It took but one step off the plane for the warmth of Jamaica to wash away winter’s chill that had been circulating in my body. What a very welcome relief. This immediately puts me in a better frame of mind and sets the stage for a pleasing start to this beautiful Caribbean island.
Driving along the northern coast, my taxi driver weaves in and out of colorful painted storefronts as locals go about their daily routines. I notice several small herds of goats grazing on the thick, grassy coastline, but with no goat herder in sight. My taxi driver assures me the goats know exactly where home is at sundown. Nearing my destination, the taxi’s hum slows and then comes to a halt when we arrive at the elegant entrance to Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa on Montego Bay.
After checking into my plush suite adorned with luxurious furnishings and silky soft linens, catching a view of the endless ocean is first on my agenda. Just as hoped, I’m greeted with palm trees gently swaying along the beautiful blue shore. Waves lap at my ankles calling me into the sea. Gently easing into the refreshing waters, a sense of calm comes over me and I feel right at home on this beautiful private beach.
Walking around the resort, I’m greeted with welcoming smiles and cheerful hellos from staff members. I pass a lively beach volleyball game while other guests are enjoying some live reggae. Sun seekers are stretched out on lounge chairs, adding to their already bronzed bodies. A row of Bali beds follows the curvy beach where couples recline and take in the seemingly infinite ocean horizon.
I spy a sign that reads Beer Hut with an arrow directing me to Gully Beach. Happily, I follow as instructed.
After a short walk, I find an open-aired shack crowded with smiling, happy patrons. Bartenders are busy doling out frosty cold drinks, helping to create a lively and festive atmosphere. I choose fresh coconut water served straight from a mature coconut, adorned with a vibrant hibiscus flower. I ask the friendly bartender how many coconut waters he prepares each day. He responds, easily 100 every day. After quenching my thirst on this humid day, I fully understand the high demand.
In need of some physical activity, I make my way over to Sunset Cove Beach. Here I find windsurfing boards, jet skis, and motorboats lined up on the shore. I jump onto a catamaran for a snorkeling excursion.
The friendly crew makes it seem I am venturing with a group of friends. Reggae music thumps in the background as Red Stripe Beer makes the rounds on the catamaran. Armed with a mask and snorkel, I swim with the colorful fish living in a coral reef. As the catamaran docks back at the resort, my time out in the water is what I call a good time.
Being an all-inclusive resort, I certainly didn’t go hungry during my stay. A wide variety of international cuisines are served up in ten restaurants. Whatever culinary craving I might have can be satisfied. The sultry vibe and incredible food of Bhogali, the Indian restaurant was right up my alley.
While dining in Lotus House, an entertaining Teppanyaki chef juggles his utensils, catches an egg in his hat, and flips a shrimp in his pocket, all while cooking delicious Asian cuisine on a flat top grill. Of course, I indulge in undoubtedly the most famous food to come out of Jamaica, jerk chicken and pork at The Jerk Hut.
Back in my hotel suite, on my cell phone I find the notification to check-in for my return flight home. This is one notification I wouldn’t mind missing. As my airplane departs Jamaica, I feel renewed – both body and soul. I don’t even mind that I have my winter jacket tucked under my arm.
Exotic cultures, new faces, delicious fares, beautiful oceans, and urban places gets Sara Kendall racing to the airport. Sara is just as passionate about photography as she is for traveling, so you will find her writing is paired with her beautifully captured images. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and online publications including her long-standing run as a contributing travel writer for The Charlotte Observer.