Jamaica was never on my top 10 bucket list, and I wasn’t really planning on visiting it soon till the pandemic hit in 2020 and Jamaica became one of the few countries welcoming American tourists. After being cooped in for so long my travel bug flared up and I had to get away. While researching countries accepting US visitors that didn’t mandate quarantining upon arrival Jamaica quickly shot to No. 3 on my list. I read blogs/ stories from others who had visited the island, scowered instagram for posts and the fact that Jamaica had fewer covid cases than the US , their government mandated curfews, and masking was rigorously implemented ultimately swayed my decision to go. After booking my trip all that was needed was for me to get a negative covid test within 5 days of travel and register on their tourism website.
My 8 days itinerary of Jamaica was narrowed down to two cities based on what I wanted to do. Ocho Rios has many of the sites and activities I was interested in : Blue Hole, Dunns falls, beaches but more important to me, I didn’t want a place that will feel auster, crowded or too touristy. The pace in Ocho Rios was exactly what I wanted, relaxed island time with a touch of urbanism.
Upon arrival at the airport, I went to a cell phone service provided located just outside the Montego Bay airport (to the left of arrival exit) and bought a new local SIM for $15. I find that using local SIMs are often cheaper plus they provide free whatsapp texting. I had arranged for a private taxi through my apartment rental ($120 from Montego to Ocho Rios) and Tony my driver was the one of the best things that happened to me during this trip. He was the embodiment of Jamaican Hospitality and we quickly became friends and he took me to all the cool spots where the locals dine/ congregated.
I was here for two things : Adventures( Hikes, rafting, swimming, snorkeling ) and Food 🙂 Best thing to do around Ocho Rios:
- Visit the Blue Hole
- Go horseback riding
- Visit Dunn’s waterfall
- Visit Kotoko falls
- Raft down Martha Brea
- Snorkel and swim at Mahogany beach
- Visit Ocho Rios day market
- Visit Jerk center
- Visit the Fishermen’s beach
The next phase of my trip was closer to Kingston – the blue mountains and I was super excited about it. When we think of Jamaica the first thing that comes to mind is often Beaches so we think of Negril, Port Antonio, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay yet there is more to this beautiful country. Rising as a backdrop to the Capital city Kingston are the magnificent blue mountains and one of its best resorts; Strawberry Hill. With one of the best panoramic views of kingston and an unparalleled sunset this was a piece of heaven.
Overall, what made this trip memorable was the people. Jamaicans are very friendly and welcoming ‘Ya Mon”, “Wah Gon”.
As a solo female, I had to be more aware of my surroundings and yes you get propositioned and hit on often especially in the very touristy areas (Ocho, Negril, Montego) and the men can be very persistent sometimes but a firm and polite No worked in many instances or I simply said I was married 😁.
I wouldn’t recommend walking alone late at night, it’s often safe but robbery is a crime of opportunity .
Driving in Jamaica is dicey but not impossible , yes they drive on the right side and the drivers can be very impatient ,then there are the potholes and animals but overall it wasn’t all that terrible just be careful. Unfortunately VISA doesn’t offer collision insurance there 😏