Jamaica is one of my favorite travel destinations for some light island fun and relaxation. Although the streets of Jamaica are impoverished and often sad to look at, I really enjoy the positive, care-free nature of Jamaican culture. I have been to Jamaica four times in my life and each has been better than the last. My first three trips were to the same resort company which is on the cheaper side for all-inclusive stays; my last Jamaican undertaking was at Beaches Negril, a more upscale, family-oriented all-inclusive resort. If you’re looking for an idea of where to stay next time you boogie on down to the birthplace of reggae music, keep on reading!
My very first stay was at Sunset Jamaica Grande in Ocho Rios in 2008. I don’t remember very much about the details of my stay, other then the drive from the airport to the resort much longer then we had anticipated due to highway construction and having an amazing time otherwise.
The next time my family to Jamaica we stayed at the previous locations sister resort: Sunset Beach Resort (now under new ownership and name: Sunscape Splash Montego Bay). My third stay, with friends for spring break during my sophomore year of college in 2012, was at this same location due to all the great memories I had from family vacations to the same resort. Sunset Beach is close to the airport at a quick 15-20 minute shuttle or cab ride so arrange for your flight to arrive earlier in the day so you can enjoy some sunshine. Upon our we were provided our wristbands (which apparently they no longer require) and were escorted to a beautiful room. My first stay at this location was in a deluxe resort view room and my second stay, with friends, was in the tower. Both rooms were clean, decked out in Caribbean decor and cold, which is an amazing bonus for me in warm climates. Sunscape offers a variety of rooms and suites with a number of views and amenities; these accommodations include balcony or terraces, family suites, king queen and bunk beds, in-room minibars and more.
What I love most about Sunscape Splash Montego bay is that there is so much to do, alongside plenty of personable staff for a more than reasonable price. First of all, it is all-inclusive or what they like to call an ‘unlimited-fun‘ resort; this means that pretty much anything that you could possibly need during your stay is included in your vacation price. For example, as a guest, you will have 24-hour access to food and beverage (especially alcoholic beverages), a variety of restaurants and bars that do not require reservations of gratuities, endless land and water activities for the whole family as well as local music and daily opportunities for entertainment.
You can spend the day at the pool, bar, beach or waterpark and never miss any of the exciting activities offered. There are hourly games and challenges to be had by guests of all ages that offer up enjoyment, entertainment and often prizes! For example, I won a reggae CD and a bottle of rum by competing in a challenge where I had to catch a certain number of ping pong balls, thrown by staff members, into a red cup; my friends participated in a poolside chugging challenge and lost, miserably, to a local; and my mother competed in a game where she had a golf ball hanging between her legs, attached to her waist, and she had to continuously hip thrust to propel the ball into the side of an upside down cup in a race against my aunt. It was quite hysterical, not to mention she won herself a bottle of rum as well and a pretty necklace!
There are family and kids activities such as relay races and treasure hunts on the beach and in the water park but the best games and activities are reserved for the adults! If getting up in front of a crown and participating in silly challenges isn’t your thing you can also enjoy the water park which sports two water slides and a lazy river, multiple water sports down at the beach such as kayaking and snorkeling, daily kids and teen clubs/activities and additional tours and excursions at various prices. Excursions can range from swimming with dolphins to a unique golfing experience or a trip my family and I have been on more than once to Dunn’s River Falls. Dunn’s River Falls is a great family outing however it is not suitable for very young children, under 3 years old, seeing as you are ‘climbing’ a waterfall. There are also night time, adult excursions. A friend of mine decided the resort nightlife wasn’t good enough for him so he booked a bus to Margaritaville for the night with some friends we had made during our stay. The group bus tour ensured safe passage through the nighttime streets of Montego Bay and included his cover charge and access to a rooftop bar. Margaritaville can also be a daytime destination. My friend and I stayed back at the resort and enjoyed our night at the starlight lounge alongside other guests and resort staff!
We ate a lot of buffet meals for sake of convenience and because I LOVE food and variety so putting the two together is like heaven on earth. The buffet is served for all three meals of the day and includes classic American favorites, local cuisine, Italian, and Asian food. There are 6 dining varieties on the resort including the buffet, three à la carte restaurants and a grill and a cafe. Under new ownership, there are two additional dining experiences for Sun Club members only. One of my favorite restaurants for all three of my stays was Da Mario which offers Mediterranean cuisine in a relaxed and friendly environment. Another great option is Porto Fino, however, it is now only open to Sun Club members. Food is great, however, the absolute best part of all-inclusive stays is the 24-hour availability of beverages – especially alcoholic beverages. Be willing to leave your comfort zone and try some local favorite beverages and don’t forget you have to get your first beverage in before noon (okay, I guess you don’t HAVE to).
Beaches Negril is a more upscale than resort than Sunscape Splash but still a great value for the money you are spending. The resort is larger, and more beautifully and intricately decorated with more to offer. Once you enter the premise you will immediately catch the contagious laid-back vibe and fall right into the Island way of life.
Pretty much everything at Beaches Negril is beachside. Pools, restaurants and bars are all only steps from the beaches edge or even better, on the beach itself. With nine different dining opportunities, and one of those taking place right on the sand you simply cannot go wrong if the ocean is calling you! Stew Fish is right on the beach which makes its average meals that much better. My top three places to eat at Beacher Negril are Soy, a sushi bar, Bar.B.Q Park, and El Mariachi, which boasts delicious Mexican cuisine. Kimonos is also a really fun night out to dinner for Asian cuisine and The Mill always has great buffet options for th picky eater in your life.
Beaches Negril includes all water sports; this includes unlimited scuba diving. If you’ve never dove before, you will have to take their introductory resort program class. If you’re already certified you can enjoy up to two dives a day! If scuba diving is a little too intense for your liking you can enjoy Stand Up Paddle Boards, Water Hammocks, wakeboarding, Kayaks and more! If water sports aren’t quite your thing, simply enjoy miles of beautiful Jamaican coast.
Beaches’ lush, well-kept courtyards offer beautiful spaces for pictures, fun away from the sand and gorgeous views in both daytime and night. With never-ending activities on the daily line-up, absolutely gorgeous grounds and fun-loving, friendly staff you cannot go wrong with your choice to stay here!
No matter what you chose to do, you will spend each night in your beautiful accommodations sleeping like a baby and dreaming about your next day of fun!
The beauty of all-inclusive stays is the pure relaxation. You’re able to relax because the aspects of your vacation that are an absolute must, eating, drinking, sleeping arrangements and activities to fulfil your day, are taken care of. It allows for peace of mind and absolute freedom to go on and do whatever it is you desire day in and day out.