Caribbean Paradise – Honeymoon to Sandals Jamaica [ TONS of pictures ]
Last week we did a blog post about the day of our wedding and how NUTS it was. This week we will be talking about how we recouped from our wedding by spending a week in Jamaica.
The calm before the storm. So, the wedding jitters were finally over. Sara and I said our "I Dos" and we were comfortably lounging in our hotel room as a newly and happily married couple. Thennnnnnn...the alarm went off. Wait, what? Yeah, after all was said and done, Sara and I got to the hotel room, laid our heads on the pillow and in what felt like minutes it was time to rush to the airport. 4AM does not look good on me (or Sara, but shhh I didn't say that --- eh, who cares? I'm married!) But let me back up a minute...
We met an awesome travel agent at the Southern Bridal Show, named Candy from Travel Planners, Inc. She was amazingly helpful! She stated she would help us plan the best time to book to get the best deal, since we were booking almost a year in advance. (Which ended up saving us a lot of money).
But first we had to decide where we wanted to spend our first week as Mr. & Mrs. Lucas. We tossed around a few ideas. I knew when we started planning our honeymoon that I wanted to do something different than the normal intercontinental US get-aways that I'm used to. I haven't been out of the surrounding states and I've never been on a plane. So, with a little help from our new Travel Agent friend, we decided on Jamaica.
Candy recommended Sandals Grande Riviera in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. So that’s where we booked. SIDE NOTE: Sandals is the way to go. It's all-inclusive and you don't have to pay for anything once you get there. EVERYTHING is included.
So now that you've got the back story, lets fast-forward. Where was I? Oh, right...4AM. Ugh. Sara and I roll out of bed, grab a quick bite to eat in the lobby. It was fancy - nothing but the best for the newly weds - Doritos, Orange Juice & Coffee. Yeah, I know, but there are worse things...
Forget the Doritos. We rush to the airport. I'm excited and intimidated, but most of all I don't want to miss the plane. Sara, having flown before knew what to expect so her whole demeanor was anxious and excited - no hesitation. However, I didn't. All I knew about airports was that I had seen enough Locked Up Abroad to know that I was one toe from being patted down with my bags ripped open. Well, I'm thankful to say, it's nothing like that. Ha! Who knew it's actually a simple process. Take your shoes off, empty your pockets and walk through the metal detectors. Although they did check my bag of camera equipment, which I had already contemplated being an issue, but they just opened it, shuffled some things around and sent me on my way. Easy enough.
And I can now proudly say I understand the term "Puddle Jumper". We board the little bitty plane with a few other people headed to Miami International Airport. It was so small I wouldn't have been able to lay across it. But I loved flying! I look out the window the whole flight. When we landed in Miami we thought we had an hour or so layover. Nope! We had like 10 minutes to run like bank robbers across this massive airport. Miami's plane was a lot bigger and was filled with families and couples headed to Jamaica. Again I couldn't stop looking out the window and taking pictures.
The cool thing is Jamaica is in the same time zone as Alabama. So leaving from Miami and landing in Montego Bay, Jamaica it made it seem like the flight was 30 minutes even though it was about an hour and 30 minutes.
When exiting the plane you can immediately see the culture difference. Everyone is very laid back and not in a hurry. So customs took some time to get through but on the other side was a Sandals lounge waiting for us. So we sit and grab a Red Stripe and wait for our bus. Now here is a tip from experience. The exchange on our money is $106 Jamaican dollars to our $1 USD. So everyone wants your American money. They will carry your bag 10ft and want a $20 tip so don't be intimidated, just give them a few dollars and head on your way.
To put the money difference in prospective a gallon of gas is a little over $5 USD while most Jamaicans make about $50 USD a week. Could you image that filling you car up cost more than you make in a week? As you can image most people walk.
With our beers in hand we head to our resort. This was about an hour ride but you get to see what Jamaica is really like. I knew it was a poor country but we didn't know what to expect. Most houses are made from stacked up cinderblocks or tin siding. Goats and cows roam the side of the road eating the grass. Who needs to pay for landscaping when you have goats and cows right? But it was a big difference from America. Driving on the left side, kilometers, road signs that appear to be in English but you can't read them. It was just way different to say the least but very interesting to see.
Jamaicans don't seem to look at themselves are poor though. Even with no shoes and a lean-too as a house, they are very happy for what they do have. I found that very inspiring.
To get back on topic, we are now at this huge resort. We are greeted by our butlers who will take us to our room. I'm going to keep the rest of this a little more condensed but I just wanted to set the scene for everyone who hasn't been there.
We spent our first few days hanging out at the pool and enjoying the free drinks and food. This place has around 15 pools, not to mention our own personal pool outside our room. What's better than free drinks and food? Well there are constant free activities that you can do. We sailed, snorkeled, and went scuba diving. Scuba diving was my favorite part, Sara didn't enjoy it as much as I did.
Like I said, they constantly have something going on there. Rock climbing, beach parties, baseball, beer pong contests, water aerobics...Literally anything you can think of they have it and it's all for free. We did a few things off of the resort. We first planned zip lining through the forest. At the same park you can ride the Jamaican bobsled rollercoaster.
All-in-all we had the most fun we have ever had. We made some great friends from all over the country and a few from overseas. Some with the same anniversary as us and some just there on vacation. But it was almost sad because we made such great friends in such a short time. Who knows maybe we will see them there in the future.
But I can hands down say, we could not have picked a better place to stay. We've already booked a trip to go back next year. Which our travel agent warned us would happen. If you are looking for a beautiful, romantic place to spend your honeymoon or vacation, Sandals Jamaica is a great place to think about.
Here's just some random pictures from the trip
I hope you guy's enjoyed this post and didn't think it was too long. This was just an experience we had to share.
Until next time,