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios and the day trip to Negril.  It would have been nice, but sitting in a van or taxi for two hours each way to get to and from a destination wasn’t very appealing to us.  The Dunn’s River Falls excursion was five hours total.  Three of those hours were driving.

The first excursion that we did was to Luminous Lagoon on Tuesday evening.  This is kind of a magical bay where the water glows in the dark in the evening.  There are organisms in the water that start to glow when they are disturbed.  We hopped in the motor boat with about 20 other people on the tour, and sailed into the pitch-black lagoon.  As the boat started to sail, you could see the water start to glow.  Like a neon blue color. 

After sailing for about 10 minutes, the boat stops and the captain tells us that we can get in the water.  There were life jackets for people who couldn’t swim, but the lagoon floor wasn’t deep.  Maybe four feet, so I was able to stand up.  When you’re in the lagoon and you move your arms, the organism in the water start to glow around you.  It’s really cool, and it was said that there are only two places in the world where you can experience this.  The one creepy part was that the floor of the lagoon feels like soft mud.  Your feet sink in a little big, and I was kind of worried that crabs or something might be living down there. 

On Wednesday we did the catamaran cruise, which is pretty much a party boat.  For me, this was the best activity of our trip.  The boat picked us up from the beach at the Riu, so we didn’t have to travel anywhere.  They took us snorkeling before we ended up at Margaritaville, which is a bar on the Hip Strip.  The boat had an open bar, but if you were going snorkeling, you could only have beer before you got in the water.  After snorkeling, you could have hard alcohol.  So we did the snorkeling for about 30 minutes, which was really cool, and then it was time to drink, and drink a lot!  The boat’s crew had multiple jobs.  The life guards and captain were also the bartenders, DJ, and dancers.  They served a lot of rum and they got the party going. 


Jason Douglas Lewis, Dr. Jennifer Williams Lewis

We got off the boat at Margaritaville, where we had more drinks.  It’s pretty much a bar on the water. 



After hanging out there for a while, it was back on the boat for more drinking and music.  It was such an awesome experience that I don’t remember getting off the boat.  I remember Jen and I lounging on the boat, enjoying being out in the ocean, and then waking up on a hammock on the Riu’s beach.  Thankfully Jen didn’t drink as much as I did. 






On Thursday we did the Martha Brae River raft, which was really cool.  We road on a bamboo raft with a captain that steered us down the river with a long piece of bamboo.  It was a very peaceful ride, and we had a really good conversation with the captain.  He was very knowledgeable of the plant life along the river, and he told us about Jamaican culture.  This was our best experience of a native of Jamaica, because we were having a genuine interaction with somebody who is from there.  While the resort is great, it’s really an Americanized version of Jamaica, and the staff is there mostly to make you happy.  So we appreciated the time that we spent with our captain along the river, because it was more of an authentic conversation about his culture.



Jennifer smelling one of Jamaica's more popular plants.

A musician playing at Martha Brae River

Our captain Tony guided us down the river.

Tony took a break and let me steer the raft.

While the resort creates an environment that you really don’t have to leave with all of the services and activities, we mostly hung out and did our own thing.  There were daily activities, but we didn’t participate much in those.  There was a beach party on the first night we were there, which was pretty cool.  They did karaoke on another night, but we skipped that one.  We liked that the swimming pool was adjacent to the beach, so you could hop out of the pool and get in the warm ocean water.

For breakfast and lunch we did the buffet and ate outside on the patio, which was next to the pool.  The resort had three restaurants, and we tried a different one each evening.  On the final night, we paid for a private dinner on the beach.  The resort also has a snack bar that’s open 24 hours a day.  You could pretty much make a meal out of that, so even between meals, you didn’t have to worry about going hungry.  The resort also had a spa, which wasn’t included in the all-inclusive package.  Jen got a massage while I sat on the beach smoking a cigar.

If we would have done anything different, I would have liked to get off the resort a little bit more and experienced the culture of Jamaica.  The next time we go, we’ll do either Ocho Rios or Negril, and we’ll have a better idea of how to balance our time on and off the resort.

This trip cost us $2,400+ total for flights and hotel.  We probably spent an extra $1,000 on excursions, travel expenses (baggage fees), transportation, and other miscellaneous things.  So the trip cost us a good $3,500 total.  We tipped a lot, so before we left for the trip I got $50 in singles and $50 in $5s.  I typically tipped $2 for drinks or other tasks and $5 for drivers. 


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