Advice · Keeping Up With the Castillo's · Travel

Montego Bay, Jamaica 

The island of Jamaica in itself is BEAUTIFUL! What I liked most about Jamaica is that, it’s truly JAMAICA! It isn’t done up to fit the tourist. It is and will be Jamaica in its entirety. Surrounded by greenery, ocean blue, and vehicles filled with people, all you see is smiles all around!

We did a few excursions around Jamaica … we went into town, which was a bust, but more on that later. We visited Nine Mile where Bob Marley grew up and was laid to rest, had a bike tour to Blue Mountain where “the worlds best coffee” is grown, & had a safari tour around The Parish of St. James.

A few tips for those who will vacation Jamaica and a few reminders to myself when we go back…

1) Utilize the AC, fan, & open door at your hotel.

If you’re gonna take a hot and steamy bath and/or shower… make sure you do not… I repeat… Make it too steamy in your room. Needless to say, Erick & I did that and we set off the alarm in our building. Haha. A little bit funny & embarrassing because the staff called and came up to see what was going on; in just our towels. Yep, def did not leave the room when the fire alarm was going off.

2) Doctors Cave

We went into town on a Sunday, had I known that Jamaica is on a holy day, I would’ve waited to go out into town. We asked for a cab and we ended up getting a private driver from the hotel. Big mistake 😦 it was 60$ for a 5 minute drive into town vs 2$ can ride. Had I known about that… I would’ve declined. Make sure your driver is someone outside the hotel, or be prepared to fork up 60$+ USD. On our way into town, we found out most shops are closed on Sunday’s because of church and family time. I was really bummed that we couldn’t go to the markets to do some shopping, but what can ya do?

So instead of shopping, we went to Doctors Cave. Doctors Cave’s is a one of the tourist beaches in Montego Bay. In the 1920s, a famous osteopath published an article saying the waters at Doctors Cave has powers and can cure several diseases. We were only at Doctors Cave for a few hours due to thunderstorms around noon, but when we were there, we enjoyed our time. This beach requires an entrance fee and you can rent towels, chairs, & umbrella. Employees walk around asking if you would like something to drink while you swim or sunbathe. The beach takes both USD & Jamaican Dollar.

The water there was warm and calm, but you can easily lose your footing. You can easily be standing waist up, but two steps away from the shore & the water is litterally down to your neck. There was one lady who almost drowned and, I kid you not, she was probably 3 feet from the shore!

4) 4×4 Jeep Safari

We did a 4×4 jeep safari adventure and that was so much fun! Our driver (i wish i remembered his name) picked us up at our hotel at 8ish and the first thing he did was pour us some rum punch! Nothing like Jamaica’s famous rum & punch to start your morning. The rum punch was definitely strong but oh so delicious. The jeep was an open air and sat 4 on each side.  Its a great way to see Jamaica and take in some fresh air.

Our first stop was in Reading in the Parish of St James. It over looked ALL of Montego Bay which was beautiful!!! Our driver educated us on all the plants and herbs in the area we were at.  From plants to help itching, and upset stomach, to plants that left a trail and helped the slaves escape during the . After our first stop, we were taken through 2 more parish’s and drove past buildings with so much history!!  We drove past the Baptist church where Samuel Sharpe started slave rebellion, as well as the plantations that were set on fire.  The plantation and its buildings still have the fire residue on them from the 1830s! One of the cool things about seeing the run down and burned down plantations, is seeing how nature absorbs its surroundings.  There were big trees just growing through and around the abandoned buildings.  I was in complete awe.

We also stopped to learn about a specific building… The history behind the building is it was formally a slave hospital in the 1800s but was then converted into a church in 1846. The church is still active and it acts as shelter for the people around the church during hurricane season.

Towards the end of our trip, we off roaded to an area that had a hot water spring, two waterfalls, and one of Jamaica’s fresh water supply.  There was a lot, and i mean A LOT of mosquitoes, & different bugs I’ve never seen before.  It grossed me out, but man was it worth it LOL. I recommend wearing water shoes during this adventure because there are a lot of loose and sharp rocks in and around the area. The water was cool and FRESH.  the hot springs was above where we were. This secluded area we are taken too is off property and even has no trespassing signs, so you wont be able to get on solo. At the end of our adventure, we stopped to get lunch and we of course got some jerk chicken with extra jerk sauce, festivals, and red stripe.  Aside from jerk chicken, festivals are my favorite! i dont know what it is about them, but they are so damn good.  All it is a piece of deep fried bread, but whatever they put in it, its like CRACK. so good! lol.

5) Bob Marley Mausoleum

Going to Bob Marley’s mausoleum is a must in Jamaica! Not only are you going to see where Bob grew up and was laid to rest, but you also experience & see Jamaica.  Nine Mile is about a 2 hour drive or so from Montego Bay and it is very windy and crazy drive up the mountain. Your driver and tour guide RECOMMEND not freaking out during the drive to Nine Mile LOL. To sum it up, you may or may not need a motion sickness pill. I usually feel like i need a motion sickness pill for windy drives for when we go to Big Bear or Lake Tahoe, but for this, I packed one just in case. However, I didn’t need to take it, but those with weak stomachs might need it. The roads are for one way each directions, but they’re literally built for one on the road. What makes it even scarier, is they drive on the opposite side of the road.  So coming from the US, its really easy to get freaked out!

On the way up to Nine Mile, we stopped to get a snack. I got some beef patties that are BOMB.EDU! anyways heading to Nine Mile and visiting Bob Marley, it is HIGHLY recommended to smoke the ganja.  It is however, illegal to smoke weed in Jamaica up to a certain ounce.  If you get caught by the police smoking weed, they also recommend NOT to throw it or toss, but to share it with them…. lol. If you dont have any ganja before the trip to Nine Mile, don’t worry. They sell them right at the entrance! You have a variety to choose from: blunt, cake, brownie & tea. The tea & cake is usually best for a night cap and at the hotel, and NOT during the tour. Too much consumption and the drive down… it wont look too good lol.

With no spoilers, once you get to the mausoleum, you are not allowed to take any video or pictures of Bob and his mom’s resting place. the only place you are allowed is the house he grew up in and the surrounding areas.

6) Blue Mountain Bike Tour

I absolutely loved this tour because, not only do you get to drive up to Blue Mountain, you also get to bike down Blue Mountain! Blue Mountain is Jamaica’s highest mountain where they grow their coffee beans. They hand pick their coffee beans every day and they walk along the roads and the mountain side to pick the beans.

From Montego Bay to Blue Mountain, we had to drive through 4 Parishes I believe, and it was also another crazy windy drive up this mountain. We stopped for snacks and bathroom breaks & was even provided lunch and breakfast at our final destination. We got to pick the bikes to use and we were given a helmet, elbow pads, & knee pads. During the bike tour, we stopped multiple times to get information about Blue Mountain, the coffee, and because there was a car coming.  The bike down the mountain is the same road we drove to start off.  You have to be very careful going down, the turns are sharp and it gets pretty steep now and then. So warning the person behind is helpful as well as keeping a distance with the biker in front and beside you.  Theres also potholes…. but other than so much fun! LOL

at the end of the bike tour, we stop at another fresh water fall where we are able to relax and have fun before the drive back to our hotel. They also sell ganja there, and the locals jump right off the cliff of the waterfall! its recommended for us tourists to jump since we dont really know the waters, but its fun to see the locals do it. I also recommend bringing a pair of water shoes for this adventure as well. Plenty of pointy and loose rocks… plus you have no idea whats under neath you. ooo scary 😛  To be honest, i didnt want to venture out in the water… so i stayed put towards the middle side on a rock that i could sit on until it was time to go lol. But Erick swam to the waterfall twice and went through it and did all that jazz.

8) Tip your driver, tour guide, waiters, etc.

If your from the US, tipping your driver, tour guide, and waiter  1-5$ is good! the conversion right now is for every 1$ USD is 126$ Jamaican dollar.  I wish i would have brought more cash during our bike tour because not only did our driver get us there and back to our hotel, our tour guide was amazing and his staff making sure we were taken care of did an amazing job.  His staff took videos, pictures, and made the bike ride so much fun! They deserved the tip, but we didnt know how much we would be tipping that day.  So i recommend bring extra cash for just tipping. Everyone there is willing and happy to accept whatever they get.  Once you see their every day living situations, you know they appreciate everything they have and what is given to them.  The true meaning of BLESSINGS!

xo, the mrs.

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