Our week in Jamaica – Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril
After our trip in the Bahamas, we were found this week in far away Jamaica! The country where the roots of Bob Marley and Usain Bolt lie. But Jamaica is more than that. It is a colourful, musical and versatile country. Despite the good vibes, we also experienced some adversity this week. Find out what our week in Jamaica looked like here.
Our flight from the Bahamas went directly to Kingston, the capital of Jamaica. It was about an hour and a half flying with a fairly small and old plane. Also the flight was quite bumpy with a lot of turbulence. The controls didn’t go without a fight either. We were also questioned firmly this time about our stay in Jamaica and our return home. A dozen questions later we were finally officially admitted to the country. Ya man! (this is what the locals say when they mean “yes”) Our week in Jamaica can begin!
Week in Jamaica
In Kingston itself we only stayed one day where we only explored the city centre. It was hot and we soon got to know some local customs. That’s how traffic runs left on the track. And the population speaks a kind of adapted English, which is a mix of English with a few Spanish words here and there. And of course we were already introduced to the danceable music style. Everywhere we went we heard music playing. Reggae tones in particular reverberate through the streets. And that makes you happy instantly!
After Kingston we rode the Knutsford bus to Montego Bay. This ride took about four hours. Not a short drive, but driving through the landscape of Jamaica is an attraction in itself. You get past so many beautiful places that time flies! We quickly noticed that this country has a lot to offer and that a week is actually too short to discover the different regions. Montego Bay is considered one of the most touristy regions of the country. Here you will find mainly large hotel chains but also the hip strip, a street with all kinds of nice bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. The beaches there are mostly private property of the hotels that are located there. That makes them well maintained and idyllic.
Although Montego Bay is by far the most popular spot for tourists, most tourist attractions can be found in Ocho Rios. This town is about an hour and a half’s drive from Montego Bay. Not immediately close for a trip but well worth it. You can book several tours here to go for example to go rafting on the river, visit waterfalls or seek out the adventure in the jungle. All breathtaking and unique activities and that’s why we booked a tour towards Ocho Rios.
We really wanted to see the waterfalls of Ocho Rios and also the Blue Hole, a natural swimming paradise in the jungle. We were therefore happy to find a tour that bundled these two activities. Normally we are not for tours but the price was really incredible and we couldn’t pass up this offer. With a group of six we headed to the first waterfalls, namely Dunn’s River & Falls.
Dunn’s River & Falls
When it arrived, it immediately became clear that this is by far the most touristic attraction in the country. The parking lot was full of buses and cars. We were surprised that this was actually a kind of water theme park that they built around the famous waterfalls. We were already a little disappointed in the fact that this would not be a unique and peaceful place.
Our driver immediately took us to a guide who would accompany us during our visit to the waterfall. That was disappointment number two. So we wouldn’t be able to walk around freely here. In addition, we had to buy water shoes to climb the waterfall. That was not communicated to us in advance and we found it a bit annoying.
With a group of twenty we climbed, hand in hand, the giant waterfall. In itself a unique experience, if you don’t count the hundreds of other tourists. We couldn’t bring our camera during the trip and that was also a slight disappointment. Fortunately, we were able to take pictures of this beautiful place very quickly.
It was definitely a nice experience but due to the gigantic tourism we didn’t really enjoy this place. We are sorry that nature here is exploited by tourism and that the beauty of the waterfalls is lost a bit. We hoped that the next place was less touristy, but that didn’t quite go as expected.
Blue Hole and Secret Falls
Blue Hole and Secret Falls are located near Dunn’s River and are therefore perfectly compatible with each other. Unfortunately, at Blue Hole we were also pushed to a guide we hadn’t been swept up for. Our camera was not allowed to come because another guide would come with us who would take pictures. Another huge disappointment for us. Blue Hole is a beautiful paradise. It is literally a bright blue natural pool surrounded by rocks and cliffs.
Our two guides obliged us to jump off the cliffs, right into the blue water. In the water they took some pictures of us and this photoshoot just kept going. When we found that enough pictures had been taken, we wouldn’t buy them afterwards anyway, our guide made us out for “scared chickens”. Speaking of an uncomfortable situation…
With great reluctance we continue the tour in a hurry. For the guide there was exactly no time to waste. We went on to the Secret Falls and jumped off huge cliffs. Then we swam back a bit until we finally got back on solid ground and stepped back towards the exit. And all this in a few minutes. It wasn’t really fun. And that’s a shame because the location is magnificent. We’ve never seen a place like this before.
Afterwards we slipped in with our camera to make sure we still have some nice pictures as a memory. And of course to make you enjoy the beauty of this place.
After a tour that didn’t quite live up to our expectations, we tried another tour another day in the hope that it would be better. Normally we don’t do organized tours but this rafting you could only book through a tour. This time we went rafting on the Great River in Saint Ann. A little adventure!
Our trip on the homemade bamboo raft was not really adventurous, but it was a beautiful and soothing experience. Our guide gave us a lot of information about jamaica’s nature along the way and also let us taste different types of fruit, plants and drink. He even massaged our feet and legs with limestone. In Jamaica you will find this stone almost everywhere and it is a widely used product. A lovely massage and soft legs guaranteed afterwards! Definitely our best outing in this week in Jamaica.
The guide also stopped on the river to pick a coconut along the side and cut it fresh for us. And admittedly, fresh coconut water tastes so much better than with us! Our guide had clearly taught himself many skills to find everything in nature to survive. From food to drink. He caught fresh fish himself and also made his own raft out of bamboo. A person we could only look up to and have a lot of respect for. This experience was a direct hit and we recommend everyone!
Last stop in our week in Jamaica
As a last trip in our week in Jamaica we chose to visit the city of Negril. Negril is an hour and a half’s drive from Montego Bay and is known for its huge cliffs and long beaches. We had already heard a lot from Negril and our expectations were high.
Tree House Resort
We had arranged a private driver for this tour. The first stop was Tree House Resort. This is a private beach in Negril where you can do all kinds of water activities and also eat well. For $5 entrance you get access to the facilities of the beach and you are also assigned a sunbed and parasol. Relax here!
After an hour lying on the beach, however, it started raining very hard. Our beach-day literally fell into the water… The rain at sea had something magical, too. It was special to watch. We ended up driving to Rick’s Café. A well-known place for people who love cliff-jumping, good food and typical Jamaican ambience. Unfortunately the weather didn’t allow you to go swimming in the water, but we did enjoy the view and a drink. At sunset this must be a fantastic place!
We didn’t stay in Negril for very long because of the weather and would have liked to see more of this city. The local shops and nature around it are just unique and worth visiting. It is also very quiet and peaceful. The road back to Montego Bay was unfortunately less peaceful.
Just outside Negril we saw a man lying on the street in the distance on the highway. When we got closer, we didn’t see what really happened. A serious situation in which a scooter and a car had collided ended in a fatal traffic accident for the man lying on the street. The man in the car wasn’t in good condition either, but was out of danger. The image of that man on the street and his scooter in hundreds of pieces, unfortunately, is something that will remain burned on our retina. This event has taken us by the throat. A sad ending to a beautiful journey.
Colorful week in Jamaica
Jamaica is a special island. You can’t compare it to another country. The country has something very unique. The culture, the people, the language, the music and the dance… Everything breathes Jamaica and that’s an atmosphere you definitely want to get to know. We will always remember Jamaica as the land of excellent music, the warm people and peace. Everyone lives here without any problems with each other and lives every day. Life can be that simple.
Do you want to go to Jamaica?
Does Jamaica arouse interest in you, too? Then you should definitely go there! We also recommend that you make a transit as each region has its advantages and a place can’t show you everything the country has to offer. If you have any questions about this country, feel free to ask them in the comments or on Facebook.