Traveler: Danielle Gervalis
When: March 2019
Overall Experience: When looking for the perfect long weekend honeymoon, a mini-moon if you will, I needed somewhere that was a quick flight, affordable and BEACHY! I set my google flight search to trips under five hours with the map centered on the Caribbean. The beautiful island of Jamaica was the predominant island choice and easily met all of my requirements!
Before we were able to actually enjoy our mini-moon, we had to deal with some disappointing nonsense. Initially, I booked with Apple Vacations in February. The itinerary had direct flights with Spirit Airlines.
For the record, I enjoy budget airlines, whatever is going to get me to my desired destination safely, works for me! I’m short so I don’t need tons of leg room and I’m a planner by nature so I already bring my snacks, water and reading materials. So a no frills is fine with me, especially for short flights!
HOWEVER, I learned a valuable lesson when Spirit Airlines cancelled the flight due to a mechanical issue and had no other flights until mid-afternoon the next day. This would mean our already brief mini-moon would shorten by another day. My husband and I did the mental math of how many hours we’d be flying vs spending on the beach and unfortunately it equaled out to rescheduling the Montego Bay Mini-Moon.
I gave myself the ride home to mope and then pulled my big girl pants on got our money back. I’m happy to say we got a full refund from Spirit and Apple Vacations. We rebooked at the same resort, Riu Reggae, just one month later but with a different airline (unfortunately with a layover), repacked the same stuff in the suitcase and made it to the island a few hours earlier than originally scheduled!
Why Montego Bay?
Jamaica has an abundance of beautiful beaches. While I was told the most beautiful are found in the east in Negril, convenience was my main objective! Montego Bay just happens to have some pretty nice beaches AND an international airport! I focused my resort search here and booked at Riu Reggae since it’s adults only and just a quick 10 minute cab ride from the airport (costs about $20). In fact, it’s so close you will see the planes fly over the resort as the leave the island. Everyone in the pool bars enjoyed waving to the poor suckers leaving this little slice of heaven on earth.
If you are looking for transportation around the island, we met the friendly Lance Motta, driver and tour guide extraordinaire! He had a masterful knowledge of history and stories about the island and was a blast to spend the day with! You can find him at firstchoicetransfersja.com when flying into Montego Bay!
Things to Do
Embrace Resort Life
After planning a wedding, it was time to lay on a lounge chair and sip frozen cocktails from sunup to sundown! The Riu Reggae offered a tropical paradise of decompressing. I waded in the pool and the ocean, I read books and magazines. I walked on the beach. I ate a ton of jerk chicken and then I took a nap. I joined the extremely well reviewed pool aerobics. In general, it was heavenly to relax, enjoy the sunshine and eat gourmet food.
One of my favorite ocean activities is paddle boarding! To me, a trip to an island with gentles waves would not be complete without an outing on a stand up paddle board. You can navigate wherever and at what speed you like. It grants you a nice wide view of the beach and you can inspect outer lying reefs and sea creatures.
Martha Brae Rafting Village
Just a 30 minute ride from Montego Bay’s beaches takes you to the still and forested shade of Martha Brae. The $65 admission for a two person bamboo raft includes a drink at the outdoor and access to the grounds. There’s a beautiful garden you can wander before boarding the raft. We grabbed some Red Stripes on ice and settled in on the raft for a relaxing ride down the gentle Martha Brae river.
Our boat captain, Anderson, regaled us with tales about the island, names of birds and the trees. He even handed over the reins to me for a bit so I could steer us down the river with a very long and very heavy bamboo pole. The trip was serene and sublime and I wish I could’ve gone up and down the river 100 times.
One of the most unique travel experiences I’ve had was swimming with microscopic bio-luminescent organisms called dinoflagellatesat Luminous Lagoon! It’s said to be the largest and most brilliant of four such locations where these glowing organisms live in the world!
We arrived early at the lagoon and hung out at the Rock Wharf Bar and waited for nightfall. The Rock Wharf is little more than a palm hut but it was one of my favorite places on the trip. The bar was filled with locals who were all engrossed in old Kung Fu movies. We nursed a few Red Stripes and snacked on tasty fried chicken while watching the sun go down over the water.
When it was time to leave, we hopped on the boat for the short sail to the middle of the lagoon and jumped in one by one. The warm, shallow water lit up with each cannonball and glowed fervently the more everyone kicked around. The shiny neon organisms slid right off my skin as I raised my arm out of the water, it was absolutely incredible!