Our Week in Jamaica - Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril
After our trip in the Bahamas , we were in exotic Jamaica this week! The country where the roots of Bob Marley and Usain Bolt lie. But Jamaica is more than that. It is a colourful, musical and diverse country. Despite the good vibes, we also had some setbacks this week. Find out what our week in Jamaica looked like here.
Our flight from the Bahamas went straight to Kingston, the capital of Jamaica. It was about an hour and a half flying with a fairly small and old plane. The flight was also quite bumpy with a lot of turbulence. The border control also didn’t go without a struggle. We were again questioned vigorously 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!
In Kingston itself we only stayed for one day and only explored the city center. It was smoking hot outside and we soon got to know some local customs. Traffic drives on the left side of the lane. 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 acquainted with the danceable music style. Everywhere we went we could hear music playing. Especially reggae tones echoed through the streets. And that immediately makes you happy!
After Kingston we took the Knutsford bus to Montego Bay . This ride took about four hours. Not exactly a short drive, but driving through the Jamaican landscape is an attraction on it’s own. You pass so many beautiful places that time flies! We soon 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 touristic regions in the country. Here you will mainly find large hotel chains, but also the hip strip , a street with all kinds of nice bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. The beaches are usually private property of the hotels located there. That makes them well maintained and idyllic.
However, while Montego Bay is by far the most popular spot for tourists, most of the tourist attractions can be found in Ocho Rios. This town is about an hour and a half drive from Montego Bay. Not immediately close for a trip, but more than worth it. You can book various tours here, for example to go rafting on the river, visit waterfalls or seek out an adventure in the jungle. All breathtaking and unique activities and that is why we also booked a tour to 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 combined these two activities. Normally we are not for tours but the price was really unbelievable and we couldn’t pass up this offer. With a group of six we went full of expectations towards the first waterfalls, Dunn’s River & Falls.
Dunn's River & Falls
Once there, it immediately became clear that this is by far the most touristic attraction in the country. The parking lot was packed with buses and cars. We were surprised that this was actually some kind of water park that they built around the famous falls. We were already a bit disappointed in the fact that this would not be a unique and peaceful place.
Climb a waterfall
Our driver immediately took us to a guide who would accompany us on 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 up the waterfall. This 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 gigantic waterfall. In itself a unique experience, if you don’t count the hundreds of other tourists. We couldn’t bring our camera with us on the trip and that was a slight disappointment. Fortunately, we were able to quickly take some pictures of this beautiful place.
It was certainly a nice experience but due to the huge tourism we were not able to really enjoy this place. We think it is a pity that nature here is exploited by tourism and that the beauty of the waterfalls is lost a bit because of this. We hoped that the next place would be less touristy, but that didn’t go quite as expected either.
Blue Hole and Secret Falls
Blue Hole and Secret Falls are located near Dunn’s River and can therefore be perfectly combined. Unfortunately at Blue Hole we were also pushed to a guide that we had not asked for. Our camera was not allowed because another guide was going to take pictures of us. Another huge disappointment for us. Blue Hole is a beautiful paradise. It is literally a clear blue natural pool surrounded by rocks and cliffs.
Our two guides forced us to jump off the cliffs straight into the blue water. In the water they took some pictures of us and this photoshoot just kept going. When we thought that enough pictures had been taken, we wouldn’t buy them afterwards, our guide called us “scared chickens”. Speaking of an awkward situation…
Against our will, we continue the tour in a rush. There was no time to lose for the guide. We continued to the Secret Falls and jumped off huge cliffs. Then we swam back a bit until we were finally back on solid ground and stepped back towards the exit. All of this in a few minutes. It was not really enjoyable. And that’s a shame because the location is beautiful. We have never seen a place like this before.
Afterwards we sneaked in with our camera to make sure that we still have a few nice pictures as a memory. And of course to let 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 hoping it would be better. Normally we don’t do organized tours, but you could only book this rafting through a tour. This time we went rafting on the Great River in Saint Ann. A little adventure!
Our trip on the selfmade bamboo raft was not really adventurous, but it was a beautiful and soothing experience. Our guide gave us a ton of information about Jamaica’s wildlife along the way and also let us taste different fruits, plants and drinks. He even massaged our feet and legs with limestone. In Jamaica you can find this stone almost everywhere and it is therefore a widely used product. A wonderful massage and soft legs afterwards guaranteed! Definitely our best excursion this week in Jamaica.
The guide also stopped on the river to pick a coconut from the side and cut it open fresh for us. We have to admit, fresh coconut water tastes so much better than ours! 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 from bamboo. A person we could only look up to and have a lot of respect for. This experience was a hit and we recommend it to everyone!
Last stop in our week in Jamaica
As the last outing of our week in Jamaica, we chose to visit the town of Negril. Negril is an hour and a half drive from Montego Bay and is known for its huge cliffs and long beaches. We had heard a lot about 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 enjoy good food. For an entrance fee of 5 dollars you get access to the facilities of the beach and you are also assigned a sun bed and umbrella. Relax-time!
After an hour of lying on the beach, however, it started to rain very hard. Our beach day literally drowned.. The rain at sea also had something magical. It was special to watch. We eventually drove on to Rick’s Café. A well-known spot for those who love cliff jumping, good food and typical Jamaican ambiance. Unfortunately the weather didn’t allow us to go for a swim 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 very long due to the weather and would have liked to see more of this city. The local shops and nature around it are simply unique and worth a visit. It is also very quiet and peaceful. The road back to Montego Bay was unfortunately less peaceful.
Just outside Negril, in the distance on the highway, we saw a man lying on the street. When we got closer we saw what had really happened. A serious situation in which a scooter and a car collided ended in a fatal traffic accident for the man who was lying in the street. The man in the car was also not well, but was out of danger. The image of that man on the street and his scooter in hundreds of pieces is unfortunately something that will remain burned into our memory. This tragic event has left us speechless. A sad end to a beautiful journey.
Colorful week in Jamaica
Jamaica is a special island. You can’t compare it to any other country. The country has something very special about it. The culture, the people, the language, the music and the dance… Everything breathes Jamaica and that is an atmosphere that you definitely want to get to know. We will always remember Jamaica as the land of excellent music, warm people and peace. Everyone gets along and lives every day to the fullest. Life can be that simple.
Does Jamaica arouse your interest too? Then you should definitely go there! We also recommend that you make a transit trip as each region has its strengths and a place cannot show you everything the country has to offer.