Jamaica No Problem: Part 2

(If you haven’t read part 1 of my Jamaica trip, you can find it here.)

The next day, I focused on sitting on one butt cheek while we made the short drive to Dolphin Cove Negril (ages 5 and up).  If I had to pick a highlight activity of the trip for me, this would be it for sure.  We put on lifejackets and jumped into the enclosed cove with five dolphins.  Their trainers had them “dance” with us, swim under our hands, kiss our cheeks, and give us rides while we held onto their flippers.  I think I squealed like a little kid the entire time, at a pitch only dogs can hear.

In the afternoon, we took off for Montego Bay.  First we toured the all-inclusive Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort.  Now, if I were going to Jamaica on a budget with kids, this is for sure where I’d stay.  It’s a nice 524-room resort on the beach with several pools, a little private island, and tons of activities and sports and bars, and a spa.  Kids age 12 and under stay, play, and eat free.  They have a ton of kids’ games and activities divided into three age groups, free babysitting until 9pm for age six months and up (with paid services thereafter), and a “KidSpree Vacation Club” that’s basically a full-service daycare center for all ages.  There’s a kids-only “snack hut” and a separate kids’ menu at the main buffet at every meal.  There’s also a teen center with Xbox and air hockey and stuff like that.  They have ten “KidSuites” that have a kids’ room within the suite, with bunk beds, a TV, and a play table (shown at right).

The crazy thing about this place is the price– $210 per night for a family of four, and it’s all-inclusive.  I mean, it’s not a luxury resort.  It’s a Holiday Inn.  I wouldn’t go there without kids, for sure.  But it seemed like a destination where kids of any age would have a blast, not just tolerate being there while mom goes to the spa and dad plays beer pong.  Oh yeah.  That’s the one caveat.  While we sat there eating lunch, there was a beer-drinking contest happening at the main pool right in front of us.  I’d personally want to make sure the kiddies were all “KidSpree’d” away before any of that took place.  But other than that, it seemed like the perfect budget place to stay with a family.

We left the Holiday Inn for the Rose Hall plantation, which is rumored to be haunted.

I won’t ruin the story if you choose to go, but basically this crazy chick lived there and murdered all her husbands and slave lovers because she was bored, or maybe crazed from all the lead in her pewter dishes.  One or the other.  (You might have noticed from my blog that it kind of sucks to get divorced so maybe this White Witch was onto something, is all I’m saying.) Anyway she allegedly still haunts the Great Hall, and I’ve got to admit that it is a very spooky, if fantastically-renovated, place, especially in the rain– so I’d maybe keep this trip to ages ten and up to avoid too many nightmares later on.

From Rose Hall we went to historic Falmouth, where we set sail on this techno-dance-pirate booze/dinner cruise.  No, I’m not kidding.

It was called Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship Adventure and it included drinks, dinner, and a cheesy but truly hilarious singing, dancing pirate show with audience participation and lots of pretty cute pirates, just sayin’.  I think this would be best enjoyed by kids age ten and up, alcoholic beverages not included for them, of course.

We were up bright and early the next morning for a day trip to the South Coast, where we met up with a different branch of Chukka Tours for a ziplining tour of the canopy over seven-tiered Y.S. falls.  Now this was super cool.  We climbed up a path next to these waterfalls:

And went shooting through the canopy on five different ziplines, one of which ran directly down the falls.  The view was truly beautiful and I felt like I was flying.  There’s also a rope swing halfway up the path that you can use to swing out over the falls– and jump out into them, if you’re brave enough!

From there we went to Black River to take a safari tour of the river of the same name.  We saw egrets and herons, petted crocodiles that came right up to the boat:

And got out at one point to climb among the mangroves on the shore.  There’s also a crocodile nursery at the end of the tour where they raise and rehabilitate the endangered Jamaican crocodiles.

On the way back to our resort, we stopped in beautiful freewheeling Negril at the famous cliffs of Rick’s Cafe to see the sunset.  Now, I’m just a dentist, not a real doctor or anything, so I might not be qualified to say for sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a bar that serves booze and encourages you to go cliff-diving may not be classified as the safest idea in the world.  Just a thought.  It was a gorgeous view, though.

I spent the last night having dinner and drinks with the wonderful ladies I met through this trip.  They were truly the best travel companions I could have hoped for– friendly, easygoing, hilarious, and possessed of fascinating stories about their previous travels.  I had a fantastic time meeting and bonding with them.  I only hope I am lucky enough to see some of them again someday (outside of Twitter, of course).

And I can’t close the post without noting that even aside from all the beauty and adventure of Jamaica, one of the country’s best assets is its people.  Everyone we met was friendly and chill and very, very knowledgeable, with an answer to any question, always an interesting story to tell, and a pride in their country and heritage that I think is rare and enviable.

So that was my trip.  I think I’ve made it clear that it was pretty much one of the most fantastic experiences I’ve had.  If I were going to take Caroline on a tropical vacation, for me– Jamaica would be it.  I hope I am able to go back soon.

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  1. by SingleMama

    On October 14, 2011 at 8:40 am

    The rooms look really cute! I don’t think I could PET A CROCODILE! EEKS!
    Glad you had such a great time, it looks fabulous :)