Escape to Jamaica
Aside from the inviting tropical climate, swaying palm trees and sandy, white beaches, thinking of Jamaica may bring to mind the songs of Bob Marley and the tastes of spicy jerk chicken and pork, juicy pineapples, rich island-grown coffee and locally distilled rum (yum yum). But, perhaps the reigning identity of Jamaican culture is that of a relaxed vibe where the living is easy.
Jamaicans are known the world over for their casual, friendly nature, whether you are interacting with shop owners, restaurant staff or restaurants or someone suiting you up for a scuba lesson or a zip line adventure in the jungle. The natives I met while vacationing with friends in lovely Montego Bay had a natural ability to engage visitors with warm, welcoming smiles and friendly interactions.
Director of Jamaica Tourism John Lynch said at a media luncheon last month that 2014 will be a “banner year” for the island in terms of the number of people visiting from around the globe. “There is a certain mystique in the indomitable spirit of our people to thrive and do well in whatever we pursue. The indescribable feeling and vibe that you get here is found nowhere else in the world and that…is what has caused us to have so many new and repeat visitors each year.”
Why Jamaica Is So Inviting!
For what it’s worth, I believe it is due in part to the fact that the region lends itself to peace and playfulness—-with scads of natural beauty such as secret coves, calm colors of the sea, majestic mountain cliffs as high as 7,500 feet and year-round sunshine and pleasant temperatures. Also, a magical rainforest is part of the mix, where visitors can experience rivers, waterfalls and indigenous creatures in a tropical paradise.
The third-largest island in the Caribbean, Jamaica is certainly a desirable destination for those in search of either relaxation or adventure. You can see and do as little or as much as you want. Laze about by the pool or try out a kayak at your hotel beach. Or, sign up for adventure-seeking excursions including rafting, deep-sea fishing, or hiking up the Blue Mountains.
Jamaica is part of Great Britain’s commonwealth realm, so the native language is English. The locals do use another language known as Patois (or creole), which was developed by African slaves living in Jamaica during the 1600s. Today, Patois is used in Jamaican homes and for specific cultural activities such as storytelling, literature and song writing.
Where to Stay
Having introduced the “all-inclusive” trend, Jamaica is studded with these easy and convenient resorts for those in search of a luxurious yet comfortable ambience. I didn’t bring my kids along for my virgin trip to Jamaica last December, so I stayed at an adult-only resort, Secrets Montego Bay/Wild Orchid. It was a fine choice for a couples’ or friends’ getaway, offering lots of water activities by the lagoon pools, a pristine beach, a full-service spa, impeccable grounds and gardens, nine restaurants, unlimited top-shelf drinks, and nightly entertainment including live music (such as steel drums) and dancing under the starry sky.
Family-friendly, all-inclusive choices in the Montego Bay area include the Hilton Rose Hall, Beaches, Franklyn D. Resort, Breezes Trlawney and Iberostar Grand Rose Hall. There’s also a Holiday Inn Sunspree for the more budget-minded traveler. All-inclusives can be found in Ocho Rios and Negril as well if Montego Bay is not your choice island location. Of course, standard, pay-as-you-go resorts, villas and small cottages are always an option if you are searching for a different environment and pace.
Why Not Eat, Drink and Be Merry?
No matter the accommodations you choose, when looking to peel off the heavy layers of life (and clothing), get your bags packed and check out this one-of-a-kind environment, the place where Bob Marley’s lyrics “Don’t worry about a thing cause every little thing’s gonna be all right!” ring true. For a virtually worry-free vacation, Jamaica provides an infectious, friendly vibe—-and can have a positive influence on growing children or tired friends and family who are looking to get back to the basics of human interaction in a natural, tropical setting.
Note: For more detailed information on the island as well as links to the resorts mentioned above, please check out www.visitjamaica.com