I'm so glad I got the opportunity to go back to Jamaica again! After visiting 12 years ago and stating that I wouldn't care to go back and we'd done the all tourist things .. so what reason would you ever want to go back for? How naive of me! An invitation to a good friend's wedding was the catalyst and it just proved to me that you should never set anything in stone. Nothing stays the same and neither should it. I'm not saying it's perfect but I wouldn't want it to be. Each place has it's own character and everybody's experience is their own.
Pool at the Cardiff
This time around we got a morning flight from Miami to Montego Bay, a mere 1 hour 15 minutes away, so we were at our hotel by early afternoon sitting by the pool enjoying our free welcome rum punch. Our first accommodation was in the area of Runaway Bay - The Cardiff Hotel and Spa - set in the hills overlooking the bay. We stayed for a week with other guests of the wedding party and it was a lovely quiet, home from home atmosphere where the staff were friendly and hospitable. A great place to relax and do the real vacation chill out! The private beach is about a 10 minute walk away but the hotel operates a shuttle service there and back. I would say that if you choose to stay here on your own, you would be wise to hire a car to get around as the taxi's are quite expensive and there really is nothing nearby. Ocho Rios and the surrounding attractions like Dunn's River Falls and Mystic Mountain are within 20 minutes drive away and a day trip to Kingston is just that!There's a lot more to do besides .. it just depends what you want.
Overlooking the harbour
The wedding was held mid week at the Shaw Park Gardens nestled in the hills above Ocho Rios. It is a stunningly beautiful place - a rainforest with lush vegetation, waterfalls and birds and butterflies flying and fluttering freely adding to the romanticism of it all. This topped with a cocktail party complete with steel band overlooking the harbour and the light fading into dusk and you have a near perfect scenario. It was a truly magicalafternoon followed by a full on party around the pool back at the Cardiff Hotel.
At the end of our stay there, we transferred back to Montego Bay to spend our last 24 hours or so at the Coyaba Resort. Not only is it a beautiful setting, a relatively small and intimate resort, but it is a mere 10 minutes away from the Robert Sangster International Airport. Don't let this put you off, there is very little in the way of aircraft noise. I found the people to be helpful and friendly, the food was great and I definitely want to go back to this resort and sample the riches of Montego Bay itself. I'm so grateful to have had the second chance with Jamaica... thank you Norman and Yolanda.