Jamaica: A Vibrant Playground in Paradise

by Janean Flowe
View of Montego Bay, Jamaica

By Lesley Tkaczyk Miller

There are many beautiful beaches in the Caribbean where you can relax in the sun and splash in the waves, but Jamaica brings a unique rhythm to your tropical getaway. The island pulses to its own beat and enchants visitors with vibrancy at every turn. Its colorful palette, lush landscapes and flavorful meals will draw you in and the diversity of activities will keep you coming back for more.

In addition to all of the visual beauty, the people of Jamaica will be an equally bright spot in your visit. They’re warm, welcoming and vivacious people who care about your well-being and that of their island. In an effort to take care of their visitors during the pandemic, they’ve implemented several risk management initiatives to help everyone stay healthy. They screen all visitors, require face masks in public spaces and assure hotels and attractions abide by high cleanliness standards. You can rest assured that during your visit that those around you are doing everything they can to provide a safe and relaxing environment for your getaway.

Each region of the island offers distinct experiences that fit any traveler’s wish list. Read more about each area and talk with your AAA Travel Agent to determine which one is perfect for you.

 

Happy resident from Montego Bay makes baskets for her shop

 

Montego Bay

The Montego Bay area is perhaps the most well-known part of the island and is the perfect destination to dive into the pulse of Jamaica. Visitors flock to this scenic bay and its incredible resorts to enjoy cool breezes, the sounds of crashing waves and the sights of turquoise waters. The area is home to several AAA Four Diamond properties. One of these is the enchanting Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay, an adults-only all-inclusive resort where you can relax with a drink in your hand and let the lively sounds of reggae become the soundtrack to your stay.

Take some time out from dining and dancing in the bay to visit the nearby Rose Hall. The Rose Hall Great House is a historic house dedicated to sharing the history of slavery on the estate as well as the legend of the White Witch. You can also visit the Half Moon Equestrian Centre, which offers memorable horseback rides along — and even in — the ocean.

 

Tourists holding hands and walking up Dunns River Falls

Dunns River Falls

 

Ocho Rios

The coastal resort area of Ocho Rios is on the center of the island’s northern coastline. It’s a great middle ground for those seeking a balance of adventure and relaxation on their vacation. Make the all-inclusive, beachfront Moon Palace Jamaica your home base to explore this region. This AAA Four Diamond property is both luxurious and family friendly. The resort serves top-shelf drinks, features seven dining options (which includes 24-hour room service). Water sports, an arcade, a Flowrider and more will keep the kids busy while you relax on the stunning sandy shores of Ocho Rios Bay Beach. Or, make extra special memories by choosing to swim with the dolphins in the resort’s own dolphinarium.

Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica’s most famous waterfall attraction, is a mere 2.5 miles from the hotel, so grab your water shoes and start exploring. This beautiful cascade of clear, fresh water travels over terraces of time-smoothed rocks, spilling out onto the beach below. The falls are magnificent from the beach at the bottom, but the more adventurous should make the trek to the top for views of its calmer waters and for bragging rights that you’ve climbed a waterfall.

For some people, the most they know about Jamaica is the legendary story of their Olympic bobsledding team, as told in the 1993 movie “Cool Runnings.” If you want to experience a thrilling bobsled ride yourself, don’t miss a visit to Mystic Mountain. Just about a minute from Dunn’s River Falls, it’s an easy addition to your trip. Journey to the top of Mystic Mountain aboard a chairlift that soars above the treetops giving you spectacular coastal views, then jump in a high-tech sled for a gravity-driven 3,280-foot ride through the rainforest. You’ll feel like you’re a part of the Olympic team as you zoom through dense tropical greenery.

 

Local Musician performs outside in Ocho Rios

 

Negril

At the far western tip of the island, Negril sets itself apart from the rest of the island with its distinctive jaw-dropping features and dramatic sunsets. The Four Diamond Royalton Negril Resort and Spa is nestled in Bloody Bay along the ivory sands of the family Seven Mile Beach. This expansive stretch of ivory beach offers everything you could want for a perfect day on the shore: snorkeling, music, sunset cruises and, of course, beach bars serving jerk chicken and refreshing cocktails. Relax when you return to the Royalton Negril knowing everything is taken care of. You’ll love the resort’s vivacious culture, reservation-free dining, personalized service and entertainment for all ages.

Another side of Negril offers an even more dramatic entry to the water with its sheer-faced cliffs that plunge down to the water. You could spend your afternoon enjoying the challenge and tranquility of the multi-rise course at Negril Hills Golf Club. Then, choose the tone for your night. Care to enjoy the romance of a candlelit dinner in seaside caves? Want to dance the night away on the beach? Your vacation wishes are granted in Jamaica.

Take Planning Off Your List

Changing travel guidelines might make you feel overwhelmed and worried your travel dreams won’t become a reality any time soon, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Research, planning and booking — let AAA take it all off your to-do list! When you consult your AAA Travel Agent, you’ll have a knowledgeable partner every step of the way. It’s not your job to stay on top of new travel advisories, health guidance or other regulations — it’s theirs! These experienced professionals can distill it all so you can easily understand what does and does not impact your vacation dreams.

Beyond navigating any questions you may need answered, AAA Travel Agents are also experts at getting you the most value for your dollar. Wondering if deals will pop up as more destinations reopen? Share your vacation wish list with your agent now so they can alert you as savings become available. Want to take a tour with only your trusted friends? They can make it happen.

Take Precautions, Take Flight

All arriving travelers are required to obtain travel authorization prior to their arrival to Jamaica. A COVID-19 PCR test is required from U. S. visitors. You’ll also need to complete a travel authorization form prior to departure and bring a copy of the approved/completed form to the airport at time of travel because airlines will require proof of completed documentation.

Five 007 Fun Facts

1 – Ian Fleming wrote all 13 James Bond novels from his home on Jamaica.
2 – “Live and Let Die” was filmed at Couples San Souci in Ocho Rios
3 – Sean Connery and Roger Moore both filmed their first Bond films in Jamaica.
4 – Bond returns to the island in 2020’s “No Time to Die” for the first time since 1973.
5 – Fleming’s former home is called “Goldeneye.”

Add a tropical getaway to your calendar this year! Visit AAA.com/Travel or call 800-750-5386 and book it today!

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