Come back, come back, back to Jamaica!

Considering I am now finding my clients shifting their requests from Riviera Maya/Cancun to now wanting to visit Jamaica, I took the opportunity to become a Jamaica Travel Specialist and invested in a FAM (familiarization trip) to Jamaica.

My conclusion after five days on the island is this: if you have been avoiding Jamaica, you are REALLY MISSING OUT!  It’s SO easy to get to and so hard to leave!

The Airport:  The airport was awesome.  It was incredibly modern.  The shopping was as if we were in a mall. I traveled with a female friend and it would have been easy to hassle us, and we were NEVER once hassled, at all. Customs and Immigration was a fast process.  There is even a VIP service that, for a very affordable fee, allows you to be expedited through customs and immigration, have a luxury area to wait for your flight and the $30/per person includes cocktails, food, free WiFi, comfortable accommodations, showers, private bathrooms, etc.  This was one of the best airports I’ve come through in a long time.

The Transfers: We were transported in a very nice, air conditioned mini-bus that featured light music and great drivers who wanted to share with us everything we were passing to ensure we got the most out of even just the transfer to the resort.  I chose to visit Negril because I wanted to experience the longer transfer.  I wanted to see what my families who are visiting Beaches would experience when traveling through Jamaican parishes (towns) to their resort.  Ya know what I saw in the 60-75 minute transfer?  Farms. Yup, farms with goats and cows and horses.  We rode the coast so we saw gorgeous water on one side and farms on the other.  We traveled through a few small towns where yes, there are some smaller homes (shacks…) where people live on the water, but there are mostly local businesses and a lot of people hard at work.  There were even mansions and the #1 golf course in the West said to be partially owned by Eddie Murphy   What I didn’t experience was non-air conditioned buses and poor areas that made me feel nervous and unsafe.  The time went REALLY fast and I wouldn’t hesitate doing that transfer with our 2 year old son.  It wasn’t as long as people think it may seem.

Farms.  The goats were ADORABLE!!
Mountains & the beautiful Caribbean Sea




The Resorts:  This is a whole other blog in itself where I will go in depth to share about the top two resorts I visited.  What I can tell you is, Negril’s 7 mile beach is amazing. Sandals Negril sits on the longest stretch of the 7 mile beach.  Beaches Negril sits on the widest stretch.  The water was like bath water.  The beach was like powder.  It’s what you think of when you think “Caribbean!” The Jamaican people make the area one of the BEST I have EVER visited.  There are three main areas of resorts to choose from: Montego Bay which is a few minutes from the airport, Ocho Rios which is on the East side of the island and Negril where I visited on the West side of the island.  They all have their own unique personalities and reasons to visit, and boast some of the top resorts in the world such as Sandals, Beaches, Couples, Iberostar, RIU and many top boutique resorts and villas. Ah, and don’t leave without listening to the Silver Birds Steel Orchestra!  If you think you should marry or even just enjoy a Caribbean Island without taking the opportunity to experience an authentic steel drum band, I have video and photos to show you otherwise!!  Imagine THEM being at your destination wedding!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uB01n8q-plc 

The Drugs:  Guess what, marijuana isn’t legal in Jamaica. People aren’t walking around high all day. I am sure there are some rural areas where tolerance is shown, but we strolled 7 mile beach daily and there was one guy who offered it to us once in five days, we said no, and he never once asked again. 

Is it Dangerous?: I can’t speak for all of Jamaica but I also can’t speak for all of NJ. Just like in NJ, there is Camden, Newark, etc. which rate as some of the top dangerous places on many lists.  I didn’t visit Kingston, Jamaica.  I had no reason to.  I was in resort areas, exploring resort towns.  The same way we visit the Jersey Shore, Cape May, North Jersey, etc. and don’t bring our families to stroll around Newark or Camden. There were people in swarms visiting Rick’s Cafe in Negril during the evenings for fun.  We also went to the Negril Craft Market.  Everyone was an absolutely PLEASURE.  There was one point where my friend gave a vendor a $20 bill and he said he’d be back with change.  Guess what, five minutes later, he came back with change! We experienced no begging children, no begging vendors, no begging druggies, no begging, period.  My advice remains the same as with all foreign countries we visit, be smart and aware of your surroundings while enjoying the visit!  


The Weather: The weather in Negril, Jamaica at the end of July was better than the weather we left in NJ.  It was humid but never uncomfortable!  The showers, if any, would pass quickly.  I will have another post with specifics about Jamaica for my brides and honeymooners, but they were prepared and showed us how they absolutely blow it out of the water if a ceremony of any kind is threatened by weather. And we were told a few times that the mountains of Jamaica help protect the island from hurricane winds, which was good to know, because when we were heading there a Tropical Storm was brewing! 

Why you should put this on the TOP of your destination list: It is a Caribbean island with so much personality. There is a combination of mountains, cliffs, one of the world’s best beaches, a TON of affordable, 5 star all-inclusives to choose from as well as villa and boutique resort options.  Each area has a different personality, so depending on your travel desires, there is something really for everyone. The people are absolutely beyond amazing and make the Jamaican experience outstanding.  The waters are clear and clean. We enjoyed snorkeling, SUP boarding, glass bottom boating, beach strolling, sailing, tubing, and so much more that we didn’t even get to such as scuba, knee and water skiing, catamaran tours, cliff diving, zip lining, bobsledding, etc. The beaches are as soft as powder and picture perfect. The food was outstanding!  I enjoyed jerk chicken, marlin, ackee, and so much more was washed down with an ice, cold Red Stripe or Bob Marley mixed drink. There are couples resort options, family resort options, and singles resort options for every traveler.  It was VERY fast to travel to and in a part of the Caribbean that has fabulous weather.  The culture is fantastic. The people genuinely loved and wanted us to be there.  There were hugs and tears when we left!  The food, the attitude, the reggae and steel drum music, it all made for a genuine Caribbean experience.  I’ve adopted the new motto “every little thing will be alright!” and hope to remember this and channel my Jamaican experience when things get stressful. In the words of Jimmy Buffett, “come back, come back, back to Jamaica” and let me send you there sooner than later so you don’t have to miss out any longer! 

Email me your questions and quote requests soon to DinaSilvestriTravel@gmail.com. It’s not too late for an August or Fall trip and is a perfect island for winter or summer 2014.  I now understand even more fully why Beaches Negril was at capacity when we were there and why it is booking up already for summer 2014.  Jamaica ROCKS, Ya mon!

Enjoy some of the highlight photos!:


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